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Tips for Orlando Theme Park Halloween Festivals

Halloween Scream

Seasonal activities await at nearly every attraction, so here are some helpful tips for Orlando theme park Halloween festivals. Though Orlando may not experience the typical telltale signs of fall, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy Halloween and fall festivities, we just get to enjoy them in our shorts and flip flops! So our first tip is to pack some summer clothes. It can get very hot wearing a costume. Which theme parks allow costumes? Which attractions are kid-friendly? Which event is the most frightening? Here’s a quick rundown of the Orlando Theme Park Halloween Festivals and some tips to help you enjoy them!

If your child wants to trick-or-treat while vacationing in Orlando, you have 3 great alternatives:

  1. Walt Disney World’s “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” at Magic Kingdom
  2. SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular
  3. LegoLand’s Brick-or-Treat

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom

Disney's Halloween EventIn true Disney fashion, “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” at the Magic Kingdom is a great Orlando theme park Halloween festival. It is great for families with kids of all ages, especially if they don’t care to be scared. The park is filled with spooky (enough) characters and decorations, and children are encouraged to dress up and trick-or-treat at the many candy locations set up throughout the park. This is the one time of year guests can count on meeting their favorite villains and some less commonly seen characters, with Scar, Tarzan, Abu, and the seven dwarfs all on the list of characters that have been seen at this year’s Halloween party.

Hallowishes, Disney’s fireworks show, is a big draw for guests; the sky is lit up with fireworks as spooky tunes and villain anthems are broadcast throughout the park in a spectacle much unlike Magic Kingdom’s normal firework show. The “Boo-to-You” Halloween parade that runs twice during the event is also unique and entertaining to all ages, with gravediggers, ghost dancers, and fun fall-themed floats bringing something to the table for all ages to enjoy. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary runs on select dates between September 15th and November 1st. It is a separate ticketed event and is not included in regular park admission.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIPS: If your child is under 9 years of age, they are welcome to wear their own costume. Some restrictions apply, so make sure to read all of the details on their web site. Be sure and check out Cinderella’s Castle during the evening show. Special merchandise and food items are available only during this special event. Plan on spending extra money, because they are irresistible!

Sea World’s Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld Halloween eventSeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is a family-friendly Orlando theme park Halloween celebration. It too offers children the chance to dress up in their favorite costumes, trick-or-treat throughout the park and do many other Halloween themed activities. This event is definitely geared toward young children, with one of the main events titled “Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween,” which is hosted by characters like the Count Von Count and Elmo.

Other key events include “Penelope’s Party Zone,” where children can dance to the Halloween themed music broadcasted by a live DJ, listen to scary Halloween stories and do other fun activities. This event is great for families with younger children, with its range of activities, child-friendly spooks, and fun characters. Sea World’s Halloween Spooktacular is included with your admission and runs on select weekends throughout the month of October.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIPS: Enjoy a Spooktacular breakfast (additional fee) at a special Dine with Shamu Spooktacular Brunch. This is a very fun and memorable meal for the entire family.

LegoLand’s Brick-or-Treat

halloween legoland floridaThe third alternative for trick-or-treating at Orlando theme park Halloween festivals is at LegoLand Florida. The annual Brick-or-Treat takes place only on weekends in October. Your children can enjoy trick-or-treating and super brick build activities. Who wouldn’t want to see a 12-foot long LEGO Hearse? Halloween entertainment and an all-kids costume contest with brick-tastic prizes are also offered. During this time of the year, the water park is still open on weekends, so tickets are a great value.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: LegoLand is not open every day during October, so be sure to check their site prior to planning your trip. The world’s largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern will be there, which makes a great backdrop for a memorable family photo. This Halloween event is perfect for children 12 years and under, especially if they like to build things.

Orlando Theme Park Halloween Events for Older Kids & Adults that LIKE to be Scared

For older children, teens and adults that like to have the living daylights scared out of them, there are two alternatives at Orlando theme park Halloween festivals – Tampa’s Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. If staying in Orlando, HHN is your best scare. If you aren’t spooked by the sometimes “terrifying” drive on I-4 to Tampa, then Howl-O-Scream offers a pretty frightening experience.

