With three haunted houses, a spooky hayride, and a bustling carnival, Witch’s Woods is a Halloween theme park that rises from the mist for only one month a year. Ferried along by a sputtering tractor, Haunted Hayride passengers cower for 20 grueling minutes as they are assailed from all sides by zombies, werewolves, ghouls, and cows trying to nibble the hay. At the end of the ride, three paths lead to additional attractions, including Castle Morbid, in which medieval spirits chase interlopers through the halls and into the depths of the keep, where it becomes increasingly apparent that the weapons that once kept intruders out are now employed to keep them in. Nightmare Mansion is inhabited by a cursed family whose eternal life has left them as withered husks driven insane with rage at visitors who still possess the ability to die. The final path leads to the 3-D Keeper’s Crypt, where the undead shamble and scream as they pursue their prey, and where the walls themselves seem to be closing in.
A creepy carnival awaits survivors with rides, games, and more attractions. The Horror wood Chamber of Chills puts favorite Halloween and horror-movie characters on display, including such icons as Frankenstein, Freddy Krueger, and Mary Shelley’s original version of Shrek. Meanwhile, the Jack O’ Lantern Jamboree displays rows upon rows of professional carved pumpkins, eerily glowing at self-guided passersby.
One Stop Fun grants children and parents alike a lighthearted escape from the rigors of daily tasks and chores with a multicolored jungle gym, kid-sized climbing wall, and entertaining pool area. A three-story indoor playground's plastic tubes fill with toddlers and oversized bank transfers traveling between a collection of ball pits and bouncy bridges. Inside another room, primary-colored handholds protrude from a graphite-hued climbing wall that lets children safely explore its 40-foot surface with a maximum height of 8 feet. The fun center also lends out its facilities for birthday parties and other gatherings. For more organized activity, USAG-certified gymnastics instructors teach tumbling as part of a programs portfolio that also instills coordination and discipline with karate and dance classes. As children play and learn, adult chaperones can lunch at the snack bar or take advantage of conveniences such as complimentary WiFi for staying in touch and a changing area for concealing the secret identities of super children.
When Nashoba Valley Ski opened in 1964, its lack of modern equipment meant that most of the time guests just had to hope for a good snowfall. In the decades since, however, the resort has gained mastery over the winter landscape. Snow-blowers spray their glittery clouds onto 17 trails ranging from beginner to expert, where skiers and snowboarders carve around sharp turns, navigate shaded glades, and look for fresh tracks left by wild Thoreaus. Four high-speed lifts run from the lodge and restaurant to the top of these slopes, and provide easy access to the mountain's two terrain parks. Suited to riders of varying experience levels, both parks encourage air-catching with features such as large boxes and rails. Recognizing that not all visitors enjoy strapping boards to their feet, Nashoba Valley Ski offers another kind of winter-time fun: a tubing park spread across 18 grooved lanes and serviced by four tow lifts.
As visitors step into the balmy gardens of The Butterfly Place, they may feel as though they are “walking into a floating garden . . . as if they are being carried as well.” That was the experience of a Wicked Local writer who visited the seasonal indoor sanctuary, which houses both local butterflies and tropical species culled from around the world. As the butterflies freely wing about the sanctuary, koi fish swim through serene ponds along the winding pathway, and quail waddle and moonwalk through myriad species of colorful flora. Those who find that watching the butterflies sip nectar incites their own hunger can take a break at the outdoor picnic area and nibble on any snacks they may have brought along.
Aeroballoon elevates adventurous patrons and their spirits 40 stories over the greater Massachusetts area in a tethered 20-passenger helium balloon. Cloud whisperers step into the gondola and strap on belt-like harnesses before a gentle liftoff, and their dirigible floats skyward at the relaxed pace of a sloth's kite. Riders relax and drink in the sights of Massachusetts and the rolling landscapes that encompass it. A high-tension cable connects the balloon to the ground at all times and offers a one-of-a-kind experience that cannot be re-created by bribing gravity to go on a 15-minute coffee break.