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Tampa area attractions offer seasonal Halloween frights

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Published:   |   Updated: September 27, 2013 at 07:25 AM

It still may be too early to plan your Halloween costume, but it's not too early to channel your inner ghoul or goblin.

Florida theme parks already are serving up some frightening fun and surprises for Halloween.

Haunted mansions, ominous forests, scare zones, spooky coasters in the dark, and not-so-scary parades are just some of the ways you can get your fright on.

Some of the events are kid-friendly, while others are designed to scare the bejeebers out of you.

 

Howl-O-Scream

Busch Gardens, Tampa

Howl-O-Scream returns for its 13th year, bigger and better than before. Intrepid visitors will travel through an abandoned casino and try to avoid becoming prey to carnivorous beasts, come face-to-face with the flesh-eating inhabitants of the Zombie Mortuary, and try to survive 13 evil superstitions in a 3-D tent of horror run by deranged clowns.

For an additional fee, thrill-seekers can explore three new interactive haunted houses that will take them from the depths of a basement kitchen (and try to avoid ending up in a special sauce) to the eerie bogs of the Bayou, where “The Voodoo Queen” practices her black magic.

Event info: Tickets start at $55; Thursday to Sunday, through Oct. 26; www.howloscream.com and 1-888-800-5447

 

Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando

Now in its 23rd year, this fright-fest is the granddaddy of Florida theme-park Halloween events, topping the list of horror attractions each year. There are eight new terrifying haunted houses, including three spine-chillers — “The Cabin in the Woods,” “An American Werewolf in London” and “Evil Dead” — designed in collaboration with the films' creators.

Other hair-raising houses include “Urban Legends: La Llorona,” “After Life: Death's Vengeance” and “Havoc: Derailed.”

A haunted house inspired by AMC's popular series “The Walking Dead” is back for a second year, and the theme park is dedicating its entire street experience to the zombie-driven drama, filling the streets with hordes of blood-thirsty walkers looking for their next victim. This event is intense and aimed at teens and adults.

Event info: Tickets start at $91.99; Thursday to Sunday, through Nov. 2 plus Oct. 16 and 23; www.halloweenhorrornights.com

 

ZooBoo

Lowry Park Zoo, Tampa

This family-friendly event won't give your little one nightmares. Children ages 11 and under are invited to dress up for a ghoulishly good time that includes five hair-raising haunts, seasonal displays and lights, mysterious music, a specialty gift shop, night rides and eerie adventures for “monsters” of all ages.

The newest haunt, “French Quarter Phantoms 3D,” explores the secret and sinister side of one of one of the “most haunted cities in America” — New Orleans.

The haunted attractions are designed to provide a frightening experience for those who want one without depicting violence or gore. A “skull” rating system — from one to seven — will help you gauge the fear element for little ghouls and goblins.

Event info: 7 p.m.; preview tonight and Saturday ($12); Oct. 4-5; 11-13, 18-20, and 24-27; $18 adults, $14 children age 3 to 11 with discounts for zoo pass holders; www.lowryparkzoo.com/zooboo

 

Guppyween

Florida Aquarium, Tampa

Ghosts and fish combine for one night only.

Come dressed in your best costume and roam the aquarium while enjoying trick-or-treating from tank to tank among more than 20,000 sea creatures. There also will be live entertainment, treats, hands-on projects and lots more fun to keep mini-ghouls entertained.

Event info: 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 27; $5 for kids in costume, $15 adults; www.flaquarium.org and (813) 273-4000.

 

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista

Mickey, Minnie and all their friends don Halloween costumes for this special event at the Magic Kingdom that is already happening on select nights.

Families are encouraged to come in costume for a spook-tacular party that includes a “Disney Villains Dance Mix and Mingle,” featuring some of Disney's favorite film baddies; Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, with an appearance by the Headless Horseman; a spooky sing-off featuring Disney villains such as Cruella de Vil and Jafar; and trick-or-treating stations set up throughout the park.

Event info: Tickets start at $59 for adults, $54 ages 3 to 9; tonight and Sunday, Oct. 3-4, 6, 10-11, 14, 17-18, 20, 22, 24-25, 27, 28, 31 and Nov. 1; www.disneyworld.com/halloween

 

Brick-Or-Treat

Legoland, Winter Haven

Enjoy safe and family-friendly Halloween festivities each Saturday and Sunday through October. Ghouls, ghosts and goblins descend on Miniland USA, transforming it into a haunted adventure with a scavenger hunt in search of these scary creatures that have invaded the park's famous cities.

This spooky, kooky event also features trick-or-treating along the brick-or-treat trail, build your own Lego model activities, the largest Lego Jack-O-Lantern in the world, Halloween entertainment and an all-kids costume contest with prizes.

Event info: Tickets start at $66 for adults, $59 for children 3 to 12 or ages 60 and older; Oct. 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27; florida.legoland.com

 

Halloween Spooktacular

SeaWorld

An ocean of Halloween fun awaits families at SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktacular.

An underwater “fantasea,” this event comes alive as youngsters trick-or-treat among friendly sea witches, octopuses, mermaids, pumpkin fish and more. Children can dress up and play with sea fairies, learn from a school of fish and party with Princess Penelope and her undersea friends during the “Spooktacular Dance Party,” and create — and eat — their own spooky cookie at a cookie decorating station.

For an extra charge, families can have breakfast with Count von Count, Elmo and his furry friends at their “Spooktacular Breakfast.”

Event info: Tickets start at $82 for adults, $74 for ages 3 to 9; Oct. 5-6, 12-13, 18-20 and 25-27; www.seaworldparks.com.

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