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From maze and haunted mansion to pumpkin blasters

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Girl Scouts search for the perfect pumpkin.


POSTED October 19, 2013 12:45 a.m.

LATHROP – Dell’Osso Farms is Disneyland for fall enthusiasts.

Yes, there are entertainment attractions that focus more on the Halloween aspects – the scares and such – and if you’re into foliage and the turning of the leaves you’re probably better off booking a flight to New England.

But what started out as something fun for Lathrop farmer Ron Dell’Osso almost two decades ago has blossomed into a full-fledged theme park of sorts that caters to families that travel from throughout Northern California to partake in what has become an ever-growing carnival of fun.

Try this on for size – after the maze caught on with Bay Area residents and started attracting significant weekend crowds, Ron Dell’Osso started thinking about other fun things that they could add to enhance the experience of those who paid them a visit. And after seeing a special on television that featured pumpkins that were hurled from slingshots and blasted out of cannons, he set out to create his own air-powered weapon.

It’s still one of the more popular attractions more than a dozen years later.

Zip lines went in. A ropes course went up. A permanent country store – snack shacks where you can buy funnel cake and turkey legs and pumpkin pie – was built. Even a concrete pedal track with embankments was added to provide something fun for kids.

And it continues to get bigger. Year-after-year.

This is down-home fun at its finest, and its right here in your own backyard.

Of course there are all of the standard Halloween scares for those who are willing to brave them. A 5,000-quare-foot haunted mansion replaced the 3,000-square-foot haunted house – one of the popular attractions – at the start of this season.

Professional makeup artists convert actors into legitimately scary, well, everything (Bulletin Managing Editor James Burns was turned into a zombie last week) and add a dimension for teens and young adults that want to get the full fall experience.

Don’t forget about the 25-acre corn maze – the largest on the West Coast and possibly in the United States – that will draw upwards of 175,000 paid visitors to inch through the stalks between now and when All Hallows Eve arrives.

If you’re looking for family fun, there isn’t much that Dell’Osso Family Farm doesn’t have. A new attraction for young girls – Tea with the Pumpkin Princess – features an actress that previously served as Snow White at Disneyland, and young boys get the chance to make their pirate fantasies come true in the same vein.

The Lathrop site is open every day between now and Halloween from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. To get there take the Highway 120 Bypass to I-5 South and exit and Manthey Road. Turn right. The entrance will be on the left. Parking and admission are always free.

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