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Vote of the week: Which is your favorite theme park Halloween event?*

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Published: August 21, 2009 at 1:05 PM

It might be hard to believe for some us, but in late August, we're just a month away from the start of theme parks' big, hard-ticket, after-hours Halloween events.

Which one is the one you're most looking forward to this year? That's our vote of the week.

Of course, these are not the only Halloween events at theme parks. Six Flags has its Fright Fest event at its parks, Cedar Point will open for Halloweekends, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has its version of Howl-O-Scream, and SeaWorld, Legoland and Disneyland will offer their own, more kid-friendly, events.

But those are typically included with regular, daytime park admission. I've selected the top five after-hours events, which require separate tickets to attend. Four of them are aimed at grown-ups (or at least teens and above); Disney's, as one might expect, is a kids-'n-parents affair.

Tell us, in the comments, why you picked the one the picked.

*Update: Yeah, the headline asks a very different question than the poll does. Robert FAIL... again.

Readers' Opinions

From 216.81.240.241 on August 21, 2009 at 1:15 PM
Never been to any of them
From Greg Maxwell on August 21, 2009 at 1:54 PM
My vote would be for Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. I have attended that a number of times. very good event even if it is included with park admission.
From Gareth H on August 21, 2009 at 2:36 PM
Sorry, I know this has NOTHING to do with this post, but its just funny. Something I found whilst trawling youtube. Its roller coaster related ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MY3EvHlHBg

From Amy Tupper on August 21, 2009 at 2:46 PM
MNSSHP is an annual tradition for our family. We cebrate my daughter's birthday. This year we're going on her actual birthday, so she's getting a trip to Bibbidy Bobbidy Boutiqe before the party to get dressed up as Princess Aurora. (Bringing our own dress - still somewhat frugal!)
From Todd Houts on August 21, 2009 at 2:55 PM
I was a fan of Universal Orlando's event until the last time I attended (in 2008). There are now so many liquor stations and so many attendees, that between feeling pushed through the houses so fast that no scares had time to reset (so you were consistently seeing what was ahead of you) and the alcohol level of other patrons escalating (in relation to those of us remaining sober), that is was such an unpleasant event, I even took the time to write the park and express my outrage at the money I spent (since I also bought the fast-pass equivalent) versus the unsavory experience they returned. (And how drunk people AND sober people were rudely treated by their staff.) (Never got a response.)

It's been a long time since I went to KBB's Halloween Haunt, but I was very impressed and thus it got my vote. I've yet to make BGT's Howl-O-Scream. Don't know if it's become a drunkfest too. If not, it looks like it could be good.

From 72.147.171.77 on August 21, 2009 at 3:26 PM
I've been to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, and I can tell you that if you didn't think ahead far enough to get Fast Pass tickets, don't even bother to go. You won't see more than one or two houses. The lines were hours long. The park was packed to extreme claustrophobic levels, and both nights I was there I got stuck in a one block radius for a couple of hours when they shut all streets and crosswalks down for the big parade. They're serious too; you're not going anywhere until the parade is over. Also, the park was filled with people not usually milling around theme parks. There were many gangs and wanna-be gangstas, and there was lots of drinking. It seems the Orlando locals come out in force for these events.
From Amanda Jenkins on August 21, 2009 at 3:36 PM
I chose MNSSHP. Had a great time there last year. I suffer from phobias concerning masks, and such; basically I don't think I could handle any of the more "adult" scares. I even had a bit of a panic attack during the parade when the Haunted Mansion part came down the street. What can I say, I am a huge wennie, who hyperventilates when walking through costume shops.
From James Koehl on August 21, 2009 at 3:58 PM
I can't vote, because I can't attend any of these events. Disqualifying other parks because their events are not special-ticket-only events seems to be a bit unfair. I can only speak for CP and Halloweekends, but the entire park has a different feel to it, with major decorations, a daily parade (which is not held any other time of the year), other daily events aimed at all ages, special entertainment, etc. Please don't make this site a central Florida/Southern Cal only place, where you let us on the north coast come and visit and occasionally throw us a bone. We love our parks, just as much and perhaps more than Disney/Universal locals, because we don't have them all year, every day, and have to make the most of the limited time they are open. When CP added Halloweekends and let us enjoy the park until November, we were overjoyed. Halloweekends is probably my favorite time of the year to go. Now if we could only get them to open at Christmas...
From Michael Owen on August 21, 2009 at 4:11 PM
I've only been to both Disney and Universal's event and out of those two I'm going for Halloween Horror Night's at Universal Orlando.

There's a perfect might of fun and fright. Disney simply don't to 'fright' well and aim their event more towards a younger demographic. That's probably the reason I'm not a fan of what the Mouse offers, it's simply not aimed towards me.

From Robert Niles on August 21, 2009 at 4:30 PM
I wanted to single out the hard-ticket events, for reasons that will become clear in future posts. ;-) (Like how the breakfast poll became fodder for the piece on improving theme park breakfasts.)

