Six Flags Great America's Fright Fest is a bone-chilling adventure

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the parenting column

Scaring your children silly has never been easier with the help of Six Flags Great America and the indelible Fright Fest. From Sept. 29 through Oct. 28, this adventure-seekers' seventh heaven is transformed into a bone-chilling Halloween themed shriek-fest.

Did you know that you could get free visits to the park for the rest of the season if you purchase a 2013 season pass? If you think that you'll go at least twice, you'll more than make up for the cost of the season pass, which is only $69.99 per pass when you buy four or more.

Before 4 p.m., the park is kid-friendly; it includes appearances from fairy tale characters, rides geared toward little ones in the Camp Cartoon and Kidzopolis areas, musicals, parades and even Scary-Oke-Karaoke for your budding musical stars.

At night, the park has attractions for the older set-zombies, haunted houses, a dance club, the Glow in the Park nighttime parade and several creepy shows and performances.

The park has rides for every visitor. Extra small ones can sit with their parents on one of the family-friendly rides-Big Easy Balloons, Columbia Carousel, Condor and Scenic Railway, to name a few. Toddlers and small frys can enjoy rides designed just for them: Buzzy Bees, Krazy Kars and the Little Dipper are all popular.

"We have two kid areas at Six Flags Great America. There is Kidzopolis in County Fair with four pint-sized attractions, and there is Camp Cartoon in Yukon Territory with five rides, including the kid coaster, Spacely's Sprocket Rocket," said Katy Enrique, communications manager at Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor. "We also have the Whizzer roller coaster, which is a favorite first time coaster that kids ride with a parent."

Parents don't have to feel left out of the fun, however, because one of the amazing park perks is the ability to Thrill Swap. This permits one parent to wait with their child at the front of the line while the other adult goes on a ride for the big dogs: Batman the Ride, Raging Bull, Viper or the new to 2012 X Flight. Then, when the ride is over, the parents can swap places so both parents can enjoy the ride without having to wait in line twice.

"Expedite your day here at Six Flags with The Flash Pass," Enrique said. "This is a system that allows guests to wait in a virtual queue line rather than in the physical line. It's an additional fee, but it's definitely a timesaver."

To make the most of your adventure, arrive at Six Flags Great America early and hit the most popular coasters first. Check the website, look at the park layout and be sure to grab a map when you enter the park to be efficient with your time.

"The fastest way to come through the gates is to have your tickets in hand prior to arriving. The park website,, always has our best-discounted tickets available and guests can easily purchase tickets online and then print them right at home," Enrique suggested.

If you have a season pass, don't feel like you have to spend the entire day at the park. Go for a couple of hours in the morning or before the park closes at night to avoid long lines. Also, cloudy days or inclement weather might deter many park goers, which may be the best time for a visit for the anti-crowd set. If you don't have a season pass and you want to spend the entire day at the park to get your money's worth, then consider packing food and noshing at one of the designated parking lot picnic spots.

Finally, and most importantly, have fun and don't forget to secure your personal items in extra deep zippered pockets prior to hanging upside down on a coaster.