How vacationing too long in Greece almost got me banned from Europe
Nobody ever looks for drama inside an airport terminal — unless you're Mel Brooks . But I found myself a starring role in a bit of immigration theatrics this summer thanks to the arcane world of the Schengen zone rules.
Let me set the stage: I was getting ready to depart from Athens International (ATH) and presented my passport for routine inspection. But instead of the perfunctory (and often indecipherable) stamp followed by "next!" the passport control officer thumbed through my passport book's many dog-eared pages before asking, "How long have you been in Greece?"
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I was ready for it — or so I thought. I replied that I had been in the country since early April. U.S. citizens can stay in any European Union nation for up to 90 days without a visa. So, when I saw the three-month limit approaching earlier in the spring, I flew to nearby Cyprus and returned to Greece a few days later. I figured that should effectively reset my 90-day clock, and that I would not have stayed in the country for longer than three months at a time. No sweat, right?
"But you were also in Greece before April, yes?" He knew he was correct because he had my passport in his hands. But I couldn't quite see what he was driving at, especially not at 6 a.m. Perhaps sensing my confusion, he explained (and I am paraphrasing here) that while Americans can stay in Europe for up to 90 days, they can only do so once in a 180-day period. And the passport officer gauged that, because I had also been traveling around Greece for a good chunk of time prior to my quick trip to Cyprus in April, I had most likely overstayed my 90-day visa-free Schengen exemption.
He didn't issue a fine, but he explained something about the rules adding, "Just be careful about when you intend to come back."
Such was my introduction to the prosaic but also incredibly pesky world of the so-called 90/180 rule. And forget about 5/24: Unlike the Chase rule on credit cards , this one could get you banned from Europe. I had only grasped the first half — but start talking to your fellow road warriors or Googling things like "overstay in Europe" and it turns out the tentacles of the Schengen zone are really a thing, and many U.S. travelers have stories about being tangled up in them unawares.
My own private Athens airport earthquake had aftershocks, because once I finished my trip to the U.K. I realized even though I had a perfectly valid return ticket to Athens in July, I would have to cancel my flight. Yes, I could fly back to Athens, or Rome, Paris or Berlin for that matter, but if an assiduous customs officer in any of those cities paid attention to my passport stamps indicating I had previously overstayed in the Schengen zone, they could legitimately deny me entry, and I would have to buy a brand new ticket on the spot and leave. And watching two months of travel plans unravel was, to say the least, not pretty. For starters, I would have to buy a new ticket if I wanted to return to the Schengen zone, and not before September. Ouch.
What is the Schengen Area?
Prior to the creation of the Schengen zone in 1995 (based on a treaty signed years earlier in Schengen, Luxembourg), travelers would have to show ID to go from, say, France to Italy, or from Germany to Denmark. (For citizens of European Union countries, no passport was needed, merely a national ID.)
But that's no longer the case. Within the Schengen area, internal border checks are now mostly a thing of the past. It's when initially entering the Schengen zone from a non-Schengen nation that things get tricky: As the State Department reminds travelers , "with a valid U.S. passport, you can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business during any 180-day period."
And they repeat in bold, " Do not overstay! You must wait an additional 90 days before applying to re-enter the Schengen area."
Also, don't confuse the Schengen zone with the European Union itself, or the E.U. Customs Union for that matter. Schengen is an area of 26 European states that have done away with passport checks along their mutual borders, and the zone comprises a single jurisdiction, with a standardized visa policy, for the purposes of international travel. Some countries such as Switzerland do not belong to the E.U. but are part of the Schengen area, while others like Cyprus are not part of the Schengen area but are members of the E.U.
American citizens have automatic visa exemptions for entry into the Schengen area for stays of up to 90 days in any 180 day period, so if you think your three-month sojourn in Tuscany might turn into three and a half, remember that you do need a visa—or will need to leave at the end of 90 days. Prior to 1995, Americans in Europe who approached the 90-day mark in European Country A would simply fly or (more likely) take the train to the country next door, get their passport stamped in European Country B and return to European Country A for another stay of up to 90 days. But that no longer works. The flip side of Schengen rules making things more relaxed for intra-European travel is that now U.S. citizens cannot simply slip across the border and come back; for one, no one's going to stamp your passport between France and Belgium or Hungary and Austria anymore.
