Amusement Parks and Attractions Scare Up New Tricks, Treats, and Thrills for Fall

September 14, 2009

Alexandria, Virginia (United States) – In the light of day theme parks and attractions from coast to coast provide their own form of thrills and family entertainment with roller coasters, children’s rides, shows, and exhibits. Many will even enhance the experience with family-friendly events this fall. Once the sun goes down, things change. The vampires and zombies come out, and these venues undergo total transformations to take the thrills to the next level.

This fall, guest experiences at America’s amusement parks and attractions range from intense, horrifying attractions filled with creeping creatures, elaborately themed haunted houses, fog and monster-filled walkways, to family-friendly trick-or-treating extravaganzas, costume contests, and fall festivals complete with pumpkin patches and hay-bale mazes.

“Halloween presents an opportunity for parks and attractions to create new and exciting experiences for guests,” says Charles Bray, president and CEO for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). “Whether it is evoking an ominous feeling or a family-friendly fall festive mood, when the ingenious minds behind our industry set their sights on Halloween, it’s amazing—and often frightening—to see what they create.”

Halloween has become a multimillion-dollar industry built around entertaining families and thrilling guests. It has also extended the traditional summer operating season for many of America’s theme parks and attractions. According to the Haunted House Association, more than 300 attractions produce a Halloween-related event or attraction generating $150 to $200 million in revenue. A recent informal IAAPA poll illustrates the growing popularity of fall and Halloween events. Of the more than 100 amusement parks and attractions managers who responded to the survey, only 36 percent indicated they have been holding Halloween or fall-themed events for more than 15 years, while 81 percent said they will do so this year.

The details and themes vary greatly from place to place, but most events fall into one or more of three general categories: hair-raising Halloween haunts, fun-filled family events, and fall festivals. Hair-raising haunts are typically designed for teens, young adults, and thrill-seekers. They offer terrifying, and sometimes gruesome experiences and many are too intense for young children. The family events are designed more for children and parents to enjoy together while the fall festivals typically provide something for all ages. Here is information on more than 65 events at U.S. parks and attractions this fall:


• Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., hosts the annual “Hall of Terror” haunted house attraction beginning Friday, Oct. 9. In addition to the haunted house experience, guests float down the “Haunted River Ride” filled with surprises.

• The Boo Crew Haunted House in Rochester, Ill., presents “Dr. Griswold’s Experimentorium” on weekends in October. The attraction offers three levels of fright: self-guided tours through the dark house, Halloween Light tours with special lights to protect guests from resident monsters, and guided tours with Boo Crew members for a low-scare flashlight tour of the haunted house.

• “Howl-O-Scream” returns to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa Bay, Fla. for its 10th year. The park will provide 335 acres of sinister, adult-filled fun for 17 fright-filled nights. In addition to chilling coasters, guests encounter zombies and monsters as they make their way through seven haunted houses escaping unsettled demons, evil spirits, and possessed objects; four fear-provoking scare zones with crazed townspeople, werewolves, and more; and two frightening shows. The event previews the last weekend in September and runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights through Oct. 31.

• Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va., celebrates 11 years of fears with “Howl-O-Scream,” featuring 15 new attractions and 18 frightening scare zones, haunted mazes, and Halloween-themed shows starring vampires, werewolves, witches, and trolls. Many of the park’s haunted attractions and shows begin earlier in the day for the re-vamped “Howl-O-Scream.” The event debuts Sept. 25 and continues every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through Nov. 1.

• Cedar Point amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, celebrates “HalloWeekends” this fall Sept. 18 – Nov. 1. Guests will enjoy haunted houses where toys come to life and storms cause mysterious occurrences; five scare zones with the crew from a sunken ship, crazed clowns, and unruly residents roaming a corn maze; and eight indoor and outdoor fright-filled shows.

• Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, N.C., transforms into “SCarowinds,” featuring haunted mazes, scare zones, and hundreds of creepy monsters lurking around every corner. “SCarowinds” presents a sizeable collection of rides with spooky twists for its 10th Halloween season, and the entire park atmosphere transforms with an eerie glow.

• Darien Lake Theme Park Resort in Darien Center, N.Y., once again transforms into “FrightFest 2009” weekends Sept. 25 – Oct. 18. Activities include a newly themed haunted house, “Crazy Cliff’s Twisted Adventure,” and “Fright Night Field Trip,” a jarring bus tour through the black forest of Darien Lake.

• Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., unveils “Halloween Time” from Sept. 25-Nov. 1. This year’s event features “Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy,” which adds ghosts and other spooks to the classic roller coaster in the dark. The park also features new fireworks show “Halloween Screams—A Villainous Surprise in the Skies,” and meet-and-greets with characters dressed in seasonal costumes.

• Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pa., unleashes “Terror Behind the Walls” select evenings from Sept 18 – Nov. 7, featuring five haunted attractions housed within the 11-acre abandoned prison. New for 2009, the penitentiary adds the “Infirmary” attraction, inviting visitors into the prison’s long-abandoned operating rooms, recovery wards, sterilization chambers, and morgue.

• When the sun goes down EnterTRAINment Junction near Cincinnati, Ohio, becomes “Junction Nightmare.” Two intense mazes, “Ripper’s Revenge” and “Fear Factory” offer scares for only the very brave.

• Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, Pa., celebrates the season with “Phantom Fright Nights.” The park’s ghoulish alter ego comes out to play Friday and Saturday nights in October. Screams from thrill rides, terror, and fun will emanate from the event’s new offerings: six amazing haunt attractions, four scare-zone midways, roller coasters, and food and entertainment.

• Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va., brings back “Halloween Haunt” weekends Sept. 26 through Oct. 31. with scarezones like the Voodoo Swamp, CarnEvil, and Central Stalkway. Live entertainment takes center stage with shows like “Elvira’s Superstition” and “Graveyard Shift.” And guests ready for a scare-infused challenge can enter one of the nine mazes, including “Medieval Macabre,” “Slaughter House,” and the space-themed “Outpost.”

• Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio, revisits its “Halloween Haunt 2009” for adult park-goers ready for a scare. Now 16 full nights with more terror, the event features more than 500 creatures and costumed characters, 13 haunted attractions, and hair-raising rides, including the new “Diamondback” coaster. The event runs during select times Thursdays through Sundays, Sept. 25 – Oct. 31.

• Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., transforms into “Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt,” from Sept. 24 – Oct. 31, for the 37th Annual Halloween Haunt. The original Halloween experience has 13 creepy mazes, seven terrifying shows, four scare zones, and 1,000 roaming monsters.

• The “Museum of Fear” opens Oct. 1 at the Lafayette Science Museum in Lafayette, La. Guests journey through 6,000 square feet of dark recesses and mazes hidden within the museum. The attraction includes state-of-the-art sound and lighting, custom soundtracks, and movie-quality set design to enhance viewer experience. Lafayette’s first large-scale horror attraction operates every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night throughout October.

• The Haunted Graveyard opens for its ninth year at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., Friday, Oct. 2, 2009. Halloween spirits will transform Lake Compounce into a fog-filled attraction, with spine-chilling walkways and eerie music. Next door, the legendary Haunted Graveyard features a 45-minute hair-raising walk through six haunted houses and a graveyard linked by bone-chilling trails inhabited by ghoulish characters. New frights for 2009 include the mysterious “Mayan Temple,” a frightening experience including a jungle, waterfall, and rope-bridge.;

• New for 2009, Playland-Not-at-the-Beach Museum of Fun in El Cerrito, Calif., celebrates the Halloween season every weekend in October by turning out the lights and letting guests experience “The Haunted Museum.” Each weekend will be different: Oct. 3 – 4 is “Witches’ Weekend”; Oct. 10 – 11 is devoted to “Great Ghosts”; Oct.17 – 18 is “The Dark Mystery”; Oct. 24 – 25 is “Zombies Alive”; and the weekend of Halloween the “Killer Klowns Take Over.”

• Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., presents “Fright Fest 2009,” featuring two new haunted mazes, a zombie scare zone, spooky animal shows, and nightly funeral processions. “Fright Fest 2009” runs weekends Oct. 2 – Nov. 1.

• Six Flags New England in Agawam, Ma., celebrates “Fright Fest” this Halloween weekends Oct. 3 – Nov. 1. The event features hair-raising shows, electrifying street entertainment, nighttime rides, and haunted attractions including “Midnight Mansion” and “Wicked Woods.”

• “Fright Fest” transforms Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta, Ga., weekends Oct. 2 – Nov. 1. Dr. Fright opens his “Frightorium,” a 17–room haunted house to anyone brave enough to enter. This year, four new shows – to be announced soon – join shows, including “Love at First Fright,” “Bad Bob the Bone Butcher,” and “Mort’s Casket Sales.”

• Brace for terror at every turn when visiting “Fright Fest” at Six Flags amusement parks across the nation during weekends in October. Whether it is a fright-filled show, thrilling street entertainment, or spine-chilling haunted houses, each park transforms offering guests a ghoulish good time. Six Flags America in Mitchellville, Md.; Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, Texas; Six Flags Great Adventure and Wild Safari in Jackson, N.J.;Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor in Gurnee, Ill.; Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George, N.Y.; Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Ky.; Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles, Calif.; Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas; Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, Mo.

