Haunted Summer: Creepy Regional Road Trips Continued

Phantom Of The Ville here, it’s time to get back on I-65, headed South again for “Halloween” director John Carpenter’s hometown of Bowling Green for our final southern destination. Along the way, keep a sharp eye for signs to Smith’s Grove, the small town Carpenter used as the name for Smith’s Grove Sanitarium from which Michael Myers made his infamous escape before his seige on the fictional town of Haddonfield. While in Bowling Green, many street names may seem familiar to “Halloween” fans, such as Russellville Road and others mentioned by police trying to track down Michael Myers in the first two films.

Arriving at the historic Beech Bend Park, Halloween fans will discover a classic dark ride inside The Haunted House. The dark ride concept was invented by a man named Leon Cassidy in 1928 while working for a company called the Pretzel Amusement Ride Company. A car would follow a twisting, winding track through a dark building while encountering various scary scenes and gags. The most famous known example is The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland. The first Pretzel dark ride was installed at Beech Bend in 1954. It was reworked in the 1980’s and eventually redesigned entirely just last year.

However, the exterior remains the same as it was when I first discovered it in the late 80’s. Painted images of 80’s horror icons such as Freddy Krueger, the female demon from “House” and Bud the friendly zombie from “Day of the Dead” adorn the ride building. The interior has been updated with the latest haunted atraction animatronics. You’ll be attacked by werewolves, giant vampire bats, ghastly skeletons, ghouls and zombies jumping from their coffins. It’s classic thrills with modern effects!

I recommend you arrive at Beech Bend after 3PM in the afternoon after enjoying some of these other classic attractions, and you’ll save $10 off the price of admission for a ticket price of $21.99 for adults.

If instead of South, you head West from Louisville along I-64, in just an hour you’ll arive at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari Theme Park in Santa Claus, IN. The greatest thing about Holiday World for our Summer road trip is that the park is divided into various holidays, including Halloween Land. When you pass beneath the retro-looking Halloween sign, you’ll hear Halloween related music being pumped through the park’s sound sytem. You’ll find your appetite tempted by Goblin Burgers. Wood crafts are made at Spooky’s Woodshop. There are two great wooden roller coasters inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

But perhaps the most evocative ride of the Halloweens of yesteryear and the Golden Age of Trick-or-Treating is the beautifully painted and wonderfully maintained Hallowswings!Vintage style trick-or-treaters, bats, witches and skulls adorn this classic swing ride that both accomodates and pleases adults and children alike. If you’re fortunate enough to stay until dark, you’ll be magically transported by the multitude of lights that illuminate the ride against the night sky. Bring your camera.

Visit www.holidayworld.com for hours, prices and discount information.

Lastly, if your Summer road trip heads in a northerly direction, take I-71 North towards Cincinnati and Kings Island. There you’ll find another dark ride with an interactive spin. Before we take a ride on Boo Blasters on Boo Hill, a little history is in order.


Opened in 1972, Kings Island has become one of the most popular amusement parks in the United States with a history of Halloween friendly roller coasters like “The Beast” and the dearly departed “The Bat.” They also have a long history with the dark ride, the first of which was a boat ride called “The Enchanted Voyage” which opened with the park in 1972. It was a cartoon journey inside a giant television set into a cartoon world with characters like Scooby Doo and Huckleberry Hound. This ride iteself included “a spooky section” with appropriately creepier music and cartoon skeletons.

Many fans of that ride lament the invasion of little blue gnomes when it was refit as The Smurf’s Enchanted Voyage in the 1980’s. Thankfully, ghosts and goblins chased the little blue creeps out in 1992 when the boat ride was taken out and a ride system installed for “The Phantom Theater,” haunted by the insane Maestro! I liked that guy.

“The Phantom Theater” was popular for ten years before the crowds started to wane, but even when it was replaced in 2003 by the Sally Corporation’s “Scooby Doo and the Haunted Castle,” the Maestro and his ghostly cohorts remained so popular that their figures make annual appearances at the Halloween Haunt in October.


The “Scooby Doo” ride introduced the interactive element to the ride, as guests could now use “ghost guns” to shoot the wandering phantoms and try to out score their co-riders. In 2009, Kings Island relinquished the rights to Scooby Doo and the Sally Corporation came in to quickly refit the same ride into the more generic ghostly version now called “Boo Blasters on Boo Hill.” It’s still a lot of fun, and I must give props to Kings Island for naming the villian of the ride “Boocifer!”

Well my friends, we have come to the end of our epic regional Haunted Summer road trip. But I, the Phantom of the Ville, will return on a weekly basis until Oct. 31 to offer more ghastly suggestions to occupy your time until our favorite holiday is again upon us. Drive safely and be sure to wear plenty of sun protection, esspecially those of you with that “living condition.”

~The Phantom of the Ville


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