Most of the year, families can ride the vintage train at Ardenwood Farms with no advanced tickets required, but when Halloween approaches, the experience gets a spooky (not scary!) makeover and the demand for tickets exceeds supply.
Ardenwood’s Haunted Train runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights on the two weekends before Halloween (6 nights total). The ride includes a 30-minute performance on both the hour and half-hour that begins at the small depot across the parking lot from the pumpkin patch. The staff recommends lining up about 30 minutes early to make sure your group gets to sit together.
From Berkeley on a weeknight, our trip to Ardenwood Farms took about an hour. We were booked on the earliest of the Halloween Haunted Train Trips. We arrived at the parking lot that serves both the Ardenwood train station as well as the pumpkin patch (which is not opening in the evenings). The first thing we did was convert our Eventbrite voucher into train tickets at the Ardenwood train station, and then we went to the pumpkin patch to play until it was time to line up for our train.
While you wait, there are “ghost chaser” souvenirs for sale (cash only). All proceeds go to the nonprofit Railroad Museum at Ardenwood.
What to Expect at Ardenwood’s Haunted Train
You and your kiddos will ride in an open-air narrow gauge train. A conductor tells a few spooky stories on board interspersed with Halloween trivia as you ride out and back for about 10 minutes each way.
Train rides happen in the dark, starting at 7 pm, however, by the time you read this, the earlier time slots might be sold out. It’s popular!
The characters performing the haunted stuff are off the train in the distance with the exception of a creepy bride and her bridesmaid that wander through the train. I didn’t notice any children getting too scared by the whole business. My boys declared it “fun enough” and “totally worth the drive.”
Pro tip: There’s a real (non porta-potty) bathroom at the train station. You’re welcome.
What to Expect During the Day from the Ardenwood Train
Even during the Halloween season, the train ride is available during the day for its regular programming, which is a 1 3⁄4 mile ride into the park with docents dressed in period costumes. You’ll journey past rows of crops and through eucalyptus groves as you travel more than 100 years back in time.
Check the daily schedule and meet the train at Arden Station or Deer Park Station. This is a drop-in program; no registration is required or accepted.
Round trips are about half an hour, but you may also choose to disembark at Deer Park Station for a 20-minute ride. See the map.
Dates and Rates for the Ardenwood Train
The train runs Thursday, Friday, and Sunday from 10:20 am to 2:30 pm from April through the third week in November when the timetables and prices may change. The train is free but Ardenwood admission prices apply. Rates vary from $2-$6 with under two being free. Regional Park Foundation members are free.
Special Events: Every Labor Day weekend, there is an annual Rail Fair.
Ardenwood Historic Farm is located
34600 Ardenwood Blvd.
Fremont, CA 94555
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