Neither the European Union nor the U.S. does a very good job of explaining the mechanics of the 90/180 rule, and airlines are only going to check to see if your passport is valid: It's your responsibility to familiarize yourself with the restrictions.
Suppose you fly to Italy on Jan. 1 and stay for 90 days. You don't need a visa, so you'll have to leave Italy by April 1 — but you want to spend Easter in Rome, so you fly to New York City on April 1 and get a ticket to come back to Rome on April 12. Well, you can buy the ticket but you can't use it, because if you show your passport at the airport in Rome and a customs officer sees that you previously entered Italy on Jan. 1 and stayed until April 1, he or she will see that — in the six months leading up to April 12 — you already stayed 90 days. And even flying to a country that not's functionally part of Schengen yet (like Cyprus) for a few days won't change that. In this scenario, the soonest you can come back to Italy, by the letter of the law, is July 1. That's because in the 180 days prior to July 1, you won't have stayed longer than 90 days. Still confused? Check out this handy tool .
Repercussions for violating 90/180
What happens, though, if you disregard (or didn't read this article and just didn't know about) the rules and flew to Rome on, say, May 1? Again, the airline will be more than happy to sell you a ticket. But if customs officials in Rome see that letting you clear passport control would place you in violation of the 90/180 rule, yes, they can deny you entry to the country. In which case, you could be forced to buy a ticket, likely at full price, to return to the U.S. or another country outside the Schengen area on the spot.
But it's probably not as problematic as being caught overstaying your 90-limit while still in, or upon leaving, a country in the Schengen zone. If it's just a couple of days and you honestly lost track of time (heck, isn't that why you went to Europe in the first place?), chances are customs officials will be lenient. But if you obviously overstayed by a longer stretch of time without a valid reason or sans the requisite visa, you could face hefty fines — which vary by country but could easily exceed 1,200 euros (or $1,300). Getting flagged as an overstayer could even bar you from future visits.
How about just using a second passport , if you have one? In theory that could work, but in practice I know of no country or attorney that would advise using a second passport to try to outmaneuver the Schengen rules.
Of course, customs officials often barely glance at your passport, or not even bother to stamp it. But assume that your stamps will be read and that questions could be asked. After all, it's not a border control officer's job to simply wish you a bon voyage. And in the age of low-cost, long-haul air travel and Airbnb, which can make extended stays overseas more budget-friendly than ever before, losing track of the calendar while galavanting abroad is not far-fetched. But it's up to you, not the State Department or anyone else, to do the math.
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It also bears mentioning that, starting next year , biometrics will likely be introduced in the Schengen area as well as a new entry and exit system that will record refusals of entry and ultimately replace the manual stamping of passports. So, even if you're disinclined to crunch the numbers and can't easily keep track of how many days you've stayed in the zone, the computers will very soon start doing that for you. That will make the process of visiting Europe more efficient, but as for those days of endless worry-free wanders around the continent? Arrivederci!
You may not be keeping track of when your accumulated 90 days are up, but rest assured that before too long someone else will be.
