All-American Thrills Visits Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings!
On Saturday, October 20, 2012, All-American Thrills traveled to Dutch Wonderland, and met with Ms. Bethany Slapinski, Director of Sales and Marketing for Dutch Wonderland. Given the family-friendly focus of All-American Thrills, Bethany was kind enough to explain her role in detail, the park’s mission, along with insight into what goes on behind the scenes to bring “Happy Hauntings” to fruition.
Since 1933, Dutch Wonderland has promoted itself as a “Kingdom for Kids”, with 28 fun-filled rides. It is designed for families with young children, and offers a host of fun things to see and do throughout the summer and fall. As expected, they have fun characters for kids of all ages, featuring Duke the Dragon, Sir Brandon the Knight, Merlin the Magician, and Princess Brooke. In the summer, they do have a water park called Duke’s Lagoon, and for 3 weekends in October they offer Happy Hauntings, and in the winter time they feature Dutch Winterwonderland.
Dutch Wonderland has consistently been recognized as a premier family amusement park, and has been voted one of the Top 5 Best Kid’s Park in the World by Amusement Today magazine. Plus, parking is FREE !!.
Bethany is responsible for all marketing, sales, and public relations for Dutch Wonderland. The park is open for the “Summer Season” through the first week of October and then closed for the one week between summer and the beginning of Happy Hauntings. During this time it’s all hands on deck to put up the Halloween themed decorations. Friendly skeletons, pumpkins, cobwebs, and many lighting changes occur during this short window. Some decorations such as hay bales go up early right after Labor Day. Of course, all of the rides are renamed and re-themed between the two seasons, featuring the “Roller Ghoster” and “Scaree-go-Round” as examples. All of the bulbs are replaced with purple, orange, and black to complete the theme.
Most of the staff during Happy Hauntings are employees from the general Summer Season, with incentive programs in place to keep employees throughout the year. As expected with school commitments, some employees can’t work during Happy Hauntings, so some seasonal workers are secured. All employees wear a seasonal orange sweatshirt to complete the park’s transformation.
Safety and security are always front and center at Dutch Wonderland regardless of the season. Bag checks operate during Happy Hauntings just as they would in the summer, because the park wants their guests to always feel comfortable and enjoy all the great attractions of the park. Rides operate per manufacturer’s specifications with regards to weather and temperature. In a park where “Kids are Kings”, “tasteful” costumes are encouraged as well.
All-American Thrills can’t thank Bethany enough for the extended amount of time she allowed for our interview, so we’d like to start our ride and entertainment section of all the wonderful, family-friendly attractions at Dutch Wonderland, with her favorite Happy Hauntings’ ride, the “Ghoulish Gondola Ride.”
Of course, there are plenty of kid-friendly entertainment options at Dutch Wonderland.
Molly's Wacky Witch's Brew - Is a very entertaining show at the Celebration Theater. Molly is zany, crazy, and everyone’s favorite scientific, wacky witch. The show is very funny as Molly exhibits some science with her wizard in training Beaker, sure to leave the entire family laughing.
Storytime with the Princess - A classic event for all the little ones in the family to have a story told to them by the Princess and Knight of Dutch.
Trick-or-Treat Trail - From 3 PM to 8:45 PM, Ghouls and Goblins can get treats at 10 different spots along the trail. The park provides free bags, courtesy of AAA, while The Hershey Company donates the candy. This year, Dutch Wonderland has moved the trail from Duke’s Lagoon to “Huck Finn’s Leapin’ Frogs” due to its popularity. This new area is very efficient and put a HUGE smile on all of our faces watching the kids. TWO THUMBS UP!
Costume Contest - On October 14, 21, and 28th, the park holds a wonderful costume contest for all the creative ones in your family. Registration is from 3 to 5 PM in the Courtyard, with the event being held at 6 PM in Celebration Theater. It’s open for kids 12 and under and just a lot of fun, with a great prize to the winner and treats for all that enter.
Royal Friends Meet & Greet - This is a great way to complete your day at Dutch Wonderland with meetings, hugs and picture taking with all the stars of the Kingdom. It’s held in the Amphitheater with Princess Brooke at 6 PM, Duke the Dragon at 4:45, 6, and 7 PM, and the Knight of Safety at 4:45 PM. It’s a great way to connect and talk to all of Dutch Wonderland’s Royal Friends.
Dining Options - During your day of family friendly rides, attractions, events, and shows, we’re sure you’ll get hungry. Noble Roman’s Pizza was excellent. We also ate at “Mill Stream Eatery”, which offers a HUGE variety of menu options, including Asian food, chicken strips, Burger Mania, loaded baked potatoes, french fries, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, and a large selection of salads and healthy options. The menus are set up VERY nicely, with large pictures, numbers, and texts, which are extremely simple to read and VERY kid-friendly. TWO THUMBS UP!
In closing, we had a wonderful experience at Dutch Wonderland, and can’t thank Bethany and the entire staff making our day very memorable and educational. All-American Thrills highly recommends visiting the park and experiencing their world-class attractions first hand. The park is very clean, efficiently run, extremely safe and organized, while everyone we met was extremely nice and friendly.
Next year is Dutch Wonderland’s 50th Anniversary, so if you can’t make it this year, we highly recommend visiting this world-class, family-friendly park as soon as possible.
Written by Brandon Strouphauer and Thomas Grady. Edited by Kirk Sponaugle and McKenzie Richards.