Behind the Screams at HalloWeekends with Jason McClure
Halloween fans rejoice! In anticipation of Cedar Point’s annual HalloWeekends, we visited “A Place Like No Other” and talked with the park’s General Manager, Jason McClure, to learn a little more about him, HalloWeekends, and got some sneak previews of some of the new attractions awaiting guests at this year’s event.
Jason, tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in West Virginia. I met my wife Kim and we had two kids, Justin and Rachel. I started my career as an accountant at Ernst & Young before I was hired to work in the Finance Department at Carowinds in Charlotte, NC, in 2001. I then worked in finance at Kings Island, near Cincinnati, before becoming General Manager at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA, and eventually here at Cedar Point. The industry has been a great fit for me. There’s nothing better than walking the park and watching our guests having a great time spending time with family and friends.
Tell us about HalloWeekends?
HalloWeekends is my favorite time of the year at Cedar Point. The park is immersed in Halloween décor and activities; there is a different feeling in the park than other times of year. This is most apparent at night. The ride experiences feel different at night. In a business that can measure guest satisfaction by the number of screams you hear from your guests, those increase exponentially in the Haunt attractions. It is challenging to pick a favorite attraction when there is so much to do. The number of children’s activities in the Great Pumpkin Fest increase every season, and it is great to see the kids explore them all. But, my favorite attraction to experience is G.A. Boeckling’s Eerie Estate – a classic, traditional haunted house.
What’s new this year?
We have numerous new attractions in store for our guests. New this year for Haunt is the Trail of the Forsaken scare zone on the Frontier Trail. A new spell has been cast in this area of the park, and this attraction will be more intense than in seasons past. Also, this year when you visit our witch themed indoor attraction, Hexed, it’s going to be lights out! Literally. Guests will be provided a flashlight, a very small flashlight, to make their way through this immersive, richly themed and decorated attraction. Plus, some great new shows – Skin and Bones, Whistlin’ Willie’s Western Wake and an all-new Midnight Syndicate show.
Is there something for kids?
There are so many things for kids to do during HalloWeekends you can’t list them all. The Great Pumpkin Fest is bigger and better this year. I am looking forward to watching the kids take on Charlie Brown’s Challenge Course which is new this fall. Another great new experience for the braver, but not-quite-ready-for-Haunt kids: our three indoor mazes at the front of the park will be opened during the day with the lighting and sound on, but no monster scares. They will be slightly spooky and involve some problem-solving as the kids make their way through the maze. Hexed Spellbound, The Mystery of Eerie Estate and Zombie Jr. High will all be great, intermediary Halloween experiences. Plus, The Great Pumpkin Parade is a returning guest favorite with the whole PEANUTS gang making their way from the Gemini to the Main Midway every Saturday and Sunday.
Can you give us some tips on how to get the best HalloWeekends experience?
The best way to experience HalloWeekends is to use the whole weekend. There are so many things to do that it is hard to pack them in with one visit. Friday nights are a great time to experience the mazes and outdoor scare attractions when wait times are shorter than Saturdays. Saturday is a great time to catch all the shows – Skeleton Crew is a returning favorite – you can fill the day just watching all of the shows we offer. Sunday you catch up on what you missed: make sure you get the last ride of the year on your favorite coaster. If you have a Season Pass, even better. You can spread your visits out over the seven weekends and make sure you enjoy all there is to experience at HalloWeekends. The best place for tickets is cedarpoint.com. You can find deals on food and all-day drink plans as well as admission.
Are you still looking for employees this time of year?
Cedar Point is always hiring, and especially in the fall. Have some stress in your life? Need to release it? Apply to be a HalloWeekends monster and get paid to scare people. It is a great stress reliever! We are hiring for all our other positions as well, both regular associates and charitable organizations. You can apply for both of these on our website:
Any last thoughts/comments?
Fall is a special time at Cedar Point during HalloWeekends. Watching the weather transition over the seven weekends from end of summer temperatures to the early warning signs that winter is coming in late October. It is a great wait to celebrate Halloween and has become an annual tradition for many of our guests and our families. 2018’s version will be more immersive than ever, and I can’t wait to see everyone at the park!
Special thanks to Jason McClure and Cedar Point’s Communications Director, Tony Clark, for their help with this special sneak preview.
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