Hallowe’en is getting more and more popular in the UK. While I don’t think that we’re as into Hallowe’en as our friends in the USA, Hallowe’en is definitely more of a thing than it was when I was little. My kids love everything about Hallowe’en and so this year we decided to take them to Spookyard at Over Farm, a Hallowe’en themed day out especially for small kids.
Read on to find out what we thought!
Spookyard at Over Farm
Over Farm is a working farm on the outskirts of Gloucester, which is open to visitors throughout the year. There are animals for kids to look at, seasonal fruits to pick and a farm shop. Over Farm also put on events throughout the year and Hallowe’en is its biggest festival with the adult scare attraction Frightmare being held in the evening throughout October.
Spookyard is a kid friendly daytime version, and held at the same staging area as Frightmare. (You can read more about what Frightmare is here). As you walk around you can see signs of the scarier things that go on at the night time Halloween festival; creepy clowns and other spooks are waiting to greet you at the entrance.
There are lots of things for kids to get involved in at Spookyard and you’re even able to experience a toned-down version of some of the adult scare attractions. Spookyard is most suitable for kids up to about 8; our kids are 5 and 3 and it was perfect for them.
We visited Spookyard at Over Farm on its second day, and arrived at opening time (we’d recommend doing this). We managed to get around pretty much all of the attractions and the kids in particular had a great day.
Tractor Trailer ride to the Pumpkin Patch
We decided to head straight for the tractor ride and the pumpkin patch. You sit in a trailer pulled by a tractor (which my little boy loved). A bumpy ride takes you around the farm – perfect for small children. There are pumpkins to count and scarecrows to watch out for (remember to get their names written down on your ticket).
The ride drops you off at the far end of the farm where you can pick your own pumpkins from the huge pumpkin patch. Don’t forget to look for the blue pumpkin to win a prize! The field is enormous so finding the blue one is harder than it sounds.
Once you’ve picked your pumpkins take them to the tent to carve, or just take them home to carve later. We picked small pumpkins for our kids but we probably should have chosen bigger ones as they were hard to carve! The staff are very helpful here and will give you ideas and templates, and help the kids out.
You can then take the tractor ride back to the main area.
Main staging area and performances
The main arena is under an enormous domed tent, making most things at Spookyard weather-proof. Entrances to the scare attractions are here and there’s a bar, restaurants, two stages and areas for crafts and face painting. These activities are at extra cost and we didn’t do any of the crafts as it’s not really what our kids are into, but there were plenty of takers at the tables. The girl got her face painted, much to her delight.
Spookyard put on three shows throughout the day; a Dick Whittington panto in the morning and afternoon which was full of energy, a reptile encounter in the afternoon followed by an entertainer who used balloons as props. The shows were all really popular and we got there too late for seats every time!
The best show for us (well, me) was the balloon entertainer; he told the story of the Hunchback of Notre Dame with the help of mime and and balloon props. The best part was that he used unsuspecting members of the audience as actors, and in an inspired bit of casting, he selected the husband to play the hunchback. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. To the husband’s credit, he really went for it!
Scare attractions at Spookyard
Two of the adult scare attractions were open for the kids at Spookyard. The one that I thought the kids would like the most was the twisted Wonderland. We had to wear 3D glasses to walk through a spinning tunnel before we encountered several characters from Alice in Wonderland (none were too scary, although I bet that ramps up in the evening). The Cheshire Cat’s lair was full of phosphorescent mushrooms and plants and it was all quite effective. Of course we got to meet the Queen of Hearts but luckily for us there were no decapitations ordered.
The other main scare attraction was Caged. The premise behind Caged is genetic experiments to merge humans and animals, which has of course gone wrong. I’m sure this is pretty terrifying late at night in near darkness with gruesome makeup effects and probably a fair bit of strobe lighting going on. We were asked what level of scariness we’d like (scary, jumpy, or family friendly). The girl confidently announced she wanted scary, but as it was only us in there I think the actors probably toned it down a lot for our little kids. Instead of gruesome makeup the actors had a bit of face paint on, and they rattled a few cages and made some animal noises; our kids had big grins on the whole way around. As it was very light in the tent it wasn’t too scary for our kids, and the actors were obviously good at judging what was suitable for them.
Outside attractions at Spookyard
Outside the main arena the kids had fun with several funfair games like splat the rat and pumpkin hoopla – simple but fun for them. There was a fantastic pumpkin art display full of spooky squash snakes, pumpkin spiders and a brilliant church, but as we walked through this the kids spotted the quad bike train ride and made a beeline straight for it.
This was probably their favourite part of the day, the boy especially had a great time on this little ride. Just look at their faces – tells you all you need to know!
The other big thing to do is having a go on the corn blaster, another activity included in your tickets. You’ve got to try to knock down a bucket pyramid about 30m away. Shame the kids didn’t manage to hit anything, but it’s the taking part that counts, isn’t it?
Food and drink at Spookyard
We got an early lunch at Spookyard; it was busy and the boy was getting hangry just before mid day so we thought we’d eat before everyone else did. There were three food stands; a pizzeria, a burger stand (more gourmet burgers than fast food), and a Mediterranean food stand, where we got our lunch from. The falafel wrap was good, and the halloumi fries were delicious. We treated the kids to cheesy chips which went down well!
There’s a bar for drinks, including alcoholic drinks, and my mocha was very good. Prices were around what you’d expect to pay at an event like this, the wraps were £7 each, and the burgers at the burger stand were around £5.
Know before you go
Tickets and entry
Spookyard is running daily throughout half term, until Sunday 28 October. Book tickets online in advance. Opening times are 10am to 4pm.
Tickets cost £12 per person. Kids aged 1-2 and people over 63 pay £6 and kids under 1 are free. The attractions included in the ticket are: Haunted Hayride, Caged, Wonderland, Corn Blaster, Quad Train Ride and a Scarecrow Trail (which we forgot to do). And everyone gets a pumpkin (if you can manage to haul them back to the car!).
Not included in the ticket price were: face painting at £4, and painting pots were also about £4 a go.
Would we recommend Spookyard at Over Farm?
Overall we thought that Spookyard was a fun family day out. The kids had a great day, which was the whole point, so the husband and I were happy.
It was a fairly expensive day out but the staff were all good, the food was nice and the venue had had a lot of effort put in to the decor. The kids didn’t get bored and there were lots of different things to do, from craft to rides and scare attractions. We left just after half 2 so we spent 4.5 hours looking around which was about right.
And the kids are already asking to go back!