The Phoenix Zoo is always a lively place, but nothing amps up the energy to a kinetic pace than to mix animals, ghosts and goblins. The Zoo holds an annual event for all ages that is sure to entertain even the most discerning of scare-seekers.
Howl-o-ween at the Phoenix Zoo was held on October 26th and 27th from 6:30 to 10:30 pm and was bewitching enough for parents to mark their calendars in advance for next year. For $6.00 a ticket for zoo members and $8.00 a ticket for non-members, the Howl-o-Ween event was well worth the cost. Once inside the zoo park area, visitors were greeted by colorful lights and even more colorful characters. Milling around the park with the children and their families were zombies, monsters, and even the Grim Reaper himself, who asked if I would be interested in going on a journey with him!
As a group, we decided to check out the activities and shows being offered. A map of the zoo offered fun for all different ages, including a Halloween Dance party for the teens. With the flashing lights and pulsating music (including Bieber, of course), Shannon and her friend, Bia, were drawn to the center of the park while the rest of us marked our course. The map provided included a “scare level” for parents to gauge which activities would be suitable for their children. The group of ten year old boys in my group determined that they were more than ready for “scare level III”, the highest in scare factor.
Our first venture of the night was wandering through the Desert of the Dead, a path littered with the undead, who apparently had a bone to pick–or just wanted to pick our bones! They jumped out of the zoo scenery and sent the boys quickly down the path, only to be confronted by other frightening characters.
There were several fee-based activities offered, as well. Small children could ride on the “Scare”ousel or even a real, live camel. Or, families and children could ride on the Danger Planet tram ride or visit Stingray Bay. Our group found the free activities kept us too busy to spend money!
The boys trick-or-treated down the alley of doors, where costumed candy givers sat outside “doors” for the kids to stop and collect candy. We made a quick detour to check out the Creatures of the Night Animal Show and watched pirates engage in a sword fight before walking through the Pirates of the “Scare”ibbean exhibit.
Younger children enjoyed Nature’s Nightmares which featured an assortment of bugs and desert creatures, as well as the Monster Midway, full of carnival games for kids to play. Kids of all ages enjoyed Matt Lemm’s Magic for Kids show, where magician Lemm selected children from the audience to assist him in his tricks. He amazed his audience with card tricks, handkerchief illusions, and a lot of laughs. The guillotine act that was the finale of his show left everyone impressed.
The Caught on Tape exhibit featured members of the Phoenix Arizona Paranormal Society (PAPS) and their findings of ghostly photographs and audiotapes. As we walked to the site of this locale, we saw a dad appropriately dressed as a Ghostbuster, complete with power pack. His son was adorably dressed as a mini Stay Puft Marshmallow man and dad good-naturedly responded, “Ghostbusters!” to passerbys queries of, “Who ya gonna call?”
The highlight of the zoo experience, however, had to be the scarier attractions. We wandered through a haunted corn maze, complete with lurching scarecrows. My personal favorite was the scarecrow that waved his arms and sarcastically called out, “fright!” We all also enjoyed the Hall of Horrors–Maze of the Mind, by far the most fearsome happening of the evening. As revellers entered the maze, they were greeted by a bevy of creepy creatures at every turn. As we made our way through the labyrinth, we are chased by scary sorts of all shapes and sizes.
The whole group had a great time exploring the zoo grounds and enjoying all that event had to offer. By far, though, taking the kids through the various scare exhibits and listening to those ten-year old boys squeal like small pigs made it Howl-o-Worth it!