Halloween knottsberryAge recommendations are key when you go to theme parks for Halloween. Some have nighttime haunted houses and frightening costumes that are too scary for little kids – but just perfect if you are traveling with a teen.

You also might be encouraged, or forbidden to, dress up, so if this is important to your kids, be sure to check. And if you are traveling from cool fall weather to Florida or southern California, you may enjoy another treat: being able to wear costumes without hiding them under coats.

Just for Little Ones

Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, has the evening family friendly Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. You have to buy a separate admission ticket, but you can get to the park up to three hours before the party and enjoy the rides first. You definitely want to come in costume, and you can even join the Boo-to-You parade. There is trick or treating, with candy and healthy treats.


Space Mountain, the Haunted Mansion and other rides are specially decorated, but not terrorizing for the holiday. Photo ops include Disney villains, not just princesses. Find the nighttime party, Oct. 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30 and 31, and Nov. 1

SeaWorld, Orlando, Florida, has the family friendly Halloween Spooktacular. Through Halloween, kids are half price. Open weekends in October, with trick-or-treating, silly, not scary shows and arts and crafts.

The Seaworld Spooktacular is great for kids who turn in early because the fun begins at noon. And you can wear a costume.

Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pennsylvania, offers the Count’s Halloween Spooktacular, weekends through October. Kids definitely want to dress up. There is even a Halloween Costume Contest on Oct. 30; winners can be in the parade. The family friendly theme park, ideal for Sesame Street fans up to age 10, has two themed mazes, a character hayride and three Halloween shows. This little-kid-friendly event starts at 10am.

Safe by Day, Scary by Night

Halloween DisneyWorldKnott’s Scary Farm, Buena Park, California, has the granddaddy of scary, Knott’s Scary Farm, Oct. 19-23 and 26-31. The park is open during the day, then closes for 90 minutes and becomes downright terrifying at 7pm. Knott’s Berry Farm has held spooky Halloween festivities since 1973, but each year makes the park scarier. This year, there are 13 scary mazes, four scare zones, and several rides renamed and redecorated for the holiday. The evening haunt is for ages 12 and up, and Knott’s warns that “1,000 live monsters, ghosts, ghouls, goblins, freaks, mutants, maniacs and other beasts [are] lurking in the fog to scare unsuspecting guests.” You might want to wear Depends.

During the day, kids ages 3-11 can enjoy Snoopy’s Costume Party in Camp Spooky.  This gentle Halloween celebration encourages kids to come in costume and go through a corn maze and hay bale maze. There is a Peanuts Halloween Spooktacular and Creepy Crawly Critter Cave where brave kids can be grossed out by live critters.

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania, redecorates and becomes Hersheypark in the Dark. Even the thrill rides are renamed; they’re ‘ghosters,’ not coasters. The nighttime family friendly festivities are for all ages, but note that the Carrousel becomes Night Mares, so proceed with caution. Hershey’s Chocolate World has trick or treating, for kids 12 and under through Oct. 30.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia, has a daytime Halloween celebration in its Sesame Street family friendly area, called The Count Von Count Countdown to Halloween show. After 6, though, the park turns into a scary Howl-O-Scream. Zombies and ghouls roam the park, and there are haunted houses and scare zones. Weekends through Oct. 30.

Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, New Jersey, has a family-friendly Halloween event with themed shows during the day. But after dark, the park turns sinister, with a zombie party and spooky graveyard, haunted houses and freak shows. For ages 13 and up. Costumes and masks are forbidden. Thrills by Day and Fright by Night is on weekends, through Oct. 30.

 Just for Teens and Adults

 Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California, sets up the fright with Halloween Horror Nights. Strictly for those over the age of 13. Starting at 7pm through October, Universal Studios Hollywood becomes a terrifying place, with haunted mazes, six scare zones and the new ride Terror Tram. No costumes or masks allowed.