Theme Park Tourist's round-up of Halloween events coming to theme parks around the world in October 2010, including Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt and Alton Towers' Scarefest.
Halloween celebration at theme parks have grown into huge annual events, and 2010 is set to see another huge range of inventively terrifying temporary attractions added to parks all over the world. In this preview, we'll round-up what you can expect to see during Halloween 2010 at some of the world's most popular parks.
The majority of Halloween events at theme parks are made up of a number of special "scare zones", "haunted houses" and "horror mazes". Scare zones are generally open areas of the park which are populated with live actors, such as an area that has been infested by zombies. Haunted houses and horror mazes, meanwhile, are enclosed areas which guests walk through in groups, usually experiencing a basic plot alongside a number of scares from live actors. In addition, many parks often give special Halloween "makeovers" to permanent attractions, and offer a number of horror-themed live shows.
For those with kids, it's worth noting that many Halloween events are targeted at adults and are not suitable for children. However, many parks do offer light-hearted Halloween fun for younger guests alongside the scarier elements, and in Disney's case its Halloween events are almost exclusively targeted at a younger audience.
2010's biggest Halloween events are summarised below. We'll continue to add to this list as further announcements are made in the build-up to the holiday.
Universal Orlando - Halloween Horror Nights XX
Dates: Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays between September 24 and October 31.
Ticket prices: $74.99 for basic admission (evening-only), other options available
The 20th iteration of Universal Orlando's wildly popular Halloween Horror Nights event will take place on September 24-25 and 30, October 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 20-24 and 27-31 at Universal Studios Florida. There are a bewildering number of ticket options on offer - we've summarised them in our recent article on Halloween Horror Nights XX tickets.
Universal's back-catalogue of horror franchises provides an almost unlimited number of iconic characters for use in Halloween Horror Nights' attractions, and the organisers don't shy away inventing new storylines either. This year's event will feature some eight new haunted houses, six new scarezones and two live shows. The event will be focused on "Fear" himself, who will use a number of minions to unleash terror on theme park guests.
The eight haunted houses will be: Horror Nights (based on the idea that Horror Nights is not just an event, but a reality), The Orfanage (based on a haunted children's home), Hades: The Gates of Ruin (set in hell itself), Psychoscarepy: Echoes of Shadybrook (set in an insane asylum for criminals), Havoc: Dogs of War (based on a military experiment gone wrong), Catacombs: Black Death Rising (set during a plague in 16th-century France), Zombiegeddon (continuing the story of a zombie apocalypse) and Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate (taking place on the haunted site of a multiple murder).
The six new scares zones will be: HHN: 20 Years of Fear (featuring the most frightening characters from previous Halloween Horror Nights), Fear Revealed (based on the central character for HHN XX), Zombie Gras (a Mardi Gras event gone wrong), Esquelto Muerte (a "glowing skeletal nightmare"), Saws 'n Steam (a hellish vision of the future in which human bodies are harvested for their water resources) and The Coven: The Cult of the Raven (home to a group of witches).
This year's live shows will be the returning Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure and Brian Brushwood: Menace and Malice, featuring the famous illusionist.
Walt Disney World - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party 2010
Dates: Select days, September 14-November 1
Ticket prices: $49-$54 (evening entry only, date-dependent)
In contrast to rival Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World focuses its Halloween celebrations on younger guests. In place of intimidating horror mazes, guests will find friendlier activities such as trick-or-treating with Disney characters and special parades and firework shows. The events will take place from 7pm to 12am on September 14, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28 and 30, October 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29 and 31 and November 1.
This year's event will feature the stars of the Haunted Mansion attraction in Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade, followed by the Happy HalloWishes fireworks show. Disney heroes and villains will wander the park in special Halloween costumes, while some areas of the park will be transformed into cheerful "haunted hollows".
Busch Gardens Tampa - Howl-O-Scream 2010
Dates: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, September 24-October 31
Ticket prices: $74.96 (entry after 5pm), online discounts available
The 11th annual Howl-O-Scream event at Busch Gardens Tampa will be centered on a band, My X, and lead singer Sylvie. The fictional singer is suspected of murdering both her boyfriend and a nightclub visitor, whose digits may feature on her necklace of human fingers. The events will take place on September 24-25 and 30, October 1-2, October 7-9, October 14-16, October 21-23 and October 28-31.
The first of this year's horror mazes to be revealed is Alone, which will see guests trying to escape from the warehouse of a deranged collector who has begun to hoarde people as well as artifacts. The name suggests that guests will spend at least part of their time in the maze on their own, rather than in a group as is standard in most horror mazes. Entry to Alone will not be included with Howl-O-Scream admission, and will instead cost an additional $24.95 if purchased online or $34.95 on the day.
