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The end of summer means it’s time for kids to go back to school, but it also means it’s the spookiest time of year at theme parks.
From costume-clad characters to heart-stopping haunted houses, there’s something for everyone at major theme parks this Halloween, including nighttime events that provide special tricks and treats.
Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World ResortFrom Sept. 7 through Oct. 31, a giant Mickey Mouse jack-o’-lantern welcomes guests to Halloween Time at Disneyland Resort. Families can see Disney-themed carved pumpkins and a tribute to Mexican holiday Day of the Dead, as well.
A particular guest favorite is the annual transformation of the Haunted Mansion into Haunted Mansion Holiday, where characters from Tim Burton’s film “The Nightmare Before Christmas” celebrate the mashup of Halloween and Christmas. Plus, Space Mountain becomes Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, where the indoor coaster takes riders into a creepy corner of the universe.
On 15 select nights in September and October, the separately ticketed Mickey’s Halloween Party gives clients the chance to trick or treat inside Disneyland Park (the only time adults can visit the park in costume). The family-friendly party offers two exclusive entertainment experiences: Halloween Screams, a fireworks show hosted by “Master of Scare-omonies,” Jack Skellington; and the Frightfully Fun Parade, featuring Disney villains as well as the ghostly residents of the Haunted Mansion.
Fun Fact: The tree with orange lights in Frontierland was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s novel “The Halloween Tree” and was dedicated to the author on Halloween 2007.
Across the esplanade at Disney California Adventure Park, guests can ride Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree and Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and see “Cars” characters Lightning McQueen, Mater and other residents of Cars Land in “car-stumes.” For the second year, Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout! transforms nightly into Guardians of the Galaxy — Monsters After Dark, where riders help Rocket distract escaped creatures and rescue Groot.
Mickey hasn’t forgotten about his friends in Orlando, Fla. Guests there can attend the separately ticked Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on select nights until Oct. 31 at Magic Kingdom Park.
“This year, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary adds new twists and treats to your evening,” said Gabriel Gibaldi, public relations manager for Walt Disney World Resort. “New lighting and effects give a new spin to the Mad Tea Party, and depending on the color of your costume, you, too, could transform.”
Gibaldi adds that live pirates will invade the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction to interact with parkgoers.
Clients can also celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film “Hocus Pocus” with the Sanderson Sisters during the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular and party with dancing ghosts, the Headless Horseman and other Disney characters from Mickey’s “Boo-To-You” Halloween Parade. Plus, the skies light up over Cinderella Castle each night during the Happy HalloWishes Fireworks event.
Legoland California Resort and Legoland Florida ResortOn Sept. 29 and every Saturday in October, the Halloween fun begins when the sun goes down at Legoland California Resort. The separately ticketed Brick-or-Treat Party Nights include live entertainment, costume contests and treat stations. Guests can participate in the Pumpkin Patch Build and craft time with the Lego Friends, and they can take a “spirited” boat ride to the most haunted places in the world with the peculiar Paranormal Investigators.
At Legoland Florida Resort, meanwhile, the “friendly-not-frightening” Brick or Treat event on nine select dates in October includes giant Lego models and an exclusive themed firework spectacular.
“Spooky, kooky fun returns this October with a festive Brick or Treat Trail, character meet-and-greet opportunities and lots of Lego-building experiences,” said Chloe Boehm, public relations executive for Legoland Florida Resort. “Plus, it’s all included with theme park admission [at Legoland Florida Resort].”
SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego SeaWorld Orlando’s daytime Halloween Spooktacular event is included with park admission on weekends from Sept. 22 to Oct. 28. Families can collect their favorite candy at sea-themed trick-or-treat stations; “Count” down to Halloween with “Sesame Street” friends such as The Count and Elmo in a musical stage show; and join a bubble-filled Halloween Dance Party.
On weekends from Sept. 22 to Oct. 28, SeaWorld San Diego’s family-friendly Halloween event returns with live shows that are just as silly as they are spooky, including “Clyde and Seamore’s Big Halloween Bash” and “Who Said Boo?” featuring Sesame Street characters. The event also includes Halloween activities and trick-or-treating throughout the decorated park, complete with singing pumpkins.
Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios HollywoodThe 10 themed haunted houses and five scare zones at Universal Orlando Resort’s 28th Halloween Horror Nights means there’s no place to hide from creatures roaming the streets of Universal Studios Florida.
“Time will twist as cult classics from decades past, such as ‘Poltergeist’ and ‘Killer Klowns from Outer Space,’ come to life for more terrifying haunted houses and scare zones than ever before,” said Robyn Ryan, director of travel industry sales for Universal Orlando Resort.
This year’s houses include the classic Halloween film “Trick ’r Treat,” which recreates some of the anthology’s most iconic scenes, and Netflix sci-fi thriller “Stranger Things,” which takes guests into the parallel universe known as the Upside Down to face the menacing Demogorgon. A new scare zone, “Revenge of Chucky,” based on the "Child's Play" film franchise, takes parkgoers into a toy fair where they’re stalked by possessed toys and come face-to-face with the world’s deadliest doll.
“We’re very excited to give our guests an immersive experience into the ‘Stranger Things’ world by recreating some of the show’s most iconic scenes,” said Patrick Braillard, show director for the Universal Orlando Resort Creative Development team.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando takes place on 34 select nights between Sept. 14 and Nov. 3. For clients looking to make it a “scare-cation,” packages offer access to the event and the three Universal theme parks, plus on-site accommodations including the brand-new Universal’s Aventura Hotel. Ryan notes that adding Flex Tickets allows clients to choose which night they want to attend the event.
At Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, frightening films come to life on 29 select nights during terrifying mazes, including “The First Purge,” based on Universal Pictures’ new thriller, and “Poltergeist,” inspired by the iconic supernatural horror film. Plus, the exclusive Terror Tram experience takes guests on a harrowing ride through the heart of the Universal backlot with serial killer clown Hollywood Harry.
“Terror Tram: Hollywood Harry’s Dreadtime Storiez” allows guests to walk through parts of the studio — including the Psycho House and the Bates Motel from Hitchcock’s classic thriller “Psycho,” as well as sets from Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” — as they encounter creatures from five demented tales.
In addition, guided R.I.P. tours in Florida and Hollywood provide blood-red carpet treatment with front-of-the-line entry and VIP perks.
Agents should note that Halloween Horror Nights is not recommended for children under 13.