ORLANDO GETS ITS SPOOK ON: And other fall happenings
As the self-proclaimed “Halloween Vacation Capital” of the world, Orlando continues to offer a host of haunting adventures in theme parks and beyond throughout the spooking season and in some cases, even a bit longer. The central Florida city also has a bounty of fall events to keep visitor entertained, and well-fed.
Among the highlights of the frightful family-friendly experiences are horror movie brunches, paranormal-themed escape rooms, haunted botanical gardens, kid-friendly trick-or-treat trails, and an adults-only vampire bar.
And, of course, the city’s theme parks are known to go all out for Halloween.
“Orlando lives up to its reputation as the Halloween Vacation Capital,” says Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. “Halloween fanatics, horror movie enthusiasts and costume-loving families can enjoy the multitude of special events across our theme parks, attractions and beyond. And, with the introduction of new direct flight options from Canada to Orlando, getting here is now more convenient and affordable.”
Effective this month, new flight services from Canada include Canada Jetlines flying from Toronto four times weekly, Porter Airlines flying from Toronto and Ottawa seven times a week, and Lynx Air connecting Orlando and major hubs in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver several times a week.
Here’s a look at some of the activities still going on as All Hallow’s Eve approaches:
THEME PARK EVENTS
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort (select nights through Nov. 1) makes a frightfully fun return at Magic Kingdom Park. The family-friendly, all-ages event features eerie entertainment that includes the “Hocus Pocus” Villain Spelltacular! at Cinderella Castle, Disney’s Not-So-Spooky Spectacular, Disney Junior Jam for young partygoers, Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the Trick-or-Treat Trail, Disney Characters in costume, and more than 20 favorite attractions with a Halloween twist. Guests are also invited to wear costumes, with some restrictions.
- Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida (Through Nov. 4) returns for a record-breaking 48 nights featuring 10 new, movie-quality haunted houses featuring “The Exorcist: Believer”, “Stranger Things 4” and “The Last of Us” along with five scare zones filled with creatures lunging from the shadows, and two live shows.
- Howl-O-Scream (select nights to Oct. 31) at SeaWorld Orlando returns to terrorize guests at SeaWorld Orlando. Offering 24 nights of fully immersive fear, the event will feature fright-inducing haunted houses and scare zones; thrilling nighttime coaster rides and experiences; an interactive bar; and an electrifying live show. And little ones can dress up in their favourite costumes to trick-or-treat and meet colorful Halloween characters at the SeaWorld Spooktacular (weekends, Sept. 16 – Oct. 29), a family-friendly daytime event included with regular theme park admission.
- Brick or Treat Presents Monster Party (photo below) at LEGOLAND Florida Resort (weekends until Oct. 29), a signature Halloween event included with theme park admission, will feature a trick or treat trail with candy, live entertainment and shows, never-before-seen exclusive LEGO characters and an all-new cinematic experience to create the ultimate family Halloween celebration.
BEYOND THE THEME PARKS
- Screamin’ Green Hauntoween at Crayola Experience (until Oct. 31) celebrates the Halloween season with a lineup of spooky happenings included with admission, such as a themed scavenger hunt, spook-tastic crafts, character photo ops, trick-or-treating on the weekends and more. Guests craving more can add-on activities like pumpkin decorating and slime making.
- Gatorland‘s “Gators, Ghosts and Goblins” Halloween event (weekends, Oct. 14–29) returns for its fifth year of family fun and fright. The all-ages daytime event, included with regular admission, features an all-new haunt zone and exhibit, interactive characters, animal meet-and-greets, candy giveaways, a children’s Halloween costume parade and more.
- Pirates Dinner Adventure is offering “Vampirates: When the Blood Moon Rises” (to Oct. 31), a limited time Halloween-themed dinner show suitable for all ages. Guests embark on a spooktacular journey filled with aerial artistry, swordplay, death-defying stunts, and dynamic duels.
- Happy Frights at Harry P. Leu Gardens (Sept. 29-Oct. 31) is an all-ages, family-friendly trick-or-treat adventure through 12 immersive worlds. The event will give guests an opportunity to meet a dancing bridge-troll, walk through a garden of sunflowers, explore a neon-light maze, climb up a giant hay-pyramid, celebrate Dia de Muertos, and more –all while visiting eight trick-or-treat stations along the way.
