What Every Major US Theme Park Is Doing for Halloween
It’s that magical time of year again, where everything tastes like pumpkin spice and there’s nothing odd about the guy sitting next to you on the subway being dressed like a zombie. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Halloween season has officially arrived. From Orlando to Los Angeles, here’s how the country’s biggest theme parks are planning to scare the pants off of you this fall.
Halloween lasts much more than a single night at Universal Studios Florida, where the park’s famed Halloween Horror Nights events pay tribute to some of the world’s most beloved (and feared) horror movies and television shows, with haunted houses inspired by The Shining, Saw, American Horror Story and Evil Dead, among others — there are nine altogether. Five Scare Zones turn the park into a parade of monsters and mutants, with this year’s themes being The Purge, Trick ‘R Treat, Festival of the Deadliest, Invasion! — a tribute to kitschy 1950s sci-fi — and Altars of Horror, which is best reserved for hardcore horror fans only. Those who would prefer a less participatory part in all the Halloween fun should check out live shows like the dance-filled Academy Of Villains: Afterlife and the hilarious Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. Halloween Horror Nights happens on select nights now through November 4. Visit the website for a full list of dates and for more information about ticket prices and packages.
Universal Studios Hollywood
Not to be outdone, Universal Studios Hollywood is getting in on the scares, too — in some cases, playing up the same themes as its Florida sister park, like The Shining, American Horror Story, Ash vs. Evil Dead, Saw and The Horrors of Blumhouse, but in this case you’ll find yourself trapped in a horror maze instead of a haunted house — there’s an Insidious-themed maze, too. Fans of The Walking Dead will love the park’s fully immersive zombie experience, where you’ll have to fight off walkers in an attempt to survive. There are Scare Zones galore here, too, including a journey through hell in Urban Inferno, a dangerous attempt at trick-or-treating in Hell-O-Ween and a subhumanoid experience in Toxic Tunnel. Horror movie aficionados will be lining up for a ride on the Titans of Terror Tram, where Chucky — yes, the homicidal ginger doll at the heart of the Child’s Play franchise — will introduce guests to some of the horror genre’s most famous villains. Halloween Horror Nights happens on select nights now through November 4. Check the website for a full list of dates and for more information about ticket prices and packages.
Walt Disney World
The Happiest Place on Earth is a family-friendly place, and as such, maintains a pretty family-friendly approach to Halloween. Its big seasonal to-do is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and the name sort of says it all. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park invites guests of all ages to dress up and join in the Halloween fun, which includes a Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular on Main Street; a Happy HalloWishes Fireworks Display, where creepy tunes accompany a wow-worthy pyrotechnics display; and a barbershop quartet of (friendly) zombies that will entertain you with some a capella tunes. Disney’s traditionally prince- and princess-like characters also get an eerie makeover during the Truly Spooktacular Procession. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party happens on specific dates now through November 1. Visit the website for a full lineup of events and for more information on ticket prices.
Disney California Adventure Park
While California’s Disneyland Park also hosts its own version of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, that event — which happens on select nights now through October 31 — has already sold out. Fortunately, that’s not your own spooktacular option. Right next door at the Disney California Adventure Park, there’s (mildly) frightening fun at every turn, including a host of Halloween-ified makeovers to some of the park’s most notable landmarks, a graveyard jamboree, costumed versions of your favorite characters from Cars — including Mater and McQueen — and an after-dark, more intense “Monsters After Dark” version of The Guardians of the Galaxy ride, where you’re tasked with helping Rocket Raccoon. Disney California Adventure Park’s Halloween fun is happening now through October 31. Visit the website for more details.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Halloween becomes Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Florida. The popular event is returning for yet another year in which frightening creatures appear out of nowhere and various sections of the park have been reimagined as haunted houses and scare zones. The park will host a total of seven unique haunted houses, and two of them — the otherworldly Demented Dimensions and the post-apocalyptic Undead Arena — are brand new. More than half of this year’s five Scare Zones are also totally new adventures, where you’ll witness as a creepy carnival comes to life in Carnie Camp, do your best outwit a hungry horde of cannibals in Meat Market and watch as a group of abandoned school kids gets revenge on their evil headmaster in Class Deceased. Skeptics in particular might be interested in volunteering to become a part of mentalist Joshua Seth’s live show. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Howl-O-Scream runs on select nights now through October 29. Visit the website for more information on times and tickets.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens' Virginia outpost will also be serving up scares with its own version of Howl-O-Scream where, after 6:00pm, the park turns into a fright-lover’s dream nightmare with a collection of seven elaborate haunted houses with names like Catacombs and Lumberhack; five frightening scare zones — known here as Terror-Tories — including one that puts you in the world of Jack the Ripper; two terrifying Escape Rooms; and a collection of horror-themed Spirit Bars, just in case you’re in need of some liquid courage. Howl-O-Scream runs from now to October 29. Visit the website for more information on times and tickets.
With 18 locations across the country, there’s no one-size-fits all way to celebrate Halloween at Six Flags. But several of the theme park chain’s locations will be adding a variety of terrifying attractions to their lineup, including haunted houses, scare zones, live shows and ratcheted-up rides, with regular Fright Fests. At Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, New Jersey, you can lock yourself in a room full of circus freaks and other creepy carnies in Big Top Terror; the Underworld meets the real world at Chicago’s Six Flags Great America; and you can spend a night partying with the undead at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles’ Club 6-Feet Under. Check your local Six Flags location’s website for Fright Fest specifics… if you dare.
Have you been to any of these Halloween theme park events before? Tell us about it, below.