Neighborhood trick-or-treating is so 20th century.
These days, you aren’t limited to one afternoon or evening of celebrating. Whether you want to bed down in a haunted hotel, treat your teens to an evening of fright at a theme park, or take the kids trick-or-treating at your favorite zoo or museum, Halloween is way more than knocking on door, asking for candy.
And these days, you aren’t even limited to October.
Check out the Taking the Kids Fall Getaways Guide for more ideas.
You’re helping others while having fun with ghosts and ghouls because many family attractions like “Boo at the Zoo” in Kansas City, MO and the adult geek-chic “Spirits & Skeletons” party at the Houston Museum of Natural Science use the holiday to raise funds for their year-round educational missions.
Of course there’s no greater Halloween action than at theme parks, whether you’re four or 14.
Both Disney parks kicked off the holiday fun on Friday the 13th last month – when Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim get into the spooky spirit for one long day. Parties hosted by the most evil characters take place nightly from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., making it a fun evening out for couples, friends and older teens.
Disney World’s immensely popular Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (from Sept. 10-Nov. 1) and Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland (from Sept 13-Oct 31) are both bigger than ever before. Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade runs twice each night in Orlando, and a Monsters U Dance Party takes over Anaheim.. (The Halloween parties require extra admission.)
SeaWorld’s Spooktacular in Orlando and San Diego, provides special Halloween shows and the chance for your younger kids to strut their stuff, showing off their costumes while dancing with life-sized, but not-too-scary, sea creatures. It’s all in the regular admission price.
You will need special tickets for Knott’s Berry Farm’s “Snoopy’s Costume Party” in Southern California, where your little witches, princesses and ghosts can sing and dance along with the Peanuts gang in Camp Snoopy. At night, there’s the famous “Scary Farm Haunt;” five of its 11 cornfield mazes will be brand new for the four-week fright fest in 2013. (Not recommended for children under 13.)
Weekend nights through October, The 13 Howl-O-Scream transforms three Busch Gardens theme parks – in Tampa Bay, Williamsburg and SeaWorld San Antonio -- into the ultimate scare adult zone with 13 evils out to ruin your night. Before dark, the parks host a costumed array of very family friendly fare.
Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights promise to deliver more sophisticated and scary Halloween frights based on “American Werewolf in London,” “The Walking Dead” and other horror movies than ever before. The masters of cinematic special effects use both the Orlando and Holllywood theme parks to house bloodthirsty beasts, entertain haunted souls, and allow special ticket guests into way-too-scary haunted houses. (Not recommended for anyone under 13 and scaredy cats in general).
The 19 Six Flags welcome younger kids during the day to the Spooky Kooky Magic Show and the Monster Maze on weekends through October. At night, there are scare zones, terror trails, haunted mazes and even zombies out to play.
Got your costume ready?
Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.