Phantom Fright Nights is Creepy, Essential Kennywood

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Before you even enter the park, you’ll know why you came to Kennywood for Phantom Fright Nights.

The park’s entry tunnel is an icon of its own — the prelude to those lasting Kennywood memories. When you approach on an October evening however, the portal has turned sinister. Eerie light fights thick, choking fog to illuminate even the slightest corner. Costumed creatures stalk you from within the mist. At the far end, an imposing figure wielding a larger-than-life axe guards the entrance to the park.

Within a few paces, you realize what’s going on tonight. Kennywood got creepy — and it’s awesome.

The best part of Phantom Fright Nights is finding the thousand tiny ways the landmark park’s charm is inverted, turned to the (playfully) wicked. The dark carnival trope is a well-worn cultural touchstone for a reason: When the free-spirited fun of an amusement park is given a shadow behind its eyes, it’s the exact sort of creepy you can’t resist.

You’ll stroll through the park, with stretches of pavement converted into scenes of supernatural chaos. There are rides running, yes, but many are operating in total darkness; picture diving down the hills of the Phantom’s Revenge unable to see where you’re going, or being tossed around the turns of the Exterminator without any idea which twist lies ahead.

Oh yeah — then there are the haunted houses.

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