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Candle Lighter's Witching Academy

The Chadbourne Carriage House, at the Fremont Hub
on Fremont Blvd. at Mowry, Fremont

Reviewed 10/25/06

How does that Midwestern expression go? "Oh for cute". Yes, that is the perfect expression to describe this year's Ghost House put on by the Candle Lighter's called the Witching Academy.

Every year the Candle Lighter's organization comes up with a new theme for their haunted fundraiser. In years past it has been a western themed "Ghost Gulch", a frightful theme park in "Scream Park", and a spooky "Ghoul Garden" just to name a few. This year they have transformed the historic Chadbourne Carriage House into the Witching Academy.

The Witching Academy is based on the ever popular Harry Potter series of books and movies with scenes many will recognized even if they are only passingly familiar with the fiction of J.K. Rowling. As the theme indicates, this haunt isn't for adults looking to be terrified; it is aimed squarely at an audience much shorter in stature. But the whole family will find a thoroughly enjoyable haunt experience here.

Every scene in this dark and twisting haunt, from Hogwart's Great Hall to Professor Sprout's mandragora potting room to the Student Store is well thought out, richly decorated, and bathed in eerie black light. Given the size of the Carriage House, we are always surprised by how many different scenes they can include. Though physically small, you never get the impression the experience was too short. There are no strobes or fog machines to make the little ones uncomfortable. They will enjoy the numerous startles and scares from within and without the scenes provided by the plethora of junior high volunteers who haunt the Witching Academy and give everyone, young and old, personal treatment.

While these startles are mild compared to adult oriented haunts the very little ones or the truly chicken hearted may request to be guided through by a good fairy who will keep the ghouls and goblins in check until they complete their journey. In addition to being a great way to introduce your toddler to the joys of the haunted house tradition without worrying about them becoming distraught or traumatized, it can be a good way to beat the long weekend lines as the chicken line is always much shorter than the line for the full experience.

Between the parking lot and Ghost House you'll find a very lively carnival midway that children go crazy for. There are numerous booths with games to play, the usual Halloween carnival snacks, and a small country store. Tickets for the Witching Academy are available in the midway at the booth closest to the Carriage House.

At just $2, the Candle Lighter's Witching Academy is the best value for a family friendly haunted house in the entire Bay Area. Together with the inexpensive carnival midway, you can have a full and entertaining family night for less than it costs for dinner and a movie and by far more memorable.

Be sure to take a look at our Events Calendar to find all the other great events going on in the Bay Area. Or if you're reading this review in a year other than it was written, please check our Events Calendar for current dates and hours of operation.

Do you think we got this review totally wrong? Agree with us? Or just want everyone to know your thoughts? Then start a discussion of this haunt in our forums!

When Oct. 14-30, 2006, Mon.-Thurs. 6 pm-9 pm; Fri. 6 pm-10 pm; Sat. 1 pm-10 pm; Sun. 1 pm-9 pm
Where The Chadbourne Carriage House, at the Fremont Hub on Fremont Blvd. at Mowry, Fremont
Admission $2
Contact www.thecandlelighters.com

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