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Halloween happenings across the USA

Halloween at DisneyLand

By Becca Tash (TakingTheKids intern)

There are Halloween events throughout October 2012 in every neck of your woods.  Here are some to consider attending:

Looking for some Halloween fun tonight? Visit Haunt World a website that provides insider access into the world of
haunted houses and attractions. With hundreds of happenings in all 50 states, check out the different haunted happenings in your area. Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Zoos and aquariums across the country have special Halloween extravaganzas. Even some hotels are getting into the act and you’re not limited just to Oct. 31 either. Celebrate Howl-O-Ween at Great Wolf Lodge resorts October 11 – 31, with pumpkin painting, children’s costume parade, nightly Trick or Treat Trail and a weekend Monster Bash Dance Party. Of course you don’t need a special holiday to treat the kids to a night at one of these amazing indoor water park hotels. Book before September 21 and save up to 20% (promo code EARLY).

Gaylord Hotels Scared Shrekless Family Halloween event features characters from DreamWorks Animation films like “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar 3″ and includes the chance to make ooey, gooey Swamp Sludge and search the mysterious atriums during a shivery scavenger hunt.

Here’s what we wrote about some of the Halloween options across the country. Many historic attractions near you, like the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow in upstate New York, also put on terrifying shows through the fall season… and your admission goes towards their preservation.

Salem, MA comes alive during the month of October with its rich history and haunted past. Visitors flock to the area for a month long Halloween celebration of costume balls, haunted cemeteries, parades, haunted houses and of course explanations and tours of the classic Salem witch trials. Walk through the streets and browse costume shops, dine at quaint restaurants and encounter the hundreds of festivities all over the city (for all ages and levels of scary!)

