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Vote of the week: Did you go to a theme park Halloween event this year?

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Published: October 28, 2011 at 7:55 AM
Did you go to Halloween Horror Nights this year? What about Mickey's Halloween Party? Or Howl-o-Scream at Busch Gardens? Heck, did you go to any theme park Halloween event this year?

Grown Evil at Busch Gardens Tampa's Howl-O-Scream 2011

That's our vote of the week.


If you didn't go to a Halloween event this year, please submit a comment telling us why not. What would entice you to go to a theme park Halloween even in the future?

If you did visit one of the many Halloween events at theme parks around the country, please tell us in the comments what was the best - or worst - moment you experienced at a Halloween event this year.

We started collecting reader ratings on Halloween events this year, and of the events that received at least five ratings, you voted Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights and Disneyland's Mickey's Halloween Party as your favorite two events so far. Which one was your favorite this year?

Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on October 28, 2011 at 8:26 AM
I went to my first halloween event, MNSSHP at MK on September 23. Definatly going back next year, but on a Sunday. Also, Mickeys Halloween Party is a 9 with only 5 votes, yet MNSSHP has a 9 with 11 votes. How does that work?
From 65.87.105.6 on October 28, 2011 at 8:51 AM
I went to halloween horror nights 2011. I absolutely love halloween time at theme parks.
From Charles Reichley on October 28, 2011 at 9:02 AM
My family went to three -- Dorney Park, Kings Dominion, and Busch Gardens-Williamsburg.

My daughter and I also work has haunt monsters at Kings Dominion, so I guess we are not typical.

From Rod Whitenack on October 28, 2011 at 9:09 AM
Even though I didn't go to one this year, based on past experiences I'd say most theme parks don't need to attract as many travelers for their Halloween events as they do for park attendance the rest of the year. The locals swarm these events. Anyone within a couple of hours driving distance is the target audience.
From 98.64.155.239 on October 28, 2011 at 10:05 AM
My wife and I attended two local Halloween Events; XScream Halloween at the G-Star School, and Fright Nights at the South Florida Fairgrounds. These two events both had their own charm in terms of haunted attractions, and they cost a heck of a lot less than the major Orlando haunts.

Personally, I think that Halloween Horror Nights, though an amazing event, is a little pricey to visit every year, especially in today's economic environment. Maybe that is why there are so many smaller haunts popping up everywhere.

From Brandon Mendoza on October 28, 2011 at 10:36 AM
I didn't go because I haven't had the time to with events happening on the weekends for family and friends.

Dominick, the scores are most likely averaged (either "mean" or "median"... math terms). So even though one has 5 votes, and the other has 11, if both are 9's across the board, they're both going to be 9's.

From Ray Schroeder on October 28, 2011 at 10:54 AM
I went to MNSSHP a few weeks ago. I'm not into having the you-know-what scared out of me, so this was perfect. The best part was being able to go trick-or-treating as an adult. I'm still eating my stash of candy. And yes, you are correct, I do not share :)
From David Brown on October 28, 2011 at 11:51 AM
I would actively avoid any Halloween event. And please note this is not for any religious reasons - I just think the whole concept is strange, to put it mildly, and possibly unhealthy. But then I made this point last year and was roundly shot down in flames so I guess I'll just get my coat....
From Rob Viala on October 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM
I was not able to attend the big events such as Horror Nights or Mickey's Not so Scary due to me living in NY and already going to Florida once this year. Fright Fest Bores me, and well the other events did not seem worth spending the money to get there and park and all things tied into going to an event at a theme park. I do intend on getting some friends together next year and trying to go to Horror Nights or something of the sort.
From Justin Kermgard on October 28, 2011 at 1:35 PM
I went to both Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom and to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa. Mickey's Party was great as always. I loved getting to meet the Disney villains(even got my picture taken with Dr. Facilier of The Princess & The Frog). Howl-O-Scream was good, better even than last year's event, but I still feel it could be better. The worst part was the fact that there just weren't enough zombies or fog used to really make me feel uneasy. I do however look forward to next year's events.
From Orrin Carstarphen on October 28, 2011 at 3:08 PM
Went to Halloween Horror Nights at USF. Had a great time even though it rained ALL day that Saturday. Luckily we had a frequent fear pass.
From Doug Jenkins on October 28, 2011 at 3:21 PM
Went to Universal's about 8 years ago and was really turned off by the crowds (much bigger, and intoxicated, than normal), and the haunted house lines (no less than 2 hours each, saw only one). I'm sure thay have worked most of that out, but I doubt we go again. We are annual passholders and usually stay on site, but that was a very bad experience.
From Brandon Mendoza on October 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM
@ David Brown - I didn't see your comments from last year, but the way I see it is that it's not for everyone. I rarely go to Halloween events at Theme Parks except for DLR's Haunted Mansion & Space Mountain... but that's not really an event!

