Thanks to Kings Dominion for hosting us to explore The Great Pumpkin Fest and share our experiences!
By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Fall is here, and for kids that means time for autumn activities like painting a pumpkin and going through a hay maze… stuff you can do at a theme park, right? At Kings Dominion you can do that now because The Great Pumpkin Fest is here! Each year the park opens for a few weekends in the fall so kids and their families can enjoy rides and attractions along with special activities. The Kings Dominion Great Pumpkin Fest is going on now through October 29, 2017, and there is much to love about it, including special live shows, games, crafts, and added attractions.
We attended the festival last weekend and below present 14 reasons why other families will love to go, too! (Note: All activities take place during the day and are NOT scary; the park, however, opens the “Halloween Haunt” at night, a scary event geared to teens and adults.)
1. Character appearances
The Great Pumpkin Fest activities take place in the park’s Planet Snoopy area, a 14-acre section dedicated to the younger guests and their families. This section is the world’s largest themed children’s area based on the on the Charles Schulz “Peanuts” comic strip. Planet Snoopy is home to characters including Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy, which you can see during your visit. The characters may even be in costume, and they are always happy to pose for photos.
2. Special fall live shows
At the Peanuts Playhouse, a small open-air stage, you can watch (and interact with) the Peanuts Gang during lively shows. “Charlie Brown’s Jungle Journey” has a safari theme, with a catchy song about directions that will get the kids dancing, and a fun take on “Welcome to the Jungle” led by the loveable characters. The other Peanuts show, “Jump and Jive,” is a dance party for that will have kids on their feet in no time. During The Great Pumpkin Fest there are also magic performances with Jonathan Austin, a Halloween edition of Mad Science, and a Creepy Crawlies show featuring live animals. Show times vary by dates.
3. Pig Pen’s People Washer
This small but fun attraction was a real hit with the kids! We’ve had an unseasonably warm autumn, so the day we visited, children clearly were enjoying cooling off in this kiddie foam pit. Young guests enter an inflatable pit where they are surrounded by mounds of sudsy foam, while park staff supervise entry and exit. (Note: Bring a towel and a change of clothes, because your kids will get wet!)
4. Woodstock’s Barnyard Animals
Speaking of farms, you can meet some real animals during the Kings Dominion Great Pumpkin Fest! Look for this small petting zoo near the Joe Cool’s Pit Stop ride and meet barnyard animals!
5. Franklin’s Scarecrow Hollow
Nothing scary here… and no fear of getting lost! This tot-size hay maze has enough twists and turns to make it a fun adventure, especially for first-timers, without too much of a challenge. The hay “walls” are low so kids who want to try it on their own still can be seen easily by parents.
6. Van Pelt Derby
How about “driving” through a hay maze? At the Van Pelt Derby, kids can join Linus on a ride around the family farm, pedaling their way on a miniature John Deere tractor.
7. Sally’s Pumpkin Painting Patch
Located near the Planet Snoopy Fountain, this pumpkin patch has small pumpkins and all the art supplies you need to make your own creation. Tables and chairs are provided for the crafting, so it’s also a nice area to take a break.
8. Ghostly Games
Near the Snoopy Boutique are some tables with carnival-style games for kids to play. Kids can ty their luck and win prizes.
9. Fun photo stations
Be sure to bring your camera! Throughout Planet Snoopy you will find several fall- and Peanuts-themed photo opps. These make for great memories, especially if your kids are visiting in costume.
10. Kid-friendly rides in Planet Snoopy
With 20 rides just in this area of the park, Planet Snoopy has plenty of options for young guests. Some rides are just for kids (such as a small drop tower) while several others accommodate both children and adults.
Two of our favorites are the Woodstock Express rollercoaster and the Boo Blasters seated target ride! This glow-in-the-dark ride is a fun challenge for all ages. When we visited the park, our friends who live near Richmond and have season passes (which are good for The Great Pumpkin Fest, too!) met us, and it was their teen son who suggested this ride… we all readily agreed!
11. Other family rides
Beyond Planet Snoopy, Kings Dominion has other family-friendly rides, including a carousel, bumper cars, and a Ferris wheel. Don’t miss other nice attractions such as taking a ride up the Eiffel Tower replica to get panoramic views of the park, or strolling through the large and great Dinosaurs Alive exhibit (a small fee applies).
12. Trick or treating
Look for the signs near the Planet Snoopy entrance and get your map of activities and a treat bag. Kids can then “trick or treat” at a few stations!
13. Family Care Center
With so much to do at the park, you’re probably going to need a few breaks, especially when traveling with young children. While the park has many restaurants and places where you can just sit and relax, if you’re traveling with little ones, you will absolutely want to visit the Family Care Center. Kings Dominion takes “family-friendly” to a whole other level with this air-conditioned, cheerful building in Planet Snoopy.
Available only to families with young children, and staffed by a park team member at all times, the Family Care Center is an oasis of sorts. Here you will find a bathroom, baby changing stations, nursing stations (including a couple of private ones) with rocking chairs, sinks, and microwaves. On the other side of the building, near the entrance, are toddler-sized tables, a TV playing Peanuts cartoons, and a few games, so this is a perfect place for parents traveling with multiple children.
14. Special deals
The Great Pumpkin Fest takes place on Saturdays and Sundays from September 23, 2017, to October 29, 2017. Tickets start at $41 for daily admission (which includes the nighttime scary “Haunt” event). But before you buy, be sure to check the park’s website for promotions. Right now, children ages 3-5 can enjoy unlimited free visits to the park and The Great Pumpkin Fest this fall with the registration and activation of a 2018 Pre-K Pass.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand, and I have been compensated for my participation. All opinions are my own.
All photos by and (c) P. Hall