A brand-new family raft slide is splashing into Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in spring 2018. Ray Rush promises to be a fully-loaded water adventure which will combine three unique slide elements, never before seen at Aquatica, into one action-packed attraction the entire family can enjoy together.
This fall, Halloween fanatics flock to Orlando as the ultimate Halloween Vacation Capital. The destination, recently named AAA’s top destination for fall travel and known for immersive experiences, brings its creativity to the holiday with a host of highly themed events and attractions; hotel packages; and even the largest horror convention in the nation.
Including both family-friendly frights and extreme adult scares, over 10 weeks of Halloween festivities take place throughout the destination, including at the world-famous theme parks. October kicks off the height of the season, although some of the festivities started as early as August 25 and extend as late as November 4.
Visit Orlando, Orlando’s official visitor resource, has created a special web page to help travelers plan a ghoulish getaway. Find a few haunted highlights below, or the full frightful list at VisitOrlando.com/Halloween, and follow #OrlandoHalloween for real-time updates.
Teens and Adults: Sinister Celebrations
From extreme haunted houses to scenes from famous horror films, there are a full-scale terrifying adult frights in this destination that is traditionally known for family-friendly fun.
- Halloween Horror Nights 27 at Universal Studios Florida brings hordes of horrifying mutants, monsters and maniacs in its streets, nine terrifying haunted houses, five creature-filled scare zones and two outrageous live shows. For horror aficionados, the all-new haunted houses include characters from “The Shining” and TV shows “Ash vs. Evil Dead” and “American Horror Story”, and two of the scare zones are based on celebrated horror films “Trick ‘r Treat” and “The Purge.” Select nights Sept. 15 – Nov. 4.
- Spooky Empire, the largest horror convention in the nation, is taking place Oct. 27–29. This year’s lineup of celebrity guests includes Richard Dreyfuss (“Jaws”), John Cusack (“Better Off Dead”, “Gross Point Blank”), Joan Cusack (“Addams Family Values”, “Toy Story”), Shannon Elizabeth (“Scary Movie”) and more. Other thrills and chills at the convention include a tattoo festival, costume contest, zombie walk and film festival.
- A Petrified Forest features two outdoor scare trails for small groups to venture through a haunted forest at night. For the uber-brave, on Total Eclipse Nights – which require a signed waiver for anyone under 18 – monsters can touch the guests, and each small group is given only one glowstick to light their path, regardless if it is dropped or stolen by a creature. Trails take place on select nights, Sept. 29 – Nov. 4.
- Orlando Museum of Art’s 1st Thursdays: Ghosts & Ghouls will take place on Oct. 5. Artists will create works depicting dark, horror, goth and other Halloween themes including movie and TV icons, eerie and creepy landscapes and architecture, ghostly images, and anything associated with the paranormal and the unexplained.
- Zombie Outbreak challenges guests to see how long they could survive a zombie apocalypse. This Halloween season and all year long, the terrifically terrifying attraction puts guests in the middle of a military base overrun with the undead.
Kids and families can celebrate with monsters and villains, dress in costume and trick-or-treat inside some of the world’s favorite Halloween destinations.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World Resort. On select nights from Aug. 25 to Nov. 11, Magic Kingdom Park comes alive with jack-o-lanterns, special characters and entertainment for the whole family. Encouraged to come dressed for the occasion, visitors can trick-or-treat throughout the park, masquerade with costumed characters at the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, sing along at the Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular and end the night with a “Boo-tacular” fireworks show.
- SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular immerses guests into an underwater “fantasea” with up-close animal encounters, trick-or-treating, playful pumpkin fish, and sea-themed arts and crafts. Guests can also reserve seats for Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween. The fun takes place select weekends from Sept. 22 – Oct. 29.
- Brick or Treat at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, select nights from Oct. 14-31, includes trick-or-treating, the world’s largest LEGO jack-o-lantern, LEGO Halloween characters and a bewitching Halloween-themed fireworks show at Pirates’ Cove.
- “Screamin’ Green Hauntoween” at The Crayola Experience, where guests can trick-or-treat while creating “monsterific” crafts and snapping “spooktacular” character photos on select days, Oct. 7–31.
- Zoo Boo Bash at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, offers ghoulish fun in the wildest neighborhood in town with trick-or-treating, face painting and costume contests on Oct. 28–29.
Haunting Hotel Packages
Orlando’s hotels scare up some hauntingly good deals and fun packages for the season.
- The Goblins & Giggles Getaway Weekends at the Gaylord Palms Resort includes story time, ghost tours, a night time pool party, trick or treating and a Monster Mash Bash costume contest and movie night under the stars. The Halloween package starts at $189 per night (plus tax, resort fee and parking) and is valid from Sept. 15-Oct. 28.
- Halloween Happenings at Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista offers spellbinding savings with room rates starting at $69 (plus tax) for a Halloween getaway, with fun packs for kids at check in plus complimentary scheduled shuttles to the theme parks.
- Hyatt Place Orlando Universal is offering trick or treating for all guests checking into the property. Guests can enjoy a sweet treat amenity in their room upon check-in as well as two additional complimentary drinks or treats at the Coffee to Cocktails Bar.
The Orlando Destination
Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, Theme Park Capital of the World®, and most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife.
Walt Disney World Resort is the place to be this holiday season as theme parks and resort hotels sparkle with jolly decorations that bring the spirit of the season to life. Here’s a sampling of the holiday fun in store for guests:
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Guests can get wrapped up in a Flurry of Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from Nov. 9-Dec. 31, with exciting new holiday happenings around the park and the return of the nighttime projection and fireworks show “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!”
