amusement parks for Halloween

Getty/Sandy Huffaker

Quick notes:

  • No matter where you live, there are plenty of entertaining Halloween events going on between September and November.

  • You can opt for a legitimately scary Halloween experience or a family-friendly evening.

  • Events include scare zones, parades, live shows, mazes, and more!

It’s all about Halloween the moment October rolls around. Orange colors, sweet candy, and scary decorations turn an average U.S. neighborhood into a festive one. You might see jack-o’-lanterns on the front lawn, kids dressed in various costumes, or paper ghosts hanging from trees. It’s a spooky time of year. 

Have you ever considered going to an amusement park for Halloween? It’s an alternative way to participate in the celebrations and mix things up. Places like Knott’s Berry Farm turn into terror-filled attractions, while Disney World throws a not-so-scary Halloween party. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure or a scream-worthy experience, we’ve rounded up the best amusement parks to celebrate Halloween.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

Universal Studios in Orlando, Hollywood, Singapore, and Japan throws a huge Halloween celebration. The theme park transforms into a spooky attraction from September to November. Universal Studios in Orlando will have 10 terrifying haunted houses and five legitimate scare zones in 2019. Watch out! Scareactors, as they’re called, hide behind corners and prowl the streets to give you the ultimate fright. When you’re done crying, Halloween Horror Nights hosts not-so-terrifying live entertainment throughout the park to settle your nerves. Consider yourself lucky if you still have a voice by the end of the night. Be warned: Halloween Horror Nights may be too intense for young children.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World 

amusement parks for Halloween, Disneylandamusement parks for Halloween, Disneyland

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World. It’s a festive and fun event for the little ones. The festivities begin in August and continue for various weekends through Nov. 1. Be sure to catch the Boo-To-You Halloween Parade and Happy HalloWishes fireworks to put you in the Halloween spirit. There’s also all-ages trick-or-treating, character meet and greets, and exclusive snacks and treats within the park. You’ll hear more laughs than screams at this Halloween party.

Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween

Knott’s Berry Farm turns into one of the most terrifying experiences in Southern California for Halloween. It’s not your average chase-you-with-a-chainsaw kind of scare. Oh no, it’s more realistic than that. Lurking around Knott’s Scary Farm are over a thousand spooky creatures ready to cause a deathly scream. Don’t get lost in the Pumpkin Eater maze or you might find yourself running for your life. There is also a comedy and magic show that hosts masters of illusion who will totally blow your mind. Knott’s puts on a realistic nightmare from September to November. This experience isn’t recommended for children under 13.

Harvest Festival at Dollywood

For a more wholesome Halloween celebration, consider Harvest Festival at Dollywood in Tennessee. From September to November, the park turns into a colorful extravaganza with a southern flair. The Great Pumpkin LumiNights is one of the main attractions. Thousands of carved and illuminated jack-o’-lanterns are featured as artistic sculptures and whimsical scenes. You’ll even find tasty fall-themed food at Harvest Festival, such as pumpkin funnel cakes and candy corn cotton candy. The park also hosts glow-in-the-dark face painting, master pumpkin carvers, and character meet and greets. You’ll see more smiles than tears at this theme park. 

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens

You’ll encounter a scary Howl-O-Scream event at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and in Tampa. Both host a frightful night. The parks celebrate Halloween with creepy clowns, haunted asylums, scare zones, escape rooms, and never-ending mazes. For 2019, Busch Gardens in Florida is celebrating 20 years of fear, so you can expect surprises lurking around every corner. With attractions called Simon’s Slaughterhouse and Insomnia: Patients’ Revenge, you’re bound to have a sleepless night. Howl-O-Scream runs from September to November and is purchased as a separate ticket to the theme park. 

Halloween Haunt at Kings Dominion

If you think clowns are scary, wait until you encounter a corn stalker at Halloween Haunt in Kings Dominion in Virginia. The park promises the fright of your life with attractions like Necropolis, a cemetery creeping with zombies, and Trick or Treat, a halfway house for wayward souls. Are you brave enough to make it through the 400 monsters that lurk around every corner of the park? Your screams may not be heard. Halloween Haunt is an annual event that happens from September to November.

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point in Ohio claims to be fun for everyone. It hosts a Great Pumpkin Fest for the kids and Haunt for the adults. The Great Pumpkin Fest is perfect for families as it includes daytime fun such as trick-or-treating with the Peanuts gang, a Halloween-themed parade, the Magical House on Boo Hill, and indoor mazes without the scary parts. Haunt, on the other hand, includes terrifying rides, mazes, live shows, and scare zones. Attractions like Fearground Freakshow and Deprivation may give you nightmares. Both experiences at Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends run from mid-September through October. Admission is included with a theme park ticket.

Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld

SeaWorld in San Diego and Orlando hosts a Halloween Spooktacular from September to October. It’s a kid-friendly daytime event that includes a Sesame Street Halloween Parade, a Halloween dance party, and a trick-or-treat trail throughout the park. Plus, you have friendly aquatic animals to entertain you! Unlike other amusement parks, SeaWorld allows children to dress in their Halloween costumes. Don’t forget the camera for this Halloween Spooktacular!

amusement parks for Halloween
amusement parks for Halloween
Getty/Mark Ralston

Fright Fest at Six Flags

Six Flags in Texas, Georgia, St. Louis, New Jersey, California, and Illinois throws a Fright Fest event that will have you running for the hills. The Six Flags amusement park in New Jersey includes a terrifying theme called Aftermath that plays on a deathly disease breakout over the entire park. Your mission is to survive in this postapocalyptic world and dodge the disease. Yikes! Each Six Flags location is filled with its own versions of haunted attractions, scare zones, live shows, and thrilling rides during the Halloween season.

Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood

Kennywood amusement park in Pennsylvania hosts a scary Halloween event. At Phantom Fright Nights, you can opt in to a Pre-Scare Dinner, where you’ll experience a frightening feast before the park opens. After they fatten you up, the real fear begins. Kennywood’s Halloween even includes an IT 4-D experience, six haunted houses, four scare zones, and one escape room. Phantom Fright Nights runs from the end of September through October.  

A deeper dive — Related reading on the 101:

How exactly did trick-or-treating start, anyway? Find out the fascinating history here!

Need costume inspiration before heading to your nearest amusement park? We’ve got you covered!

Halloween’s not just for frights and trick-or-treating. It can be a great day to invest your money, too.