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze in Conoton-on-Hudson, N.Y. returns for 22 nights this October. Admire more than 5,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns in this elaborate walk-through experience. Meander through the historic 18th-century riverside landscape of Van Cortlandt Manor as you explore the “Tunnel O’ Pumpkin Love” or gaze at pumpkin ghosts soar above the lantern-lit path.
Hersheypark in Hershey, PA will transform into the Halloween celebration “Hersheypark at Dark” two weekends this month. The event features over 50 rides, including 10 exhilarating roller coasters, plus dozens of family-favorites that will be open for your entire group to enjoy. The 110-acre park also offers children 12 and younger the chance to dress up in costume and experience Hershey’s Trick or Treat Adventure through the park, beginning at Hersheypark’s Chocolate World and continuing into the park at “Treatville”, an assortment of 8 different spots where kids can collect candy.
Mickey’s Halloween Party, on select days this month, invites adults and children to dress up in costume and trick-or-treat at Disneyland. Highlights include the “Halloween Screams” fireworks spectacular, DJ dance parties and “Mickey’s Costume Party” cavalcade, where dozens of Disney Characters dressed up for Halloween fun. Adding to the excitement, nearly all the favorite Disneyland rides and attractions will be open and party participants can enjoy regular Disneyland for three hours before the special ticketed event starts.
 Maine is home to some thrilling Ghost Tour experiences this month. Stroll through the city of Portland on the Wicked Walking Tours while learning about the resident once cursed by witches, a ghostly pirate ship and the city’s haunted house that Stephen King once wrote a story about. Take a visit to Maine’s most historic fort, Fort Knox in Prospect – offering guided tours with members of the East Coast Ghost Trackers in search of ghosts and paranormal phenomena.
Longbeach, CA is home to Queen Mary’s fright-filled Halloween experience, Dark Harbor every weekend this month (including Halloween!). Located at one of the most iconic and haunted locations in the world, Dark Harbor offers a unique experience as guests venture through six mazes haunted by more than 200 monsters, spirits and other creepy intruders. Fictional characters based on the Queen Mary’s haunted history will be lurking as guests venture through the ghostly mazes. Anticipate encounters with “The Captain”, a WWII veteran still protecting his undead troops and “Scary Mary”, the ship’s youngest soul to have drowned in a pool.
Luna Park at Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY is hosting the 2012 Nights of Horror haunted celebration on October 12, 19, and 26. From 7 p.m. until closing, the park will be taken over by a roving cast of scary characters wandering around looking to spook guests. Home to the world famous roller coaster “Cyclone”, visitors begin their electrifying ride with an 85 foot tall, 60 degree drop and then shake, rattle and roll through 6 turn-arounds and 8 more drops. With two haunted mazes and 11 of the parks other iconic rides open to guests, this will make for a unique and exciting night.
Widely recognized as the pumpkin capital of the world, Half Moon Bay, CA consists of cozy inns, luxury resorts, renowned restaurants, fishing, whale watching and great deal of Halloween themed fun. Choose from dozens of pick-your-own pumpkin patches, drive past coastal pumpkin farms and beaches on pumpkin tours and don’t miss the 40th Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on October 8th. Pumpkin growers from California, Oregon and Washington will bring their enormous pumpkins to compete for the coveted title of heaviest pumpkin!
Every Friday through Sunday night in October, visitors can experience Howl-O-Scream  at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. Look forward to haunted tours, frightening rides and coasters and scary roaming zombies. Too spooky for your young ones? Visit before 6 p.m. for family-friendly rides, Sesame Street Forest of Fun and Land of the Dragons children’s areas and up-close animal encounters. Similar Howl-O-Scream weekends are also being celebrated at Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld San Antonio.
Atlanta is getting into the Halloween spirit at the 10th Annual Stone Mountain Park Pumpkin Festival. Every weekend this month, families enjoy a variety of fun, including a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt, pie eating contest, costume dance party, or arts and crafts in the pumpkin patch for little ones. The real party starts when Pumpkin Palooza takes the stage, an energy-filled family game show where audience members are picked to participate in a series of zany and messy challenges.