But some people enjoy the events, some people don't. All for different reasons... whether it's "they scare me" or "they bore me" or "I don't enjoy them" or "I love them!", none are wrong reasons... unless someone blatantly trolls and says that the events are "stupid" or "only idiots go to them" etc.

From Mike Gallagher on October 28, 2011 at 4:35 PM
Went to SFGAdv early in the month, but just for a few hours at opening,and did only rides. Paid no attention to the Halloween festivities, and split when the afternoon/evening crowds started arriving. Dorney Park, on the other hand? Went last Saturday, did almost all the walk-through Haunts. They do a great job at Dorney. Stayed almost all day/night, and got on most rides too.
From Lucas Lee on October 28, 2011 at 4:47 PM
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS at UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD IS THE BEST! THE MAZES WERE REALLY GOOD. La Llorona and The Thing were amazing. My favorite part though has to be the Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure show!
From 72.201.39.42 on October 28, 2011 at 5:29 PM
Went to Knott's Scary Farm, my first holloween night event. It was great, lots of mazes and "ghouls" all around the park. I enjoyed it very much.
From 71.62.254.140 on October 28, 2011 at 5:55 PM
We usually go to Florida (from VA) in December - but at the request of our 13 year old daughter - we went last week - specifically for the Halloween events. We had a BLAST! We did HHN on Sunday and Wednesday, MNSSHP on Tuesday, and HOS on Thursday and on Friday - we went to Zombie Adventure (how fun to hunt zombies with paintball guns?!!) We will definitely do the Halloween haunted houses again - so much fun! I'm the Disney fan - so nothing beats the fun of MNSSHP - but for the scary stuff - we preferred Howl O Scream! We did the Fright Feast - which gave you a head start in the houses - then front of line access for an hour. We were able to hit all of the houses (and the last one twice) before our FOTL expired - then we went to the Fiends show - which edged out Bill & Ted for our favorite show! Planning to round out our Halloween adventures with a trip to BG Williamsburg tomorrow.
From Tom Rigg on October 28, 2011 at 8:15 PM
I went to both HHN at UO and Howloscream at BGT and BGW. I also went to a local haunted trail that is pretty amazing considering its not professional and done as a benefit for cancer research. My total for haunted houses/mazes/trails this year not including repeats was 20. Including repeats it was 26. Of course, I'm a bit of a Halloween nut.

As for it being odd or unhealthy, I would disagree on simple psychological terms. Facing fears, committing acts of daring, peeling back the cover on taboos have been part of the human ritual since the dawn of time. This is how we connect and interact with the macabre and the unsettling fact that death and the unknown and violence and danger are all around us in some way shape or form. We do it safely and on our own terms. A haunted house really serves the same purpose as roller coasters and bungee jumping and drag racing do. They all deal with confronting fear on our own terms. Going through a haunted house simply deals with different parts of the fears we experience individually and as a culture.

