Harmless scares might be just what we need, so ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced that it will bring back its family-friendly Halloween series Creatures of the Night.
This year’s version will be mostly outdoors, “with enhanced health and safety measures to ensure safe family fun,” a zoo news release said. Capacity will be limited, visitors will have to make a reservation in advance and masks are required for the few indoor attractions that will be open.
The zoo’s announcement joins a mixed bag of Halloween options this year. Universal Orlando has canceled this year’s edition of Halloween Horror Nights, and Walt Disney World nixed its after-hours Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom. But Busch Gardens has said it will hold a socially distant version of its Halloween event, Howl-O-Scream, concentrating on open-air scare zones.
At ZooTampa, children 12 and younger will be allowed to arrive in costume for the event taking place for 11 select nights from Oct. 2-31 at the zoo at 1101 W Sligh Ave. in Tampa. Heavily themed areas will be turned spooky with decorations, lights, fog, mysterious music and sound effects.
The staging for a colorful cast of character actors and performers has been reworked to “naturally” create a six-foot distance with guests, said Alex Crow, director of entertainment productions for ZooTampa.
For example, the mermaid in the Siren’s Song attraction, where guests tour an underwater world, has been placed on a rock to create distance. And in a new spooky spider cave that becomes a dance party, the Spider Queen has been given a large throne to preside over the attraction from a platform.
This year’s event is themed around campfire tales and features several new outdoor Halloween experiences and spooky characters, the zoo said. Due to limited capacity, date-specific tickets and reservations with timed entry are the best way to guarantee admission.
Experiences such as campfire tales will be continuous throughout the night instead of on a timed schedule that creates crowd gathering, Crow said. Areas of the zoo will close every hour on a rotating basis for cleaning and disinfecting.
The fall harvest Pumpkin Palooza returns for the littlest kids to play among a pumpkin patch and scarecrows. And there will be some devilish foods and wicked cocktails created just for Creatures of the Night.
The event will be mostly Fridays and Saturdays in October, with one Thursday on the last week. Prices are $24.95-$29.95 depending on the day you go. Those who have a “Pay for a Day, Come Back All Year” ticket will be charged a $5 per person reservation fee, which will be reimbursed for a $5 food and merchandise voucher upon entry.
The new attractions this year are:
The Realm of the Spider Queen: Trek through a spooky spider cave and emerge at a high-energy dance celebration presided by the queen.
Siren’s Song: Enter the underwater world of the siren where she lures unsuspecting pirates with her song and transforms them to stone.
Camp Creepstastic: Experience the only “summer camp” that welcomes guests in the fall and is solely focused on telling creepy tales around the campfire.
Dinos Out of Time: Dinos are wreaking havoc in the modern-day world. Help the explorers take the dinosaurs back to their prehistoric time.
Pirate Party Pants: Usually dead men tell no tales, but these spooky pirates have plenty of stories to share. Join them for party full of games, dancing and a jolly time.
Clown Carousel: A caravan of clowns has set up residence around ZooTampa’s famous carousel. Enjoy a ride with silly pranksters.