Halloween

I went to Halloweentown for real (in 2020!)

The entrance gate to Halloweentown

Every year since I was a kid I have watched Halloweentown in October (ya know, the 1998 Disney Channel classic?!). It makes me so happy whenever I watch it! I highly recommend adding some festive snacks and pumpkin beers!

About a month ago, while on Pinterest looking for Halloween decor ideas I stumbled across a post that said “Halloweentown is a real place, and I went!” Y’all, I was SO excited to hear that it was a real place that I started researching immediately. I really couldn’t find much online and definitely now that COVID has changed everything, I knew that the information I found online would only be so helpful. Below I’d like to create a little FAQ page that I would have loved to read when I was planning our trip.

The cover of the film and what this place is about!

CAUTION!! If you don’t like spoilers, then don’t read ahead! I am a huge fan of getting as much information as possible before I sign up for something. I tried to be honest and tell my perspective for anyone on the fence about going! If you are a super fan, totally go and have a great time! If you’re curious whether it’s for you, read on!

One of the set ups in the town square

Background About Halloweentown

Where is Halloweentown?

Halloweentown is in St. Helens, Oregon. We flew into PDX airport in Portland, Oregon, and it was approximately a 40 minute drive at the time we landed and went.

Where should you stay?

We stayed at the Best Western that was about a 10 minute drive from the venue of Halloweentown. If we were going to go again, we happened upon an adorable Bed and Breakfast and I would totally try to stay there instead! Also, there’s not much to do in town, so I think it would be reasonable to stay somewhere around Portland and just drive up for the event and go back when you’re ready.

How much does it cost?

In typical times this is a free event. Unfortunately, due to COVID they are currently limiting the event to no more than 240 people per day. This means that they required tickets for entrance and they charged $45. Overall, the ticket price was not justified by the event, and I will definitely share more on that later.

This is the view from City Hall looking back onto the square

What is there to do?

Let’s start with what time should you go?

Honestly, we weren’t sure what to expect for crowds. We heard that you did not need to go early because people sort of stroll in throughout the day. I would absolutely agree with this. The event opens at 10:00. We didn’t get there until around 11:00 a.m. and we were still one of the first people to show up. People also knew that everyone else wanted to take pictures so people were super respectful and would take pictures at any site and move on.

The main attractions of this event are photo ops. There is a town square, a main street, and that’s about it, honestly!

City Hall behind the pumpkin!

Vendor Village – This is a lower section, open to the public where there were about 8 vendors with tents set up in a circle. These vendors ranged from Halloweentown T-shirts to balloons to canned liquor drinks. There was overall good variety, but half of the tents were not directly related to Halloween.

All of the tents in the Vendor Village

Street Performances – The performances are done by three different acts. A rodeo man who could do some pretty great tricks with a lasso and a unicycle, a comedian, and a dancing/lip syncing duo. I would consider the last act to be PG-13 at times, haha. Each act happens twice a day on a schedule listed on their website. Each act lasts about 20 minutes.

One of the street performances, “Izonny”!

Photo Ops – Within the square there are different sets up. Judging by looking at other pictures online, these are not the same every year. Some of them are unrelated to Halloween like a chair shaped like a pig, or vaguely Halloween themed like black and white throne chairs. You could spend some time taking fun or silly pictures at all of these different little stations.

Weekend’s Special Event – Each weekend there is a special event. On the Saturday we attended, the special event was the “lighting of the pumpkin” and an election for the Mayor. This election is of St. Helens local residents who signed up to run in the race. They each tried to pitch you while you walked around and asked for your votes. The person with the most votes got declared Halloweentown Mayor and got to “light the great pumpkin” but, sadly this was no more than a light switch being flipped inside of the pumpkin, haha. And during the day you cannot see it, so it was a little anticlimactic.

Other weekends include characters from the show and every Sunday is a pet costume contest!

Voting in the new Mayor! Congrats to Shula Star!

How much time to spend there?

