This Year's Best Halloween Events at Theme Parks

This Year's Best Halloween Events at Theme Parks

How Disney, Universal and others plan to trick and treat theme-park goers By: Samantha Davis-Friedman
<p>Kids of all ages will enjoy Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World. // © 2016 Gene Dunc</p><p>Feature image (above): Halloween...

Kids of all ages will enjoy Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World. // © 2016 Gene Dunc

Feature image (above): Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Orlando. // © 2016 Universal Orlando Resort 

Theme park Halloween celebrations continue to gain popularity across the country with parks creating elaborately themed walk-through mazes, terrifying scare zones filled with roving “scare actors” and haunted elements to popular rides and attractions.


Disneyland Resort
Halloween time adds spooky excitement to Disneyland Resort with two special Halloween-themed attractions. Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy launches voyagers into a haunted section of the universe, and through Haunted Mansion Holiday, Jack Skellington takes over the mansion with his personal combination of Halloween and Christmas for the 15th year in a row. And in anticipation of The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror’s “final check out” on January 2, 2017, Disney California Adventure Park invites daring guests to ride in complete darkness on the attraction’s “Late Check Out” experience. 

The separately ticketed Mickey’s Halloween Party features a thrilling new surprise: The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow rides through the park, announcing the arrival of Mickey’s Halloween Party characters. Party guests can also go trick-or-treating; “party like a villain” with character greetings by infamous Disney heavies (as well as Mickey and his pals dressed in their Halloween costumes); and experience the Halloween Screams fireworks spectacular, hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies” Jack Skellington.

When the sun goes down, Disney’s Happiest Haunts Tours is led by a Disneyland tour guide and a “Ghost Host.” Expect a night filled with thrilling attractions, spooky sightings and maybe even a few spirited surprises.

Walt Disney World
This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando will offer more dates than ever for park guests to enjoy Halloween favorites, including the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular show and the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show that features spine-tingling pyrotechnic effects and a soundtrack of creepy Disney classics. Party guests will also see their favorite Disney characters in a parade of fiendish floats led by the Headless Horseman. But, don’t worry — it's really not so scary, just wickedly fun.

For a premium experience at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, guest can enjoy Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade from a special reserved location, followed by a private dessert party with to-die-for views of the Happy HalloWishes fireworks.


In celebration of its 24th annual Fright Fest, Six Flags Magic Mountain will be transformed into a haunted “scream park” with haunted mazes, roaming zombies and spooky shows.  A Trick or Treat Trail and Halloween crafts will be available for little monsters during the day, but once the clock strikes 7 p.m., terrifying ghouls come out to haunt the park.

Last year, the readers of USA Today named Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest the Best Theme Park Halloween Event in the country. Being named the best makes the park’s commitment to Fright Fest an even bigger priority. 

“It is such an honor to be recognized by our guests and fans for the efforts we have made … to make Fright Fest the biggest, the best and the scariest Halloween event in Southern California,” said Bonnie Sherman Weber, president of Six Flags Magic Mountain.

And to help accomplish that goal, this year’s Fright Fest introduces the scare zone, Suicide Squad: The Six Flags Fright Fest Experience, and the largest outdoor maze in the park’s history, Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising.


Each year, the streets of Universal Studios in both Orlando, Fla., and Hollywood, Calif., are transformed into themed scare zones where menacing “scare actors” lurk around every dimly lit corner. Movie-quality haunted houses based on iconic slasher films and horror television series also appear.

This year, for the first time, The Exorcist will take possession of Halloween Horror Nights. In all-new mazes, guests will see, hear and even smell every moment from the film as they become part of Regan MacNeil’s possession and witness the battle between good and evil. Also, Michael Myers returns in Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield — a maze that’s even bigger and scarier than the original, top-rated Halloween maze. Guests will dodge Myers’ knife at every turn through iconic scenes from the film to a terrifying finale. 

For a truly unique “blood-red carpet,” guests at Universal Orlando Resort can take the R.I.P. and Behind-the-Screams Tours, where a private guide will escort them through the park’s multitude of horrors and give a lights-on look into how Universal Orlando’s design team transforms the biggest names in horror into terrifying haunted houses.

Agents can book vacation packages at that include tickets to the event and accommodations at any of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels, including the newest property, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

Note: Due to the intense nature of mazes and scare zones, Universal does not recommend Halloween Horror Nights for children under 13 years old.


Disneyland Resort
September 23, 26, 28, 30
October 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 29, 31

Walt Disney World
September 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
October 2, 4, 6-7, 10-11, 13-14, 16, 18, 20-21, 23, 25, 27-28, 30-31

Six Flags Magic Mountain
September 17, 18, 24, 25, 30
October 1, 2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30

Universal Studios Hollywood
September 16-17, 23-24, 29
October 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-31
November 4-5

Universal Studios Orlando
September 16-18, 22-25, 29-30
October 1-2, 6-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-31