by KELLIE ABRAHAMSON
halloween horror nights at universal, orlando
September 26-November 1 (select nights)
We’ll start our theme park terror tour with the reigning king of scares, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. This year marks their 18th anniversary and promises to be the most frightening yet. The theme this time around centers on everyone’s favorite slumber party story, Bloody Mary, who will suck you into a world filled with unspeakable terror if you chant her name in front of a mirror. Just after dark the entire park is transformed into that world, with over a half a dozen haunted houses and countless other scares around every corner. During the 23 nights of frights, the park will also have special shows including a tribute to Rocky Horror Picture Show and the return of illusionist/comedian Brian Brushwood, who was part of last year’s Freak Show.
Due to the intense nature of Halloween Horror Nights kids younger than 13 should probably stay at home. Tickets are $69.99 but Florida residents can save up to $33 dollars off of the price of admission with a UPC code from any Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke or Coke Zero product. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit halloweenhorrornights.com
howl-o-scream at busch gardens
October 2-November 1 (select nights)
A trip further down south may be in order for Busch Gardens’ annual scare-o-thon, Howl-O-Scream. Now in its 9th season, Howl-O-Scream boasts six haunted houses, roaming hordes of creepy characters and three twisted live shows. For an extra fee guests can take advantage of the Fright Feast, a deranged dinner show featuring a full buffet and an exclusive performance of, One Wild Night, the newest Howl-O-Scream live show. Afterward, Fright Feast guests will get to check out the park a full half hour before the gates open.
Once again, this is an experience best left for grown-ups, so kiddies need to sit this trip to Busch Gardens out. General admission tickets are $64.95 but savings are available on advance ticket purchases for Passport Members, Florida Residents and with a coupon from participating Muvico Theaters or Budweiser retailers throughout the state. Tickets for the Fright Feast are an additional $22.95. For more information on this year’s event, visit raventwins.com.
phobia at wild adventures
September 27-November 1 (select nights)
Wild Adventures dares you to face your fears at this year’s Phobia, their 4th annual Halloween event. Unlike Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream, Phobia has been designed with the whole family in mind. In addition to creepy haunted attractions and scare zones for the grown-ups, there are kid-friendly shows and not-so-scary haunts that the little ones will enjoy. This year expect to come face to face with nocturnal critters, watch a death-defying motorcycle show and take a tour of the spookiest town around, Hatterville.
Regular admission is $45 and Junior/Senior admission is $40 and both include a Second-Day Free. Discount coupons are available at participating Wendy’s restaurants. For more information on Phobia, visit phobiaevent.com.
not-so-scary halloween at disney world
September 5-October 31 (select nights)
Kids of all ages will enjoy the Halloween party Mickey and Minnie have cooked up at Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween celebration. Guests will enjoy trick-or-treating, a special Halloween parade, a bewitching fireworks display and, of course, all of the Disney rides and attractions you know and love.
Tickets to this special family event are $49.95 for kids ages 3 to 9 and $55.95 ages 10 and up, but you can get a nice discount if you purchase your tickets in advance. Visit disneyworld.com/Halloween for more information.
halloween spooktacular at seaworld
October 4-31 (select days)
More family-friendly Halloween activities can be found at Seaworld during their Halloween Spooktacular. Unlike all the others this unique event takes place during the day, allowing even the youngest Halloween fan a chance to get into the spirit of things. This underwater “fantasia” includes a visit from Sesame Street’s The Count, a look at the creepiest creatures of the deep and all the trick-or-treating you can handle. If you want to do something extra special for the kiddies, pay an additional fee and you can also spend the night with the sharks. SeaWorld’s Spooky Spectacular Sleepover gives kids ages K-5 and their families a chance to come face-to-face with predatory polar bears and stealthy stingrays before snuggling into a spooky slumber at Shark Encounter- just sleeping bags away from those toothy terrors of the deep.
Participation in Halloween Spooktacular is included in the cost of admission. SeaWorld’s Spooky Spectacular Sleepover is $78 per person or $113 to include park admission. For more information on either event, visit seaworld.org.