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream

Howl-o-Scream

Starting September 25 and running through the end of October, Busch Gardens features their annual Howl-O-Scream event on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30 pm to 1:00 am. This year’s event features “Unearthed,” a mysterious buried house which has been opened to the public (one of 7 haunted houses). Tickets at this Central Florida theme park Halloween event vary, as there are many “evil” upgrades.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Download an event map before you get to the park, so you will know where the haunted houses are and can attend the frights high on your list. Expect long lines at Falcon’s Fury. Thursdays and Sundays are less crowded. This event is not recommended for children.

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights

This event is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure! In fact, this Orlando theme park Halloween festival is not recommended for anyone under 13. There are also no costumes or masks allowed. They are not needed; it certainly will be a night filled with horrors for anyone brave enough to attend. Guests at Universal Orlando HHN should be prepared to be chased by blood-covered doctors with chain saws or clowns that will make even the bravest of people shudder. This event boasts nine haunted houses, five scare zones, and two Halloween themed shows, making the terror pretty hard to avoid. If you love scary movies and haunted houses, this is definitely the Orlando Halloween event for you. Halloween Horror Nights runs on select nights between September first and November first.

ORLANDO TOURIST TIPS: Be sure to attend Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. It is great FUN. Ticket prices vary with several upgrade options. Be sure to look for special passes on sponsoring products and at many local fast food restaurants.

Tips for any of the Orlando Theme Park Halloween Events:

  • If you have little ones, a daytime visit to any theme park is fun, however, if you want the scary screams and thrills, night-time is the best time at some parks, without the kids. Not all of the rides will be open, but it is still a good value.
  • While the weekends are still rather busy, you can find some of the best theme park ticket deals during the week. Open hours may be shorter, but so are the lines for the rides. Instead of spending a good portion of your day standing in line, you can enjoy the entire theme park in less time. You will not need the extended hours – unless you want to add in the frights!
  • Be sure to plan your Halloween visit to the theme parks based upon the level of fright that you can withstand. If you do not care for the frights, go during the day and enjoy the smaller crowds and Halloween decorations. It is a great time to visit the theme parks.
  • If you want to avoid Halloween altogether, consider spending the evening enjoying an Orlando dinner show such as Capone’s Dinner & Show. They offer a special treat without any tricks. If you want to dress-the-part and wear a fedora or boa, they sell cheap costume accessories which can really make the evening fun.

This is a great time of the year to visit the parks and attractions. Special event tickets can extend a fun day into a frightful night you’re sure to remember. Each park has something unique to offer. Whatever Orlando theme park Halloween event you may attend, be safe and enjoy.

Disney World Star Wars Weekends

If you are a Star Wars fan, you won’t want to miss out on this yearly event at the Orlando theme park, Disney World Star Wars Weekends.

Storm troupers at Disney World Star Wars Weekends

 Disney’s Hollywood Studios Star Wars Weekends begins May 15 and continues through June 14. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during this period, park guests can see actors from the six motion pictures and see more than 60 Star Wars characters roaming throughout the theme park. There are many meet-and-greet opportunities, so keep your camera handy! This special event is truly a celebration of all things Star Wars.

This year’s event welcomes a new show, “Star Wars: Rebels.” There will also be new locations for autograph sessions and merchandise. Of the new items to note are several Star Wars luminaries making their first hyperspace jump to Disney World Star Wars Weekends.

One of the biggest draws for this event are the Star Wars celebrities that attend. Bringing his evil prowess to Disney World Star Wars Weekends for the first time, actor Ian McDiarmid, Senator/Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars movies, will kick off the first weekend, May 15-17. Of course the dark side is never present without a beacon of light, so actor Frank Oz, the voice of Yoda in the Star Wars movies, will make his first event appearance the weekend of June 12-14.

