Fiery-colored leaves and shorter days mark the beginning of fall. But in the Sunshine State, the leaves aren't turning...but signs of autumn are everywhere.
All you have to do is follow the screams.
Orlando, Fla. is the “Theme Park Capital of the World” but its quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for Halloween fanatics as parks roll out the red-- or should we say orange-- carpet with plenty of themed events.
The area has over 130 Halloween theme park event dates over a two month period. Visitors can choose their level of fright from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney’s Magic Kingdom to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios to Bush Gardens Howl-O-Scream in Tampa.
This year, the theme parks are focusing on thrills from big screen blockbusters like "The Excorcist" to cult classics on the small screen like "American Horror Story."
Ready to get really, really scared in Florida? Check out the top scariest attractions this year:
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT
Halloween Horror Nights 26 is back again this year at Universal Orlando Resort. Fans say its tagline--“bringing nightmares to life for hair-raising entertainment”-- rings true every season. This year there are nine all-new haunted houses, featuring characters from fan favorites like “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and the popular television show “American Horror Story.” HHN runs select nights now through Oct 31st.
American Horror Story FX Haunted House: This gore maze brings to life three bone-chilling chapters from the popular AMC series. “What’s really cool about it this year is that they’ve combined three seasons of horror stories,” says Logan Sekulow from ScareZone podcast. “The maze really immerses you into the storyline with the creepy clown jumping out at you and getting right up in your face. If you are a fan of the series then it’s awesome and if you are not it’s just as cool and scary. There’s a lot of screaming in the darkness.”
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Haunted House: This attraction is based on the classic horror film starring a mentally impaired cannibal wielding a chainsaw at its victims. “This attraction brilliantly recreates scenes from the original masterpiece, placing well-known characters from the film and putting you right into the action,” says John S. Sala of the park fansite World of Universal. “From the roaring of the chainsaws to the shrieks of frightened guests, 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' sends chills up your spine that leaves you begging for more.”
The Walking Dead AMC Haunted House: Walk through a blood thirsty maze of six seasons based on the post-apocalyptic world of hungry zombies in AMC’s critically acclaimed show. “I was waiting to go into a black a room and someone started breathing down my neck and it was one of the undead! I never stopped screaming. This maze is absolutely terrifying,” says travel writer Kyle McCarthy of My Family Travels.
The Exorcist Haunted House: Chris Ripley, author of “The Complete Survivor's Guide to Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 2016” says this haunting maze overcomes you, “The fact that the UK ban on this movie was just lifted back in March should tell you just how terrifying this attraction is. You walk through the recreated house shown in the film and into the scene where the possessed girl is vomiting. The walls are covered in pea soup, mattresses are hanging from the ceiling with vomit covering everything. A barf smell is even infused into the air while hearing a convulsing sound. It’s absolutely terrifying...I loved it!”
WALT DISNEY WORLD
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party takes place at WDW’s Magic Kingdom from now until Halloween. The party offers a friendly Halloween event with rare villain meet and greets, boo to you parade, trick or treating and fireworks. Though this party is geared towards families, there are at least two attractions that will thrill the older set.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios: Check into the Hollywood Tower Hotel and step into the Twilight Zone. This classic ride takes you through a dilapidated haunted hotel and into an elevator stuck in another dimension. “This is a classic Disney attraction perfect for Halloween says Kim Anwar of Magic Family Getaways. “Whenever I think of this ride my stomach drops and my knees get week. This ride is everything you want for a scare including the creepy Twilight Zone theme music.”
The Haunted Mansion at The Magic Kingdom: Ride a Doom Buggy through a supernatural tour of haunted chambers, casket filled conservatory, a chilling seance room and a ghostly graveyard. Jeff Baham founder of Mickey Mouse fansite mousetalgia.com calls it one of Disney's best rides. “Disney's Haunted Mansion takes a grim storyline - a sea captain who hangs himself from the rafters of his own home - and turns it into a celebratory party, or a "swinging wake," as the Haunted Mansion's "Ghost Host" puts it. This perfect blend of very dark elements with wisecracking humor and sight gags makes the Haunted Mansion a haunt without equal, and sets it apart from the typical gross-out haunted house.”
Howl-O-Scream 2016 Evil Encore at Busch Gardens is Tampa Bay’s premier Halloween event. Just a quick trip outside Orlando, it’s worth the visit as the haunted houses, demon dolls, unexpected frights and creepy characters will haunt your dreams long into the holidays. The event runs now through Oct. 30th.
Motel Hell Haunted House: Check into one of Bush Garden’s new haunted houses this year, Motel Hell. The deserted motel is haunted by its previous owners and no visitor is safe from it’s evil. “This haunt combines the innate creepiness of an abandoned motel with a dose of humor in just the right proportion,” says Barb Nefer from The Orlando Examiner. “My heart was racing from the first scare because I had no idea when the next ghoul would pop out of hiding. I was also boggled by the mask room, as it seemed so random among the hotel set and the blank eye holes and disembodied faces freaked me out. There was really no way to feel safe until I finally staggered out at the end.”
Happy Halloween haunting!