2023 Dates: September 22 through October 28
Every fall, Tweetsie Railroad transforms itself into a spooky Halloween adventure park. Officially known as Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train, some people call it the Tweetsie Halloween Train, or Tweetsie Ghost Train Halloween Celebration.
Regardless of its name, it’s a spooky, fun time for the whole family. There are several attractions and you can easily spend three hours at the park.
Bright-colored lights greet you upon arrival. The ticket entrance is lit up like a holiday display, and inside the park is a neon, Wild West world. It’s quite spectacular.
This is truly one of the best annual events North Carolina has to offer.
Is Tweetsie Ghost Train Suitable for Children?
According to their website, there are attractions for all ages, but the Haunted House, Freaky Forest, and Ghost Train are recommended for ages 8 and up. I saw smaller children in all three of these attractions become startled, scream, then cry.
You can read through my descriptions below to determine if specific attractions are suitable for your child. If you feel the Ghost Train is too much, there is also a Tweetsie Christmas Train in November and December.
Will adults enjoy Tweetsie Ghost Train? Oh heck yes. The adults and teens may outnumber the children. There were several couples enjoying a date night at the park. I also saw groups of adults having fun on their night out.
- Is Tweetsie Ghost Train Suitable for Children?
- Where and When is the Tweetsie Ghost Train?
- How Much is the Tweetsie Ghost Train?
- What are the Attractions at Tweetsie Ghost Train?
- Final Thoughts on Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train
Where and When is the Tweetsie Ghost Train?
Tweetsie Railroad is in Blowing Rock, NC, close to both downtown Blowing Rock and Boone. The Ghost Train event begins at the end of September and runs through the last weekend of October. It only runs on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Times can be confusing. Check the Tweetsie Railroad website for specific dates and times. Generally, the park opens at 7:30 pm and closes at 11 pm. There are Ghost Train evenings which open at 7:15 pm, usually the last few Saturdays in October.
The key takeaway is to arrive at least 20 minutes prior to your train time. You’ll want time to park, walk to the entrance, show your ticket, and line up for the train.
How Much is the Tweetsie Ghost Train?
3Tweetsie Ghost Train tickets were $60 for adults 13 and up and $40 for children ages 3 to 12 in 2023.
When you purchase your tickets, you’ll choose a train time. The train leaves every 30 minutes, providing several choices. The times grey out as they become full.
You can show up and purchase on-site, however, there are only a certain number of on-site tickets available. The last train showing online was 10 pm, but there was a 10:30 pm train the night I went. This may have been an extra train they save for the walk-ins.
There is plenty of free parking at Tweetsie Railroad. Attendants guide you to a specific spot.
Note: Tweetsie Ghost Train tickets are separate from daytime Tweetsie Railroad tickets. If you want to explore the park during the day, then return for the Ghost Train in the evening, you’ll need to purchase separate tickets.
What are the Attractions at Tweetsie Ghost Train?
For children of all ages, there are the Shops on Main Street, Main Street Dance Party, Tweetsie Palace Spooktacular, Creepy Carnival, and Boneyard.
Older children and adults will also enjoy the Haunted House, Freaky Forest, and Tweetsie Ghost Train.
Shops on Main Street
The Old West Main Street is open and lit up to entice shopping and eating. Fake horses out front offer photo opportunities. Up on the hill, Fudge Works is also open, selling fudge and hot chocolate.
Most of the food shops sell soft pretzels, nachos, and popcorn. You can get a burger, hot dog, and chicken sandwich at Feed & Seed, but I recommend eating before you arrive. Lines can be long and service is slow.
Main Street Dance Party
Costumed characters perform a choreographed routine in the Main Street Courtyard just past the ticket building.
After their routine, the music continues to play, and everyone is invited to come out and dance.
This is a popular event for children who bop along to spooky tunes with the cast.
Tweetsie Palace Spooktacular
You can grab some food and sit at one of the tables in the Tweetsie Palace to enjoy the show. It runs every half hour.
The Palace Spooktacular is a black-light show with marionettes and actors. The actors wear black suits with designs that pop up under the black light. One is a dancing skeleton, and another is a “monster” with square-colored lights that they attach to the suit throughout the routine.
The marionettes sing traditional Halloween songs like Monster Mash. The show starts with an excellent routine of The Devil Went Down to Georgia.
The characters all remain on stage, no one comes and screams at the audience, and there are no surprises. Small children were in the audience having fun.
The Creepy Carnival
The Country Fair turns into the Creepy Carnival at night. You’ll head up the hill past Fudge Works to the rides. Kids will enjoy the Ferris wheel, Carousel, and smaller rides. Teens and adults can head up the bridge behind the arcade for the Free Fall and Round-Up.
The rides are lit up in neon colors and you can see the Round-Up and Free Fall from a distance. The Ferris Wheel is on top of a mountain with spectacular views.
There did not appear to be lines for most rides.
Note: The entire Miner’s Mountain area, Chair Lift ride, and Turnpike Cruisers are closed during the Ghost Train evening. Also, be aware that there are height and size restrictions for the rides.
