But things are not always as spooky as they seem, as many of the weird and wonderful Halloween characters to be seen around the track are in fact played by Southampton scouts aged between 13 and 18 years old. The cast changes every day with many young people taking part throughout the week. Scout Master Geoff Johnson comments:
"The scouts learn discipline and timing as well as working with adults as part of a team. They must enjoy it because some come back year after year. Every year Exbury introduce new characters and roles for the Scouts to play – which keeps everyone – including the Ghost Train passengers – on their toes. We’re looking forward to Halloween Week and are planning a few surprises, including a special musical performance at Exbury North Station . . . "
Children who come in Hallowe’en fancy dress receive a free treat bag, whilst there is a Halloween chocolate or candy for all children who ride the Ghost Train.
And, after a brush with all the things that go bump in the night, there’ll be time for a walk around the Gardens, which will be near their autumn best with flaming colours through the spectrum from brilliant scarlets and crimsons, to smouldering plum and orange. Children will enjoy Exbury’s spooky tree trail, leading them to the Chinese Coffin Tree, the Ghost Tree, the Devil’s Walking Stick and other mysterious trees in the Gardens.
Colour inside, in the Five Arrows Gallery, is supplied by the glittering array of ‘jewel lilies’, the Rothschild collection of tender Nerine sarniensis, which are offset by an exhibition of paintings focussing on Autumn and fungi, by artist Peter Thwaites.
A Halloween menu will be offered in Mr Eddy’s Tearooms.
“Autumn is just as magical a time at Exbury as spring, with wonderful colour and the hugely enjoyable Ghost Train,” said Gardens President Nicholas de Rothschild. The Exbury Ghost Train runs up to five times a day between Sat 26 October and Friday 1 November. First train departs 10.45am.
For more info visit www.exbury.co.uk
For tickets, please call 023 8024 5750. A family ticket (2 adults + 3 children aged 3yrs and over) which includes entrance to the Gardens and Ghost Train and a Gift Aid donation is £44.00. Other ticket types are available.
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