• Universal Studios Hollywood in Universal City, Calif., brings movies to life with “Halloween Horror Nights 19: Ripped from the Silver Screen.” The latest incarnations of “Saw” and “The Wolfman” join with Chucky to lead a host of terrifying horrors torn from the scariest movies of all time. Features include all-new haunted houses, scare zones, live shows, and hundreds of “scare-actors.” The event dates are Oct. 2 – 3, Oct. 9 – 11, Oct. 15 – 18, Oct. 23 – 25, and Oct. 28 – 31. Not recommended for children under 13.

• Step inside living cinematic terror at Universal Studios Florida in Orlando Fla., “Halloween Horror Nights.” The latest incarnations of “Saw” and “The Wolfman” join with Chucky to lead a host of terrifying horrors torn from the scariest movies of all time. “Halloween Horror Nights 19: Ripped from the Silver Screen” features all-new haunted houses, scare zones, live shows, and hundreds of “scare-actors.” Event dates are Sept. 25 – 26, Oct. 1 – 4, 8 – 11, 15 – 18, 21 – 25, and 28 – 31. Not recommended for children under 13.

• Wild Adventures Water and Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga., turns into a haunted playground for “Phobia: Fright by Night.” The event features five themed haunted houses, including the “Lakeside Sanitarium” and the “Saloon of Doom”; scare zones such as the “Corn Stalkers Maze” and “Psychopath”; and a fright-filled swamp trail.


• Starting Oct. 9, Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach, Fla., offers a “not-so-scary” HalloWEE Zone for kids ages 8 and younger. The zone features arts and crafts, face painting, a bouncy house, games, and goody bags for all kids.

• Visitors discover the creatures lurking in the depths of the ocean as Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., transforms into “Scarium of the Pacific” Oct. 24 – 25. This educational Halloween event includes an annual children’s costume contest, coloring contest, magic shows, spooky storytelling, crafts, and peculiar animals in the Great Hall.

• Blue Harbor Resort in Sheboygan, Wis., presents “Boo Harbor on the Lake.” All are invited to join the crew for a pirate scavenger hunt around the resort in search of a tasty treasure. Once back on dry land, guests enjoy face painting, crafts, music, and dancing.

• BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo in Baton Rouge, La., invites families to “Boo at the Zoo”– a merry, not scary extravaganza. Children trick-or-treat throughout the entire zoo at various treat stations, take a Safari Snapshot with animals, and wander through a hay maze.

• Cedar Point amusement park located in Sandusky, Ohio, offers scare-free entertainment during “HalloWeekends” Sept. 18 – Nov. 1. Children will enjoy fun surprises in seven themed rooms of the “Magic House on Boo Hill,” spooky decorations at the “Planet Spooky” playland, find their way through a pint-sized hay bale maze, and participate in a costume contest.

• The Columbus Zoo in Powell, Ohio, hosts a delightfully haunting Halloween celebration, “Boo at the Zoo.” Children come to the zoo in their favorite costume to dine with superheroes, tick-or-treat throughout the zoo, and enjoy special activities, rides and shows.

• Darien Lake Theme Park Resort in Darien Center, N.Y., offers scare-free Halloween fun for small children. The “Trick-or-Treat-Trail” sets up shop in Adventure Isle, distributing more than 60,000 pieces of candy. “Booville” offers pumpkin painting and a hay maze for kids.

• The Denver Zoo in Denver, Colo., encourages its youngest guests to dress up as their favorite superhero as “Boo at the Zoo” celebrates the season. Children learn about the environment, visit more than 30 trick-or-treat stations, and enjoy close encounters with the creepy but kind vampire bats, reptiles, spiders, and Denver Zoo’s other creatures.

• In its 12th year, “Happy Hauntings” at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pa., features more than 20 themed rides, including the “Scareeeee-Go-Round,” the “Bat Swing,” and the “Witchie Whip.” Guests enjoy trick-or-treating, games, and pumpkin painting. “Happy Hauntings” runs during select hours Oct. 17 – 18, Oct. 24 – 25, and Oct. 31 – Nov. 1.

• EnterTRAINment Junction in West Chester, Ohio, presents “Jack-O-Lantern Junction” daily Sept. 14 – Nov. 1. During the daytime, guests enjoy two Halloween walkthroughs in a kid-friendly, low-scare environment: a well-lit maze in an old Victorian cobweb filled mansion and “haunted” rooms, and a combination mirror maze, clown room, and chain-link and curtain maze.

