How to celebrate Halloween at theme parks this October

Aug 17, 2021

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Spooky season is coming. And if there’s one holiday it’s easy to get in the mood for long before it pops up on the official calendar, it’s Halloween.

From Disney World to Legoland and many theme park places between, parks across the United States are already readying their characters, chainsaws and other freaky props to get in the Halloween spirit.

We’ve rounded up the Halloween happenings at major parks across the U.S. below.

Before you go, though, just make you know the rules at the various parks regarding face-covering requirements and what’s allowed, too, when it comes to coming in costume. That way, you won’t arrive to any unwanted tricks before you even get in the gate.

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In This Post

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World - isney After Hours Boo Bash
Disney After Hours Boo Bash (Photo by David Roark/Walt Disney World Resort)

Already feeling Halloweeny? Head over to Walt Disney World for the Disney After Hours Boo Bash, which kicked off August 10 and is running select nights through October 31. The event is replacing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and it looks like it will be a pretty similar affair.

Ticketed separately from regular park admission (read: no need for a day park ticket or park pass reservation), the three-hour event starts at 9 or 9:30 p.m., depending on the date, although ticket-holders will be allowed to enter the park at 7 p.m. so you can make the most of your time (remember, this year is also Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, so there’s lots going on).

The event brings the usual spectacle of Disney holiday pageantry, with trick-or-treating throughout the park, cavalcades and characters like Chip ’n’ Dale and Goofy decked out in their Halloween regalia to greet guests. Cinderella’s Castle will also be specially illuminated for the occasion.

With a limited number of guests allowed in the park during the event, there should be shorter wait times on over 20 popular rides that will remain open after hours, including Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Space Mountain.

Legoland

Over the course of all five weekends in October (Saturday and Sunday only), Legoland Florida Resort goes all out with Brick-or-Treat, which is included with regular park admission and comes with meet-and-greets with costumed characters, special LEGO builds and themed shows and Halloween-themed snacks throughout the park.

The new Legoland New York Resort is putting on Brick-or-Treat fun every Saturday and Sunday in October, too, with a similar array of trick or treating, dance parties and character meet and greets on tap. And you can count on the same sort of thing at Legoland California Resort’s Brick-or-Treat events, where the Halloween-themed fun is being held Saturdays only in October.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Fright Night - Jack the Clown - Halloween Horror Nights 2021
Jack, the Clown, returns to Halloween Horror Nights 2021. (Image courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort)

In its 30th year in 2021, Halloween Horror Nights (this year called Halloween Horror Nights Icons: Captured Icons) at Universal Orlando Resort promises to pour on the blood and gore with five scare zones, two live shows and 10 haunted houses set up throughout the park on select nights, from Sept. 3 through October 31.

If you want to be legitimately frightened (think: characters with chainsaws emerging from the bushes while you’re just trying to make your way to the restroom), there’s no place like here, with haunted houses themed after shows like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Beetlejuice, The Haunting of Hill House and more. Needless to say, the event is not recommended for kids under age 13 (even a few adults have been known to absolutely lose their wits at this thing).

Two new live shows this year include “Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory,” which will transform the park’s lagoon for a nighttime experience, and another called “Halloween Nightmare Fuel,” complete with fire performers and a soundtrack of rock, metal and electronica. Single and multi-night tickets are available and you can also tack on express passes to shorten wait times in line.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights: Never Go Alone event isn’t quite the all-out horror-filled extravaganza as Orlando puts on but is nonetheless a creeptastic circus for adult fun in the form of haunted houses, characters who pop out at you from nowhere and mazes themed to movies like The Exorcist.

The park’s Halloween Horror Nights are ticketed separately from general park admission and run select nights from Sept. 9 to October 31 from 7 p.m. (with early admission from 6 p.m. onward).

Disneyland

Halloween at Disneyland
Halloween celebration at Disneyland (Photo courtesy of the Disneyland Resort)

California’s Disneyland Resort kicks off the Halloween programming Sept. 3 through October 31. The Haunted Mansion is getting all done up with a Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas theme and Main Street U.S.A. will be lined with tons of uniquely carved pumpkins, including a giant Mickey pumpkin.

The park’s after-hours event for Halloween is called Oogie Boogie Bash—A Disney Halloween Party. Happening from 6–11 p.m. on 25 select nights in September and October, it includes after-hours access to trick-or-treating trails in the park,  parades and some evenings with fireworks displays, too.

There are various ticket options to consider, including ones that access the Halloween event only and others that include a “Disney California Adventure park mix-in” that allows you to enter the park as early as 3 p.m.

SeaWorld Orlando

Trick-or-treating at SeaWorld Orlando's Halloween Spooktacular
Trick-or-treating at SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular. (Photo courtesy of Seaworld Orlando)

Included with theme park admission and running weekends only from Sept. 18 through Oct. 31, SeaWorld Spooktacular keeps the fun on the more G-rated end of the spectrum and is a favorite with families looking to up the Halloween spirit (and get in as much trick-or-treating as possible) leading up to the big day.

The Sesame Street friends will be out and about in their Halloween finery passing out treats. And kids can get in some daytime trick or treating along the park’s decorated trail, where Halloween Mermaids make appearances for meet and greets, too. Be aware that you’re required to buy a reusable SeaWorld trick-or-treat bag to get in on the candy collecting.

Come nighttime, Halloween entertainment at SeaWorld Orlando gets more ominous with SeaWorld’s Howl-O-Scream, which plays out on 27 nights between Sept. 10 to October 31. Scare zones, haunted houses and live shows are on tap, with single night tickets available from as low as $41.99. The event starts at 7 p.m., with admission from 6 p.m. onward. It’s not nearly as scary as Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, but still with plenty of blood and gore.

Six Flags

Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags Great America are among more than 10 park locations across the U.S. putting on the annual Fright Fest  Halloween event this season, with family-friendly themed entertainment during the day segueing to spookier haunted houses and scare zones at night. Fright Fest is held on select nights in September and October, and dates vary by park. There’s trick or treating included, too, for kids 12 and under.

Hersheypark

Pennsylvania’s beloved family theme park makes it easy for families with young kids to get their fill of Halloween fun over the last three weekends in October during Hersheypark in the Dark. Come for good, old-fashioned theme park family fun in the form of trick treating stations for kids 12 and younger and lights-out rides on rollercoasters, including the new Candymonium rollercoaster in Hershey’s Chocolatetown (the park’s biggest rollercoaster yet). The park will have two trick-or-treating trails this year, including in Chocolate World, where free timed reservations are required, and in a new area at The Boardwalk at Hersheypark, with an additional 10 stops at candy stations.

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