Canada’s largest Halloween event may be getting too big for it’s own good

Photo by Toby VanWeston

Opening gates of Canada's Wonderland Halloween Haunt event.

Halloween Haunt is now open at Canada’s Wonderland, and excited Halloween lovers couldn’t be more thrilled. Canada’s largest haunted theme park brings crowds from all over the GTA, Durham Region, and beyond every year. However, those large crowds may end up hurting your experience if you are going to the park to enjoy a good scare.

Passage to the park requires going through two lines, one to get tickets (even for season pass holders) and one through the entrance itself. Going through the park doors takes a particularly long time. Crowd of hundreds move step by step every few minutes to get closer to the door.

Once inside, the atmosphere is electric. Ominous music plays in every area of the park. Sinister sounds of organs, thundering drums, and dancing bells set a haunting mood as you explore the sites. Actors fully committed to their roles of clowns, demons, or murder victims do their best to sneak up on unsuspecting visitors and make them jump in fear. Smoke fogs the walkways, giving a real sense of uncertainty as to where you are going. Even the park visitors appear to be part of the show as their shadows slowly creep out of the thick mist and red lights.

The haunted mazes are the main attraction of the night, and no expense is spared in making them theatrical. Because of the high demand, however, large parties are often let in at once, which takes away from the fright.

Inside the mazes, various themed monsters jump out of corners to startle people. Though when large groups are walking through together, the surprise is spoiled because you can see what’s going to happen next. Performers often have to get back into their hiding spots in plain sight of visitors.

Kevin McCarthy, an Oshawa resident who has been three different years, says the experience has changed.

The Wonderland water fountain lit up to set the mood of horror at Halloween Haunt
The Wonderland water fountain lit up to set the mood of horror at Halloween Haunt

“It’s become more mainstream, just a lot more people. They seem like they can’t handle all the flow of people for someone to experience all the attractions in one night,” he says.

The event is open from 7 a.m. to midnight on weekends. It takes about an hour to get into the park, and lines can take 20-30 minutes to get through.

Vicki Valdron, also an Oshawa resident, did enjoy her experience, but noted the long line-ups compared to the cost of entry.

“I had a season’s pass, and you still pay a lot of money. Then you go in, and basically 90 per cent of the time you’re waiting,” she says.

Excitement fills the park everywhere you go. Crowds of people who love this time of year can be heard laughing and shrieking throughout the site. Performers alternately try to terrify the audience, and graciously take picture with enthusiastic visitors.

But there are a lot of people.

Halloween lovers will undoubtedly enjoy the atmosphere, but those interested in going should prepare for line-ups. The event continues until Oct. 31.

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Toby is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. He enjoys writing about entertainment, with a focus on on movies and music. Toby can be heard on Riot Radio as one of the hosts of Talkalypse Now. He hopes to work at an entertainment or music magazine in the future.