Last weekend we did it all, and by all I mean four Halloween events. Some good, some bad.
This blog is all about our Operation Halloween experience.
To start with, I have no idea how people afford to do this. I emailed them about ticketing because I couldn’t find any age information on their website other than “good for all ages.” I asked:
Q: Is there a charge for a one year old?
A: Yes, everyone who comes pays the same rate.
Q: Are there any sensory friendly time slots for children with autism?
A: No, but if I could organize a group of 16 children with special needs they would accommodate.
That said, I still wanted to try it out, but for the two of us it would be $81.50! Are you freaking kidding me?!?! For an experience that lasts under an hour. This isn’t event the VIP package – this is general admission. That was going to be a hard pass for me.
However, as luck would have it, they must be having a difficult time selling tickets at this outrageous price because I stumbled upon a buy one get one free coupon – I’ve seen them all over since attending. $40.75 is still crazy to me, but I went for it. Anything for my kid, right?
We arrived to our Sunday morning, 11 AM time slot – the first of the day. You are directed up an elevator to a sparsely decorated lobby to wait. No chairs. As more kids arrived with their families I noticed that they must have signed up for the VIP package as they received a jack-o-lantern light up necklace. Lennon seemed to want one so I upgraded, plus he was in really good spirits and the VIP package also included a mini-photo shoot at the end. Needless to say, as soon as he received a necklace he no longer wanted it.
One thing I can say for certain is Operation Halloween has mastered their social media. Leading up to opening day they invited social media influencers to take part, for free. Of course these individuals had nothing but good things to say. It’s hard to talk bad about a place that did you a solid and saved you hundreds! Also, they just have a lot of action on their page (probably helps to be a for-profit with someone on the payroll dedicated to this). They do a GREAT job on social media.
It was finally time to begin our experience and I’ve definitely learned from past experiences – KEEP THE STROLLER HANDY. I had no idea what we were walking into, how he would behave, what decor he would tear off the walls, etc. The stroller (or a carrier) are key to restraining him if need be because, let’s face it, I have no energy.
Room 1 – The Carnival Room (forgive me if these aren’t the proper titles)
This room was filled with games to play and win tickets – only one of which Lennon could reach. All ages – I think not – and my kid is TALL for a 23 month old. The game he could reach was a water game, catching fish with a magnetized hook. I did some hand over hand with Lennon to see if he would take to it, we even (sort of) caught a fish. The attendant offered Lennon a coin but sort of scoffed when Lennon didn’t care to take it. I explained that Lennon was a little different, which apparently meant “give my child absolutely no attention for the remainder of the experience.” The coins were needed to trade in for prizes, something Lennon missed out on. I had to take Lennon away from the fishing game because at this point all he wanted was to splash in the water. The remainder of the time was spent wandering, in front of the funny mirror or playing with a ball that had fallen from one of the games. I’d say this room was geared toward the 4-7 age range.
Room 2 – The Witches Lair (and I may also be going completely out of order)
This room was slime making class. Children were to sit in chairs at a table stir their slime and bag it to play with in 24-hours. Not something Lennon can do. So, we explored the room in his stroller. He enjoyed looking at the room’s decor and we took a few pictures – one with him and the witch. Unfortunately, when it was time to move on, Lennon wasn’t even offered some slime to take with him. Maybe a 3-7 age range.
Room 3 – The Pumpkin Patch
This room wasn’t so much an experience, but a “grab a pumpkin and go” room. Some kids were told their pumpkins would give them powers, some were given a name with their pumpkin. The scarecrow? handing them out said Lennon’s would give him super strength (he was in a superman costume).
Room 4 – Mad Hatter’s Tea Party & Pumpkin Decorating
Another sit in chairs and do what you’re told type room. Not Lennon’s strong suit. I sat in a chair and kept him in the stroller next to me. I didn’t want us to get completely left out like we were in the Witches Lair. Each seat had a collection of stickers to decorate your pumpkin with – Cute! I decorated the pumpkin alongside Lennon, who mostly ate some of the stickers. I think this room could work for a audience Lennon’s age – so long as they are able to focus. I’m thinking a 2-7 age range.
Room 5 – Super Hero Room
This room was Lennon’s favorite – namely because he had free reign to run around and burn some energy. It was a play gym. Something we go to regularly for $8 (TOTAL). The building Operation Halloween is housed in is actually a play center that closed down a few months back. It looked like to me that this room hadn’t changed much since its play center days outside of a few super hero signs and posters slapped on the wall.
Now, this room was Lennon’s clear favorite – fun for all ages – but I had some major issues with one of the character actors. Spiderman was one of the attendants in this room who, in my opinion, has a lot to learn about interacting with kids. My first negative encounter was in the city backdrop photo op. Spiderman stood there expecting children to flock to him for pictures. Lennon was running back and forth in the room and occasionally made his way to Spiderman. When he showed no interest, Spiderman just waved his hand at Lennon and said, “whatever.” Very irritating. Then, Spiderman was showing off his flips on the trampoline and nearly crushed a little girl at the end when he lost control. No clue how the mother kept her cool – I would have WENT OFF.
That was it …
The next room we entered was a souvenir shop and pictures. The VIP package claimed you could take pictures at the photo op, but when I went in the ‘photographer’ seemed to rush us out and we felt guilt because there were still several people waiting their turn.
Overall, I would not go back and I would not recommend for the price. This is a $20 experience for children ages 3-7, not a $40+ one. Parents should get in free as they simply watch their children. Employees should be properly trained on working with kids and differently-abled kids.