Democrat & Chronicle
Halloween Fun at Holiday Hollow
Going to Holiday Hollow, located midway between Rochester and Buffalo is almost like a visit to your grandparents. That is, if your grandparents happened to turn their ample backyard into a magical, miniature Renaissance fair, with a wacky, Halloween and pirate theme. Everyone feels like their friends and family when they visit the family-owned Holiday Hollow, which is now in its 18th season.
Operating just nine days a year–October weekends and Columbus Day–this unique, non-scary Halloween experience is one of the region’s best kept “daycation” destinations. My first visit to Holiday Hollow was about ten years ago, when my oldest children were 9 and 6. Last October, I revisited Holiday Hollow with my husband and our two youngest, then age 13 and 7. I’m happy to report that we were equally entertained both times.
George Walker, who created Holiday Hollow with his wife Barbara and their four children, describes the attraction as a labor of love. “In many of our years we don’t see a profit,” said Walker, a retired college vice-president. “When we do see a profit, we put it back into Holiday Hollow, because this is our way of having fun.” He added, “From the start, the idea was not so much as to build a business as to make magic for the guests.”
As you might guess, Holiday Hollow is not your garden-variety Halloween attraction; it’s more along the lines of an interactive dinner theater, minus the dinner. Many of the shows are intentionally tongue-in-cheek, employing comedy, parody and a lot of double-entendres, which make it entertaining for parents as well as the kids.
According to Walker, the attraction is one the whole family can enjoy; toddlers can enjoy the costumes and music and school children can understand the shows. “We always say that out shows include the obligatory underpants jokes for the young kids, but our humor operates at several different levels. We’re not bawdy or obscene, but there are a few double-entendres, so the adults get to wink at each other and snicker.”
Walker and his cast of professional and amateur actors, whom he considered his second family, offer seven different live shows for visitors. Many of these actors come back year after year.
Probably the most popular show is the pirate-themed Captain Hook and Mr. Smee Show. Unsuspecting guests are often plucked out of the audience to be participants in the show. Although there are some “ringer’s in the audience, cast members pretending to be audience members, which makes for an interesting show.
Another show, Hunt for Jekyll & Hyde Haunted Forest Adventure, features Walker as one of the performers. A special feature of this show is that the sets are stationary in the woods and the audience moves from scene to scene, which really makes it an adventure.
To see George Walker at his finest, be sure to catch his performance as the Wacky Witch in Wacky Witch’s Magical Cooking Show. He is truly hysterical; picture a retired gentleman, dressed as a witch, doing a Julia Child inspired cooking show, using ingredients only a witch could love. My kids thought it was especially hysterical, since their father got called up on stage to assist the wacky witch.
Several other shows and attractions round out the Holiday Hollow experience. Food is available at the Brew & Bellow snack stand and there is a small gift shop with inexpensive Halloween and pirate-themed items.
About two years ago, the Walker’s added an indoor theater, Yorkshire Hall, so that shows can move indoors in inclement weather. The hall can also be rented for receptions, banquets and meetings and it will be the location of Holiday Hollow’s Christmas show premiering in 2010.
According to Walker, his most rewarding moments are when guests say thank you for creating a place like Holiday Hollow. Walker’s usual reply, “You’re welcome. But the truth is the pleasure is ours.”
Holiday Hollow (585-762-8160 or 716-474-4336, www.holidayhollow.com) 1410 Main Road (Route 5) Pembroke, NY Open Saturdays and Sundays in October and Columbus Day 11am-5pm; however, they are closed Halloween Day. Admission is $11, age 3-10 $10, and 2 and under free. A $1.00 off discount coupon can be printed from their website. They do accept credit cards.
From Rochester take the New York State Thruway west to exit 48A (Pembroke) take route 77 south to Route 5 and turn left. Holiday Hollow is located on Route 5, just east of Route 77.