• Fort Worth Zoo in Texas presents the 18th Annual “Boo at the Zoo” starting Oct. 22. The fall festival features more than 10 treat stations, animal presentations, and live musical acts. Guests stuff their bags with candy and visit some of the zoo’s animals at the same time.

• Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History in Sioux Falls, S.D., hosts its annual “ZooBoo,” a three-night Halloween celebration Oct. 23 – 25. An estimated 10,000 kids will participate in search of candy and trinkets from costumed presenters stationed at treat tents. Families enjoy decorated exhibits, walkways, and popular sites like the “Endangered Animal Graveyard,” with headstone markers for extinct animals like the Dodo Bird and Caspian Tiger. Other attractions include the “Creepy Carousel” and the “Hall of Flames,” with more than 300 hand-carved jack-o’-lanterns.

• Great Wolf Lodge resorts throughout the country replace fright with fun this October and celebrate “Howl-O-Ween at the Wolf.” Guests will bring costumes along with bathing suits to better enjoy interactive trick-or-treat trails, “Witchy Crafts” in Cub Club and “Spooktacular Story Time” each evening. New features this year include the Monster Bash Dance Party, costume contests, horse and wagon rides, and pumpkin painting. Participating parks are: Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City, Kan.; Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Mich.; Great Wolf Lodge Charlotte-Concord in Concord, N.C.; Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio; Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio; Great Wolf Lodge Pocono Mountains in Scotrun, Pa.; Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, Texas; Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va.; Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound in Centralia, Wash.; Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

• Hersheypark in Hershey, Pa., transforms into “Hersheypark in the Dark” on weekends in October. More than 50 rides, including roller coasters and family rides remain open and receive new names for the season. One-price admission includes all the rides and live entertainment. “Ghost Runner” (“Storm Runner”) and “Wicked Racer” (“Lightning Racer”) offer thrilling nighttime coaster rides, while guests both young and old delight in a ride on “Bats in the Belfry” (the “Kissing Tower”) and “Night Mares” (the park’s carousel).

• On Friday, Oct. 30, guests will journey below the earth’s surface into a world of goblins, ghosts, and giggles at the 27th Annual Halloween at Howe Caverns, located in Howes Cave, N.Y. Guests take a self-guided tour along cave passages and view 20 spooky scenes featuring wicked witches and a scary surprise in the Winding Way. Costumes are encouraged.

• Beginning Sept. 26, Idlewild and Soakzone in Ligonier, Pa., invite families to “HallowBoo!” In its fifth year “Hallowboo!” features a wide variety of family-friendly entertainment, including trick-or-treating through Story Book Forest, a walkthrough hay bale maze, a Haunted Hallow train, and specially themed shows.

• Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va., will host “Howl-O-Fest” in the Kidsville and Nick Central areas Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 3 through Oct. 31. The celebration includes the “Goblin Cave,” “Patch the Talking Pumpkin,” the “Great Goblin Foam Pit,” and the “Amazing Maize Maze.”

• Kings Island near Cincinnati, Ohio, offers “Howl-O-Fest,” a family-friendly event for kids. In its second season, the festival offers a costume contest, fun-scary mazes, pumpkins, mask paintings, games, and free candy and goodies. “Howl-O-Fest” takes place during the day each Saturday and Sunday in October.

• Presented by Meijer, “The World’s Largest Halloween Party!” at the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky is the sweetest party in town. This is an evening of not-too-scary Halloween fun for the whole family with costumed characters and fanciful storybook scenes all over the zoo. Plus there’s trick-or-treating for kids 11 and younger, the Halloween Carousel, and more.

• The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Md., celebrates 26 years of “ZooBOOO!” Oct. 23 – 25. This year guest will enjoy trick-or-treating, visits from spooky animal ambassadors, costume contests, games, crafts, a spooky hay maze, and pumpkin painting. Even the animals will enjoy some fall fun with special animal enrichment activities and a guest favorite Elephant Pumpkin Smash!

• The Minnesota Zoo’s “Hallzooween Event,” Oct. 24 – 25 and Oct. 31, offers a fun, safe place for trick-or-treating as families enjoy a day of music, crafts, and sweets. Guests of the Apple Valley, Minn. zoo can also view the results of their local scarecrow contest at “Scarecrow Alley,” which features hand-crafted, animal-themed scarecrows.

• Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas, presents “Ghostly Gardens,” a free annual Halloween event Sunday, Oct. 24. Activities include trick-or-treating, creepy crafts, and the annual Goblin Costume Contest for children under 12 years old, with prizes for the best costume.

