Be warned: If you wander into the Death Water Bayou, you may fall victim to the Voodoo Queen and her Zombie servants, who transform lost visitors into her minions of evil. And you better stay away from Momma’s Basement, or she and the Butcher will make a secret sauce — out of you!
These are two of the new haunted houses that will chill visitors during Busch Gardens’ annual Halloween attraction, Howl-O-Scream. On select autumn evenings, Busch will transform its 335 acres into a frightful quagmire of Halloween-oriented horrors. You may run into the walking dead, demented deviants, werewolves, vampires and other sinister creatures as 13 evil beings “take over” the Tampa park.
Florida’s other theme parks also stage special Halloween experiences.
Universal Orlando, whose annual Halloween Horror Nights is one of the nation’s largest, this fall is erecting eight haunted houses for terror-seeking visitors. Among them are grisly adventures based on several horror movies — Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London and Cabin in the Woods. Also new will be a haunted house based on the video game series “Resident Evil” in which guests encounter bloodthirsty zombies, packs of Cerberuses (hellhounds with multiple heads) and even Nemesis himself.
Deliberately less frightening is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which will run for 23 nights at the Magic Kingdom. Legoland also puts on less chilling Halloween doings for its young visitors, and SeaWorld’s Spooktacular confines its Halloweenish activities to daytime.
Halloween presentations at Busch Gardens, Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are separately ticketed night events. Those at SeaWorld and Legoland are daytime events included in regular park admission.
Beyond the theme parks, dozens of special Halloween-themed activities are planned all over Florida.
A number of zoos, for instance, have “Zoo Boo” activities suitable for families. Among them are the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, Jacksonville Zoo, Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Palm Beach Zoo and Zoo Miami.
For a list of haunted houses, mazes, pumpkin patches, petrified forests, spook walks and the like in Florida, click on www.flori da haunted houses .com.
Here’s a rundown on the theme park events:
Several all-new scare zones will threaten guests, and creatures of the night will perform nightly in “Fiends,” a deranged dance party.
Dates for Howl-O-Scream are Sept. 27 and 28; Oct. 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26. General admission is $89, but advance purchase and special offers can reduce the cost as much as $39. No costumes allowed. www.HowlOScream.com.The Walking Dead
For the first time, all street experiences will stick to a single theme, The Walking Dead, with its hordes of flesh-eating walkers roaming the West Georgia Correctional Facility, Atlanta and Hershel Greene’s dismal barn.
In another addition, Horror Nights will bring to life the Mexican legend of La Llorona and her tale of murder, tragedy and fatal love.
Halloween Horror Nights dates: Sept. 20-21, 26-29; Oct. 3-6, 10-13, 16-20, 23-27, 31; Nov. 1-2. Prices vary by date and day of week. Florida resident price starts at $42.99 for a single night with advance purchase and certain UPC codes. General admission $91.99. Multi-day tickets, hotel packages and other options available. www.hallo ween horror nights .com/ orlando.The Nightmare Before Christmas Monsters, Inc.
Young guests will enjoy Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween parade featuring the Headless Horseman, as well as orange and green fireworks.
Guests are invited to don costumes and go trick-or-treating.
Party dates are Sept. 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 and 29; Oct. 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29 and 31; and Nov. 1. Cost varies by date, ranging from $54 to $68 for ages 3-9, and $59-$73 for ages 10 and up. www.disney world .com/ halloween.
Spooktacular dates are Oct. 5-6, 12-13, 18-20 and 26-27, noon to 8 p.m. Except Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast, activities are included in park admission. www.sea world parks .com/ en/ sea world-or lando/ spook tacular.
Brick-or-Treat takes place Saturdays and Sundays in October, closing at 7 p.m. on Saturdays, 5 p.m. on Sundays. No extra cost; activities are included in admission to the park. http://florida.legoland.com/en/Plan/Special-Events/Brick-or-Treat/.
Several new hotels have opened or are about to open around Florida:The Pearl, Rosemary Beach: 850-233- 6405 Alfond Inn, Winter Park: 407-998- 8090 Aloft Orlando: 407- 380- 3500
SHORT TAKESwww.wet n wild orlando .com