Halloween at theme parks may be a little different this year, with some signature Halloween events canceled, but that doesn’t mean spooky celebrations won't take place at all.
COVID-19 has scared some ghosts and goblins away, but depending on your comfort level in getting out amid the pandemic, there are still plenty of options to be had in Florida.
California theme parks remain closed for now, though they've urged California Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow them to reopen.
Here's what's going on at Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and other theme parks around the Orlando, Florida, area, as curated by Florida Today, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Is Halloween canceled? As parents and attractions gear up to celebrate, medical experts stress caution
6000 Universal Blvd., Orlando; 402-224-7840; universalorlando.com
The decades-old event, Halloween Horror Nights is mostly taking a break in 2020, but Universal Studios will make two of its previously canceled haunted houses available to guests on a limited basis.
"Revenge of the Tooth Fairy" and "Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives" will be open to visitors Sept. 26 and 27 and Oct. 3-Nov. 1.
Fans of the annual spooky spectacle can also wear Halloween costumes, go trick-or-treating at Universal's Islands of Adventure and visit the newly opened Halloween Horror Nights Tribute store at Universal Studios Orlando. The retail location is dedicated to HHN, which debuted in 1991. Guests will find specialty, retro-themed merchandise inspired by the history of HHN.
The store, located in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, features lots of favorites from the past. You can purchase the “Beetlejuice Handbook for the Recently Deceased Journal,” a Halloween Horror Nights facemask or a vintage t-shirt. Items also can be purchased online by visiting shop.universalorlando.com.
Maybe a few thrills and chills: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights returns after all, but reduced
Walt Disney World
Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort, Lake Buena Vista; 407-939-5277; disneyworld.disney.go.com
Another one of coronavirus’ victims: Mickey’s Not-So-Scary-Halloween. The after-hours event at Magic Kingdom won’t take place this year, but that doesn’t mean you need to pack away your costumes.
For the first time, guests of all ages can wear Halloween costumes to Magic Kingdom from Sept. 15-Oct. 31. Guests won’t be the only ones wearing the costumes. A Halloween-themed cavalcade will travel down Main Street featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and others dressed in Halloween attire. Chip ‘n’ Dale will be posted up in Frontieland wearing their costumes, and keep your eyes out for other characters dressed up and riding on a trolley.
There also will be lots of festive-themed merchandise available for purchase as well as special food and drink options including a pumpkin-spiced waffle sundae. Lots of photos opportunities will be available with the ever-popular glowing pumpkin wreathes that line Main Street. There also will be themed photo opportunities from Disney PhotoPass.
1 LEGOLAND Way, Winter Haven; 877-350-5346; legoland.com
Head to LEGOLAND Florida weekends in October to celebrate Brick or Treat. This kid-friendly Halloween event, which is included with theme park admission, is held over nine different days. Children can wear costumes and visit six trick-or-treating locations where they will get candy through contactless distribution. Park employees at the stations will be wearing face masks or face shields and gloves and extra spacing will be allowed between families.
Guests will also be treated to some spirited performances. The Groovin’ Graveyard and A CandyCoated Curse are held at various times throughout the event. Character experiences also will take place and include classic monsters with a LEGO twist like Rockin’ Frankenstein, Mummy and Lord Vampyre.
7007 SeaWorld Drive, Orlando; 407-545-5550; seaworld.com
SeaWorld Spooktacular returns this year starting Sept. 19 and running through Nov. 1. The daytime event, which is included in park admission, has modifications to keep guests safe. This family-friendly event allows guests to safely explore a “slightly spooky” trick or treat trail, meet silly Halloween characters – with physical distancing protocols in place – and other activities available for an additional charge.
Paying a little more will allow you to decorate cookies with Cookie Monster. The safe and fun decorating includes single-party tables with plenty of spacing and cleaning procedures.
Also available for an additional fee is Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast. The Count, Elmo and some other Sesame Street friends will join you, from a distance, for a festive meal.
The park will be at limited capacity. Children are able to dress in costumes to enjoy the festivities.
Gaylord Palms Resort
6000 W. Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee; 407-586-0000; gaylordpalms.com
This popular Orlando resort is offering a Goblins & Giggles Getaway weekend through Oct. 31. Packages start at $189 and include a variety of family-friendly activities such as spooky animal encounters, a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt and a meet and greet with Spookley the Square Pumpkin.
New this year is the Castillo de San Marcos ALIVE! Ghost Experience. The weekend package includes this experience, which features live storytellers who recount ghost stories for those brave enough to explore the fort’s stone walls.
Guests of all ages will enjoy a Trick-or-Treat Expedition with stops throughout the resort for some spooky treats. There’s also some wicked fun happening poolside, where Jack O’ Lantern hosts daytime activities and Moonlight Movies entertain at night on the resort’s pool screen.
There’s even Halloween fun in the guests’ rooms. Two interactive Halloween videos, "Bedtime Stories with Morgana," a treat-making witch from Spooksville, and "Monster Mash Bash" with Vlad the Vampire can be enjoyed from the comfort of your bed.
Spitzer can be reached at Michelle@ByMichelleSpitzer.com or on Instagram @ByMichelleSpitzer
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Halloween 2020: Disney World, Universal Orlando, more theme park plans