The Washington Times - October 15, 2008, 12:12PM

By Jacquie Kubin, Donne Tempo Magazine

The night air becomes cooler, the trees change their colors, and Halloween ghosts and ghouls beckon.

The prospect of a night of trick or treating was something to look forward to all year long, but today’s Halloween celebrants are being lured to local zoos and theme parks for a night of sometimes scary, and other times not so scary, fun.


Family at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween, Disney World, Florida (Photo by Jacquie Kubin)

A favorite Allhallows Eve celebration haunt for the entire family is Florida’s Walt Disney World and its Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

For the purists, there is plenty of trick or treating as, bag in hand, parents and children alike keep their eyes open for Goofy’s Candy Stands, but the real fun is in partaking of the Disney-themed fun.

Haunted Mansion takes on a new scary edge that makes this classic Disney ride extra-fun for all, while a personal favorite is the rollicking Disney Villains musical show staged outside Cinderella’s castle.

Staying in touch with their inner children, parents, along with their children, step out in costume, an event that becomes even more fun when you stop for a break at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Parade.

Here, the party gets started with nonstop fun as Stitch and his friend get together for a bit of rock ‘n’ roll merriment as children shake their tail feathers with Donald and Goofy.

Do not miss the “Boo to You” parade. Dancing ghouls using shovels to make sparks are great entertainment.

Cinderella’s Castle at Halloween, Disney World, Florida (Photo by Jacquie Kubin)

Cinderella’s castle becomes quite spook-tacular as a Disney-villainous soundtrack plays and ghosts and goblins swoop and soar over the brick walls.

Fireworks signal the end of the night for tired children — and parents, both of who have had a truly remarkable Walt Disney World experience.

Parties for the rest of this month are scheduled for October 16, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31. For more information, visit the Walt Disney World site.

Not to be outdone by its Florida park, California’s Disneyland hosts Disneyland California’s Spooktacular Celebration, where Jack Skellington is your host!  

Featuring grinning jack-o’-lanterns and a scary trip to the Twilight Zone at Hollywood’s Tower of Terror, Halloween Haunt includes ghosts frolicking through a snow-covered graveyard to create macabre Christmas trees.

For more Disneyland fun, join Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Party, with themed rides, attractions, plenty of bone-moving music and a character cavalcade to make this Halloween unforgettable.

For the bigger kids who enjoy a really good scare, Paramount’s Kings Dominion is a great place to be.

The dimly lit park becomes a giant haunted house with creeps and creepies, made all the more believable thanks to movie magic.

Ghoul at Parmount Kings Dominion (Photo by Jacquie Kubin)

For those with extreme courage, the mazes are the place to be.  These are not for the small or fainthearted.  With names such Toxic Plague, Big Top Terror and Club Blood, there is plenty of goo and gore, and well-costumed creepies, around every corner.

There are a few tamer events, too.  Evira’s Supersition takes brave-enough folks on a virtual roller-coaster ride through a screeching, screaming journey to the underworld.

Watch the schedules and don’t miss the ghoulish stage show at the front of the park. Audience participation makes it all the more fun.

For more information, visit Kings Dominion

At Universal Studios, Orlando, Halloween Horror Night 18 promises more bone chilling scare, screams, scare zones and haunted houses.

With the power of Universal Studios behind them, the art and makeup teams at this theme park fright fest is nothing showof first class.   With over 1,000 “scareactors” wearing prosthetics that turn them into the urban legends and myths that nightmares are made of, visitors are guaranteed a screaming good time.

(Photo courtesy Universal Studios, Orlando)
This year’s theme, Urban Myths and Legends, has at the center Bloody Mary and Reflections of Fear.  Based on the myth of Dr. Mary Agana, a psychiatrist, visitors will find themselves peering into a mirror and invoking her name three times – “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary” until they bring this doctor of fear back to help them face what scares them the most.

Universal Studios, Los Angeles, California Halloween Horror Night turns to the tried and true masters of fright, Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and hockey-masked Jason Voorhees.

This event is not suggested for children under the age of 13 or me.  The thought of this trio running loose through the backlot of Universal Studios – well, it’s a thought I don’t want to have.

You can find more scream fests and thrill factories at:

Southern California’s Knotts Scary Farm, The Halloween Haunt at Kings Island near Cincinnati or Valley Fair near the Twin Cities in Shakopee, Minn., where Paramount Entertainment has created mazes and offers events aplenty.

Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., is the oldest continually operated theme park in America (since 1846), so it might be hard recognizing the real ghosts from those just in costume.  This extravaganza features the Haunted Graveyard complete with Zombie Forest, Hell Holler and Castle Vampyre.

For more theme-park Halloween party information, Google search “Theme Park, Halloween and your state.”

Zoos across the country are hosting fun halloween events without the human shrieks and shrills. 

The National Zoo in Washington hosts Boo at the Zoo.  With more than 40 treat stations, animal encounters, keeper talks and festivities galore, this is a great way for the entire family to find their inner animal.
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
in Fort Wayne, Ind., features a Halloween festival including a fun-filled ride on the Eerie Express Train through the Haunted Woods.

The Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio, brings back Little Boo at the Zoo on Oct. 23 and 24. Pumpkin Path is open Oct. 25 and 26.

The Denver Zoo‘s Boo at the Zoo party has an ecological theme that will offer close encounters with some of Earth’s creepier inhabitants, such as vampire bats and spiders on Oct. 25 and 26.

The Louisville Zoo hosts the World’s Largest Halloween Party with plenty of treats, costumes and characters Oct. 16-19 and 23-26.

For a Halloween zoo party near you, Google search “Halloween, Zoo and your state.”