Vancouver has Halloween happens for enjoyment by the youngest all the way to the oldest members of the family. Great for little ones, the Stanley Park Ghost Train, takes visitors on a Scary Fairy Tales themed train ride deep into the forest. Riders can also enjoy face painting, crafts, a haunted maze and other family-friendly activities. For kids over the age of 12, Fright Nights at the PNE, from transforms Vancouver’s Playland into a haunted amusement park from October 17th to 31st. Get ready for haunted houses, a rickety wooden roller-coaster, scary rides and roving bands of scarers!
If you’re in the Virginia Beach area, Hunt Club Farm is hosting some entertaining seasonal events. Every weekend through the 30th, the Fall Harvest Fair is packed with hayrides, pumpkin patches and plenty of fall foods and gifts- great for an outing with the whole family. Come nighttime, the area is transformed into the slightly scarier Haunted Halloween Fest, where kids and parents alike can enjoy a haunted hayride and walk through the spooky “Village of the Dead” and “Field of Screams”. Look forward to lots of food, carnival rides, and nightly entertainment from local bands.
Cedar Point Amusement Park, in Sandusky, Ohio, boasts the largest number of roller coasters in the world ranging from timid wooden coasters to the 420 foot tall “Top Thrill Dragster.” With family thrills during the day and scarier events at night for teenagers, the park is transforming itself for into a Halloween wonderland for HalloWeekends. Every Friday-Saturday this month, enjoy special daytime Halloween entertainment and activities and come nighttime daring guests can venture through the park’s 10 haunted houses.
On October 27th Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square is turning its 18,000-square-foot Odditorium into a haunted playground for the Ripley’s Boo-lieve It or Not! overnight slumber fest. Brave guests can explore all of the eccentric exhibits and then grab their flashlights for a late night haunted scavenger hunt around the venue. Kids can navigate through the facility’s Lazer Maze, jumping over and under beams of light as quickly as possible to reach the end of the maze. Look forward to a night of trick-or-treating, a movie screening, live entertainment and a costume contest with prizes. Great for groups, one adult is required for every four children (ages 6 and up).  
YMCA of the Rockies in Rockies Estes Park, Colorado is hosting the Fall Fest Festival, an all-inclusive weekend of Halloween fun October 26th to the 28th. Part of their series of all-inclusive family festivals, the largest YMCA facility in the world offers a weekend of family bonding in the mountains, including pumpkin carving and painting, arts and crafts, archery, square dancing, a costume roller rink party, s’mores around the campfire and more. They do the planning all you have to do is show up!
Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco presents a one-of-a-kind pumpkin carving event from October 27th to the 31st. Admire divers through the glass as they create festive pumpkin carvings underwater in celebration of Halloween while surrounded by some of the most enticing creatures from San Francisco Bay. Enjoy this family-adored event while saving! All attractions are included with the price of Aquarium admission and children in costume receive free entry.
Watch zombies swim with sharks and rays at Trick-or-Treat Under the Sea, the 11th annual Halloween celebration at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s. On October 24th and 25th guests can dress in costume as they view alligators bob for apples, get spooked by phantoms as they wander through the Spooky Garden, or attend an exciting magic show. Have a blast as parents and children alike come face-to-face with sea turtles and other fascinating aquatic creatures. Another reason to attend, the event has gone green by partnering with Green Halloween, a community initiative to create child and Earth-friendly holiday traditions
Nobody does Halloween quite like Las Vegas! Hosted by CircusCircus, their world-famous Adventure Dome will be transformed in the Fright Dome. The thrilling experience includes haunted houses, live shows, themed rides and all kinds of scary creatures walking around to spook guests throughout the whole night. An attraction for preteens and teens (who are too cool to go trick-or-treating!), the Fright Dome has scared celebrities including David Copperfield, Michael Jackson, Missy Elliott, Lynard Skynard, Yellowcard and Paris Hilton.