Other celebrity guests scheduled to appear at Disney World Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars WeekendsMay 15-17:
• Ian McDiarmid: Senator/Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
• Amy Allen: Aayla Secura (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
• Tiya Sircar: Sabine Wren (Star Wars Rebels)

May 22-24
• Warwick Davis: Wald, Wicket W. Warrick (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
• Silas Carson: Ki-Adi-Mundi, Nute Gunray (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith)
• Vanessa Marshall: Hera Syndulla (Star Wars Rebels)

May 29-31
• Warwick Davis: Wald, Wicket W. Warrick (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
• Daniel Logan: Boba Fett (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones)
• Steve Blum: Zeb Orrelios (Star Wars Rebels)

June 5-7
• Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace)
• Jeremy Bulloch: Boba Fett (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
• Ashley Eckstein: Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars; Star Wars Rebels)

June 12-14
• Frank Oz: Yoda (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; Star Wars: Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi; Star Wars Rebels)
• Ray Park: Darth Maul (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace)
• Peter Mayhew: Chewbacca (Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith; Star Wars: A New Hope; Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
• Taylor Gray: Ezra Bridger (Star Wars Rebels)

If you are traveling from a galaxy far, far away, be sure to get your tickets early. Your regular park admission is included for this special event, however, some opportunities require a FastPass ticket. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you have a child between the ages of 4 and 12 years of age, be sure to sign up early and let them have the chance of becoming a Jedi! Visit the ABC Sound Studio early in the day and reserve their spot in the Academy. The capacity is limited, and only 12 Padawans are selected for each show throughout the day. It creates a special memory for any jedi-wanna-be!

Star Wars Jedi Training

Disney World Star Wars Weekends is a fun experience for all ages. While enjoying the fireworks, celebrities and special shows, you’ll know the force is with you and make memories for light years ahead. For more information, visit DisneyTheForce.com.

Busch Gardens Celebrates Global Tiger Day

Tiger Day at Busch Gardens

Photo Credit: Connie and Carl Pulvermacher

For the second year in a row, Busch Gardens has hosted a celebration around Global Tiger Day. This year, on July 29, 2014, guests attending this Central Florida theme park will be able to meet Tiger Keepers and participate in fun activities dealing with these large cats. What’s even better is that a portion of proceeds when buying tiger-related merchandise goes to the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

As few as 3,200 tigers live in the wild today. That is due in part to the fact that they have lost 97% of their habitat. Several tiger conservation efforts are supported by the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund in an effort to help preserve their habitat and prevent poaching.

One of the species included in the conservation efforts are the Malayan Tigers. Last year three cubs were born at Busch Gardens raising their population to 63. Attending this theme park and seeing these beautiful cubs can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Although they are no longer cute and little, these cubs will soon be old enough to do their own part to help protect their species. The Malayan Tiger cubs named Cinta, Bundar and Rukayah are part of the Species Survival Program (SSP). The SSP promotes a healthy managed tiger population, and even hopes that in the future, some of these tigers could be reintroduced into the wild.

Look for Busch Gardens to participate in this event year after year. The theme park participates in over 120 Species Survival Programs, which you can learn more about through their blog. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: If you love elephants, be sure to purchase tickets to this theme park and attend it on August 9 when they will be celebrating their own special date for World Elephant Day.

Get Frozen This Summer in an Orlando Theme Park

The weather may be hot and tropical, but at this Orlando theme park, you can escape it all and find yourself in a land of frozen fairy tales. It all has to do with Disney’s Hollywood Studios Frozen Summer Fun Live event starting July 5 through September 1, 2014. The popularity of the movie “Frozen” is alive and well this summer in Orlando and being celebrated by numerous special events and offerings.

Disney's Frozen

The following special events will take place:

• Anna’s & Elsa’s Royal Welcome: At 11 a.m. each day, Anna and Elsa’s royal procession down Hollywood Boulevard will take place. Riding in a horse-drawn sleigh, Kristoff will join them, along with skaters, skiers and ice cutters. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The procession ends with a special moment on the Sorcerer’s Hat stage.

