During the spookiest time of year, Florida’s top theme parks transform into ghoulish wonderlands that are still suitable for the entire family.
Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream
Tampa Bay’s premier Halloween event Howl-O-Scream has returned to Busch Gardens this year for its “Evil Encore.” Running Thursday through Sunday through Oct. 30, Evil Encore at Howl-O-Scream 2016 features seven haunted houses, including the new Motel Hotel, a deserted inn haunted by the paranormal presence of its former owners, and the new Black Spot, a place where victims of the infamous pirate Saw Tooth Silas meet their horrifying demise.
Throughout the park and in between haunted houses, Howl-O-Scream’s scare squads will roam every corner of the venue in larger numbers than ever before. If this wasn’t enough of a thrill, guests can also test their limits of bravery by riding Busch Gardens’ thrill rides in the dark. Cobra’s Curse, Busch Gardens’ new one-of-a-kind spin coaster; Falcon’s Fury, one of the tallest freestanding drop towers in North America; and Cheetah Hunt, Florida’s first and only triple-launch coaster, will also be open to the public—if they dare. Four-pack tickets start at $35.99 pp. Reduced advance-purchase rates are available online, and special offers are available for Busch Gardens Pass Members. Additionally, out-of-towners can take advantage of cost-saving vacation packages, such as the Overnight Fright or Wild & Wicked Weekends packages, which bundle park admission, hotel admission and complimentary parking or shuttle to and from the park. Keep in mind, this event is not recommended for smaller children. For more information, call (888) 800-5447 or visit howloscream.com.
Disney’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
On select nights through Oct. 31, Orlando’s Magic Kingdom Park Walt Disney World Resort hosts Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, a kid-friendly alternative to some of the more mature Halloween events in the area. Kids can come dressed in their Halloween costume, trick-or-treat throughout the park, meet their favorite Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell and Cinderella, and boogie with Mike, Sulley and characters from the “Monstropolis” movie during the Scream-o-Ween dance party. Not to be left out, infamous Disney villains will also be at the Halloween celebration for the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, a spectacle of visual projections and special effects put on by the mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.” As always, Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade will make its way around the park led by the Headless Horseman himself. Each evening ends with a Happy HalloWishes Fireworks show finale. Tickets start at $72 pp. For more information, visit disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/magic-kingdom/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party.
SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular
SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular takes place from 9, 9:30 or- 10 a.m. and runs to 6 p.m. every weekend in October. This annual event is included in Seaworld’s park admission and features trick-or-treating, where costumed youngsters can trick-or-treat for sea-themed goodies; Penelope’s Garden Party, an “underwater” party complete with a live DJ, animal interactions, a variety of craft opportunities; Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween, a song-filled stage show hosted by The Count, Elmo, Abby, and the rest of everyone’s Sesame Street favorites; and the Spooktacular Dance Party, where children can join Princess Penelope and her under-the-sea friends for line-dancing at the Village Square in the front of the park every event night 1-hour before closing.
In addition, guests can book special add-ons at seaworldorlando.com, such as the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch, where guests dine at reserved tables near the killer whale tanks and receive a complimentary family photo in a decorative frame and a free cookie decorating kit. Rates for the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch start at $28 for adults; $16 for kids. Pass Members receive a 10 percent discount. With a SeaWorld Annual Pass, guests enjoy 12 months of unlimited admission with no blackout dates and complimentary parking starting at $14 a month with EZpay. For more information, visit seaworldorlando.com.