Tweetsie has a unique hold on my mind. It’s the source of traffic in the fall. It’s the gravel lot my college boyfriend taught me to drive stick shift in. It holds the temporary traffic light whose removal signals the end of the tourist season in the High Country.
As an undergrad at Appalachian State, I never made it over to Tweetsie. The $34 price tag was out of reach. So when my graduate school trivia team found out that the following week’s top prize would be tickets to the Tweetsie Ghost Train I got excited. We studied up all week, reduced our usual beer count, and walked away with two tickets to be redeemed anytime during the fall season. My team of three split the cost of the third ticket and planned to head down to the Ghost Train on the Friday before Halloween week.
I dressed up as a fat cat, cause who isn’t looking for an excuse, and we packed into my Subaru to make the ten minute trip from Boone. We were met at the gate with the typical traffic but the men with the glow wands seemed to have everything well at hand. We’d printed our ticket at home, which I’d recommend, and spent less than two minutes in line.
Tweetsie, like most things in the North Carolina mountains, is set in a hilly mountainside. If you plan to see all of the attractions be prepared to walk up and down the hill. As you walk in, costumed performers are trying to entertain the long lines for the Ghost Train. We decided to try our luck at waiting an hour or so before braving the line.
We started off at the seasonal “Boneyard” which boasts a “Freaky Forest” (recommended ages 8+, kinda scary, don’t touch the performers and they won’t touch you!), “The Black Hole”, the 3D maze, “The Warp Tunnel”, and a photo opportunity. After the mild frights of the “Freaky Forest”, we decided to avoid the much larger and unsettling (it’s framed as different rooms of experiments!) Haunted House, also recommended for ages 8+. We meandered on up the hill to the Fudge Shop and on to the “Creepy Carnival”. This was my favorite part of Tweetsie. The carnival has old-school rides that reminded me of my adventures at the North Georgia State Fair. We skipped the long line for the Ferris Wheel and moved on to the free fall spinning delight of the other rides.
We finished out our night at the Ghost Train. The train leaves the station every 30 minutes or so (the ride takes about 26 according to the little girl in line in front of us). We only had to wait for one full train. The music is entertaining and the girls in front of us liked the cotton ball belly of my cat costume. As you board the train “Crazy Train” (made famous to me as Braves’ legend Chipper Jones’ walk-up song) plays on repeat. I enjoyed the ride through the woods but found the action centered on the tv screens to be a bit distracting from the actual train ride. This year’s theme was centered around “Monster Hunters.” The footage was at times gruesome but nothing grabbed my arm from the woods so I was pleased. Overall, the train was, for me, just a nice ride through the woods in the dark (except when the coal ash got in my contacts).
Before we left the park we wandered through some of the shops on “Main Street”. Most had the typical tourist shop items focused mainly on cowboys and Indians, Tweetsie’s daytime theme, but one shop had fun novelty items and gag gifts from childhood. I bought a couple of postcards and we headed home.
In conclusion, Tweetsie was a fun pre-Halloween diversion that is best enjoyed when you get your tickets discounted. The price tag is pretty steep for a family, but the entertainment value may be worth it to some. I would not recommend bringing too young of children because the two haunted stops and the Ghost Train can be a bit frightening but is overall, good clean fun.
If You Go
The Ghost Train runs on Friday and Saturday nights from late September through October. Evening festivities occur from 7:30 to 11:30. Advance tickets are recommended and can be bought online (tweetsie.com), by phone (877-TWEETSIE), or at the Tweetsie Railroad ticket booth. Adults and kids cost $34, kids under two are free.
All photos are property of the author.