The leaves are falling, the nights are drawing in, and Halloween and bonfire night is just around the corner. It’s time to get cosy with AQUILA’s Spooky Issue, and for those of you after an extra dose of October fun – we have you covered. Head to our Awesome Activities NOW!

All Aboard the Ghost Train

Did you know the first ever ‘Ghost Train’ attraction was at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, UK, in 1930? These types of dark rides actually existed already, but this was the first time it was called a Ghost Train in the UK, named after a popular play of the same name. The original name for this type of ride was a ‘pretzel ride’, manufactured by the American amusement ride company called (yep, you guessed it) Pretzel Amusement Ride Company. Where did pretzels come into it, you ask? Because of the twisty-turny layout of the track! Today Ghost Trains are a classic feature of a British fairground. Usually filled with ghouls, scares and an illuminated Dracula! Why not have a go at our design challenge in All Aboard the Ghost Train? 

Ghost Train Design From All Aboard Awesome Activity

Zombie Bite

Generally speaking, zombies aren’t really something we need to worry about. Unless you happen to be a carpenter ant, that is; a carpenter ant living in a tropical jungle in somewhere like Brazil, going about your carpenter ant business. Because if you are (and we suspect you, personally, are not), you may find yourself a victim of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the zombie-ant fungus! This fungus is horrific – first it infects the carpenter ant, growing through its body and taking over its actual mind, feasting on all its nutrients along the way. Then, it uses its zombie-tastic control to compel the ant to climb a plant stem and lock its mandibles around a tasty leaf, before piercing a long stalk through the poor ant’s head which grows into a capsule full of fungal spores which in turn zombifies everything in its path. Told you, horrific! 

But never mind those kinds of zombies, how about those pesky horror fiction types? We did some mathematical modelling in the event of a zombie apocalypse in our Spooky Issue and while this was all well and good, would it help you now? Like, right now, in the unlikely event you literally had a zombie dangling from your arm by their teeth? Probably not. But what would help you is an antidote, some magical elixir to freeze the effects of a zombie bite in its tracks and stop you turning from alive, to, well, dead (or is that undead? Hmm). Concoct your own antidote in our Zombie Bite! activity! If only the humble carpenter ant had one of those, eh?

Illustration: Liv Bargman

Lonely Hearts Club

OK, we’re going to hit you with our favourite spooky romance jokes. Ready? OK. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the disco? Because he had no body to go with. CLASSIC. Next up: What’s it like to be kissed by a vampire? It’s a pain in the neck. FUNNY. What does the vampire’s Valentine say? You’re just my blood type. EVEN FUNNIER! These spooky characters love a joke about their love lives – but what if inside, they’re actually desperate to find true love? Have a go at our Lonely Hearts Club activity – write a dating profile for them to use in their search for eternal happiness and make their dreams/nightmares come true!

Lonely Hearts Club Awesome Activity sheet

Make a No-Sew Spider Costume

According to American market research, Spider-Man is one of the most popular Halloween costumes ever. It’s not technically scary, but some people do like dressing up as their favourite storybook or movie characters for Halloween (although if you suffer with arachnophobia then the spider emblem at the centre of this costume might not be the one for you). Spiders, however, are undeniably creepy and at Halloween time they’re absolutely everywhere. We have a super fun and easy Spider Costume make for our crafty friends, check it out here. 

No sew Spider Costume Awesome Activity

Magician’s Mind-Reading Game

The concept of telepathy (mind-reading) has been around for a long time, and its official name was first coined in 1882 by the founder of the Society for Psychical Research, Fredric W. H. Myers. Though telepathy has never been proven exactly, it is somewhat of a fascinating idea. Quite simply, using nothing than your own mind, the belief is that you could transfer your thoughts to someone, or receive theirs; a sort of mental bluetooth connection with another brain. We often look to ancient cultures to find early examples of odd occurrences like precognition (knowing about an event before it happens) and prophecy (predicting events), but there really isn’t anything solid recorded about telepathy. 

So what do you think? Is it possible to read minds? Do you believe people that say they can? Or do you think they’re a big bunch of fakers? How easy would it be to read someone’s mind? How easy would it be to cheat and get away with it?! Answer all these questions with our Magician’s Mind-Reading Game!

Illustration by Jasmine Floyd

Make Your Own Nebulae Top Trumps

In 1764, Charles Messier discovered the M27 (no, not the motorway in England), but rather the first planetary nebula ever spotted! The M stands for Messier, but it’s also known as the Dumbbell nebula. We explored cosmic nebulae in our Spooky Issue – with their deliciously dark names they fit right in: Phantom Streak, Ghost of the Moon, Red Spider and Spectre of Death. Do you know many others? Our less-spooky-sounding favourites are Orion (classic), Horsehead, Crab, Ring, Lagoon, Trifid. They all sound a bit bonkers! Have a go at our Nebulae Top Trumps game here, and discover your favourite!

Messier 27 - The Dumbbell Nebula, Giuseppe Donatiello, via Wikimedia Commons

If you enjoyed our spooky selection this month, then creep over to our back issue store and grab yourself a copy of AQUILA’s devilishly awesome Spooky Issue!

Words: Jennifer Newton-Brown