Halloween season may be somewhat overshadowed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but many Florida attractions are still getting in on the spooky fun.
Several theme parks have canceled their Halloween events because the popularity of such events would draw crowds and give little opportunity for social distancing. Others have greatly modified their attractions to better adhere to health and safety guidelines from health experts.
And while trick-or-treating in neighborhoods is still up in the air for many families, there are still plenty of places to celebrate the season in Tampa Bay and Central Florida.
Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream
The Tampa theme park will have its annual Howl-O-Scream event this year -- but with some major modifications. The biggest: no haunted houses. Instead, the fright fest turns the park into one giant scare zone with roving monsters and creepy characters.
Reservations are required for the event, as the park has capacity limits since reopening. Face masks are also required for all guests.
Don’t worry, the fan-favorite “Fiends” show will return at a new, more spacious venue at the Festival Field Stage.
Howl-O-Scream runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays starting Sept. 25 through Nov. 1.
For tickets and more information, head here.
Halloween at Universal Orlando
Halloween Horror Nights was supposed to celebrate its 30th anniversary this year, but the coronavirus pandemic had other plans. However, Universal Orlando is still celebrating three decades of the original Fright Nights by transforming the popular Tribute Store into a highly-decorated and themed exhibit and gift shop.
The store, in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, is even set up like one of the event’s haunted mazes, with each room themed after a character or house from past iterations of Halloween Horror Nights. The final room recreates iconic scenes from “Beetlejuice,” including the graveyard and stairwell snake. There’s also throwback merchandise and a mini-bakery of Halloween themed desserts.
Social distancing and face mask mandates are in place at the Tribute Store and throughout Universal Orlando. Visiting the store is included with park admission. You can also shop for Halloween Horror Nights merchandise online.
For just two days -- Sept. 19 and 20 -- Universal will have two pop-up HHN-level haunted houses in the Studios park: Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. That same weekend, kids can also trick-or-treat around Islands of Adventure for free.
More information about seasonal events and theme park tickets here.
Halloween at Disney World
Disney World canceled its annual Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party because of the pandemic, but for the first time, parkgoers can wear costumes into Magic Kingdom. There are rules, however, and costumes are only allowed to be worn for a certain period of time. Face masks are required for all guests, but costume masks are not allowed for adults, only children 14 and under.
As for other fall activities at Disney, there will be a Halloween-themed cavalcade, fall treats and merchandise, spooky Photo Pass options and the classic Mickey pumpkin wreaths decorating Main Street. Disney even put out a foodie guide to fall and Halloween treats and where to find them at each park.
The “fall fun” starts Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 31. It’s included with regular park admission.
Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City opened its haunted destination on Sept. 11 with new terrifying attractions and new health and safety procedures in place.
Capacity is cut in half, masks are required and everyone will undergo temperature checks before entering the park.
This year’s event has six haunted houses, zombie paintball and a creepy midway. The newest attraction is Ravenhill Asylum, an interactive attraction that lets visitors choose to either explore the asylum and watch the action or “mark” themselves to possibly be sent to hidden rooms, removed from their group or forced to remain “with the creatures within.”
Tickets start at $21.95. The event runs select weekend days in September and every day in October.
RELATED: Scream-A-Geddon gets ready to open
Legoland Brick or Treat
Brick or Treat at Legoland Florida in Winter Haven touts itself as the “ultimate kids Halloween celebration.” And, it’s all included with regular park admission.
The event marks the return of character experiences at the theme park and includes Lego classic monsters like Rockin’ Frankenstein, Mummy and Lord Vampyre. Brickbeard will also be making appearances. There will also be performances of The Groovin’ Graveyard and A Candy-Coated Curse and neighborhood-style trick-or-treating from 1-5 p.m. on Brick or Treat days.
Throughout the park, there are also Halloween-themed Lego builds like a 280,000 brick hearse, and 10-foot Lego ghost and a giant Lego pumpkin.
Brick or Treat days are Oct. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18, 24-25 and 31.
More information and park tickets here.
Gaylord Palms Goblins and Giggles
Starting Sept. 11 and running through Oct. 31, Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee will have family-friendly Halloween weekends. Activities include spooky animal encounters, a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt, moonlight movies at the resort’s pool and meet and greets with Spookley the Square Pumpkin.
