Presto, Change-o! Florida Transforms Into A “Haunted House
By Georgina Cruz
Fantasy –and phantoms – materialize in the “haunted house” that is Florida each autumn! The Halloween festivities, the parties of witches and ghosts, begin sometimes in August and September and are super-abundant in October in various popular destinations around the state. Some festivities are good for the whole family and others are meant for adults –and intrepid ones at that in some cases as they feature intense scare zones, haunted houses and more!
Below are some Halloween happenings for this year. As in the case of any special event, dates are subject to change so it is good to verify them before planning trips. For additional information, visit each event’s website.
- Key West – Florida’s Last Key presents its annual Fantasy Fest Oct. 21-30. At times an outrageous festival, it offers a variety of events, including extravagant costume contests, parties, a street fair, the Bahamas Goombay Festival and a big parade with floats and marching bands. The festival’s theme for 2022 is “Cult Classics & Cartoon Chaos.” Some events are free; others are ticketed. Info: www.fantasyfest.com.
Lake Buena Vista – Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom on select nights from Aug. 12 to Oct. 31. A family-friendly party, families can don costumes and go trick or treating at several spots in the park during the evening. The Magic Kingdom is decked out with pumpkins and other Halloween decorations in the entrance and in the Main Street U.S.A. section and special lighting shows ghosts and other components of the Halloween theme. The event, with a special ticket, also includes the Boo To You Halloween Parade, with the beloved Disney characters in their Halloween costumes, a special fireworks display and of course, the park’s Haunted House invites foolish mortals to come in if they dare. Info: www.disneyworld.com.
- Orlando – Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights are featured on select nights from Sept. 2 to Oct. 31, and they are considered one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the world. The theme this year is “The Horrors of Blumhouse.” There are 10 haunted houses and five scare zones, and street experiences that can terrify the most intrepid. Universal warns that the event may be too intense for Young children and does not recommend it for children younger than 13. Masks and costumes are not permitted. Admission is via separate ticket and there are a variety of passes and packages available. Info: www.halloweenhorrornights.com.
Also in Orlando, but this one a family-friendly party, is SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular, presented on weekends from Sept. 10 to Oct. 31. This happening is themed to a fantasy of the sea and children can go trick or treating among mermaids, sea witches, and other characters. Kids may wear costumes and dance with an ice witch, fish characters and more. The party is included in regular admission to the park. Info: www.seaworldorlando.com. And SeaWorld Orlando also presents “Howl-O-Scream Orlando 2022” on select nights from Sept. 9 to Oct. 31. This event, which originated in its sister park, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, came to SeaWorld Orlando last year and returns in 2022 with haunted houses, scare zones and live entertainment. It is intense and for the intrepid. Info: www.HowlOScream.com.
- Tampa – During select nights this fall, from Sept. 9 to Oct. 31, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, presents “Howl-O-Scream” with surprises and terrifying frights in the 300 acres of the park. A party for adults who are not afraid of anything, it features hundreds of creatures and ghosts on the streets, haunted houses, scare zones, and sinister spectacles as well as the park’s roller coasters in the dark of the night. There are a variety of tickets and offers available. Costumes are not allowed. “Howl-O-Scream” is for adults as it is an intense event. Info: www.HowlOScream.com.
Winter Haven – “Brick-or-Treat” in LEGOLAND Florida is a family-friendly event offered on Sept. 24-25 and each Saturday and Sunday in October. The party offers treats, LEGO activities, theme decor and other activities and entertainment themed to Halloween. The festivities are included in regular admission to the park. Info: www.legoland.com.
Halloween at sea from Florida – If you prefer to enjoy Halloween festivities at sea from Florida ports, Disney Cruise Line presents Halloween On The High Seas on sailings in September and October. The cruises, including ships sailing from Cape Canaveral and Miami, will feature Halloween-themed parties, entertainment and activities as well as special decorations including “The Pumpkin Tree” that magically transforms during the sailing. Info: www.disneycruise.com.