• For The First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration: Be sure to check out the Premiere Theater for a 20-minute show featuring Princess Anna, Queen Elsa and the Royal Historians of Arendelle as they retell the history of their kingdom. You’ll be able to join in a sing-along to the popular songs from the movie’s soundtrack. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: At the end of the performance, a few guests are chosen as “Honorary Citizens of Arendelle.” This special show is presented daily at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

• Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post & Frozen Funland: Inside Soundstage One, Oaken and his cousins have created a perfect way to escape the Florida heat. This “Frozen Funland” is a winter wonderland where guests can make the most of a sudden snowstorm and enjoy a plethora of winter activities. Go ice skating, watch ice carving demonstrations and sip on hot cocoa. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: This is a great opportunity to have your photo taken with characters from the movie.

• Take-Along Olaf: Speaking of photos – If you are a recipient of a “Take-Along Olaf” be sure to hashtag #OlafSummerVacation when sharing your photo through social media. Your photo may appear on the big screen at a special pre-show event that takes place every evening before the fireworks show! ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: You may pick up your own take-along Olaf at the Sorcerer’s Hat Icon Stage.

• Coolest Summer Ever Dance Party: Every evening from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. a DJ and live band will play on stage to celebrate the Frozen summer fun. Dance to contemporary songs and a few film favorites. Save some energy though, the night is not over yet!

• Frozen Fireworks: Each evening, the giant Sorcerer Mickey Hat on Hollywood Boulevard gets the full Frozen treatment with special projections of snow and ice images. Set to the film’s soundtrack, the fireworks show features special guests, including an appearance from Elsa in which she will show how her powers flurry “through the air and to the ground” to produce magically icy blue and white gleaming fireworks. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: The Frozen Fireworks time will change from 9:45 p.m. each night to 9:15 p.m. from Aug. 17 to Sept. 1. Fireworks will not happen on Aug. 23, because of the Villains Unleashed special-ticket event at the Orlando theme park.

If you are looking for a cool way to enjoy an Orlando attraction this summer, be sure to experience a ‘Frozen’ visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Most of the activities are included with park admission. Theme park ticket deals can be found on Disney’s web site or any reputable theme park ticket reseller’s site. Stay cool this summer!

Busch Gardens Event – Sidewalk Safari Nights

Busch Gardens Sidewalk Safari Nights

Many Florida residents are pass holders to local theme parks. It allows the best bargain for theme park tickets. With the attractions so close, it is easy to spend a day, or a night, at the park. Tonight and tomorrow (and next weekend), if you hold an active Busch Gardens Tampa Fun Card or a yearly pass, you can enjoy Sidewalk Safari Nights. It is Busch Gardens exclusive member appreciation event.

June 13 & 14 and June 20 & 21, Busch Gardens Pass and Fun Card members can ride the coasters, get an up-close look at some of the animals and get a special behind-the-scenes look at Iceploration & Burn the Floor: Untapped from 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The Wildlife Docs will also be meeting guests. ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: We think next weekend, June 20 or 21, offers a better value. Busch Gardens will be showing off their summer fireworks. For the best viewing locations, hang out around Gwazi Park.

If you are attending the Sidewalk Safari Night event, be sure to take part in these special offers and events:

  • Burn the Floor: Untapped at 8:00 p.m. at Pantopia Grill – learn some fiery dances!
  • Iceploration event at the Moroccan Palace at 9:00 p.m. – discover the tricks and backstage stories of how this show is able to be performed multiple times every day.
  • Stop by the Animal Care center to meet and visit with the Wildlife Docs
  • Starting at 7:30 p.m. save 20% on food and beverage items, including craft beer!
  • If shopping at the Painted Camel Bazaar, you’ll receive a free fashion bracelet with a purchase of $12 or more (just show your pass).

If you are not a member or pass holder, summer is a great time to purchase one. The children are out of school so having an annual pass to your local theme park can really make summer fun. Not only will you get to go to fun events like this, a pass also gets you unlimited admission, free parking and other rewards. For more information, visit buschgardens.com/pass or call 1-888-800-5447.