8 Amusement Parks That Do Halloween Right (Slideshow)
Fright Dome: Circus Circus, Las Vegas
Sure, Circus Circus’ Adventuredome might be one of the worst amusement parks in the country (click here for our story on this matter), but all bets are off once Halloween rolls around. The 14th annual event boasts a whopping seven haunted houses (including Friday the 13th in 4D) and five additional scare zones, plus live nightly shows and the usual 25 rides. After kicking off on Sept. 30, the festivities also occur on Oct. 1, 7–9, 13–16, 20–23, and 26–31.
Fright Fest: Six Flags Magic Mountain, Santa Clarita, Calif.
One of the largest amusement parks in the world (boasting 19 roller coasters, more than any other park) also throws one of the biggest Halloween parties around. For the 24th year in a row, Six Flags Magic Mountain in Southern California will host Fright Fest with a 2016 lineup that includes two new scare zones (for a total of seven), including “Suicide Squad: The Six Flags Fright Fest Experience.” In other record-breaking news, the park’s “Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising” activity is the largest outdoor maze in park history (just one of seven mazes and haunted houses) and this year’s Fright Fest also boasts more “scare-actors” than any previous year. Even the regular rides get a tweak, as some of the indoor ones will operate with the lights off during the event. The 2016 dates are Sept. 17, 18, 24, 25, and 30, as well as Oct. 1, 2, 7–9, 14–16, 21–23, and 28–30.
Halloween Haunt: Kings Dominion, Doswell, Va.
If you’ve never experienced all that Kings Dominion has to offer, the annual Halloween Haunt will be a spectacular introduction. The event features a total of nine themed haunted houses and mazes, six dedicated scare zones, five frightening shows, a special dance party, and all the usual favorite rides. Halloween Haunt attractions are open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from Sept. 30 to Oct. 30. Kings Dominion is conveniently located off of I-95 just north of Richmond, Virginia.
Halloween Horror Nights: Universal Studios, Orlando & Hollywood
Arguably the most famous of all theme park Halloween events, Horror Nights has been taking place at Universal Studios Florida for 26 years now, with Hollywood joining in on the fun in 1997. Originally called “Fright Nights,” the festivities now include nine haunted houses, five creature-filled scare zones, two outrageous live shows, and a virtual reality horror experience called “The Repository,” in addition to the usual rides and attractions. The themes vary each year, and this season offers frightening references to American Horror Story, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Krampus, Freddy vs. Jason, Halloween, and The Walking Dead. This year, the event runs from Sept. 16 to Oct. 31.
Haunt at Halloweekends: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
This year marks “20 years of fears” for Cedar Point’s Haunt at Halloweekends. Get ready for six haunted houses and mazes, six scare zones, five live shows (such as the new “Blood Drums” percussion and music event), and six other experiences, including a haunted banquet, Halloween-themed foods at “Night of the Living Fed,” the second installment of the Cedar Point Coffin Races, and plenty of kid-friendly fun during the day. The extravaganza runs throughout October on Friday evenings and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
Hersheypark in the Dark: Hersheypark, Hershey, Pa.
Sweet-toothed children will enjoy dressing up for a trick-or-treating adventure though Hershey’s Chocolate World and Treatville, while the braver ones can equip themselves with flashlights for the “Creatures of the Night” tour at ZooAmerica. You and your not-so-little-ones can hop on their usual favorite rides for lights-out versions of Laff Trakk, Wildcat, Comet, and Lightning Racer. This year, the festivities fall on Oct. 14–16, 21–23, and 28–30.
Howl-O-Scream: Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Fla.
Busch Gardens will host its 18th-annual Howl-O-Scream event in Tampa on Thursdays through Sundays this October — and it’s sure to knock your Halloween-themed socks off. On tap for 2016 are seven horrifying haunted houses (including the new “Motel Hell” and pirate-themed “Black Spot”), numerous scare zones, the ever-popular “roaming hordes” of crazed costumed characters, and the medical-themed “Fiends” live show. Traveling with mini monsters? Busch Gardens’ “Sesame Street Safari of Fun” is hosting a Halloween party the last two weekends in October for family-friendly fun. The Count will run the show on Oct. 22 and 23, and monsters and fairies will invade the park on Oct. 29 and 30 for arts, crafts, and face-painting — in addition to a whole lot of activities and chances to dress up.
Knott’s Scary Farm, Knott’s Berry Farm, Buena Park, Calif.
From Sept 22. to Oct. 31, Knott’s Berry Farm transforms into Knott’s Scary Farm with a total of 10 haunted houses and mazes, five scare zones, and two themed shows. Although the parody presentation called “The Hanging” seems hilarious and intriguing, nothing could possibly top the show featuring the one-and-only Mistress of the Dark, Elvira. The vampiress’ show will transport guests to a masquerade ball full of music, dance, and comedy with nightly shows at 9 and 11:30 p.m. Guests who spend $50 at Elvira’s “Boo-tique” will get a chance to meet the lady herself!
Traveling with a younger crowd? Knott’s Spooky Farm offers trick or treating, a costume contest, a dance party, Great Pumpkin-themed games and activities, a performance of “The Monsters are Coming, Charlie Brown,” and a kid-friendly Halloween maze.