We hope you’ve been practicing your best “final girl" scream for these daunting and haunting theme park attractions.
Most people visit amusement parks to ride roller coasters, take pictures with their favorite costumed characters, and eat too much sugar. If you show up looking for those things during Halloween…you might be in for a terrifying surprise. The parks on this list trade in their typical whimsical personas for something a bit more sinister when Halloween-time rolls around.
The haunted houses, monsters hiding in the shadows, and edgy live shows featured at most of these parks are definitely not PG-rated, but there are a few family-friendly events are lurking on this list, too.
Think you can handle it? Here are the most chilling amusement park Halloween events around the U.S.
Top Picks for You
Halloween Horror Nights - Universal Orlando Resort
WHERE: Orlando, Florida
If you visit Universal Orlando between September 3 and Halloween night, you might go home with night terrors rather than happy vacation memories. That’s because, on select nights, the park closes early and reopens in the evening for a separately ticketed event called Halloween Horror Nights. This year, you can experience 10 haunted houses, five outdoor scare zones, and two live shows, in addition to specialty food and merchandise. Halloween Horror Nights is celebrating a milestone 30th anniversary with a mix of original haunted houses that celebrate the event’s heritage and houses themed to popular films and TV shows like The Haunting of Hill House and Beetlejuice. If you’re intrigued, but a bit too scared for a nighttime visit, Universal offers daytime, lights-on tours (with no scare actors hiding in the shadows) for a “behind the screams” look at the event.
Disney After Hours Boo Bash - Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
WHERE: Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL
Though you can visit the Magic Kingdom during regular hours to enjoy the Halloween decor and themed treats, only in the dark of night (and with a separate ticket) can you get the full not-too-spooky experience of the Disney After Hours Boo Bash. Held on select nights through Halloween, the event has much lower crowds and wait times than a typical Disney day along with trick-or-treating, complimentary snacks and (non-alcoholic) drinks, themed entertainment, costumed characters, and more. The Disney After Hours Boo Bash is also one of the only times adults can wear costumes inside the parks. Guests always get very creative, so start planning your outfit now.
Brick-or-Treat - LEGOLAND New York Resort
WHERE: Goshen, New York
LEGOLAND New York Resort is designed with preschoolers and their families in mind and their annual Brick-or-Treat Halloween event is geared toward this younger age group. Every Saturday and Sunday afternoon in October, guests can trick-or-treat, participate in a costume parade and contest (you can even win a prize!), meet LEGO vampires, mummies, and other characters, watch special Halloween shoes, and rock out at a Halloween-themed dance party.
Admission to Brick-or-Treat is included with your regular LEGOLAND admission. When you’re ready to retire to your coffin, er, bed, the all-new LEGOLAND New York Hotel is located just steps from the park’s main entrance. LEGOLAND Florida and LEGOLAND California have similar Brick-or-Treat events, though dates and times may vary.
Harvest Festival and Great Pumpkin LumiNights - Dollywood
WHERE: Pigeon Forge, TN
Dollywood is located in the heart of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains and the park’s annual Harvest Festival leans into the sights, sounds, and tastes of autumn. If you visit Dollywood between September 24 and October 30, you’ll not only experience the natural beauty of the Smokies, the whole park is decorated with pumpkins and floral fall decor. There are also live gospel, country, and bluegrass performances throughout the festival and tasty fall treats like sweet potato poutine. At night, carved pumpkin displays around the park light up for Great Pumpkin LumiNights, including a spooktacular 40-foot-tall jack-o-lantern tree.
HersheyPark In the Dark & Hershey Chocolate World
WHERE: Hershey, Pennsylvania
Treats win out over tricks at HersheyPark’s HersheyPark in the Dark, a super sweet Halloween event that takes place the last three weekends in October. Each weekend during the event, guests can ride some of the park’s most popular attractions under the cloak of night, trick-or-treat around the park, sample pumpkin-flavored treats, and, most importantly, snap a selfie with larger-than-life candy characters. Next door at Hershey’s Chocolate World, you can go on a free chocolate-making tour, take a Halloween cookie decorating or baking class, and pick up some sweet treats for the trek home.
Howl-O-Scream - Busch Gardens Tampa
WHERE: Tampa, Florida
Howl-O-Scream is another of Florida’s frightening Halloween events. The event runs every Thursday through Sunday evening From September 10 through October 31 with haunted houses, outdoor scare zones, live entertainment, and the chance to ride Busch Gardens’ thrilling coasters after dark. You’ll run into witches, zombies, vampires, witch doctors, and the like, but specialty cocktails like the park’s popular Jell-O syringe shots may provide the dose of liquid courage you need to conquer your fears.