• Putt-Putt FunHouse in Webster, Texas, turns into “Haunted Holes” each Halloween season with spooky-but-not-scary games, skits, and spooks along the 18-hole miniature golf path. Prize and candy giveaways occur each night on the course, which is outfitted with a “creepy carnival” theme. Putt-Putt FunHouse is open Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – midnight.

• The annual “Boo at the Zoo” will run from Oct. 16 – 18 and Oct. 23 – 30 at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s in Columbia, S.C. Nearly 200,000 pieces of candy are distributed throughout the event, which offers trick-or-treating on the zoo’s Trick-or-Treat Trail. Boo-goers also rock the night away at the “Mummy’s Eeky-Freaky DJ Dance Party,” frolic in a sea of suds at “Frankenstein’s Foam Zone,” watch magician Ray Hardee perform “Moonlight Magic,” and strut their stuff at the nightly costume parade.

• Halloween meets the sea at SeaWorld Orlando’s “Halloween Spooktacular,” a not-too-scary celebration that combines family-friendly activities and special animal shows. Kids show up in costume and enjoy entertainment such as Sesame Street character performances, colorful costumed characters, and trick-or-treating among a sea-inspired atmosphere. The Halloween celebration takes place Oct. 31 and weekends between Oct. 3 and Nov. 1.

• SeaWorld San Diego’s “Halloween Spooktacular” combines family-friendly activities and special animal shows. Kids dress up in costume and enjoy entertainment such as Sesame Street character performances, colorful costumed characters, and trick-or-treating among a sea-inspired atmosphere. The Halloween celebration takes place Oct. 31 and weekends between Oct. 3 and Nov. 1.

• Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta, Ga., offers fun activities for kids and parents throughout the day during “Fright Fest.” Activities located throughout for children include mini pumpkin painting, arts and crafts, and a kids costume contest (under 54″ tall). Families will also enjoy Scary Story Time and trick-or-treating.

• Six Flags amusement parks across the nation offer Halloween activities for kids during “Fright Fest” on weekends in October. Special trick-or-treat trails and costume and scream contests help turn the parks into a Halloween playground. Participating parks are: Six Flags America in Mitchellville, Md.; Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor in Gurnee, Ill.; Six Flags Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George, N.Y.; Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles, Calif.; Six Flags New England in Agawam, Ma.; Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas; Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, Mo.

• Homeowners in the St. Charles Park District in St. Charles, Ill., compete for awards and bragging rights during the “Gallery of Ghoulish Homes Tour.” Families view homes at dusk Oct. 16 – 31 during this free event.

• Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., hosts “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” Sept. 4-Nov. 1. The event features tricks and treats throughout the entire park. Special lighting, music, and special effects create haunted hallows suitable for the entire family. Special entertainment includes the “Boo-to-You” parade and “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks show.

• During select days in October, Wild Adventures Water and Theme Park in Valdosta, Ga., offers “Kid-o-ween,” a Halloween festival featuring parkwide trick-or-treating, a sing-a-long train ride, Kiddee Karaoke, costume parades, and a hay bale maze.

• ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park in Hershey, Pa., transforms into “Creatures of the Night” on weekend nights in October for Halloween. Guests can view real critters prowling their natural environment and showing off their nocturnal habits.


• Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch in Liberty, Mo., offers new and different activities every weekend this fall. Guests enjoy art shows, dog shows, a car show, and 4-H weekend. This year, Carolyn’s Country Cousins Pumpkin Patch extends its season to celebrate Dia de los Muertos Nov. 1.

• Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., presents the award-winning “National Gospel and Harvest Celebration” Oct. 2 – 31. The largest Southern Gospel event in the country is also home to dozens of master craftsmen and artisans, harvest foods, and gospel music.

• Celebrate “Fiesta del Mar” Oct. 4 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif. The annual Latin American cultural festival promotes ocean conservation and features bilingual feeding shows, musical performances, and other entertainment. The aquarium also honors its 25th anniversary Oct. 17 – 18.

• Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn., hosts its annual Oktoberfest celebration Sept. 26 – 27, featuring German food, dancers, and a live band. Guests enjoy free admission to the park and the Oktoberfest Pavilion. On Oct. 10 the park hosts a new Irish Festival with fife and drum and pipes corps, plus Irish folk music, hurling contests, and other Irish games and activities.

• Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., presents the National Harvest Festival Sept. 12 – Oct. 31. This two-month festival features nearly 200 demonstrating craftsmen, hundreds of musicians, dozens of shows, culinary classes, and the evening show “Great American Country Nights. New shows for 2009 include an equestrian drill team with thrilling horsemanship, “All American Cowgirl Chicks,” and “Wings Over Missouri” birds-of-flight show.

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