From Annette Hatch on October 28, 2011 at 9:57 PM
I went to Busch Garden's Howl-o-Scream in Tampa. It rained the WHOLE time, but we still had a ton of fun. I was either VERY impressed with houses or just so-so but never disappointed. I wish there were more roaming hoards of zombies, but the "bush" people were fantastic! The lines weren't bad at all, but partially because it was a steady flow of people through it. Which was good & bad. Good side is that it felt like a real kinship going through laughing at other people freaking out (especially the "meat-heads" screaming like girls) but bad side is the scares aren't always able to reset.
From Anthony Murphy on October 29, 2011 at 7:42 AM
I went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Fright Fest! Both great!
From 138.210.160.198 on October 29, 2011 at 7:50 AM
It is just way too expensive for what guests receive.
From Giacomo B. on October 29, 2011 at 10:03 AM
I wanted to go to Halloween Horror nights but after hearing how crowded and annoying it can be with drunken visitors, pushing and shoving. I decided not for me I can't handle that kind of behavior when I'm trying to have fun.
From Mike Gallagher on October 29, 2011 at 10:53 AM
As an aside, a snowstorm is blowing through the Northeast. SFGAdv, SF America, Dorney, and Hershey are closed. So tomorrow will be the last chance for many in these seasonal park areas to hit the Halloween festivities, since these parks are not open Monday.

Weather looks OK for tomorrow down in Jackson, NJ, though!!!

From Amy Smith on October 29, 2011 at 12:32 PM
I did MNSSHP in late September and HHN21 on Preview Night as well as two other times and I will be going on Halloween as well to see Bill and Ted's last showing.

Best Part: walking through the trick or treat lines at Disney with a bag in each hand and getting twice as much candy as last year - I still have some left! At Universal, the In-Between and Winter's Night were the best houses this year and tricking a member of my party who hates chainsaw guys into walking down a street absolutely full of them was brilliant!

Worst Part: Disney has a horrible system of switching from day guests to event guests. They wristband you and then check your wristband at EVERY SINGLE STOP for the first three hours. My costume had long sleeves and being forced to pull it up every 10 feet got real old real fast. I would've rather had to wait until 7pm to be let in after they shut the park at like 5:30 and pushed day guests out or had holding areas similar to how HHN operates. They way they do it now causes bottlenecking at key points and makes the cast members less then friendly trying to get day guests to leave.
Universal has a new drum show this year that on preview and early on in the event caused them to block off the middle of the park for every show, leaving you stranded on one side or the other for the duration. They changed it later so now it only blocks one side and you can walk around the long way if needed. Of course there are the usual drunks and skanks but there's a reason the event is pg-13 and since I knew what I was in for I was fine with it.

Overall, I had a great time at both events. I just wish they hadn't cancelled trick or treating at Downtown Disney this year! Old Town picked up the slack however, so I may get one more event in. :)

From 92.19.97.139 on October 29, 2011 at 12:34 PM
The theme parks in the UK are expensive and not good for value, hence why i didn't go to any halloween themed theme park.
From Karen Smeath on October 29, 2011 at 2:10 PM
Mostly time is the culprit. The time of year is the busiest for my husband and I so it takes a huge planning session to go. We love MNSSHP at MK and the parade is an all time favorite. I don't care for zombies and and a lot of blood, so we will not ever go to the others. We feel it belongs to those of you much younger than us. We have attended DLR's MHP and it is cute but not at the same caliber as MK.
From Amanda Jenkins on October 29, 2011 at 7:32 PM
Didn't go this year because of going to WDW for a week to try out MVMCP in December.
From chris cona on October 29, 2011 at 8:28 PM
I went to Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adeventure! HAd a great time and very well done!
From Steph Ramos on October 30, 2011 at 2:16 AM
I went to my first ever Halloween Theme Park Event this year...and it so happened to be Fright Fest at SFMM!

The event was entertaining to say the least...but I discovered I'm a bit of a chicken wuss in the process so i'm not sure if I'll be doing the Halloween theme park experince again any time soon....-_-;

Anyway...the scare zones around the park were enough to make a novice like me a bit nervous after dark...and with good reason! These guys practically get their jollys off whenever they make a nervous cat like me scream in fright...and they did so PLEANTY of times!

My only real complaint about the event was the lack of effort they put on their heavily publisized "ride re-theming" for the holiday season. Most if not all the rides that were part of the "Terror Track" revamp were hardly changed...and if they were it was barely noticable...
Honestly, the only revamp that was worth the wait was the long-standing tradition of Colossus Backwards...now THAT'S a re-theme everyone always seems to enjoy!