Howl-O-Scream is a separately ticketed event and you can add on an “evil upgrade” to skip the line on many of the haunted houses and coasters. If you don’t have plans to visit Tampa, Howl-O-Scream also takes place at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Phantom Fall Fest - Kennywood
WHERE: West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
Kennywood amusement park is debuting something of a dual Halloween event this year. During Phantom Fall Fest, families can enjoy festive fall foods and friendly Halloween decor during the day. In the evening, the park will open five haunted houses and four scare zones. The best part is you can enjoy the daytime and nighttime festivities with one ticket. The event takes place every Friday from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31.
Halloween Horror Nights - Universal Studios Hollywood
WHERE: Hollywood, California
Universal Studio Hollywood puts on its own version of Halloween Horror Nights, and a few aspects of the event are unique to the West Coast version. Only three of the houses overlap with the Orlando event, and even those have different storylines and scares you won’t find in Florida. The most notable difference is a Hollywood Horror Nights version of Universal’s Studio Tour, dubbed Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge. Unfortunately, this tram tour drops you right in the middle of an annual “purge” where, if you’ve seen the films, doesn’t always bode well for anyone caught outside. Like Orlando, this is a separately ticketed event and runs select nights from September 9 through Oct. 31.
Happy Halloween Weekends - Holiday World
WHERE: Santa Claus, Indiana
Holiday World has sections dedicated to many major holidays (including Halloween), so it only makes sense they would celebrate spooky season. Happy Halloween Weekends is a family-friendly daytime celebration that takes place Saturdays and Sundays from September 25 through October 31. In addition to the park’s regular attractions, guests can “check-in” to the kid-friendly SCAREbnb haunted funhouse, find their way through a corn maze, go for a hayride, go trick-or-treating, attend a Halloween dance “spooktacular,” and more. All of the activities are included with regular park admission.
Knott’s Scary Farm - Knott’s Berry Farm
WHERE: Buena Park, California
Who wouldn’t want to go to a haunted theme park? Knott’s Scary Farm has the requisite haunted houses, scare zones, and spooky shows, but you can also ride a haunted attraction. The park’s Timber Mountain Log Ride takes on a sinister “Halloween Hootenanny” alter ego with decor, music, and a few scary surprises. In addition to the festive Halloween foods available at the event (including a funnel cake topped with various candy body parts), you can dine with monsters at the Knott’s Scary Farm “Boo-fet.” The event takes place on select nights September 16 through October 31.
Oogie Boogie Bash - Disney’s California Adventure
WHERE: Anaheim, California
In Tim Burton’s 1993 film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Oogie Boogie is portrayed as a giant sack full of bugs and we can’t think of a more fitting (or gross) mascot for Disneyland’s after-hours Halloween party. Oogie Boogie Bash takes place select nights in September and October and includes sweet-but-spooky treat trails, villainous Disney characters like Agatha Harkness from WandaVision and Sid from Toy Story, plus parades and more. The Avengers Campus ride Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! transforms into Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark with just as many free falls and a rockin’ throwback soundtrack just like on the original ride, but with a few more monsters to fend off.
Note: Tickets are currently sold out for this event, keep an eye out as they sometimes add more.
Fright Fest - Six Flags Over Texas
WHERE: Arlington, Texas
On select nights from September 11 through Halloween, guests of Six Flags Over Texas can face their worst fears during Fright Fest. Like other parks, there are family-friendly offerings during the day and then the monsters come out at night. There’s original haunted houses (three of which are new this year), scare zones, and live shows. Some of the park’s most popular attractions even get chilling makeovers, including the Scarousel and the Terror Train. Fright Fest admission is included with regular admission, but you will need to purchase a Fright Pass to experience the haunted houses.
Halloween Haunt - Kings Island
WHERE: Mason, Ohio
Kings Island’s annual Halloween Haunt event hits all the major fears like creepy circuses, creepy corn mazes, and creepy wax museums. They do this with a mix of houses and scare zones, but if you need a break during your visit, many of the park’s coasters and other rides stay open during the event. There are also two musical shows and restaurants around the park that you can escape to as needed. Halloween Haunt takes place Friday and Saturday evenings from September 24 through October 30.