Fall Travel

Welcome to October! Halloween Haunt Round Up

When you have kids October is synonymous with one thing … Halloween!  Since today is the official start of this favorite month for families, we’re highlighting big, spooktacular events happening around the US.

When Halloween falls on a weekend, it’s scary how many great events there are to choose from. Museums, amusement parks, even zoos get into the spooky spirit. Plan ahead, with so much to see and do, you’ll need all that sugar to keep the family moving.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween

Whether you’re a fan of Disney World or not, you have to admit they throw a great party! Halloween is no exception. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is held on Halloween and other select dates September through November. Kids of all ages are encouraged to dress up in their Halloween costumes.

Once inside you hit all the attractions as you trick-or-treat around Magic Kingdom. It’s a kid’s dream, really. And as a parent, it’s a great way to see the Magic Kingdom. The party is held at night from 7pm-12am, so you have less time, but there are also less people, so moving about just seems easier. The night my family went, we did all the major rides (in many cases twice), without ever waiting in line, and we came home with more candy than the kids could carry. Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade is a great excuse to find a seat and give little legs a rest. Using all sorts of decorations and special effects Disney does a great job of transforming the park into what they call “happy haunted hollows.”

Throw in the fireworks and Disney Characters in their Halloween costumes, and the night is complete. The party is mellow, and “Not-So-Scary”, so all ages should enjoy.

Mickey’s Halloween Party

Disneyland has the Southern California take of celebrating Halloween. Some of the more popular rides get a spooky make over. There’s Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, the Haunted Mansion Holiday and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror just to give you an idea. On select nights, the park throws Mickey’s Halloween Party. Just like in Florida, kids of all ages dress up in costume and trick-or-treat their way through the park.

Boo at the Zoo

Fall is a great time to visit the nation’s capitol. Why not include some Halloween fun for the kids? A few nights in late October the Smithsonian National Zoological Park holds “Boo at the Zoo.” Lions and tigers and bears – they all get tricked when kids show up dressed up as wizards and witches. There’s plenty of candy and plenty of animal encounters they’ll still be talking about long after the sugar rush is gone. Activities are geared toward children ages 2 to 12.

Creature Features

September and October bring the best weather to the San Francisco Bay Area, so Halloween festivities are plentiful. The hours until it’s time to hit the streets on Halloween can drag on forever, so this year, I’m thinking of taking my kids to Creature Features at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Kids and grown-ups are invited to haunt exhibits in costume. Along with the must-see favorites, some creepy crawlers are scheduled to make guest appearances. Giant insects, tarantulas and yes, blood sucking leeches. I feel a Halloween science lesson in the works. Those with weaker stomachs can decorate sugar skulls or visit the Graveyard of Dead Science Ideas.

Film buffs should find their way through the dark McBean Theater to watch some frightful animation flicks from the early 1930s. The Halloween marque includes frightful flicks (ok, maybe not so frightful) like Betty Boop’s Halloween Party and Mickey Mouse’s Lonesome Ghosts. Even better, all the movies will be projected in 16mm film!

Hauntings on the Hudson

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York is gearing up for a spooktacular Halloween. The USS Intrepid’s “pumpkin patch” will be in full production. Kids can pick their own and paint the perfect face, then watch and learn as a master pumpkin carver creates a piece of Halloween art for the Intrepid out of a 500 pound pumpkin. Bring the kids in costume and admission to the museum is 50 percent off — sweet for parent’s pocketbooks.

Spooky Seas

What goes through the mind of a beluga whale when he sees a 5-year-old dressed as a tiger? Who knows, but it’ll make for fabulous photos when you take the kids to Shedd Aquarium’s annual Spooky Seas Family Overnight. The family Halloween celebration gives kids and parents a chance to test out their costumes before the big night.

Get up close and personal with animals after dark, and then hit the dance floor before diving in for a great night’s sleep. Thinking you’d rather sleep soundly in your own bed? No worries, families can have a ghostly good time and then go home by the light of the moon.

Photos courtesy of Amie O’Shaughnessy and Dana Rebmann

Relevant Links:

Pumpkin picking in the San Francisco Bay Area

Fleet Week in San Francisco (October 7-12 this year!)

Apple picking around Boston

Apple and pumpkin picking outside of New York City

10 great fall family getaways

Lessons from 2009 pumpkin patch visit

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  • Halloween is one of the most awaited events for my kids. Actually, I have already made a design of the going to be costumes and they are already excited to wear it. This time they will be wearing an all black angel like costume.

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