Notice that I didn't ask for people's opinions on the best event, anywhere. Just on which of the hard-ticket events they were most looking forward to seeing. I wanted to see which of the hard-ticket events has the most "brand name" value in the market - which one really drives people to pay extra, beyond an AP or a regular day ticket. (Okay, I'm giving away a future topic here.)

Hope that clarifies things.

From 75.82.69.66 on August 21, 2009 at 5:20 PM
I have to give a shout out to Phantom Fright Nights at Kennywood in Pittsburgh, PA... such an incredible job for a regional park!
From 206.53.153.144 on August 21, 2009 at 9:00 PM
I voted for HHN at USH - 'cause I work there and it's the only one I've attended as a guest. And yes - employees have to buy tickets too. We don't get any freebies for these special events... I think I have a greater appreciation because I know what I'd involved with converting from daytime operations to nighttime. And few people know how much planning goes into these. We started technical meetings months ago and began maze construction a couple weeks ago. Hint - you like the Saw movies? How about Rocky Horror Picture Show?
From James Rao on August 22, 2009 at 7:33 AM
I had to go with the only one that is a whole-family affair: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World. Since I would have to travel for any of the above events, then I would have to be able to take the whole clan.

Additionally, my local park, Worlds of Fun, puts on a great show at their annual Halloween Haunt event. It is not an event for the whole family by any means, but it is the only time of the year the park has that immersive, I'm not in Missouri anymore type of feeling.

From Anthony Murphy on August 22, 2009 at 7:48 AM
No Fright Fest at Six Flags? (not that its going to win)

I picked Mickey's Not So Scary Haloween Party. I like being at Magic Kingdom at 12

From Chuck Campbell on August 22, 2009 at 2:48 PM
I've been attending HHN at Universal Florida for the last four years, and I love it, but I understand where some people are coming from about the drinking. (It always amazes me how people will wait in huge lines at drink stands for the privilege of paying way too much for bad margaritas and lousy beer.) Express Passes are definitely the way to go, too. Howl-o-Scream in Tampa (and Willismburg, for that matter) is also fun.

Oh, and for why I chose HHN, it all boils down to atmosphere. I've been to other theme-park haunts, but they can't even come close to Universal in that regard.

From Joe Cronin on August 23, 2009 at 8:01 AM
I enjoy BG Florida the best. I belive their haunted houses and scare zones are the best of the parks I have visited. BGE is geared toward a young audience. HHN is overcrowded, and the guests are unruly and inebriated. Of course, Mickey's NOt So Scarry Holloween Party is great for the bucket load of candy you'll end up with.
From 86.150.71.246 on August 23, 2009 at 8:15 AM
I can't take part in this vote as have never been to the above. I am aware that some of the UK theme parks including Alton Towers and also Port Aventura in Tarragona Spain and Disneyland Paris have Halloween events and I think it is probably more likely that I would make it to one of these. This is only because October is not an especially cheap time to visit the US from here.
From Robert Niles on August 23, 2009 at 10:35 AM
Read the question carefully, folks. It is not asking which one you've been to is the best. It is asking which one you'd most look forward to visiting.

Even if you've never been to a Halloween event, if you have any interest in one, pick the one that most grabs your interest, based on what you've read or heard.

From James Koehl on August 23, 2009 at 1:57 PM
Robert, to be honest, you asked three different questions. In the body of the question, you asked,"Which one is the one you're most looking forward to this year?", but in the blue question you asked, "Which hard ticket theme Halloween event are you most eager to visit?" I'm not going to any of them this year, so I'm not looking forward to going this year at all. That is the basis of my comment about those of us who don't live in central Fla. or southern Cal. being left out. Most of us can't jump on a plane for the weekend of visiting theme parks, as much fun as that would be. Based on the previous comments, I would probably prefer the Disney event, to avoid the drunks and gangs. The third question is at the top of this comment box. "Which is your favorite theme park Halloween event?" In that case, it is Halloweekends at CP (but of course, that doesn't count since CP isn't a "theme park"). I haven't been to the others, so I can't comments on their attributes.
Sorry if I'm coming off as being a snarky person- I'm really not trying to be. Some of us just get a little defensive of our local parks.
From 75.5.11.249 on August 24, 2009 at 11:25 AM
I would have to pick USH horor nights cause its got reall good effects cause i mean, after all, its Universal studios. they've got like millions of special effects and make up artists for movies so yeah. I havent been to any east coast parks so i wouldnt know about those.
From Charles Reichley on August 27, 2009 at 10:30 AM
I'm not looking forward to any of those, because I don't like paying extra and they are all hundreds of miles from my home.

Me and the kids do LOVE holloween stuff at theme parks (we also do our own haunted house walkthrough at our home).

I would love to get to Ohio and do Cedar Point and Kings Island's walkthroughs, but since they are only on weekends and there are only so many weekends it's hard to figure out a plan for it.

We will do BGE and KD's stuff at least twice each (BGE we usually do for an entire weekend -- KD we usually start on their opening Friday night, but for some reason this year they aren't doing an opening Friday night, they are starting on a saturday).

We also will hit Dorney park, because it fits with a Hershey Park event we do each year in early October (before HP's holloween stuff though).

With KD getting multiple new walkthroughs this year, I think we will be satisfied.

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