Spooky World first opened its doors in Berlin, Massachusetts back in 1991. The original horror scream park featured haunted houses, sideshow attractions, celebrities and a notorious haunted hayride. The park was soon after deemed New England's largest and most terrifying horror scream park, becoming a household name. Seven years later, Spooky World moved its location to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to partner with the Kraft family. With the growth and development of One Patriot Place back in 2005, Spooky World found itself looking for a new home. Displaced for a couple of years, Spooky World bounced around from Boston Bayside Expo Center (Boston, MA) and Canobie Lake Park (Salem, NH). In the Fall of 2009, Spooky World joined forces with the horror scream park powerhouse, Nightmare New England, to create America's number one haunted destination in the Northeast. It’s now permanently headquartered in Litchfield, NH at the property of the famous Mel’s Funway Park. Throughout the years Spooky World has continued to grow and win awards thanks to a creative team that is always looking for a new way to deliver a fright. And they are no stranger to publicity, hosting events like a truly unique real horror-glam wedding. In 2015, Spooky World took on one of its most ambitious projects by creating a mile-long Haunted Hayride - unlike any other in the region. In 2021, the Spooky World owners and creative team worked together to dream up and develop a haunt with the latest in fright technologies - Asylum 47. A new theme in Spooky World’s collection of attractions, this haunt is set in the year 1947 on New Year’s Eve. With terrifying scenes and secrets around every corner, Asylum 47’s actors and real-as-anything animatronic patients are eager to start their new year - and poised to disturb. Run by owners Mike Accomando and Wayne Caulfield, Spooky World reigns as one of America’s favorite horror scream parks; one that continues to bring fright and delight with new additions and expansions to both Spooky World and Mel's Funway Park year after year. People from around the country continue to travel to New Hampshire for the biggest, the original… Spooky World presents Nightmare New England
80 Acres of Fear
Spooky World presents Nightmare New England and the Haunted Hayride is New England’s Largest Haunted Attraction on more than 80 acres. Horror Fanatics from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New England and across the country travel to visit us every year for thrills, chills, screams & fun! Get a full night of fear and fun for one low ticket price!
Our Spookiest Season Yet
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The management and staff of Spooky World & Mel’s Funway Park will follow all state of New Hampshire guidelines for the 2021 Spooky World Season. Although facemasks are not required, they are recommended. Please check back as we will update any changes required by the State.
Spooky World Links Tickets + Reservations Special Events Work at Spooky World FAQs Contact Us
Located 5 Minutes from Manchester, 45 Minutes North of Boston at 454 Charles Bancroft Hwy, Litchfield, NH
Spooky World 2023
Where: https://nightmarenewengland.com/index.html Mel's Funway Park 454 Charles Bancroft Hwy. Litchfield , NH 03052
Categories: Date Idea, Good for Groups, Meetup, Nightlife, Photoworthy, Seasonal
Event website: https://nightmarenewengland.com/index.html
Spooky World presents Nightmare New England and the Haunted Hayride is New England’s Largest Haunted Attraction on more than 80 acres. Horror Fanatics from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New England and across the country travel to visit us every year for thrills, chills, screams, and fun! Get a full night of fear for one low ticket price!
- 80+ acres of fear
- 5 HUGE haunted attractions, including the Haunted Hayride
- Beer & wine garden
- Fire pits
- Zombie paintball
- HOURS of horror!
- NEW: Introducing... Asylum 47 – Travel back in time to New Year’s Eve 1947, where Asylum 47’s patients are eager to start the new year off... wrong. The clock is ticking down. Can you escape before the clock strikes midnight?
Spooky World first opened its doors in Berlin, Massachusetts back in 1991. The original horror scream park featured haunted houses, sideshow attractions, celebrities and a notorious haunted hayride. The park was soon after deemed New England's largest and most terrifying horror scream park, becoming a household name. Seven years later, Spooky World moved its location to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to partner with the Kraft family. With the growth and development of One Patriot Place back in 2005, Spooky World found itself looking for a new home. Displaced for a couple of years, Spooky World bounced around from Boston Bayside Expo Center (Boston, MA) and Canobie Lake Park (Salem, NH). In the Fall of 2009, Spooky World joined forces with the horror scream park powerhouse, Nightmare New England, to create America's number one haunted destination in the Northeast. It’s now permanently headquartered in Litchfield, NH at the property of the famous Mel’s Funway Park. Throughout the years Spooky World has continued to grow and win awards thanks to a creative team that is always looking for a new way to deliver a fright. And they are no stranger to publicity, hosting events like a truly unique real horror-glam wedding. In 2015, Spooky World took on one of its most ambitious projects by creating a mile-long Haunted Hayride - unlike any other in the region.
Click here for tickets and full schedule.
Open Fri-Sat, Sept 22-30
Fri-Sun, October 6-29
Mon Oct 9, Thur Oct 19 &26, Tues Oct 31
Fri-Sat, Nov 3-4
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Spooky World’s ‘scariest’ ever Haunted Hayride opens Sept. 25 at Mel’s
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One of Spooky World Presents Nightmare New England’s most-feared and dreaded haunts, Brigham Manor – The Darkness , will be a whole new experience.