I think you could probably do everything you wanted to do in about an hour if you hurried through it. Since we didn’t have much planned for the weekend and really, the purpose of our trip was just having a relaxed weekend we spent a lot of the day there. Here’s what we did!

We spent time taking pictures of everything. We went into all of the shops along the street which included some antiques and oddities. We walked around the surrounding area looking for some places where Twilight was filmed. We watched the performances. We shopped the Vendor Village. We went to a brewery that’s in the town square and had a long lunch. We watched the special event. We had dinner nearby on the rooftop.

Stopping at the local brewery, you can see Halloweentown behind him!
A vendor’s truck!

Should you wear a costume?

I would say about 50% of people were dressed up for the event this year. It’s always more fun when people are in costume, especially in a place like Halloweentown where the movie is set in a place full of goblins, trolls, monsters, and witches! There were mostly folks dressed like witches and a few name brand costumes like Spiderman, etc. as well. You won’t feel out of place if you decide not to dress up, however.

What about the other “events” you get with your ticket?

Inside the Alien Experience
  1. Alien Experience
  2. Museum of Oddities
  3. Mini Pumpkin Tour

These things are… comically bad. I can appreciate the effort that went into them, however, the problem is that they were advertised as justifying the price of your ticket, but they did not. They did not take more than 10 minutes each to accomplish and I think overall they did not add anything to the Halloweentown experience. The only possible exception would be the pumpkin carvings, which were neat, but it was probably about 20 pumpkins and some of the shops had equally good displays for free in the windows.

Inside the Haunted Hotel

4. Haunted House

This was actually quite fun. This is included in your general admission ticket, but is also open to the public to pay for entrance. During the day there is only one live person, but they said at night it goes up to $25 per person and they said they have 10 live people within the haunted hotel at night. I think it’s probably worth the money. We enjoyed it during the day and I don’t love to be scared so it was the right amount of spooky and fun for me. The folks ahead of us were probably about 7 years old and they were screaming and laughing to give you an idea.

Hanging out with Benny

What’s new with COVID?

This year everyone has to wear masks even though the event is mostly outside. Also, a ticket is required for entry during the weekend days. Because of the ticket requirement the square never really fills up with too many people. There are gates around the square during the event times. The information booth informed us that there are other events that had to be cancelled as well. I do not know what those were, but they don’t exist this year.

Overall thoughts!

I had a great time and I definitely recommend it for anyone local. However, it was not very much to do so I wouldn’t make the whole trip about being in this place. I would assume there are other Halloween attractions that are fun or things to do that would make for a great weekend.

Pros: I think it was great to see a movie scene from a movie that I’ve loved for so long. My husband and I enjoy each other’s company and so we would have had fun doing nothing all day. It was family friendly and the weather was beautiful on the date we went.

Cons: They really cannot justify the price of this ticket. It definitely was not justified by any of the extra “attractions”. The other events they advertise such as “Alien Experience” “Mini Pumpkin Tour” and “Oddities Museum” these are comically bad. And I wouldn’t care, except that they sold it like it was a part of the ticket, but no one would pay for any of these events if they had seen them in advance or knew what to expect. If it was free and I had a better idea of what to expect, I wouldn’t have been bothered by any of this.

NOTE – one of the ladies taking tickets told me that “normally” there are things like a booze cruise and other events. I never saw anything about that online in my research, so I would say you have to check every year to see what extra things might be available when you want to go!

After 5 PM the event “closes” and the shows are over and presumably some of the things closed as well. I defintely noticed people showing up afterwards where you did not need a ticket and they were still able to take pictures with most of the photo ops. I would probably recommend coming to the event just before it closes and doing all of the things around the square before hand and going into the square after 5 when they stop checking tickets and get all of your pictures.

Enjoying Halloweentown!

I think that wraps up all the answers to the questions I had about our trip, but if I left anything out please let me know and I’d be happy to try and help!

xo,

Amanda

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