Halloween Thrills & Scares

Carleton Farms, Lake Stevens

With Halloween quickly approaching, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect back on what the holiday was like when I was a kid. My Octobers were spent getting my hands on the current years must have costume and trick-or-treating in the neighborhoods guaranteed to be giving out more than a few full size candies. Those weren’t the best parts though (well maybe the candy haul tied). Instead, the honor went to annual trips to the pumpkin patch and carving home our finds once we got home. It was both fun and messy.

Back then (I can’t believe I’m old enough to even say that), pumpkin patches were just that, pumpkin patches. You packed into the car with your family, scoured through a field of pumpkins to find the perfect one, pet the adorable animals, ate corn and drank cider, and ran through an ordinary corn maze. I’ve found,

The pumpkin patches of today though, are so much more. Don’t get me wrong, they still have the traditional pumpkin patch features during the daytime hours, you know, the stuff that is safe for the little ones, It’s a whole different story after dark. It is then that the ghouls, zombies, chain saw murders, and, oh yeah, the scary clowns come out to play with the big kids (that means you.

Last Halloween, we chose to give Carleton Farm of Lake Stevens a try. What can I say, there isn’t a whole lot local when it comes to the city, so when we do find something, we are all over it.

The biggest local trend by far has to be zombie paintball. Each offering is a bit different, but usually involves riding along in a wagon, sitting behind a paintball gun, and taking aim as it makes its way through the playing field. It’s not your daddy’s hayride, that’s for sure and its not something I’m incredibly fond of. If I’m going to be playing with zombies, I’d much rather be running from them, or engaging in more traditional paintball style warfare.

While Carleton Farm has the traditional zombie paintball, one that could have used far more zombies when we went, they also bring something different to the table that is a little closer to what I’m looking for. After completing their paintball run, riders have the option of getting off the wagon early and making their way back through a dark cornfield crawling with zombies just waiting to attack. they don’t actually attack, just scare the you know what out of you, or try to anyway.

While my own kids were a bit scared of the idea of this, I for one am up for the challenge. Again, the experience could have done with a bit more zombies to make it realistic. Well, if zombies walking through corn fields was actually realistic. It was still fun though considering you are wandering around in the dark, the zombies often stand around against the corn waiting for you to stumble on them, and their moaning gets you moving a bit faster when it gets a bit too close for comfort.

If you think the fun at Carleton Farm ends there, you would be wrong. There is also the typical scare free romp through a corn maze for those brave enough to do so in the dark or via flashlight.

The best scare to be found, however, is their Haunted Swamp, which again takes you amongst the corn stalks. I’m not usually a haunted house person, let alone a haunted swamp one. I feel about them the same way I feel about ghosts, I’d prefer to not cross paths with them. Don’t start thinking I’m a chicken though, because this gal white water rafts, zip lines, and camps with the bears. I’m plenty brave, I just not big on the unexpected jumping out at me.

As you can imagine, Carleton Farm’s Haunted Swamp features the typical scares found in haunted houses. Unlike the zombie features, it is packed with folks dressed up and waiting to scare you. That includes a blood-crazed chain saw packing, butcher and evil clows who promise to make you scared of them if you aren’t already. There are also some creepy girls who want you to come play with them, one of which goes from seeming very nice to extremely scary as you try to move on. Then again, her wrath may have had more to do with us laughing at her a bit. Don’t laugh!

Fair warning, there are also more zombies, or zombie like folks, blending in with the corn stalks. Yeah, one of those almost gave me a heart attack when I didn’t realize he was there until he was literally right next to me. That wasn’t the only actual scare I got though. There was also a point of confusion where we were unsure where we were supposed to go, through a building or around it, and a very tall, creepy, and mute man came out and just hovered over us as we tried to figure it out.

Overall, the zombie attractions might be worth a try, if they’ve upped their zombie counts this year and the Haunted Swamp is a must try. We both had fun and were scared at points, so I’d recommend it. The downside, that attraction has quite a wait, so be prepared for that.

Photos Taken From Carleton Farms. Find out more about the day and night activities available at Carleton Farms by visiting www.carletonfarm.com and www.frightmaze.com

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