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Guide to Surviving the Best Haunted Theme Parks in the U.S.

Travel Team | Sep 9, 2022

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Halloween themed amusement park with creepy pumpkin man.

Looking for a way to (pumpkin) spice up your Halloween?

These amusement parks organize some of the scariest Halloween activities that will be sure to spook you out of your mind. These aren’t anything like your small-town haunted houses … unless your small town is Amityville, that is.

For those who aren’t feeling the Halloween spirit just yet, we’re also sharing our guide to tamer thrills and family-friendly advice. Because some of us prefer Casper over The Conjuring.


Tips for Surviving Haunted Theme Parks

Haunted houses and theme parks are supposed to be a bit scary, but we all have different thresholds for what’s simply spooky and what’s downright terrifying. These tips are great for introducing little goblins to haunted amusements and for those who prefer a little creepiness without over-the-top gore.

1. Start small.

If you’re a haunted house beginner or are thinking of taking the kiddos to their first spooky attraction, start small. Instead of a full haunted theme park, try an evening corn maze or hayride first. You can also look for parks that have daytime activities — Cedar Point below is one example — for a tamer experience. By taking baby steps, you’ll be able to gauge their reaction better without wasting a bunch of money when you find out they’re too young or that you just hate haunted activities.

Bonus tip: Look for descriptors like “spooky” and “scary." Although not a concrete rule, we’ve found that attractions listed as “spooky” tend to be less intense and better for the little ones than those listed as “scary.”

2. Skip the haunts and head for other attractions.

The draw for many of the theme parks-turned-haunted for Halloween is the spooky stuff. That means the other attractions like rides and shows are less crowded. Take advantage of the shorter lines.

Even if you don’t go on that roller coaster five times in a row, you can always tell your more enthusiastic friends that you’ll meet them at the exit of one of the haunted houses. Good friends will understand, and you can sit back and people watch. We guarantee there will be plenty to see.

3. Take a trusted buddy.

There’s safety in numbers. If you’re a bit jumpy, going to haunted houses with friends can put you at ease. It’s even better if your friend is bigger than you — someone to hide behind — and if they let you enter in the middle of the group. Going first or last in your group makes you an easier target for scares.

4. Ask to be let out.

If you or the kids decide a haunted house is too much, simply ask the staff to be let out. They can escort you to an exit (including hidden ones for a quicker getaway, in some cases) with minimal scare and panic.

5. Laugh it off.

Assuming you aren’t truly frightened and are just self-conscious about your reaction, try to laugh off the scares. Remember that half the fun is to be a little ridiculous. Embrace it.

On the other hand, recognize that some people genuinely do not like being frightened. Laughing at them will not win you any friends. Try to be empathetic.

Best Haunted Theme Parks in the U.S.

Halloween Haunt at Kings Island

USA TODAY readers voted Halloween Haunt the country’s “Best Theme Park Halloween Event” in 2021, so if you’re in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area this fall, it’s worth a stop. This one isn’t for little goblins under the age of 13, though. If you’re older — and game for a little heart-stopping fun — try not to panic while sinister monsters and creatures roam the park and appear from the fog as you make your way through terrifying mazes, blood-curdling scare zones, and horrifying live shows.

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, offers activities that fall across the entire Halloween spectrum — from fun to fright — at HalloWeekends. Enjoy the light-hearted Halloween fun with the Magical House on Boo Hill, a costume contest for kids 12 and under, and fun foods like candy corn cupcakes and pumpkin bread pudding.

Only the boldest of souls should return at night when evil slowly takes over the park. Fright zones, fog-covered and scary trails, and more terrifying thrills await.

Fright Fest at Six Flags

Arguably the country’s scariest haunted parks during Halloween, Fright Fest will not disappoint. Each of nearly a dozen Six Flags locations has its own attractions, but all of them transform from brightly colored theme parks into an alternate realm scattered with harrowing creatures.

Daytime visitors can hit the Trick or Treat Trail and take in family-friendly shows, while those braving the night can check out mazes, haunted houses, and scare zones filled with ghouls, zombies, and other creatures.

Hersheypark Halloween

What better place to trick or treat than at a candy-themed amusement park? Make your way to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for family-friendly Halloween fun. There’s a glow dance party where you can boogie with Hershey characters (think an anthropomorphic Reese’s Cup), trick or treat trail, and lights-out rides on some of the roller coasters.

Older kids and adults at Hersheypark Halloween might like the Scare Zones, which are rated for different levels of scariness, and multiple haunted houses. And don’t miss the ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park to see creepy, crawly, nighttime animals.

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens

If attractions like Motel Hell and Death Water Bayou don’t send you running for the hills, you might need to stop by Busch Gardens this Halloween. The parks in both Tampa Bay, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia, have several haunted houses among other petrifying attractions that are bound to satisfy any thrill sought before stepping into this creepy arena.

When one park just isn’t enough, look for the combo Howl-O-Scream ticket with Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando. Beware, though. While these sites are usually great for all ages, Howl-O-Scream is not recommended for children.

How to Avoid Travel Horror Stories

Travel is great, but mishaps can make your hair stand on end. One way to avoid some of the horror stories of vacations gone wrong is with travel insurance. Visit SevenCorners.com or talk with one of our licensed agents to get expert guidance on the best travel insurance for your spooky adventure.

Email sales@sevencorners.com

Toll free 1-800-335-0611

Worldwide 1-317-575-2652

Collect 1-317-818-2809

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