Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ghost Train Ride

Last night the Bride of Punkinstein and myself journeyed to Chesapeake's Northwest River Park to ride the Ghost Train.  This is something we had been intending to do for several Halloween seasons past but due to one thing or another, often inclement weather (not a little drizzle, such as we had last night, but tropical storm fallout inclement weather), we have not been able to make it.  This year we did.  As it only runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights through October you have to make an effort.
The ticket actually pays for two attractions, the Ghost Train, a hay ride style presentation where a narrator reads of an antique book and you are shown scenes acted out among the trees as you make your way through the darkened and spooky woods of Northwest River Park and a fright maze you can walk through if you return from the Ghost Train.

For shock and scare I put it below Haunted Hunt Club Farm but don't take that as a disparaging remark.  NWRP Ghost Train and Maze are staffed 100% by volunteers, some of them celebrating over 2 decades of commitment to the events, and they do a good job of it.  While it is advertised as family friendly it is, as I observed, scary enough to unnerve children under 12 and get a few screams and laughs from the parents.  In classic fashion the spooks do leave the maze and harass folks standing in the queue, which I approve of heartily.  If there was a downside I would say it was the lack of snacks.  I love snack availability at an outdoor event.  NWRP camp store was open to sell tickets and offer restroom facilities and patrons could purchase drinks, chips, candy, etc. from the store, or could purchase popcorn from a Boy Scout popcorn popping cart in front.  I would have liked to have seen a little more carnival atmosphere, maybe some candy apples and a cotton candy machine.  The nearly constant rain during the last two weeks in Hampton Roads, including last nights drizzle, gave the woods a damp, earthy smell more than usual and the canoes racked up beside the lake had Frau Punkinstein drawing comparisons to Camp Crystal Lake of F13 fame.
Outside of the store around the two queues there were inflatables (Ghosts, Cemetery Gates, etc.) and this wonderful flying witch on a timer.  She rockets into the air on her broom leaving a trail of smoke cackling wildly all the while.  Nice to watch as you wait for your boarding or turn in the maze.

While NWRP GT may be below HHCF Hay Ride for pure shock and terror, the GT does have charm and local flavor.  It begins with a brief intro where an actress-volunteer tells you about the antique book she and her husband found and how her husband would share selections of it with you during your ride.  Once boarded the husband-actor narrates the ride from a throne-like chair.  The scare scenes and stories are a mix of classic tales, urban legends and stories and events particular to the Chesapeake, VA area including the WITCH OF PUNGO (pretend that was an echo effect).  Check the link, I'm not making this up.  Grace Sherwood, last person convicted of witchcraft in Virginia.  Grace was, however, not executed for witchcraft, so that's nice.

For it's locally appropriate flavor and its clever epilogues (as the train must go out to a roundabout then return the way it came, you get to see the "results" of the scare scenes you saw on the way in, and that is really the more effective scare, I think) I recommend NWRP Ghost Train and maze.  Check out the link below for information.

Oh, and keep your pumpkins lit.

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