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Much better than expected - Spooky World
- United States
- New Hampshire (NH)
- Litchfield - Things to Do
- Spooky World
I felt it was overpriced, lacking in actors and boring. I’ve been to many haunted hayrides & houses... read more
A really fun Halloween experience! The hayride was well laid out and long, though some of the... read more
Much better than expected
Came here with lower expectations. Went once when I was a kid and it was in central mass. remembered long lines and not too spooky. Pleasantly surprised with the 2015 version of spooky world (or nightmare new england). came sunday night opening weekend with GA tickets and the place was dead all night. No pun. No lines for anything. On a busy night I think VIP tix would be a better deal but not this night. The hayride was worth the price of admission. a solid 20 minutes of a dozen haunted scenes. Really impressive. The haunted houses were good too. Well, 3 were awesome and 3 were decent IMHO. Also, even though you couldn't walk around with a beer, and had to stay in the "beer tent", I appreciated the fact that management didn't bend you over price wise. $5 for a Bud Light is perfectly acceptable when a lot of attractions charge a lot more. No lines meant it was easy to catch a nice buzz and explore all of the haunted houses. It makes Spooky World a pretty good bargain, I think. Also, the corn dogs were slammin-
Great themes all around but way understaffed. Hayride has events spread out too far. Best attraction was the Colony and Mansion
Spooky World is held on the grounds of Mel's Funway beginning at the end of September. Tickets may seem pricey at first, but the price is well worth it. Keep in mind you're getting admission to the grounds and access to 5 differently haunts (thinks 5 differently themed haunted trails/worlds). VIP gets you unlimited access to 4 of the 5 haunts as well as unlimited access to Mel's Funway activities (mini gold, go karts, batting cages). Super VIP unlimited everything. Choice is yours. I was happy enough with 1 admission to everything, but depends on your desired level of spooky activity. VIP tickets get a shorter line wait as well. PS if price is an issue they do have ticket deals so keep you eyes open. 3D Festival of Fear- Think of a fun house under black light with neon paint and extremely well done 3D effects. Extremely well done and the effects are awesome. Carnage-Junk yard themed haunt. Also well done, but does have some effects that may be difficult for some visitors (heavy strobe usage in a section and claustrophobia bags). The Colony-blue collar back woods haunts. This one goes through a wooded area, also with some great effects. However, it was extremely dark in spots and impossible to see anything including actors/monsters and where to keep walking forward/through. Brigham Manor-This is house you'll see on the driving range of Mel's Funway all year long. It's a single story haunted mansion that you go through. This haunt is completely dark (not lit), but your group is given a glow stick for light. Don't drop it-the monsters won't give it back. Haunted HayRide-Tracker drawn through the woods in the back. Small sections of differently themed scary worlds (clowns, back woods, tribal people, spider hall etc.). Take jacket and where closed toes comfortable shoes. It get's chilly on the field and in the woods during fall evenings, and you'll be walking through the woods, grass, and on gravel. During opening weekend and probably some earlier weekends in October, they may shut the place down on you (around 12pm). On opening weekend we were able to make it through all the attractions despite the line waits and the 12pm shut down time. Later into October/closer to Halloween, the place stays open as long as people are still in line (2-3 in morning according to one person we asked). Over all, worth a try if you're into spooky stuff. It was a pretty good experience for this being my first real haunted house visit. Seeing as I'm not into scary things, I'm a little lack luster about how I felt doing it, but I'd say if people wanted to go again next year, I wouldn't mind returning with them. This just isn't something I'd normally suggest myself-I prefer my happy fall decor and parties over the scary. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR SMALL CHILDREN.
