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Taking the Kids: Halloween comes early, especially at theme parks

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Got your costumes ready? Halloween is more than a month away but theme parks, zoos, resorts, haunted houses — and hotels — are already welcoming your little (and big) ghosts, ghouls and princesses.

Yes, there are COVID-19 protocols — think reduced capacity and masks (an especially good idea with the Delta variant surging). You will also need to book reservations in advance.

But the good news is that organizers promise these popular events are back and better than ever, and you should be able to visit safely, if being scared out of your mind is your idea of Halloween fun.

The popular Terror Tram, featuring “The Ultimate Purge” and scary “Halloween4” is back at Universal Studios Hollywood. If you can’t get in all the scares in one night, get a multiple night ticket!

If you’re brave enough, book into a haunted hotel like the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, that became famous after Stephen King set his novel “The Shining” (and the subsequent movie) there.

The historic Jekyll Island Club Resort in Georgia offers Macabre Tales tours all October – many believe the hotel is haunted by long ago guests and workers.


There are also plenty of not-so-scary options for the youngest in your gang. (our new Taking the Kids Guide to Fall Getaways has lots of options).

For those with younger kids (and indoor water park aficionados) Howl-O-Ween is back all October at Great Wolf Lodges around the country.

Some events are an annual tradition — like San Antonio's Day of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos the largest celebration of the dead anywhere outside of Mexico. Events last all of October and take place across the city. Translated literally as “Day of the Dead,” this Mexican cultural tradition is a celebration in which family welcomes back departed loved ones, sharing the joys of life with them.

Orlando certainly is geared up. And fall typically offers some of the best hotel deals of the year. Besides the theme parks, there are Halloween events at museums (October is Spooky Science Month at Orlando Science Center), monsterific crafts at Crayola Experience, a year-round Halloween bar (Cocktails & Screams features scenes from Dr. Frankenstein's lab, with themed cocktails to match). Even gators get into the act with Gators, Ghosts and Goblins at the popular Gatorland.


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