- The German American Society of Central Florida will host Halloween Oktoberfest (Oct. 28), a combination of the well-renowned German autumn festival and a Halloween celebration. The family-friendly event will feature authentic German food, a Biergarten, live musical entertainment, a kids play area, a traditional flag parade and more.
- Lake Nona Town Center will host the family-friendly Lake Nona Graveyard Smash event (Oct. 28). Mortals will be able to party with ghosts and ghouls; participate in trick-or-treat stations; experience live music; and take a journey through inflatable courses. This event is free and open to the public with no ticket required.
- Gaylord Palms Resort’s annual Goblins & Giggles weekends (through Oct. 29) features family-friendly events including a spooky scavenger hunt; live shows; dance and costume parties; a haunted escape room; character experiences; pumpkins; movies and more. The resort features a “Fall into Family Fun” vacation package that includes an overnight stay with premium views, $50 nightly resort credit, one scavenger hunt booklet and two Halloween-themed crafts in the Adventure Kids’ Clubhouse.
- For Halloween fun all year long, The Bureau features Possession at Haddon Heights, a paranormal themed escape room that forces guests to confront an evil entity at an abandoned school.
- Renaissance Theatre Company will present the return of “Nosferatu” (through Nov. 5) at the Ren. The re-vamped, 90-minute adults-only horror experience offers an entirely new concept from last year’s event, where each patron has a unique experience as the cast of 32 vampires lead the audience into hidden corners of the building playing out engaging scenarios. Later in the evening, “VBar”, the elevated Vampire-nightclub, opens its doors to guests with separate admission.
- Harry P. Leu Gardens will host Haunting Nights (through Oct. 31), an artful, elevated Halloween event featuring thrilling surprises for guests 13 and older. The immersive event will feature jump scares as guests encounter several characters throughout the journey that will provide a heightened level of thrill.
- Teatro Martini, the Vegas-inspired adult dinner show, hosts its annual Halloween Revue (through Oct. 31) this fall. The show features lyrical pole dancers, comedians, magicians, jugglers and limited-edition themed cocktails.
- Scream n’ Stream Drive-Thru Halloween Experience, a haunted Halloween drive-thru event, returns for its third year featuring seven horrifying zones to drive through complete with monsters, music, lighting and special effects Friday through Sunday until Oct. 29.
- Cocktails & Screams in Downtown Orlando (photo above) is an only Halloween-themed bar, featuring live music and an extensive list of creative cocktails. On Sundays this fall, guests can experience the Cereal Killer Brunch from noon to 5 p.m., among other themed events throughout the season. And on Oct. 31, new cocktails and entertainment will debut during the Halloween night event, which will also feature a complete lineup of local bands.
- Vampires, ghastly revenants, and banshees come to life in Phantasmagoria XIV: “Tales of the Undead” (Oct. 26-28). For three nights only at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, guests can experience the original tales of the critically acclaimed Victorian Horror Troupe “PHANTASMAGORIA” and the haunting stories of world-famous authors including Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, Penny Dreadfuls and more.
- The Halloween Pub Crawl (Oct. 27) returns to downtown Orlando for another year of killer-drink specials and a chance for guests to show off their hauntingly best costumes. From 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Halloween fans will have access to all participating venues, four complimentary drinks, drink specials and more.
Meanwhile, beyond Halloween, foodies will find an array of savoury eats and delectable treats throughout the destination this fall. Among them:
Central Florida Veg Fest, presented by Vegetarians of Central Florida (Oct. 28), the family- and dog-friendly vegan event held at Orlando Festival Park near downtown Orlando, returns for its 18th year. The event will feature a day of educational exhibits and activities from diverse cross-section of vegan cuisines and lifestyles, including new products and ideas from over 200 vendors and 100 contributors as well as a wide variety of food preparation demos.
At the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival (through Nov. 18), guests can savour unexpected flavours from around the globe as they circle the iconic World Showcase. The celebration features over 25 global Marketplaces, including a menu of new flavours and sips along with live entertainment, family activities and more. This year, the festival welcomes back two fan-favourite flavour destinations: “Hawaii,” featuring flavours from the Pacific paradise; and “The Noodle Exchange,” offering savoury ramen and noodle bowls. Four all-new Global Marketplaces debuted this year to mark the Disney100 celebration that commemorates the 100th anniversary of The Walt Disney Company.
The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (Nov. 10-11) will return for its 14th year, treating guests to a street party festival with unlimited food and beverage tastings at diverse food stations, featuring culinary selections from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and wine from around the world.
First published at Travel Industry Today