Ok I have been a Spooky World enthusiast since the days of Berlin, Ma. I was a little disappointed. When Spooky World was at Gilette Stadium , it was inevitable that goers would have a great time!! I mean what happen to the old skool horror celebs?? This was an added bonus. One year I met George Wilbur who played Michael Myers in Halloween 4 and 6!!!!! It was so cool. Especially since Halloween is my all time favorite horror movie. I got to ask him questions and received an autographed photo. The hayride in Gillette was the best I've ever been on. There was a horror museum and costumes/ masks. Colony was my favorite attraction, Ravens Claw was a snooze fest. To me it lacked imagination and more could have been done with more characters ghouls or zombies. Brigham Manor was ok. Carnage?? Are you kidding me?? Waist of time. The 3D house with the clowns ( I forget the name of attraction) was fun. We had the VIP a little pricey but way to go. I absolutely love Spooky World and remain a fan however if there aren't any changes for 2015 I won't be returning until there have been. Why would I want to see it the same thing??
Years ago, in Oregon, I would see commercials for them on our east coast cable channel. I had always wanted to go. In 2009 we got a chance to go. We had dinner there at that time and played a round of minigolf. It was a fun experience. This year Halloween was no less fun, but it was different. The restaurant has changed hands. They no longer serve seafood. Which was pretty decent before. Now it is burgers and pizza. The waitress said everyone loves the burgers so much they ordered bags to go. I doubt that, they were just okay, nothing I am skidding out of there with by the bag full. The haunts had changed, as expected in that amount of time. I was proud I had enough brain cells left over from 2009 to remember a lot of their props and saw them recycled into the new haunts. Good for them, as an avid haunter myself, I know this is an expensive part. It was just funny we could remember them. We bought the VIP pass both trips, and it is worth the extra money to skip the lines and get to go through as much as you want. The difference this trip is they had more of the outdoor haunts that you walked around. I was thankful it was not raining or had not just rained as the paths are all dirt. I am really jaded when it comes to haunted houses, as we do extensive halloween but a few of the outdoor ones were creepy. They force you through a pitch black cabin to get to the other side, and something about that was unnerving. I didn't think I would ever be afraid in any haunt situation again. I don't think we would go again if in the area, just because it was so close to the last time. If it is your first time I will say don't miss it. Go and spend a little extra for the VIP ticket. it will also get you into the batting cages, mini golf and the go carts.
We had VIP tickets which included unlimited go karts, batting cage, mini golf and 5 haunted exhibits. We enjoyed it all. Feeling young again driving the go karts around the curvy track, then hitting the softball batting cages before we enjoyed a challenging 18 hole mini golf. We had some time to kill so had pizza at the Naticook Restaurant right there in the parking lot that was delicious. At 7:00 the haunted fun began and with VIP shorter lines we did them all twice. None of the characters touch you but the way they jump around and yell in some very scary costumes it can really get your heart beating. I was horse from all the screaming and loved every minute!
Spooky World staking out new haunt
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Patriots release troubled cb jack jones, claim rb jamychal hasty.
The Halloween-themed Spooky World relocates to its third new home in four years next month.
The owners of the 25-acre Mel’s Funway Park in Litchfield, N.H., acquired the Spooky World name, trademark and Web site for $250,000 last year from founder David Bertolino. They’re combining it with their year-old Nightmare New England to open what they call the region’s largest haunted attraction.
Spooky World was held last year at Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., through a leasing deal with Bertolino after operating similarly at Boston’s Bayside Expo Center for two years. Canobie Lake is staging Screemfest this year.
Mel’s Funway owners Mike Accomando and Wayne Caulfield hope to attract 72,000 visitors to Spooky World/Nightmare New England once it opens Oct. 2, double the number that visited Nightmare New England last year.
“Before you even get to the park, you’re already in the mindset,” Accomando said. “There are farmlands around us, so it’s a very dark wooded area. It’s perfect for where you expect a haunted location to be.”
The partners sunk an additional $500,000 into the venture, adding three PG-13-rated attractions for a total of seven and expanding the “Monster Midway.” Sideshows include live metal-grunge band performance, Zombie paintball, go-cart racing and mini-golf.
Mike Krausert, a haunt industry veteran and vice president of the International Association of Haunted Attractions, is overseeing operations.
“Our forte is to really, truly scare you and give an excellent show,” Accomando said. “It’s more of a theatrical production. It’s not just throwing a sheet over your head and going, ‘Boo.’ ”