SeaWorld Orlando - Spooktacular 2010
Dates: Weekends, October 9-31
Ticket prices: Free with general park admission ($78.95 adults/$68.95 children)
SeaWorld Orlando will run its annual Spooktacular Halloween events on weekends throughout October, providing a child-friendly option for those looking to celebrate the spooky holiday at a theme park.
Entry is included with SeaWorld's standard admission tickets, and the events will start at noon on Saturdays and Sundays (plus one Friday) throughout October (9-10, 16-17, 23-24, and 29-31). As in 2009, attractions will include trick-or-treating stations and special Halloween shows.
A DJ, interactive games and activities will be laid on in the "Frozen Fun Zone", which will feature sea creature characters such as Salt Water Taffy, Gummy Worm Wanda and Swedish Fish Suzy. Meanwhile, Sesame Street favorite Abby Cadabby will host her "Halloween Adventure", an 4000-square-foot outdoor pathway in which kids are tasked with helping Abby to find her magic wand.
The trick-or-treating activity at Spooktacular will be on a significant scale, with more than three million pieces of candy being held at more than a dozen locations. Kids can navigate to each station using a special treasure map.
SeaWorld Orlando will also be laying on some additional activities, which are subject to an additional charge:
- Count Von Count's Spooktacular Breakfast - a buffet breakfast with an array of Sesame Street characters, including photo opportunities. Available on select mornings at 8.30am and 10.30am.
- Cookie Decorating Station - a special station where guests can create their own Halloween-themed cookies, using a kit which is available for a small charge. A souvenir lunch box containing a jumbo sugar cookie, a range of toppings and milk or apple juice is included.
- SeaWorld’s Spooky Spectacular Sleepover - a special event held in the Manta aquariums, in which guests sleep surrounded by fish, rays and sea dragons. A pizza dinner and breakfast are included, at a cost of $73 per person (or $109 dollars included next-day park admission). The sleepover is only available for children in grades K to 5 and their families, and will be held from 6pm to 9am on October 15, 16, 22 and 23.
Universal Studios Hollywood - Halloween Horror Nights 2010
Dates: Weekends (including some Thursdays), September 24-October 31
Ticket prices: $59 (evening entry only), online discounts available
One of the world's leading producers of horror movies for decades, Universal Studios Hollywood is a natural home for a major Halloween event. Its version of Halloween Horror Nights will feature five horror mazes and six scare zones. Also returning will be the traditional "Terror Tram" makeover for the park's famous Studio Tour. The events will take place at weekends, including September 24-25, October 1-2, 8-9, 15-17, 21-24 and 28-31.
Among the horror mazes will be Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses (hosted in the former queuing area for Terminator 2: 3-D), Vampyre: Castle of the Undead, "Nightmare on Elm Street: Never Sleep Again" (featuring the legendary Freddy Krueger, who torments victims in their sleep). A maze based on the Friday the 13th movies is also believed to be in the works.
Few details have been released of the planned scare zones, but they are known to include one featuring the "Killer Klownz" - a group of rejected circus clowns who are "armed to the teeth and hell bent on YOUR destruction".
Knott's Berry Farm - Halloween Haunt 2010
Halloween Haunt at Knott's Berry Farm is one of the most highly-anticipated theme park horror events of every year. The 2010 event will feature some thirteen horror mazes, as well as the traditional annual version of the The Hanging comedy revue. The events will take place nightly from September 24 - October 31, excluding September 29.
The thirteen mazes will include three all-new ones: Sleepy Hollow Mountain (featuring the legendary Headless Horseman), Virus Z (set in a small town overrun by zombies) and Fallout Shelter (set in a nuclear bunker which has been closed for decades).
Three scare zones will be part of Halloween Haunt 2010, including: The Necropolis (featuring a city full of vampires), Carnevil (featuring terrifying circus characters) and Ghost Town (set in the park's famous Wild West area).
According to the LA Times, two new live shows will be added this year. Ed Alonzo, an illusionist who featured in Britney Spears' 2009 "Circus" tour, will present a magic and comedy show in the Charles Schultz theater. Meanwhile, in the Camp Snoopy Theater, the Street Drum Corps will present a musical performance using nothing but found objects.
Disneyland - Mickey's Halloween Party 2010
Dates: Evenings, September 24 - October 31 (except September 29)
Ticket prices: $49-$54 (evening entry only, date-dependent)
Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland is one of few Halloween events to be aimed at families with children. This year's event will relocate from Disney California Adventure to Disneyland Park, due to the immense popularity of the new World of Color show at the former park. The events will take place on October 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 and 31, with Tuesday night events running from 6pm-11pm and events on Fridays and Halloween itself taking place from 7pm-12am.
In addition to "trick-or-treating" throughout the park and a rare chance for guests to dress up in costume, Disneyland is expected to give a number of its attractions Halloween "makeovers" for the holiday. These are likely to include a special version of the Haunted Mansion, and a "Ghost Galaxy" overlay on the Space Mountain rollercoaster. The dressed-up rides are open to all visitors during daytime operations.