From Anon Mouse on October 31, 2011 at 9:56 AM
I went to two events this year, but they are kids oriented. Disneyland's Halloween Party was the highlight. It was unbelievable how much candy they gave out. At each Treat Zone, they gave out candy at 3 stations. It was very easy to amass a huge quantity of candy. Another plus is the healthly treats, but you have to ask for them. You get raisins, apple slices, or carrots. The quality of the candy is top notch like Snickers, Kit Kat, M&Ms, etc.

The second event is Knott's Camp Spooky. Each kid gets a treat bag with a pound cake inside. There is 7 treat stations, but they were less generous. You mostly get hard candy, nothing special.

I enjoyed it a lot. My kid had fun dressing up, and we did our treating for the year. I highly recommend Disneyland for getting treats. It blew me away with how much we got and we only went to 4 stations out of 8(?).

From Mark Migliaccio on October 31, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Halloween Horror Nights. I think I enjoyed BGT's HOS the best. If you do the fright feast, it is definitely worth it. HHN was just too crowded and I preferred the atmosphere at BGT and the roaming zombies over HHN. Death drums was very bad. Bill and Ted was good. Best night was sunday. It was like adult swim!
From Stephen Tuday on October 31, 2011 at 3:32 PM
I went to SFoG several times for Fright Fest. It appeared the park did in fact improve the event over last year as there were scare zones which were not there in 2010. The shows were outstanding as well. Hopefully the higher-ups at Six Flags will see the fruits of their labor and kick it up another notch next season!

My only real gripe is the fact (and I do not know for the life of me why) the park is NOT open on Halloween. All the haunted houses in the area are making a fortune on Halloween night, but not Six Flags! OK it's a school night and not a weekend night, but with unemployment being what it is, I KNOW they can find help to operate the park more days, including HALLOWEEN! They removed two friday's from Fright Fest a couple years back. Its the incredible shrinking operating schedule.....

From Randall Peek on November 1, 2011 at 7:26 PM
I didn't get my vote in in time, but we went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom. We were at Walt Disney World for 11 days, and it came down to spending a lot of money for a single day at Islands of Adventure to see the Wizarding World, or a comparatively small amount and go the Halloween party. When all was said and done, I think we made the right call. My ten-year old daughter was thrilled with the Not-So-Scary, and we didn't have to deal with the issues of whether we would even fit on the rides at Universal, which don't seem to accomodate those of us built to Poohish proportions.
The fireworks and the parade were excellent, and the trick-or-treating was quite generous, especially the yummy Werther's caramel apple candies. If I were ever down there at the right time of year, I would gladly do it again.
From 99.173.55.149 on November 2, 2011 at 7:20 AM
I'm a 30 year old guy and I've been to about 15 years of Universals Halloween Horror Nights. I used to absolutely love it, but over the last 7 years or so, I've been gradually getting more and more disappointed.

Maybe it's just me getting older, but the whole outside area has become less and less scary every year. I miss the days of when there was more fog, the park was darker and the scare characters could slide at you on the ground on trash can lids.

Through the last few years, I've found it to be very difficult to do everything the park has to offer in one night and that really bothers me. I really wish they would keep it open later.

Finally, the quality of The Bill and Ted Show (a comedy show that changes every year to parody recent world, movie and entertainment events and people) which used to be my FAVORITE part of HHN, has gone way downhill over the past few years, whereas it used to be a really funny show every year. I don't mind bad language or dancing girls, and the show has always had some degree of both, but in the last few years, most of the show has just been overly frequent, pointless bad language and a bunch of dancing girls for half the show and random pop icon references with stupid one-liner jokes.

That all being said, this year, I finally gave up on Bill and Ted and tried to enjoy the rest of the park (I can't stand not doing anything for Halloween and tried Howl-O-Scream a few years ago and it was even worse). It seemed like this year actually was more of a step in the right direction. It seemed to be a little more scary than usual and I got to go through all of the houses (although, just barely, and I went in just as it was opening up and got through almost half of it before it even got dark). Overall, my standards were pretty low and I was pleasantly surprised.

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