Family Travel: Theme Parks and Halloween

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October 4, 2011

When my older daughters were toddlers, my husband had a convention in Orlando, and families were invited. There was just one snafu. The convention was over Halloween weekend, and my kids wanted to go trick or treating.

As is turns out, Disney World had a Halloween event, with just the right amount of candy and costuming. Throughout the year, kids dress up to go to Disney World, and during October, the theme park ratchets up the festivities, with special parades and not-terrifying Halloween activities. Plus you can go on all the rides.

[Of course, on another trip, one of my kids turned out to be scared silly by the gentle Peter Pan ride, so make sure your kids can handle any sort of Halloween experience before you buy tickets.]

Disney turned out to be a perfect pace to celebrate the Halloween; we didn’t have to cover up costumes with coats and the girls overdosed on princesses and chocolate. Over the last few years, other theme parks around the country have joined in adding Halloween events.


Disney’s Orlando neighbor, SeaWorld has a Halloween Spooktacular on weekends in October. Not only is the family-friendly event included with admission, but through October 31, kids tickets are half price. The festivities include trick-or-treating, silly but not spooky shows and arts and crafts.

Sesame Place

Sesame Place, in Langhorne, PA, offers The Count’s Halloween Spooktacular. This theme park, ideal for Sesame Street lovers up to age 10, has two themed mazes, a character hayride, three Halloween shows and the meta-experience of costumed Sesame Street characters dressed up for Halloween. Kids are encouraged to come in costume. Weekends in September & October.

On October 30, a Halloween Costume Contest has separate competitions for boys, girls, and families. Winners get to be special guests in the Rock Around the Block Parade.

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Williamsburg, VA, also offers Sesame Street Halloween fun and family rides in the Sesame Street Forest of Fun. The Count Von Count show is a Countdown to Halloween and Sesame Street characters also dress up.

For those with older kids and teens, Howl-O-Scream starts September 23 and runs every Friday – Sunday through October 30. Expect terrifying thrills including scare zones, scary shows and free roaming ghouls, which starts at 6pm.

Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, has Thrills by Day and Fright by Night starting October 1. Before 6pm, the family-friendly event includes Halloween-themed shows. But after dark, haunted houses and frightening festivities abound. Come here with teens to walk through special scary attractions or see terrifying shows – and get another chill on a thrill ride. Thrills by Day and Fright by Night is on Fridays through Sundays plus Columbus Day, October 10.

Six Flags also offers heavy discounts on fall admission, so this can be a bargain time to visit the park, even if you skip the Halloween events.


Disneyland Park and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World offer Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party select evenings in late September and October. You have to buy a separate admission ticket, but you can get to the park up to three hours before the party and enjoy the rides first. Attractions like Space Mountain (Disney World) and the Haunted Mansion are specially decorated for the holiday.

Kids (and adults) are encouraged to dress up, and join the parade. The party includes trick or treating, with special treat stations offering candy and healthy treats.

There are photos ops with Disney villains and a special viewing area for the Halloween fireworks. And the Orlando party actually runs until November 1, so you can celebrate Halloween twice.

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