The Halloween Screams fireworks display which debuted last year will be exclusively shown during the Mickey's Halloween Party events in 2010. This is a change from 2009, when the show was also put on for regular Disneyland guests.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Howl-O-Scream 2010
Ticket prices: TBC
Busch Gardens Williamsburg has released little information on Howl-O-Scream 2010 to date, but fansite BGWfans.com has been able to confirm details of the the planned attractions. The entire park is set to be converted into one large scare zone, although specific themes will still apply in each "hamlet". A total of seven horror mazes, four shows and four minor attractions will complete the line-up.
England will play host to a Victorian funeral, The Wild Reserve will be infested by spiders, Festhaus Park will host "The Field of Screams", Italy will be home to "Bewitched & Bewildered" (which is likely to feature a witchcraft theme) and a path beside Escape to Pompeii will be dubbed "Pathway of the Ancients" and overrun by mummies. For children, the Sesame Street Forest of Fun will be home to "The Lighter Side of Halloween".
Alton Towers - Scarefest 2010
Dates: October 16-31
Ticket prices: £6-9 for horror mazes, from £30.40 for theme park entry
Alton Towers' Scarefest 2010 will run from October 16-31, and as in previous years will see the park staying open until 9pm every evening. This will give guests a rare chance to experience the park's rides in near-darkness, before heading to two horror mazes located outside the park which stay open for several additional hours. Entry to the horror mazes is subject to an additional surcharge, which in 2009 was £6 each or £9 for a combined ticket.
As in previous years, Scarefest will feature a mix of adult horror mazes and family-oriented entertainment. The major new addition for 2010 will be the Carnival of Screams, which is expected to be a circus-themed horror maze. It will replace the popular Field of 1000 Screams, the zombie-infested maze which featured during the last two Scarefest events.
Returning from 2009 will be The Boiler House and Terror of the Towers. The Boiler House sees guests terrorised by two escaped serial killers, and is located outside the park itself in the grounds of the Alton Towers hotel. Terror of the Towers, meanwhile, takes guests inside the historic gothic mansion that lends the park its name, where they encounter a series of demon-like characters.
Also making a repeat appearance at Scarefest 2010 will be the Trick or Treat Doors, a minor family-oriented attraction. Meet-and-greets with Halloween characters Skelvin and friends will also be available, along with the child-friendly Skelvin's Haunted Adventure.
For the first time since Scarefest 2007, the park will offer special "Trick or Treat" rooms at its on-site hotels, which will include hidden surprises for guests to search for. Free scary movies and goody bags for children will also be provided, although guests will have to pay a higher rate than for standard rooms to receive the Halloween-themed experience. Die-hard horror fans after an authentic experience can go one step further when staying at the hotels, with Scare Rooms also being available. These promise to keep guests awake for much of the night, with unexpected scares designed to keep them on their toes.
Thorpe Park - Fright Nights 2010
Dates: October 8-10, 15-17, 22-31
Ticket prices: £40 (discounts available)
Thorpe Park's annual Fright Nights Event will take place on select days from October 8-31, and will feature four temporary horror mazes in addition to the permanent SAW Alive maze which operates year-round. The park is offering a 2-for-1 discount on advance tickets ordered by October 1.
Image © 2010 Thorpe Park
The park will be open until late during Fright Nights, allowing guests to ride attractions such as SAW - The Ride in the dark. The four live-action horror mazes have all been seen in previous years, and will be:
- The Curse - set in a wrecked ship which has "washed ashore" in the Amity Cove area of the park.
- Se7en - a gory maze based on the seven deadly sins (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride). Located in the park's arena.
- The Asylum - set in a maze of chicken wire fencing, with escaped mental patients terrorising guests.
- Hellgate - located at behind X:\No Way Out, themed around a haunted stately home.
Hong Kong Disneyland - Haunted Halloween 2010
Dates: Thursdays-Sundays, September 16 - October 31
Ticket prices: HK$350 (adults), HK$250 (children) - includes daytime entry
Hong Kong Disneyland has enthusiastically embraced the Halloween tradition since its opening five years ago. Its Haunted Halloween 2010 event will run from September 16 through October 31, and will feature themed attractions, a new parade and an all-new fireworks show.
Main Street USA will undergo a makeover to become "Ghost Town", with spooks wandering the street. At different points throughout the day, "Ghostly Gatherings" will occur as the deceased townsfolk emerge into the street. Adventureland, meanwhile, will become a Tribal Burial Ground during the evenings, with zombies wandering the streets. Villain Maleficient will host the Inferno Dance Party, featuring a number of Halloween-themed hits.
Which Halloween events are you planning on attending this year? What are you looking forward to most? Let us know using the comments section below.