Los Angeles families are gathering on October 24th for the 20th Annual Halloween Carnivalin the back lot of Universal Studios. The event benefits Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, an amazing organization providing year-round supportive programs serving families and children impacted by cancer. In true LA style, guests will enjoy celebrity meet and greets with stars including Mekhai Phifer, Kyle Richards, Judy Greer, Kevin Alejando, as well as rides, games, live
music, appearances from film/cartoon characters and delectable food from some of LA’s top
restaurants. Dawn your most creative outfit for the costume contest with thousands of prizes from toymaker JAKKS Pacific!
Charleston, SC has Halloween fun for everyone. Hundreds of pumpkins cover the ground at the Pumpkin Patch at Boone Hall Plantation, which features an eight-acre corn maze, hayride down “Monster Alley”, pumpkin patch play area and every kid’s favorite amusement- inflatable play structures. Also, on select nights until Halloween, Boone Hall Fright Nights is a seriously scary event for teenagers and other daring guests. Visitors should prepare to be scared by live performers lurking in the shadows of its four haunted spaces, including a walk on the daunting Terror Trail!
The Haunted Forest in Williston, Vermont is the state’s longest running and most popular Halloween event. Held at The Catamount Family Center on weekends during October, The Haunted Forest combines outdoor theater, special effects and the spirit of Halloween to delight audiences of all ages. Mysterious guides lead guests through paths lit up by over 1,000 flickering Jack-O’-Lanterns where they will travel through a variety of scenes in the darkness and encounter strange and fascinating. The entire Haunted Forest performance is orchestrated to evoke the spooky, playful, and eerie aspects of Halloween in a one-of-a-kind setting.
The Baltimore area is a good bet for Halloween fun. Visit the Ouija Board Exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, highlighting the history of the Ouija Board, which was born in Maryland in 1890. Head out to Halloween Funfest on October 27th at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum. A great family experience, you can dress up in costume, participate in special interactive Halloween activities and enjoy a performance by Here Comes Trouble. Also that day check out the Halloween Parade & Festival  one of the city’s most popular celebrations, setting Patterson Park aglow with kids’ hayrides, make-your-own-lantern workshops, live music, and an ice skating rink bubble.
Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines, Iowa is gearing up for the 22nd Annual Night Eyes Halloween themed experience. On October weekends, the zoo is transformed with thousands of lights and displays as guests trick-or-treat through the zoo’s Wizard of Oz themed exhibits. This year’s event includes a hay maze, dancing pumpkin patch, magical characters for entertainment and the interactive Treat Safari, sure to be an unforgettable experience for young celebrators.
The Old Idaho Penitentiary is opening its doors and making the prison come to life with spooky activities and actors portraying sinister inmates. Cranking up the scares, visitors can walk through 140 years of history and hear all about the scary (but true!) occurrences that happened throughout the prison’s long history. Check out the schedule but note that October 26th is family night. All ages are welcome, but remember that some themes can be scary for kids under 10!
The Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY offers the Things that Go Bump in the Night Tour, a long time area tradition. Guides accompany visitors on a lantern-lit walking tour through the 19th century village, highlighting the ghostly occurrences of the throughout the region’s history. The tour will stop occasionally at various buildings, including the Blacksmith’s Shop and Bump Tavern from the classic book, “Things that Go Bump in the Night” an American classic describing the supernatural history in New York State. Even staff and guests have seen the resident ghost at Bump Tavern!  Experience the evening tours offered on October 26th and 27th.  
Miami’s interactive zoological park, Jungle Island is a great place to spend Halloween weekend with your curious youngsters. On October 27th and 28th, the Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun for children aged 3-10, including trick-or-treating through the Jungle to themed animal shows and the annual Jungle Island costume contest. Need to convince your preteens or teens to come along? Jungle Island is home to some of the world’s most rare and incredible animals. Check out the liger, which holds the Guinness Book of World Records title as the World’s Largest Cat or Peanut & Pumpkin, only the third set of Orangutan twins to be born in captivity.
Home to the great American author and his family from 1874 to 1891, the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT has a long history of reports from guests and staff spooked by knocks, bangs, cold spots and objects mysteriously moving around. On October weekends, visitors investigate ghost stories with the infamous Graveyard Shift Ghost Tours Following two investigations by SyFy’s “Ghost Hunters,” both of who believe the house is haunted. These nighttime tours take you on a guided walk through the home including areas that are normally off-limits. Bring your kids ages 10 and up who are in for a good scare this weekend!
Wilmington, N.C. is home to one uniquely historical Halloween themed celebration on October 30th. The Batty Battleship’s Halloween Bash features frightful moments from World War II aboard the USS Battleship North Carolina, a highly decorated warship that serves as both a memorial and a museum. Instead of focusing on the ship’s might and military feats, children can enjoy a scare-free evening of trick-or-treating, a petting zoo, carnival activities, caricature drawing and a bounce house.
On October 30th and 31st, the Salado Fright Trail in downtown Salado, Texas offers spooky tales for kids and horror classic favorites for adults on a half-mile walking tour. A guide will enlighten you with facts about respective authors as you travel through scenes from Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy’s Curse and another section that features characters from your child’s favorite tales, including Alice in Wonderland, Billy Goat Gruff and the Troll who guards the bridge, the Wizard of Oz. Actors portray scenes from chosen classical tales of terror and the Grimm’s Fairy tales to entertain and educate young people (and those who are young at heart!).


Backyard Vacations, Families & Groups, Seasonal Travel Tips | , , , , | 5 Comments

5 Responses to Halloween happenings across the USA

  1. Pingback: Home Callout 4 | Taking the Kids

  2. Pingback: Get beyond the neighborhood for Halloween tricks and treats | Taking the Kids

  3. Steven Tash says:

    Becca Tash’s article was terrifuc. Very informative and fun to read. Our family looks forward to what she has in store for us on the up comming holidays.

  4. Stuart says:

    What an amazing round up of ideas! Must have taken an age to research and write. I know how much time and effort is involved as we’ve just published a complementary UK round up of outdoorsy Halloween ideas for families on our site! Great work. What an amazing intern!

  5. Betty Lou Bloodgood says:

    Not only did Becca give an interesting list of ideas, but she explained in depth. Thank you Becca. Lots to think about!

    A Grandmom

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