New this year is the Castillo de San Marcos ALIVE experience, which has live storytellers recounting ghost stories of old Florida. Also, the SpookEasy has themed cocktails and “ghostly artwork procured by owners past.” The SpookEasy is rated PG-13, Gaylord said.
The resort has special packages for the event starting at $189, which includes a scavenger hunt booklet and tickets to the Castillo de San Marcos experience.
More information and room bookings here.
SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular
Like sister park Busch Gardens, SeaWorld is bringing back its Halloween festivities with some important health and safety changes. The daytime event Halloween Spooktacular returns weekends Sept. 19 through Nov. 1 at the Orlando park.
The event is included with park admission and allows kids to dress up in their Halloween costumes and trick-or-treat around the park while still social distancing. New this year is the Halloween Maze for kids and adults. For the Trick-or-Treat Trail, guests are asked to buy a new reusable bag in order to keep trick-or-treating contactless. Spooktacular upgrades include cookie decorating with Cookie Monster and Count von Count's Spooktacular Breakfast.
SeaWorld is also hosting Flicks & Frights drive-in movie nights on Saturdays through Oct. 31. Kid-friendly movies are at 7:45 p.m. with scarier films showing at 10:30 p.m. Flicks & Frights is $40 per car and is available to purchase without visiting SeaWorld.
More information about both events and park tickets here.
Scream and Stream
Dubbing itself "Orlando's ultimate socially-distanced Halloween event," Scream and Stream offers a kid-friendly contactless trick-or-treat trail, haunted airboat rides and a scary movie experience that lets you "drive your car into a horror movie and witness it come to life all around your vehicle."
Both the trick-or-treat drive and drive-thru haunt are available weekends Sept. 25 through Oct. 31 at the park in Kissimmee. Both start at $56 per car. The haunted airboat rides are $25 per person and depart between 7 and 10:30 p.m. on event nights.
All weekends have appearances by the event's icon character, the Fog Queen, who you can interact with on a socially-distance stage inside the Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures Park.
The Haunted Road
Central Florida has another contactless Halloween event this year: The Haunted Road. The drive-thru haunt runs select dates Sept. 25 through Nov. 7 with certain nights designated "family-friendly" and others restricted to those 18 and up.
The family-friendly event is during the day and includes a drive through the Enchanted Forest to meet favorite fairy tale creatures. There's also storytelling, music and treats. The event is about 30 minutes.
For the adult event, guests will drive and park their car at each scene containing live actors, set pieces, props, lighting, sound and visual effects. The Haunted Road experience tells the story of Rapunzel "as she ventures into a world of disarray filled with twisted creatures, bloodcurdling encounters and screams for anyone that dares to take a drive down the road."
General admission for both events start at $15 per person.
ZooTampa Creatures of the Night
ZooTampa brings back its annual Halloween event on 11 select nights Oct. 2 through Oct. 31. Creatures of the Night is mostly outdoors and this year will have new health and safety measures, including social distancing, mask requirements and limited capacity.
The family-friendly event is themed around "campfire tales" and features six new outdoor experiences: The Realm of the Spider Queen, Siren's Song, Camp Creeptastic, Dinos Out of Time, Pirate Party Pants and Clown Carousel. Returning favorites include popular villains from fairy tales, the Pumpkin Palooza fall harvest and a pop-up area of Halloween themed food and drinks.
The event runs 4-10 p.m. select nights Oct. 2-31. General admission tickets start at $24.95.
UNDead in the Water at American Victory Ship
Even though this event has guests traipsing in and out of a World War II era cargo ship docked in Tampa, the crew behind UNDead in the Water promises a safe and sanitary experience for all. The haunted ship maze returns Oct. 2 for 11 select nights through Halloween.
This event is not for kids, as it's a haunted escape room (ship) with terrifying zombies roving about its 60,000-square-feet of cargo holds and upper decks. Brave guests will have to "avoid being eaten by the infected zombie stowaways while the Ripper Squad Decontamination Crew fights for humanity's very survival."
Ticket start at $15. Capacity is limited at the American Victory Ship at 705 Channelside Drive in Tampa.
More information here.