Dewayne Bevil on Attractions
Theme Park Ranger
5:26 PM EDT, October 3, 2013
Central Florida's theme parks have embraced the notion that Halloween can be celebrated for more than just one October evening. Their special events now stretch for weeks, with some spilling into November. Here is a recap of major-park activities, arranged from the friendliest of kid-friendly to the more intense, gory gatherings.
Where: SeaWorld Orlando
When: Noon-8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays in October
What's new: The Spooktacular Dance Party, which takes place in the front of the park an hour before closing.
What's returning: SeaWorld has a gentle blend of trick-or-treating and arts-and-crafting, all set amid costumed sea creatures. A live DJ entertains at Penelope's Party Zone in the Bayside area of the park.
What it costs: Spooktacular is included in regular park admission. A one-day ticket is $92 ($84 for ages 3-9).
Parental guidance: Although there is the potential for sugar shock, kids won't be alarmed at Spooktacular unless they have issues with friendly, way-bigger-than-life pumpkin fish. It's a relaxed atmosphere that takes place mostly before dark.
More info: SeaWorldOrlando.com
Where: Legoland Florida
When: 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturdays and 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sundays in October
What's new: The event is similar to past years' Brick-or-Treat, although the Winter Haven park has added a World of Chima area, which includes a water-cannon ride for families.
What's returning: Brick-or-Treat trail with six treat stations (opening at 1:30 p.m. on event days), a Spooky Scavenger Hunt in Miniland USA, a dance party, the world's largest Lego-based jack-o'-lantern and a children's costume contest with three age categories.
What it costs: Brick-or-Treat is included in regular Legoland admission. A one-day ticket costs $81 ($74 for ages 3-12).
Parental guidance: The most unnerving part could be potential stage fright during the costume contest. Like the rest of Legoland, Brick-or-Treat is kid-driven.
More info: Legoland.com
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Where: Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World
When: Select nights through Nov. 1
What's new: Guests can meet Jack Skellington and Sally, characters from Tim Burton's "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
What's returning: Not-So-Scary favorites such as Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Parade, HalloWishes fireworks, a dance party with Disney villains, trick-or-treat stations spread throughout the park.
What it costs: It's a separate-ticket event, meaning a day ticket to Magic Kingdom does not allow you to stay into the night for the party. Prices range between $59 to $73 ($54 to $68 for ages 3-9), depending on the date.
Parental guidance: The parade is preceded by a headless horseman character aboard an actual horse. That can be intense, but it's brief. Some parade characters and dancers are made up to look ghostly or ghastly, but that's quickly mitigated by familiar Disney types in fun costuming.
More info: DisneyWorld.com/halloween
Halloween Horror Nights
Where: Universal Studios
When: Select nights through Nov. 2
What's new: For the first time, the event's "scare zones" are devoted to a single theme. Scenes from the first three seasons of "The Walking Dead" television series are depicted.
What's returning: Universal again has a "Walking Dead" haunted house, although it's bigger and completely different from last year's version. Other houses are based on the "An American Werewolf in London," "Evil Dead" and "The Cabin in the Woods" movies plus "Resident Evil" video games. Of Universal's three original houses, Havoc2 is a sequel to an earlier maze.
What it costs: This is an after-hours event that requires a separate ticket from regular Universal admission. The posted price is $91.99, but Florida-resident discounts can get that as low as $42.99, depending on date. In addition, there are Frequent Fear options that allow multiple visits and express-pass deals that permit front-of-line access to houses.
Parental guidance: Universal sometimes bills HHN as a PG-13 event. It's intense, bloody and full of horrifying sound effects and images. But you'll probably see kids in strollers there, too, and we'll be silently judging them.
More info: HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando
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