By Carrie McLaren
11 great places in Florida to take your kids, or just yourselves, for Halloween
Halloween is so much more than just one night of trick-or-treating, especially in Florida. Celebrations begin in September and don’t end until in November. We’re talking serious family fun.
So whether you’re looking to have a not-so-scary time with Mickey Mouse or an autumn celebration with Shamu the whale, you’ll find it here.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Select nights in September through October
Suitable for all ages, kids and adults dress in costumes and trick-or-treat around Magic Kingdom Park in the evening. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is not included in regular park admission and requires a separate ticket. However, fewer people means shorter lines for even the most popular rides and enough candy for all. Don’t miss the Boo To You Halloween Parade and the night’s finale -- the Happy HalloWishes fireworks display. Lake Buena Vista, Fla 32830 (407) 939-5277.
SeaWorld’s Orlando Halloween Spooktacular
Select weekends in October
This one is a SEA-sonal favorite with all the fun included in your regular admission. SeaWorld Orlando kicks off the funwith 14 trick-or-treat stations and costumed characters such as Gummy Worm Wanda. Be sure to join Princess Penelope and friends at the Spooktacular Dance Party each night and dance along with the interactive DJ. 7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, Fla 32821 (888) 800-5447.
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights
Select nights in September, November
This is a favorite with the adult crowd and is not recommended for children. For more than 20 years, Universal Orlando Resort has brought to life guests' most horrifying fears in a way no one else can. At Halloween Horror Nights, you’ll encounter hundreds of "scareactors" roaming throughout eight haunted houses, scare zones and shows that are sure to give you nightmares for years to come. Be sure to check out the on-site resort vacation packages. 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, Fla 32819 (407)363-8000.
Select weekends in October
Ghouls, ghosts and goblins descend on Miniland USA transforming it into a haunted adventure with a scavenger hunt in search for these scary creatures that have invaded our famous cities. This spooky event takes place weekends in October, and features trick-or-treating along the brick or treat trail, super brick build activities, the largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern in the world, Halloween entertainment and an all-kids costume contest with brick-tastic prizes! One LEGOLAND Way, Winter Haven, Fla 33884 (877)350-5346.
Busch Gardens Tampa Howl-O-Scream
Select weekends in September and October
Howl-O-Scream will leave you begging for mercy... and screaming for more. With gore, blood and violence, this is one for adults only. There are scare zones, live shows, roaming hoards of creatures and haunted houses. Be sure to ride the park’s top thrill rides too – in the dark – for the loudest screams and fun. 10001 N. Malcolm McKinley Dr., Tampa, Fla 33612 (888) 800-5447.
The pumpkin patch at Little Farm is rated E for everyone. Take a drive into the country and discover this gem -- a real working farm that your kids will love, and learn from. Pick out a pumpkin, see farm animals, ride ponies, explore the butterfly garden and more. Be sure to get a scarecrow kit and harvest décor to decorate when you get home, too. 13401 SW 224 St., Goulds, Fla 33170 (305) 258-3186.
Jacksonville Zoo Spooktacular
Weekends in mid-October, early November
Explore the night and its lively inhabitants at the Jacksonville Zoo Spooktacular. Along the way, trick or treat, and enjoy music, dancing, food, bounce houses, and a giant slide. Jack-o-lanterns light the paths to special animal exhibits and candy stations. 370 Zoo Parkway, Jacksonville, Fla 32218 (904) 757-4463.
Central Florida Zoo Boo Bash
Bring your kids in costume and bring a bag to fill up with goodies as you trick-or-treat around the wildest neighborhood at the Central Florida Zoo Boo Bash. You’ll find haunted hayrides, a pumpkin patch for family photos, face-painting and a daily costume contest. This event is included with zoo admission. 3755 NW Highway 17-92, Sanford, Fla (407) 323-4450.
Uncle Donald’s Farm in Lady Lake
Select nights in October
Enjoy an old fashioned hay ride; walk on the wild side and see nocturnal animals like panthers and owls for the Fall Fun Nights at Uncle Donald’s Farm. Meander through the Pumpkin Patch and meet a bevy of reptiles in the Creepy Crawly Barn. Oh, and don’t forget to get lost in the hay maze, too. 2713 Griffin Ave., Lady Lake, Fla 32159 (352) 753-2882.
Amazing Grace Crop Maze
Select Fridays and Saturdays in October, November
This family-owned farm welcomes families each Fall to experience a crop maze, hay rides, a plentiful pumpkin patch and games. Located in Green Cove Springs, just south of Jacksonville, the Amazing Grace Crop Maze offers plenty of fun and is a great educational experience for families. 2899 Wisteria Farms Rd., Green Cove Springs, Fla 32043 (904) 284-2949.
Key West Fantasy Fest
October; Children’s Day
Key West Fantasy Fest is legendary for adults, but the day-after parade is Children's Day featuring food, games, crafts and a children's costume contest. All the fun at Children’s Day takes place at Bayview Park at Truman Avenue and Eisenhower Drive. Bayview Park, Key West, Fla 33040.
Monster Splash at Miami Seaquarium
Select dates in October
Families are invited for a day or night of thrills and chills. In addition to scary, creepy stuff for adults, there’ll be happy hauntings for the little ones at Miami Seaquarium. Kids 12 and under can trick-or-treat on weekend nights, 5-8:30 p.m. 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, Fla 33149 (305) 361-5705.
This is just a sampling of the Halloween Hot Spots to enjoy in Florida. So put on those costumes, grab your camera (and a sack for treats) and go have some great fall fun with your family!