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Halloween Events in Orlando offer Spooktacular Fun

Each year, Central Florida’s theme parks put their scariest foot forward for Halloween with everything from a headless horseman to haunted houses.

Two of the parks present family friendly parties. At two others — call them “scream parks” — it’s never too soon to panic with nightmarish events fit only for the most fearless.

Here’s what’s on tap for 2008:

Horror Nights at Universal Orlando: Universal Orlando warns this event “may be too intense for young children” and rightly (and scarily) so. Now in its 18th year, visitors feel as if their worst nightmares are about to take shape during Horror Nights. No where is safe –in the houses, in the streets, ghastly, ghostly, ghoulish creatures make their presence felt and chilling haunted houses with bizarre themes dare the intrepid to go in.

Halloween Horror Nights are presented on Sept. 26-27; Oct. 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 22-26, 29-31; and Nov. 1.

Visitors are not allowed to wear costumes or masks.

Single night admission is $69.99 (a variety of other tickets are offered including Frequent Fear Passes for more economical multiple visits; and Stay and Scream tickets, which are upgraded tickets that have Horror Nights added to regular daytime Universal Orlando parks’ admission). Halloween Horror Nights Packages including one or more nights of lodging in Orlando, tickets and other features are priced from $209 for two adults.

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Blood-curdling and spine-tingling scares await the daring at this annual event that is a nightmare of inescapable fear with surprises that border on the psychotic. This year, Howl-O-Scream feat ures new haunted houses, scare zones and thrilling shows, as well as bone-chilling coasters in the dark to keep you screaming into the night.
Intended for adult audiences only, Howl-O-Scream is presented on 17 select nights Oct. 2-Nov. 1 (a Freaky Preview is featured on Sept. 26-27). General admission is $64.95. A variety of Unlimited Fear passes is offered including the Recurring Nightmare: 10 nights for the price of one, $64.95; Freaky Preview tickets are $44.95.

Mickey’s Not-So Scary Halloween Party: One of the not-to-be-missed attractions of this annual event in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade featuring a spooky headless horseman and the Disney characters parading around in their costumes –so you can bring your costume too.

The family friendly party also offers opportunities to go trick-or-treating at a variety of locations in the park, and the Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions are open for the evening. The Happy HalloWishes Fireworks display, where Disney villains go trick-or-treating in the sky, is one of the evening’s highlights.

“My daughters want to go trick-or-treating so I bring them here. I’s fun, it’s safe, and I don’t have to worry,” said Rachel Myers of Lakeland, who visited last year.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is presented on select evenings from Sept. 5 to Oct. 31. Advance tickets (available some evenings) are $42.95 (ages 3-9) and $48.95 (ages 10 and up). Day of event tickets cost $49.95 (ages 3-9) and $55.95 (ages 10 and up).

Spooktacular at Sea World Orlando: Halloween meets the sea during this park’s “Spooktacular,” a “Fantasea” that offers fun for the whole family on Oct. 4-5- 11-12, 18-19, 24-26 and 31. This annual event features the opportunity for costumed children to go trick-or-treating among friendly sea witches, mermaids, octopuses and pumpkin fish.

Celebrating Sea World’s new partnership with Sesame Street, The Count joins in the fun with his own character breakfast.

Shamu’s Happy Harbor area is transformed into an autumn festival, adorned with scarecrows and pumpkins. Strolling entertainment includes 35 fanciful sea creatures and at a Frozen Fun Zone an ice witch and DJ entertain with interactive activities. The Halloween festivities begin at 11 a.m. on the selected days and are included in regular admission to the park: $69.95 for adults; $59.95 for children ages 3 to 9.

Sea World Orlando also offers Spooky Spectacular Family Sleepovers. Participants may dress up in their favorite costume, come face to face with stealthy stingrays and those terrors of the deep: sharks. Kids can trick-or-treat around the park’s spooktacular exhibits. Your final resting place is at the Shark Encounter pavilion.

The sleepovers are designed for families with children in kindergarten through the fifth grade and run from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. the following day. Included are a snack and continental breakfast.

Cost is $78 per person or $113 to include park admission. Sleepover dates are Oct. 19, 20, 26 and 27.

Halloween at Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven: This year Cypress Gardens is celebrating Halloween with festivities that include trick-or-treating for the children on Oct. 31 and a concert on Nov. 1. The festivities are included in regular park admission.
Information courtesy of South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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