Theme Parks

6 Cool Theme Park Events for Halloween

Theme Parks

Your Guide to Halloween Events in U.S. Theme Parks

Halloween event at Busch Gardens Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Every autumn, as the leaves turn and temperatures drop, the thrills at amusement parks aren’t limited to roller coasters and hair-rising rides. Rather, some of the country’s most celebrated amusement parks morph into Halloween haunts, complete with mazes, scare zones and other chilling attractions.

As you look to get into the spirit of the spooky season, find out where to enjoy Halloween frights and delights for the whole family at amusement parks all across the United States.

TIP: Unless otherwise noted, visitors are not permitted to wear costumes and masks at these Halloween attractions.

1. Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

Halloween event at Universal Studios Universal Studios 

Best for: Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights are not recommended for children younger than 13.

Universal Pictures brought to life some of the most riveting horror movies of all time, including DraculaFrankenstein, and The Mummy — so it’s no surprise the studio offers plenty of terrifying fun with Halloween Horror Nights at its theme parks in Hollywood, Califorina, and Orlando, Florida.

Universal’s Orlando outpost offers 10 haunted houses, five scare zones — outdoor themed areas where costumed actors try to scare guests — and live entertainment, all with an ’80s twist this year. In addition, the Hollywood theme park showcases 10 mazes, five scare zones, a live show from the Jabbawockeez and more. 

And this year, scare zones at each location will take visitors to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana — and onto the set of the Netflix series Stranger Things.

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2. HalloWeekends at Cedar Point amusement park

Halloween event at Cedar Point Amusement ParkPhoto by Jason Weitzel 

Best for: HalloWeekends offers a mix of family-friendly and spine-tingling fun for adults.

Adults and children alike will find plenty to love at the popular HalloWeekends event at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio.

For adults, Haunt at HalloWeekends includes haunted mazes, scare zones, live shows, thrilling rides, and other haunted attractions. Some of the mazes snake through a haunted mansion and a zombie-infested high school, while the park’s scare zones spook visitors with undead pirates and a literal Wild West ghost town.

Little ones, meanwhile, may love the Great Pumpkin Fest, which offers arts and crafts activities, trick-or-treating and dance parties with beloved Peanuts characters, karaoke, parades, games and rides. 

3. Knott’s Scary Farm at Knott’s Berry Farm

Best for: Knott’s Scary Farm is not recommended for children younger than 13.

Knott’s Scary Farm at Knott’s Berry Farm is the oldest Halloween theme park attraction in the United States. It opened in Buena Park, California in 1973.

Each year, more than 1,000 creatures hide in the fog and throughout the park, waiting to scare unsuspecting victims. Attractions include haunted mazes, a carnival-themed scare zone, scary dance parties, and more. 

This year, the frights come fast and furious in the attraction's mazes, with themes centering on a town stalked by the mythical Pumpkin Eater, a haunted hospital, and a horrific carnival. Visitors can also enjoy a VR experience set on the haunted streets of London and check out a spooky art show, featuring works from artists throughout the United States.

4. Howl-o-ween at Great Wolf Lodge

Halloween event at Great Wolf LodgeGreat Wolf Lodge

Best for: Howl-o-ween is a fun Halloween attraction for families.

If some of the other theme parks on this list seem a little far afield, keep an eye out for Howl-o-ween festivities at 17 Great Wolf Lodge indoor water parks throughout the United States. Each water park offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including a costume parade, trick-or-treating, dance parties, and story time.

TIP: Visitors are encouraged to dress up in costume for the Howl-o-ween costume parade, trick-or-treating, and other activities.

5. Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa

Halloween event at Busch GardensBusch Gardens Tampa Bay

Best for: Because it involves some violence, gore and blood, Howl-o-Scream is geared toward adults 18 and older.

Most of the haunted attractions on this list are generally appropriate for teenagers and up—but not the Howl-o-Scream at Busch Garden Tampa, celebrating 20 years of frights in 2019.

Howl-o-Scream, recommended for adults 18 and older, hosts haunted houses, scare zones, roller coaster rides in the dark, dance parties, and other scary experiences. This year, Howl-o-Scream's frightening attractions take visitors inside a demon-infested suburban home, a noxious motel, a haunted asylum, a twisted slaughterhouse, and more. And frightful characters will come along for the ride on some of the park's most popular roller coasters—including Tigris, Cobra’s Curse, and Falcon’s Fury. 

6. Halloween Time and Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 

Best for: Both Disney attractions are appropriate for all ages.

Each year, Disney’s theme parks in California and Florida get in on the seasonal fun with family-friendly attractions starring some of the studio’s most beloved characters.

The frightful Halloween Time at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park includes beloved Disney characters in costume, appearances from Jack Skellington in an attraction inspired by The Nightmare Before ChristmasCars characters decked out in hilarious costumes, interactive dance parties with Mickey Mouse, magical parades and more.

And at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World, visitors can have fun with Disney Junior Characters, watch thrilling fireworks displays, and watch a parade starring costumed characters from the Haunted Mansion.

TIP: Costumes are allowed at some of Disney’s Halloween attractions. Double-check the Disney websites for more information.

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—Written by Matt Wastradowski

 

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