Elitch's Fright Fest offers up two types of fright, plus pets in Halloween costumes
Once, when I was about eight years old, I rode my bike down a large hill made out of snow. That ended in one of the first serious injuries I ever sustained -- a bruised rib -- but it's also a good example of why I've always loved roller-coasters: I love to be scared, in a thrill-seeking type of way, and roller-coasters are an excellent way to experience that while minimizing the risk of serious bodily injury. I don't, on the other hand, really enjoy being scared in a creepy, horror type of way, and in that respect, my eight-year-old kid and I are sort of opposites; he'll hardly ride his bike down a hill made of pavement, let alone snow, but he's obsessed with Ghost Hunters to the point that he's convinced that not only every place he goes is haunted, but that he has his own ghost that haunts him personally (I'm not making this up). So our visit to Elitch Gardens' Fright Fest this Saturday offered something for both of us. Plus, there was a pet parade, and who doesn't like a pet parade?
Fright Fest is basically Elitch's post-season, a month-long time of weekend hours that's more or less like regular Elitch's minus the waterpark and plus some haunted houses. As far as programming goes, the main attraction is Fright by Night, where, after sunset, the park gets teen- and adult-oriented with a set of legit haunted houses (and when I say legit, consider that one of them, Blood Bath, requires visitors to wear a rain poncho. Just think about that for a second). I was pretty confident Avry could handle that, and would in fact think it was awesome, but the Elitch's folks reiterated that it was not recommended for kids twelve and under, so we went with the other option, Family by Day.
We got there Saturday just before the Pet Parade, so after a couple of spins around on the Tilt-o-Whirl, we checked that out, and it didn't let us down. Animals in Halloween costumes are always hilarious (the competition focused on three main categories -- funniest, most original and best pet/owner combo -- with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Dumb Friends League), and while some owners went with typical put-a-shirt-on-the-dog-and-call-it-a-day fare, others absolutely threw down. My favorites included the marching-band bulldogs and an extremely upset-looking cat in a Three Musketeers costume.
Affecting a disconcerting amount of evidently genetic schadenfreude, Avry favored Spider-Dog. "Man, Spider-Dog looks pretty miserable," he observed with a satisfied chuckle.