Happy Halloween: Central Florida Theme Park Events

Lisa Fritscher October 27, 2014 No Comments

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Scare Zone

Halloween means big-budget events like Halloween Horror Nights.

Central Florida is well known as the theme park center of the world. The crowded landscape ensures healthy competition as each park fights for its share of the tourist dollar. With Halloween now a multi-billion dollar industry, second only to Christmas in consumer holiday spending, the parks have turned their attention to putting on ever more elaborate seasonal events. Some are intensely scary and best for brave older kids and adults, while others celebrate childhood wonder with trick-or-treating and beloved characters decked out in their Halloween costumes. No matter what your family is looking for, Central Florida is sure to provide it. Here’s a look at the local Halloween landscape for 2014.

Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando’s 24th annual Halloween Horror Nights is filled with all-new scares. Each of the 8 walk-through haunted houses and 4 designated street scare zones is brand new for this year, and is packed with actors lying in wait for their chance to terrify you. This year features a terrific mix of houses based on popular franchises, including The Walking Dead and Halloween, alongside original creations from the twisted minds of the Art and Design department. Two shows, the wildly popular Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure and the Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute, provide a chance to sit down and catch your breath.

Halloween Horror Nights is extremely intense and purposefully scary. The event is rated PG-13 and, while children are admitted with an adult, there are no child-priced tickets and no refunds. Although many brave kids have a wonderful time, you know your children best. We have seen 10-year-olds laugh their way through the haunted houses, and full-grown adults run screaming out the front gates at the first scare. Also note that HHN is a bit of an adult party with readily available alcohol, dim lighting and often-rambunctious guests. Although security will not hesitate to intervene at the first sign of trouble, some parents are uncomfortable with exposing their kids to drinking and adult humor. Use your own discretion when making the decision to attend.

Howl-O-Scream

HOS Shop of Horrors. Image: Snowman Guy, Wikimedia Commons.

Like Halloween Horror Nights, Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-O-Scream is intensely frightening. The event features 7 walk-through haunted houses and hundreds of roaming street scare actors, with a mix of returning scares and all-new experiences. For an extra fee, you can also add The Experiment, an extreme challenge that allows you to face your fears alone or in a group of up to 4 people traveling together. One show, Fiends, provides a respite from the terror.

Howl-O-Scream, like Halloween Horror Nights, is primarily designed as an adult party. There are no child-priced tickets, and refunds are not available. Alcohol is sold throughout the park. Only you know whether your child is ready to handle the intensity and the party atmosphere.

ZooBoo
Lowry Park Zoo, located in Tampa, offers what is arguably the best Halloween option for families with a range of ages, interests, and scare thresholds. ZooBoo features 6 walk-through haunted houses, each with its own “skull rating.” Skull ratings range from one to seven, with seven being the most intensely frightening. This allows the adults and older kids to experience thrills and chills, while the little ones take in haunts that are more to their liking. A family carnival and some kids’ rides are also open during the event. Children’s tickets are available, and those ages 2 and under are free.

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Donald and Daisy show off their Halloween costumes. Image: Loren Javier, Flickr.

If your family’s Halloween tastes run more toward trick-or-treating than frights, head to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World for a family-friendly party. Mickey’s Not so Scary Halloween Party features trick-or-treat stations for all ages, along with a fantastic “Boo to You” parade complete with the Headless Horseman. You’ll also see a special Halloween-themed fireworks show and a stage show featuring the Disney Villains. For an extra per-person fee, a dessert party with the Villains is also available.

Guests of all ages are encouraged to dress in costume (nothing revealing, gory or obscene) and get into the fun. Children’s tickets are available, and those under age 3 are free.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular
Specifically geared toward the youngest kids, SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular is a daytime weekend event included with regular park admission. Trick-or-treating, special shows and dress-up opportunities are available, and all the characters are friendly under-sea dwellers. Though there is not much to appeal to older kids and adults, the rest of the park is also open. This is a great way to get your little ones some Halloween fun while the older members of your group go on rides that the youngest ones can’t ride.

Brick-or-Treat
Legoland, located in Winter Haven, is geared primarily towards young children, and its Brick-or-Treat party is no exception. This daytime weekend party, included in regular park admission, features a variety of child-friendly Halloween experiences. Kids can trick-or-treat along the Brick-or-Treat trail, help build an 8-foot tall Lego ghost, take photos with the largest Lego pumpkin in the world, join in a scavenger hunt, and even enter an age-bracketed costume contest (limited to ages 12 and under). Every night ends with a family-friendly dance party.

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Lisa is a full-time travel writer. She lives in an RV with her disabled father and writes about their experiences. Although she has no children of her own, Lisa loves being an Aunt to her own relatives and the children of all her friends. You can follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Confessions.

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