by Candyce Stapen, USA TODAY, 3:03 pm EDT September 23,2013
The scariest part of Halloween for parents may be what to do with the kids. Little ones clamor for costumes and candy, but often meltdown way before evening’s end. Teens crave prowling, but the sight of your masked 16-year-old and his buddies banging on strangers’ doors may make the mistress of the house more likely to reach for Mace than Mars bars.
What to do? Get over your family’s Halloween horrors by planning a getaway to Orlando. America’s theme park capital offers 13 weeks of Frightful Fun tailored to both teenagers and adults as well as to youngsters.
READ MORE: Orlando’s scariest attractions
Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights 23, named the nation’s best Halloween event for the sixth year in a row by Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards, stages its 23rd season of shriek-worthy events on select nights through Nov. 2. For those seeking more giggles than ghouls, several of Orlando’s attractions offer tame trick-or- tricks targeted to youngsters. More for your goodie bag: Fall is also the best time to visit Orlando’s theme parks, bringing pleasant, not steamy, days plus doable, not endless, lines.
Teens, 20-somethings and adults
On select evenings the park morphs into a masterfully eerie mix of eight haunted houses and streets prowled by cleverly made-up “scareactors.” Bond with your teens and 20-somethings as you try to make it through these terrifying dwellings and suburban neighborhoods based on scary pop culture television shows, video games and movies.
Walk through An American Werewolf in London, a take on the classic film of the same name, and witness the blood-curdling transformation of a college student into a creepy night prowler. Drop into Resident Evil, based on the horror video game series, and battle Zombies, Cerberuses and the dastardly Nemesis.
You can double-down on scream-worthy moments from Walking Dead, the popular AMC television series. In the show’s haunted house, “walkers”—zombies—pursue you as you push through prison halls, parking lots and other places in fictional Woodbury. The show’s relentless un-dead also take over this season’s Street Experience, an outdoor recreation of Walking Dead’s world. Trailing blood and bad manners, the zombies stalk the woods, survivor’s camp, and the farm, popping out at you when you least expect it.
During Halloween Horror Nights, you can also watch two edgy live shows and catch some rides. Among those remaining open is Universal Orlando’s newest, Transformers: The Ride-3D. Because the after-dark chills pack a wallop, Universal Orlando recommends Horror Nights for ages 13-years and older.
Details: Select nights Sept. 20-Nov. 2. Purchase a separate ticket for Horror Nights or add on the evening with a Stay & Scream ticket.
Orlando Halloween for youngsters
Watch costumed Disney characters parade and listen to Cruella de Vil, Oogie Boogie sing and other not-so-mean villains sing. Select nights through Nov. 1
Grab sweets at Trick or Treat stations, meet fanciful critters such as Gummy Worm Wanda and Salt Water Taffy, and end the day at a dance party with Princess Penelope. Weekends in Oct.
Ogle the world’s largest LEGO Jack-O-Lantern, build a spooky LEGO creation, follow the brick-or-treat-trail to find goodies, and greet friendly ghosts and Mr. Potato Head. Saturdays and Sundays in Oct.