How to celebrate Halloween at theme parks this fall – The Points Guy

Halloween is on the horizon, but if you are visiting a U.S. theme park anytime between now and All Hallows Eve, it’s already here.

From Disney World to Legoland and many theme parks in between, characters are swapping their usual garb for spooky costumes. Jack-o’-lanterns are being placed in every available corner and, at a few parks, chainsaw-wielding maniacs are practicing their best sneak attacks.

Whether you prefer tricks or treats, we’ve rounded up the Halloween happenings at 13 major theme parks across the U.S. below.

Walt Disney World


During the day, you can get into the Halloween spirit among Mickey pumpkins and fall wreaths lining The Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A., but the real frightful fun takes place in the evening during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Guests can wear costumes (Mickey and his friends will be in their costumes, too); watch a Halloween-themed parade, stage show and fireworks; trick or treat through the park; dine on themed treats; and enjoy attractions like Mad Tea Party and Space Mountain with spooky Halloween overlays. You can also meet rare characters not at the park during the day, such as the Seven Dwarfs and Jack and Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

The party takes place on select nights between Aug. 11 and Nov. 31 and requires a separate ticket. Although the party starts at 7 p.m., guests can enter the park as early as 4 p.m. to sneak in a few rides before the Halloween happenings officially begin.



Legoland parks in Florida, California and New York celebrate Halloween with festivities that cater to preschoolers and their families. The best part: It’s all included with your regular admission ticket.

During “Brick-or-Treat,” kids can trick or treat throughout the park, join a monster dance party and ride The Dragon coaster with a monster music soundtrack. The offerings at each park are slightly different, but all three parks are debuting the new “4D Movie: The Great Monster Chase” during Brick-or-Treat this year.

In Florida, New York and California, Brick-or-Treat takes place on Saturdays in September beginning Sept. 16, and Saturdays and Sundays in October through Oct. 29.

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Universal Orlando Resort


With 10 haunted houses and five outdoor scare zones, Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights is not for the faint of heart. In fact, the event is not recommended for kids under 13. The houses are a mix of well-known hits like “The Last of Us” and “Stranger Things” — both of which have houses this year — and original concepts like Yeti: Campground Kills, where monstrous yetis terrorize campers.

Related: Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights 2023 houses ranked

If you are already shaking in your boots, you can take a lights-on “Behind The Screams” tour of the houses during the day, participate in the Lil’ Boo Trick-Or-Seek scavenger hunt, and shop for Halloween souvenirs and treats in the Tribute Store.

The event runs on select nights between Sept. 1 through Nov. 4, and a separate ticket is required. To maximize your time at the event, you can also purchase a Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass to skip the line, go on a “R.I.P. Tour” or purchase a “Scream Early” pass that will get you into the park before the gates open to other guests. If you have a daytime ticket or annual pass, you can also get early access to the park and be among the first in line when the haunted houses open for the night.

Universal Studios Hollywood


Universal Studios Hollywood hosts its own version of Halloween Horror Nights, but don’t expect it to be a carbon copy of the events in Orlando. Even the houses available at both locations have distinct differences. Hollywood features multiple houses you won’t find in Orlando, including one themed “Evil Dead Rise” and an original house called “Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America.”

Also unique to Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights event is the “Terror Tram” — a spine-tingling version of the park’s signature Studio Tour — and a show called “The Purge: Dangerous Waters” that is held at the location of the WaterWorld stunt show.

The event runs select nights from Sept. 7 through Oct. 31; a separate ticket is required. In addition to the Universal Express pass and R.I.P Tour, guests can maximize their time with a special “Halloween Horror Nights After 2 p.m.” pass that gets you into the park anytime after 2 p.m. and lets you stay into the night.


Halloween celebration at Disneyland. DISNEYLAND RESORT

“Halloween Time” at the Disneyland Resort spans both theme parks and includes daytime and nighttime events, which is a good thing because the after-hours “Oogie Boogie Bash” at Disney California Adventure sells out almost as soon as tickets go on sale.

While this year’s Oogie Boogie Bash is sold out, if you were lucky to snag a ticket or hope to go next year, the event puts Disney’s infamous villains front and center. The immersive trick-or-treat trail through Disney California Adventure has stops themed to characters like Dr. Facilier from “The Princess and the Frog,” Cruella de Vil from “101 Dalmations” and, of course, Oogie Boogie from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” There’s also a parade, a stage show with Mickey and Minnie and more.

Even without party tickets, you can still enjoy Halloween fun at Disneyland. Mickey, Minnie and all of their friends are dressed up in costumes and there’s a “spook-tacular” fireworks show. Also, Frontierland plays host to a Dia de los Muertos celebration and the Haunted Mansion gets a “The Nightmare Before Christmas” makeover. During daytime hours at Disney California Adventure, you can check out the “Radiator Screams” makeover of the “Cars”-themed Radiator Springs area, visit with characters from “Coco” at Paradise Gardens and experience a “Monsters After Dark” overlay of Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: Breakout.

