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For theme park fans it’s one of the best times of the year, as before the rides and attractions go into hiding for the winter it is time for the scary stuff. Theme parks around the country are heading into the attic to bring down the spooky ghouls, ghosts, and other Halloween decorations in preparation to scare you silly.
Some of the stuff is pretty darn intense from movie scenes gone wrong to mazes that you just can’t escape, but once you stop and catch your breath—it’s all in good fun. As the season is just beginning to do its thing we thought we’d give you a quick rundown of five spots where things are going down and when. So here’s five picks with prices, dates, and links to the action—start planning those sick days accordingly.
When To Go: Weekends—as in Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays—between Friday, September 20 and Sunday, October 27
It'll Cost You: Tickets run as low as $38 on Friday nights, and as much as $47 on Saturday nights
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Like it or not the summer is starting to wind down, and that means it’s time to start thinking about the cooler temperatures and spooky stuff that comes with the fall. As far as the marketing teams are concerned Halloween is like right around the corner, and the folks over at Universal Studios Hollywood are busy announcing this and that regarding another year of Halloween Horror Nights.
This year it looks like there’s plenty of haunted hijinks coming to the park, and one of the best pieces of entertainment comes from Black Sabbath. For the first time the band is bringing their darkest lyrics from their biggest hits to one of the park’s annual mazes, and it’s all set to debut on September 20. Park officials are promising graveyards, madhouses, and plenty of other spooky stuff. Black Sabbath: 13 3D will feature a 3D video, and of course plenty of loud music led by Ozzy Osbourne’s vocal—uh—talents.
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Once again, Universal Studios Orlando is doing its best to scare nightly visitors as the park is in the midst of the 22nd annual Halloween Horror Nights. You know the drilleach fall crowds converge on the park to experience the transformation; by day Universal Studios welcomes guests of all ages to experience the new Despicable Me ride, ET's bike, and pose for photos with Spongebob, while at night (22 nights, ending on Halloween night) the park turns itself into a giant live action horror movie.
A gaggle of writers work year-round to come up with the themes and schemes that inhabit Universal's annual Halloween Horror Nights. For this 22nd incarnation of fright, Universal went heavy on the partnership route, teaming up with AMC's Walking Dead, Penn & Teller, Alice Cooper, and Silent Hill for four of the seven houses. Furthermore, the park ditched the "scare zones," opting to let the legions of horror scareactors freely roam the streets to search for victims in bars, restaurants, lines, and inside every henhouse and outhouse inside park boundaries.
We toured each of the seven haunted houses and searched out all the scareactors roaming the streets and here's what we think, in order from scariest to not-so-scary:
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Universal Studios Orlando is in the midst of its annual spooky-fest, Halloween Horror Nights. Each fall crowds converge on the park to experience the transformation; during the day the park welcomes guests of all ages to experience Shrek 4D, ride ET's bike, and hug Curious George while at nightfor 15 nights every fallthe park turns itself into a big screen-like horror movie.
Eight writers work year round to come up with the themes and schemes that inhabit Universal's annual Halloween Horror Nights. While the details, both cinematic and thematic, are incredible, you have to wonder if maybe the eight writers got a little too intricate with some of these ideas (Spanish fort run by a mutinous undead crew of Columbus' missing fourth shipwe are looking at you). After all this isn't Lost. However, despite some of the themes being a bit convoluted, some are just downright scary (Saws n' Steam), some are incredibly visually compelling (Nevermore), and some just might be the future of fright (The In Between house).
We toured all eight haunted houses and here's what we think, in order from scariest to not so scary:
In addition to the decorations at all the parks and ubiquitous pumpkins, October brings Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party to Disney World. This after-hours event takes place at the Magic Kingdom on selected nights this month.
Advance tickets are $43, and it's a good chance to get into the park without paying the usual $70 or so for a one-day admission.
Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you're probably within a reasonable drive of a Six Flags park.
But if you're truly dedicated to all things Halloween, then you'll consider making the pilgrimage to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. Located between New York City and Philadelphia, it's the country's largest Six Flags park, and it's set to kick off this year's edition of Fright Fest this weekend.
Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Virginia is the perfect distraction for those who have given up on the election and are looking for something even more terrifying than preparing Sarah Palin for Thursday's debate.
The Halloween fun got started a couple weeks ago and continues to run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night through October. Oddly enough, that means that you won't be able to celebrate Howl-O-Scream on All Hallows Eve.
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While the frights at Knott's Berry Farm are certainly spooky, Universal Studios' holiday special is for people who want to be uncomfortably terrified during their trip: Bloody Mary and other recreated urban legends are the focus of this year's scare fest.
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For the last 35 years, Knott's Berry Farm, in Southern California has been celebrating Halloween with its share of spooky decorations and scary attractions. This year will be no different, as the Knott's Scary Farm kicked off September 25.
The park closes to regular visitors at 5:30 pm and then reopens to scare you silly--or at least try to--at 7 pm, Wednesday-Sunday nights.