Too old to trick-or-treat? Busy the night of Oct. 31? That’s OK, because Halloween has become a seasonal holiday, with attractions and activities for all ages from late September through early November.
Many cities now have local haunted house attractions, community zombie walks and ghost tours. Amusement parks small and large revamp for the month of October with faux graveyards, haunted trails and actors dressed like freaks. Some attractions – like Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights – are so creepy they are not recommended for guests under 13.
Other entertainment venues – from Disney parks to zoos, museums, aquariums, and even indoor water parks like Great Wolf Lodge resorts – host Halloween events geared to younger kids.
“Haunted and seasonal theming is growing in popularity not only for theme parks and amusement parks, but also at water parks, zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers and family entertainment centers,” said Colleen Mangone, spokeswoman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. “So families have a lot of choices for celebrating the Halloween season at parks and attractions.”
Here’s a sampling of attractions, experiences and events around the country that take place around Halloween or are themed on the holiday.
Get ready for the end of the world if you’re planning to attend New York City’s Village Halloween Parade. This year, the theme for the event is the Mayan calendar, which ends on Dec. 21. The annual parade draws 2 million spectators and 50,000 participants – many of whose costumes will vary from the official theme – and stretches from Spring Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue, starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31.
A few signature events celebrate that hallowed Halloween symbol, the pumpkin. The granddaddy of pumpkin-throwing contests, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin, is scheduled for Nov. 2-4, in Bridgeville, Del. And on Oct. 20, the streets of Keene, N.H., will be lined with carved, lit jack-o-lanterns at the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival.
From college campuses to main streets, zombie walks are held year-round, but many of them take place this time of year and are surprisingly family oriented, with little kids, teens and grown-ups alike donning bloody rags and feigning limps in homage to the living dead. Find one near you: www.zombiewalk.com/forum/index.php .
New Orleans’ annual Voodoo Music Experience – http://thevoodooexperience.com – planned for Oct. 26-28 in City Park, offers a mix of big names like Green Day and Neil Young plus local acts like the Lost Bayou Ramblers. This year for the first time, tent-camping will be available for concert-goers. Tickets start at $90 for one-day admission, $175 for three days, with packages for VIP, parking and camping. Though there’s no formal connection between the festival and Halloween, some people dress up and the concert vibe builds on New Orleans’ voodoo heritage.
Here are the top 13 haunted attractions from HauntWorld.com:
• 13th Gate, Baton Rouge, La.
• Netherworld, Atlanta
• The Darkness, Atlanta
• The Beast/Edge of Hell, Kansas City, Mo.
• House of Torment, Austin, Texas
• Cutting Edge, Austin, Texas