I was surprised, and disappointed, to learn that Walt Disney World has discontinued its seasonal Haunted Carriage Rides at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. When we stayed in the cabins last fall, we took the ride for the first time and enjoyed the special Halloween experience. It was just the right amount of thrill, without being too scary, for our then-7-year-old and 9-year-old.
The reservations filled up quickly -- months before the October rides -- so it's curious that Disney would put a stop to something so popular. The only information the recreation department could offer was that an outside vendor runs this experience and it was their decision. Disney fans have speculated that the rides are being updated or moved to another location.
Haunted Carriage Rides were one of only two places on Disney World property that guests could see the Headless Horseman. (The other is at the start of Mickey's Boo To You! Halloween Parade during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.) He didn't appear right away at Fort Wilderness, though.
Guests began their adventure at the Blacksmith's Shop at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch, where four open carriages lined up on the half hour for a 25-minute journey. They headed out past Pioneer Hall and the Settlement Trading Post and into the woods. The driver started the telling of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and then a recorded narrator picked up the tale, as the carriages traveled through the trees and along the shore of Bay Lake, stopping at key places mentioned in the story.
The shoreline was windy and the woods were dark for the later carriage rides, which added to the spooky atmosphere. My children understood that at some point, they likely would encounter the headless horseman, and they kept an eye out. When he did gallop alongside the carriage toward the end of the ride, they were surprised.
The Haunted Carriage Rides were $60, and each carriage held four adults or two adults and three children.
Regular carriage rides still are available at Fort Wilderness, and guests who book this are likely to see many elaborate Halloween decorations that campers traditionally put up around their campsites. The cost for the non-themed rides is $45 for the 25-minute trip.
The previous post in this blog was SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular brings gentle underwater fantasy to life.
The next post in this blog is Disney character costumes among kids' top picks for Halloween 2012.