Ghost stories? Check.
Haunted mansions? Check.
Crazy cat ladies and gnomes on the moon? Check, and check.
Halloween in South Florida is both spooky and kooky this year, with ghoulish encounters, blasts from the past and kid-friendly events in store. Here are some events that will keep your hair raised throughout the weekend.
Spooktober at Zoo Miami
At Zoo Miami, there’s a little something for everyone — parents, kids, even the tigers.
It all starts with Dr. Wilde’s Creepy House, open now through Halloween Day.
“It’s pretty creepy,” said zoo spokesman Ron Magill. “There’s some really frightening things in there and some disgusting things in there.”
Prepare to meet your worst fear at Dr. Wilde’s, for every room in the haunted house has its own theme. Plain old monsters don’t send chills down your spine? Don’t worry, there’s either a demented butcher, a crazed cat lady or a ravenous zombie waiting just around the corner. And for the germaphobes? A roach-infested kitchen and grotesque bathroom await.
Magill assures that nobody leaves the haunted house without screaming at least once, and although he says, “I wouldn’t bring my 6-year-old kid into it,” he’s seen some daring young ones brave it before.
Dr. Wilde’s will be open during Spooky Zoo Nights, an after-hours Halloween event on Friday and Saturday. Families can take spooky tram rides, ghoulish carousel rides and listen to chilling stories around a fire pit.
And for the younger ones, there’s Zoo Boo on Saturday and Sunday during the day. Children 12 and under can trick-or-treat in costumes and make arts and crafts while learning about wildlife.
Naturally, the animals also get in on the fun.
“Tigers don’t like pumpkins, but they love the meat we jam into the pumpkins,” Magill said. “So the tigers tear into the pumpkins we give them.”
Halloween at Miami Children’s Museum
For kids with an artistic streak, the Miami Children’s Museum offers art gallery trick-or-treating and a variety of arts and crafts activities throughout the week where kids can get wicked with slime, have fun with Glinda the Good Witch’s bubbles or create their own Picasso portraits.
In the Science Lab, kids can experiment with touch boxes that hold creepy objects like “monsters eyeballs” or “brains.” Spooky surprises lie behind each wall in the maze-like haunted house, but even the littlest member of the family will be able to enjoy them.
“The experience is adapted to meet the audience,” museum CEO Deborah Spiegelman said.
Sunday will be another Halloween Bash, followed by Monster Monday and Tarantula Tuesday. The celebration will culminate with Wicked Wednesday on Halloween Day. The museum’s galleries will be open during the festivities.
Haunted House at Curtiss Mansion
Paranormal more your thing? The ghost stories surrounding Miami Shores’ Curtiss Mansion come to life this weekend with haunted mansion tours and mystery cocktail receptions.
Prepare to go back in time at this one. The year is 1925 and the hot topic is aviation.
Glenn Curtiss, who lived on the property from 1925 to 1930, was considered the father of naval aviation after he invented the seaplane . Curtiss was also the first person to receive a pilot’s license in the United States.
Legends say Curtiss murdered his family, which event coordinator Mariel Ruiz says is not true, but she doesn’t deny the mansion gives off its own eerie vibe.
“We had a ghost hunter spend the night here a few years ago, and even they left very puzzled,” Ruiz said.
Rest assured, Ruiz added. The energy is a good one, and the history of the mansion will come to the forefront of the ghostly tours.
“Its going to be eerie and a little creepy, but it’s not going to be gross and gruesome,” Ruiz said.
Beam Me Up at Studio 743
Fast forward a few decades and you’ve arrived at ‘Beam Me Up,’ a space-age celebration for the party people in the room.
The folks at SuperMarket Creative are back with their 7th Annual Era-Themed Halloween Bash. Last year, the setting was London circa 1888 for a Jack the Ripper-themed party called ‘Oh Jack.” This year recreates the late 1960s and takes you to the moon and back.
Disco balls, LED lights and inflatable furniture will set the scene, along with retro-galactic and futuristic live video, mixed with a Tron-like art installation by the TM Sisters. DJs Ess & Emm, Mister Drake, Lolo, Bonnie Beats and The Kid will be spinning.
“The venue we’re putting it on at has a very ‘Jetsons’ feel,” said event organizer Michelle Leshem. “It’s very reminiscent of something spacey, so we thought it would be perfect.”
For those with astral aspirations, make a landing on the moon – sort of. A photo backdrop illustrated by Jessy Nite will serve as a background for the event’s costume contest.
“We’re going to make it very extraterrestrial,” Leshem said.
Pose next to some aliens, or maybe even a garden gnome. Anything goes.