Horror tricks and Halloween treats are big attractions around the Tampa Bay area and throughout Central Florida, with the fun starting up early this year at a number of attractions.
Industry analysts are predicting a record Halloween season due in part to pandemic fatigue.
Many family-friendly events encourage the kids to come in costume. The more intense horror attractions advise you to leave the kids at home.
Here are some of the Halloween-themed attractions that are lurking in the area.
Busch Gardens Spooktacular: During the day, the new Spooktacular brings a friendly witch-in-training named Kandy. She will lead story time, and costumed kids can join in a parade at the Festival Walkway. Bring a bag to collect goodies at the trick-or-treat stations. It runs from Sept. 10-Oct. 30 from noon to 4 p.m. on weekends. Included with admission. buschgardens.com/tampa.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party: The separately ticketed Halloween party returns to Disney’s Magic Kingdom after a two-year hiatus with themed fireworks, parades, trick-or-treat stations, live shows and themed foods. It is the only time guests can wear a costume at the theme park. While the actual festivities begin at 7 p.m., event guests are allowed into the park as early as 4. Tickets are $129-$169 at disneyworld.disney.go.com.
Haunted Tours: The Pirate Water Taxi on the Hillsborough River will offer 45-minute cruises with ghost tales from Tampa’s eerie past told by costumed storytellers. Departure times are 7, 8 and 9 p.m. select days Oct. 7-30. Tickets are $30, $20 for ages 2 to 12. 333 S Franklin St., Tampa. 813-233-7999. piratewatertaxi.com/events/haunted-tours.
ZooTampa Creatures of the Night: This year’s event welcomes the Swamp Witch, a mysterious new resident who spends her nights mixing potions and conjuring spells in Florida’s murky swamps. There are also family-friendly haunts, animal encounters, a dance party, live shows and date night-worthy food and cocktail items. It runs select nights Sept. 30-Oct. 30. Children 12 and younger are encouraged to wear costumes. $34.95 for nonmembers. 1101 W Sligh Ave., Tampa. zootampa.org/creatures-of-the-night.
Brick-or-Treat: The Monster Party at Legoland Florida includes Lego characters, live shows, a new 4D movie called “The Great Monster Chase” and, of course, candy. Kids are encouraged to wear costumes and join the costume parade. The event runs on select dates Sept. 24-Oct. 30. Included with admission at legoland.com/florida.
SeaWorld’s Spooktacular: During the day at SeaWorld Orlando there will be characters, cookie decorating, crafts, story time, trick-or-treating and more. Costumed kids visiting Spooktacular on Fridays can enter the Halloween costume contest. Purchase a reusable bag for $3.99 for trick-or-treating. All other activities are included with admission. The event runs select days from Sept. 17-Oct. 31. seaworld.com/orlando/.
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More intense scares
Howl-O-Scream: It’s the 23rd year for Busch Gardens’ annual separately ticketed horror show. There are five haunted houses and eight scare zones scattered throughout the park where scare actors are likely to sidle up beside you. There is also a live show called Fiends and Cirque X-Scream, as well as themed food and drinks. It runs weekends through Oct. 31. Tickets are $44.99-$66.99 at buschgardens.com/tampa.
Halloween Horror Nights: For its 31st edition, Universal Orlando makes use of star power and movie archives, with haunts starring chart-topping music artist The Weeknd and re-creations of scenes from the 1978 classic film “Halloween.” There are 10 haunted houses, five scare zones, two live shows, a terror-themed tribute store and a menu of themed foods and cocktails. It runs on select nights through Oct. 31. $73.00-$104.99 at halloweenhorrornights.com.
Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail: The I-4 Fear Park once again features three highly detailed outdoor haunted trails. The site also has laser tag, two new escape rooms and ax throwing in its common area. Admission $27-$37; escape games $5; laser tag $5 per game. Opens Sept. 30 and runs weekends through Nov. 5. 2837 S Frontage Road, Plant City. sirhenryshauntedtrail.com.
UnDead in the Water: A spooky apparition is haunting the American Victory ship at Sparkman Wharf in downtown Tampa. You’ll encounter scare actors and special effects while traveling through the cavernous cargo holds and open-air decks of the World War II ship. Recommended for ages 11 and up, it requires advanced ticket purchases for specific time slots Sept. 23-Oct. 29 at undeadinthewater.com. Sparkman Wharf, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa.
SpookEasy Lounge: Calling itself “the world’s most haunted kava bar,” the Ybor City lounge offers kava, botanical teas, coffee and nonalcoholic meads plus a limited food menu upstairs. Downstairs behind the secret passage door, their sister business The Catacombs offers cocktails and other spirits. “The new location is a former church which has been verified by numerous ghost investigators to be haunted,” organizers said. Children are welcome during the day, but it’s 18 and older after 6 p.m. It opens at 1 p.m. daily, and starting Sept. 12 opens at 9 a.m. daily at 1909 N 15th St., Tampa. spookeasylounge.com.
Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld: It’s the second year for the new nautical nighttime haunt at SeaWorld Orlando. There are five haunted houses, two of them new, seven scare zones and three live shows. Tickets start at $44.99 online and there are combo packages with sister park Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream at seaworld.com/orlando.