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens

Trick-or-treating at SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular. SEAWORLD ORLANDO

SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio and Busch Gardens locations in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Tampa Bay throw two very different Halloween parties: the family-friendly daytime “Spooktacular” and the more sinister “Howl-O-Scream” when the sky turns dark.

Related: First look at the brand-new Sesame Place theme park in San Diego


Spooktacular festivities include a trick-or-treat trail, dance party, costume contest, mermaid meet-and-greet and more. Howl-O-Scream has terrifying haunted houses, outdoor scare zones, live entertainment and even roaming scare-actors who could pop up anywhere in the park.

Related: Celebrate National Roller Coaster Day on 1 of the 10 best coasters in the US

Spooktacular is included with park admission, but Howl-O-Scream requires a separate ticket. Both events run select nights in September and October.



Halloween time at Dollywood means colorful leaves, fall-flavored treats and lots of pumpkins. More than 12,000 illuminated pumpkins light up the park during “Great Pumpkin LumiNights,” part of Dollywood’s annual Harvest Festival. This year it runs from Sept. 20 through Oct. 30.

Related: Dolly Parton just turned her glittery tour bus into the ultimate Tennessee hotel suite

Some of the pumpkins are used to form larger-than-life sculptures like Dolly’s guitar, a giant spider and a 40-foot-tall pumpkin tree, while others are intricately carved to resemble butterflies, frogs and other critters.

Related: A Smoky Mountain-themed roller coaster is coming to Dollywood in 2023 — here’s everything we know

The event also features apple-, pumpkin- and maple-infused treats, along with country-cooking favorites like smoked sausage macaroni and cheese and a pulled pork sandwich with pumpkin barbecue sauce.

Dollywood’s Harvest Festival is included with regular park admission.

Holiday World


With lands dedicated to many major holidays — including Halloween — Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, technically celebrates spooky season all year long. But, it appropriately amps things up during “Happy Halloween Weekends” in September and October.

Related: 11 regional theme parks that are closer to home but just as fun as the big names

This family-focused event has trick or treating, G-rated haunted houses, corn mazes, hayrides, live entertainment and other ghoulish delights.

Related: 13 absolute best things to eat that you can only get in US theme parks

Happy Halloween Weekends admission is included with your regular daytime ticket purchase.

Silver Dollar City


Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, forgoes the scary haunted houses and gory creatures for a Harvest Festival with craftsmen who make everything from moccasins to hand-painted turkey feathers, chuck wagon cooking demonstrations, pumpkin-spice everything and giant pumpkins that weigh as much as 1,400 pounds (that’s a lot of pie).

When sunlight turns to twilight, thousands of illuminated pumpkins will set the park aglow. Select rides stay open into the evening hours for a thrilling nighttime experience.

All Harvest Festival activities are included with regular Silver Dollar City admission, and the event runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 28.

Knott’s Berry Farm


On select nights between Sept. 21 and Oct.31, California’s Knott’s Berry Farm becomes Knott’s Scary Farm, with original haunted houses like Cinema Slasher and Dark Entities, outdoor scare zones, a show with death-defying carnival acts and a show with singing and dancing monsters.

The most unusual offering at Knott’s Scary Farm is the Halloween Hootenanny overlay of the Timber Mountain Log Ride. We don’t want to spoil it, but you will definitely be in for a few spooky surprises before you splash down.

Because of the frightening nature of the event, Knott’s Scary Farm is not recommended for children under 13 years of age. This is a separately ticketed event with plenty of fun add-ons like a “Boo-fet” meal with monster photo opportunities, a lights-on tour and a Very Important Monster tour with skip-the-line access and other perks.

Six Flags


Six Flags locations across the country mark the start of the spooky season with haunted houses, open-air scare zones and thrill rides in the black of night during “Fright Fest.” The event takes place on select nights in September and October.

Most locations also host a family-friendly “Kids Boo Fest” during the day with costumes and trick or treating in a more-silly-than-spooky atmosphere. Admission to Kids Boo Fest is included with park admission, but Fright Fest is a separately ticketed event.



An oversized Reese’s cup with vampire teeth doesn’t exactly scream “scary,” but it perfectly embodies Hersheypark’s sweet and spooky Hersheypark Halloween event. There’s a dance party with Hersheypark characters, trick or treating and, at night, lights-out coaster rides.

If you are looking for something on the scary side, Hersheypark also offers “Dark Nights,” with five haunted houses and three outdoor scare zones. If you want to visit during Halloween, Hersheypark offers tickets that allow you to ride all day and stay into the evening for Dark Nights.

Bottom line

Whether you are in the mood for sweet treats or devilish dismay, there is definitely a theme park with your type of Halloween event lined up for the fall season. Some even have both, with separate offerings for daywalkers and night dwellers.

Most require a separate ticket, so if you plan to attend, be sure you have the ticket you need for the type of frights you want.