Follow the neon green arched walkway behind the haunted house to the Boneyard. It’s an area under the Event Tent. The Boneyard appears as a waiting area next to the Freaky Forest.
There is a hearse, a photo area where you can poke your head through a wooden structure to appear as a zombie, and a small graveyard.
This area also houses the Black Hole and Warp Tunnel. The Black Hole is a small room with a spinning wheel. You walk through on a bridge. While the bridge is not moving, the rotation of the wheel around you makes it feel like you’re tilting.
The walls of the Warp Tunnel are lined with red strobe lights. You walk through the hallways which should appear as though you’re in a different dimension.
If you have vertigo or are prone to motion sickness, you’ll want to avoid the Black Hole. Anyone prone to seizures or known to have issues with blinking red lights or strobe lights should avoid the Warp Tunnel.
The Boneyard was somewhat lackluster. Unless you’re heading to the Freaky Forest, it could be skipped.
The Haunted House
Adults will find the Haunted House fun, yet not overly scary. Even if you don’t like horror or spooky events, you’ll be fine walking through the house.
There is good ambient lighting, and it has the basic creepy décor with hanging body parts, chains, and photos that change depending on the angle.
Be careful of the statues, some are characters that will move and scare you. As with all haunted houses, they won’t touch you, and most adults will recognize it’s a real person. Children, however, may become scared when the actors suddenly move or appear behind them.
While the actors do not specifically aim for children, they also do not avoid them. They mainly come from behind and scare the front of the group.
The attendant at the front only allows a small group in at a time. This provides a good experience since you’re not in a huge crowd. It also allows the actors to set up for the next round of guests.
The house has 13 haunted rooms, but it felt like it only took a couple of minutes to go through the entire attraction.
Tweetsie Railroad recommends this attraction for children eight and up.
The Freaky Forest
Next to the Ghost Train, this was the best attraction in the park. It’s adjacent to The Boneyard, down the walkway lined with green neon arches.
There are 12 rooms with various scenes. An attendant spaces out groups so you don’t feel crowded and the actors have time to reset. Similar to the Haunted House, characters appear out of nowhere to scare you. They also have hidden doors allowing them to disappear and then reappear later.
The actors will not touch you and they ask that you don’t touch them.
Although it has one less room than the Haunted House, it felt longer and spookier.
While there is plenty of light, the overall tone was creepier than the Haunted House. In one room, it appeared like you were wading in a swamp. You could not see the bottom halves of anyone in the room. At their waist was a green mist, like the top of a swamp, and there was a large, mechanical alligator in the middle.
When we first parted the curtain to the room, it was disorienting. You knew there couldn’t be water in there, but it was difficult to not see water. It’s all done with lights.
Tweetsie Railroad recommends this attraction for children eight and older. It is the scariest attraction in the park and there were children that screamed and cried as they went through.
The Tweetsie Ghost Train
This is the main attraction. The Ghost Train leaves town every 30 minutes for the 20-minute adventure. The train is lit up in neon colors, mainly blue and purple. The locomotive has an evil ghost face on the front. Since it pulls right up to Main Street to board, you can get great photos and video.
Get ready for its departure. Music plays and the train makes loud noises as it gears up and heads out on its journey.
Attendees began queuing up for their ride when they heard the train heading into town. Have your ticket ready because an attendant will check to verify you have a ticket for this particular train as you board.
Try to get a seat on the right side as you face forward. This is where all the action will be.
In each train car are two monitors that play a video designed to appear as if the conductor is speaking to you and the actors in the video are on your train.
The Ghost Train attraction focuses on a story of werewolves in the area, and you’ll see a few along the way. The train will make a couple of stops as part of the story and actors will act out scenes. At the end, an actor dressed as a werewolf comes down the dark train car and surprises a few people.
When there is something to see, the area is lit. Werewolves along the side of the road have lighting, there are fireworks to simulate gunfire, and the areas where the scenes occur are well-lit. However, there are times when the train is moving and it’s pitch black. There are also times when the “steam” from the locomotive heavily wafts through the cars, blocking your view and providing an eeriness to the ride.
Tweetsie Railroad recommends this attraction for children eight and older. If your child is afraid of loud noises, or the dark, you may want to forego the train ride.
Final Thoughts on Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train
Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train was spookier, and more fun than I thought it would be. We easily spent three hours having a great time.
Several attractions are on edge of being suitable for smaller children. It seemed geared more toward teens and adults. It’s scary enough to be fun, but they don’t go as far as those pop-up haunted houses making it suitable for some children eight and up.
If you’re planning a visit to Blowing Rock and Boone and feel the Ghost Train is too much for your child, you can head out in September for Autumn at Oz, or visit several nearby towns like West Jefferson.
Since the Ghost Train runs through October, it can also be fun to pair it with a drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to see the fall colors.
The ghost train ride can be dark unless they’re lighting it up along the side for one of the shows. When the lights are off, it’s close to pitch black. If your child doesn’t like the dark, this will be a scary ride for them.
The event seemed to be a popular spot for local college students, young couples, and adults looking to get away for a night.
This is hands-down, one of North Carolina’s best annual events. If I can manage it, I would definitely do it again.