- NEW! Sunset Seasons Greetings – This new holiday experience features spectacular projections of Mickey, Minnie and other beloved Disney characters sharing their favorite Christmas stories as a snowy Sunset Boulevard twinkles with stunning holiday decorations. Holiday magic brings billboards to life and transforms the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel into scenes of the season – a giant pile of Christmas gifts, a gingerbread house and a frozen winter wonderland! A frosty summer-loving snowman might even make an appearance to share his holiday wish! This fantastic and heartwarming experience runs continuously throughout the night.
- NEW! Enhanced holiday décor around Echo Lake – Extra-large ornaments, colorful garlands and a giant Christmas tree centered on the water will make Echo Lake the merriest of places this holiday season. Even Dinosaur Gertie will be dressed for the occasion with a dino-sized Santa hat.
- “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Returns – The hit holiday show returns Nov. 9 sending beloved Disney animated characters on a spirited yuletide adventure to get Santa back to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve. “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” combines state-of-the-art projections, fireworks, special effects and Christmas music to create a dazzling, one-of-a-kind holiday experience for guests – capped by a special message from Santa himself.
- “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” Dessert Party – Guests can wrap up their jolly holiday evenings with reserved viewing of the “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” nighttime spectacular. The nightly party includes holiday-inspired snacks, delicious desserts, wine, beer, and specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. A surprise Disney character will also join the fun, posing for pictures and signing autographs. This fun-filled special event is offered Nov. 9-Dec. 30, 2017.
- A new friend joins the cast of ‘For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration’ – Holiday fun continues at the Hyperion Theater as Anna, Elsa and Kristoff welcome Olaf to this popular sing-along celebration. Just for the holidays the show will include all-new songs from Disney’s new animated short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”
- Minnie’s Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine – Meet Minnie, Mickey, Daisy, Donald and Goofy for lunch and dinner celebrations centered on seasonal deliciousness. From Nov. 6-Jan. 7, the mouse-with-the-mostest will deck the halls for a banquet filled with holiday cheer and the joy of the season!
- Santa Claus returns to the Once Upon a Time shop Nov. 9-Dec. 24 – The beautiful vintage setting of the Once Upon a Time shop recalls bygone days of Santa’s visits to great department stores across the country. Santa will be at the shop daily to greet guests and listen to holiday wishes. Santa Goofy will step in Dec. 25-Dec. 31 after Old Saint Nick returns to the North Pole.
Holidays Around the World is transforming into the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays from Nov. 9-Dec. 30, surrounding guests once again in the wondrous sights, sounds and flavors of the season.
- NEW! Holiday Kitchens – The number of holiday kitchens doubles in size this year to a total of 15, each bringing the flavors of the season to life. New this year, guests can indulge in cookies and desserts at the holiday kitchen located inside the Odyssey complex. Sweet treats include snowflake sugar cookies and a warm apple fritter with cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce. Over at the Canada pavilion, dazzling delicacies like the Maple Buche de Noel (maple mousse rolled in gingerbread chiffon cake with cranberry sauce and pecan crumble) celebrate holiday traditions from the Great White North.
- NEW! Chip & Dale’s Christmas Tree Spree – Chip and Dale are collecting ornaments for their Christmas tree. Guests can purchase a map and stickers from select merchandise locations and travel around World Showcase looking for the famous chipmunks with their ornaments. Guests can return their completed maps for a festive surprise, courtesy of Chip and Dale.
- NEW! Candlelight Processional Narrators – One of the most popular Epcot traditions returns with new celebrity narrators in 2017. Pat Sajak, Matt Bomer and CCH Pounder will join the lineup of returning favorites like Neil Patrick Harris, Whoopi Goldberg and Jaci Velasquez. The Candlelight Processional is a retelling of the Christmas story as told by a celebrity narrator accompanied by 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir. The show takes place at the America Gardens Theatre each evening at 5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Nov. 24-Dec. 30.
- NEW! Holiday Entertainment – Enjoy the sights and sounds of the nations of World Showcase, as each country’s holiday heritage comes to life amid joyful music and time-honored traditions. Guests will discover an entertaining celebration of Hanukkah in a new location along World Showcase promenade, where a fun and interactive band interweaves the music of Hanukkah with jazz, Latin, rock and even hip-hop influences. Other returning holiday favorites include JOYFUL! A Gospel Celebration of the Season and Canadian Holiday Voyageurs.
- Fireworks Finale – The nightly fireworks display, IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, will feature a special holiday ending.
- A Frozen Holiday Wish – Behold an enchanting performance to melt a frozen heart. Royal sisters Anna and Elsa lead a celebration on the Castle Forecourt Stage nightly Nov. 9-Dec. 31. Featuring special appearances by rugged mountain man Kristoff and lovable snowman Olaf, this merry-and-bright seasonal show culminates in Queen Elsa using her incredible powers to present a gift to everyone in the kingdom – transforming Cinderella Castle into a glimmering, shimmering ice palace for the holidays.
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party – It’s a Christmas party like no other, with joyous music, a shimmering Cinderella Castle, characters in their festive finery and the Magic Kingdom decked out and made even more magical for merry-making guests of all ages. Each specially ticketed, limited-attendance event features an exclusive performance of Holiday Wishes fireworks and the earliest performances of other spectaculars like Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, the Frozen Holiday Wish castle-lighting ceremony and Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration stage show. The special party – complete with cookies, cocoa and snow flurries – begins at 7 p.m., after regular park hours. Parties will be held on November 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 26 and 28, and December 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21 and 22.
- Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade – This enchanting holiday pageant sings and dances its way through the Magic Kingdom park daily Dec. 23-Dec 31. It also makes a special appearance at each Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Brimming with magic and cheer, the parade features Santa Claus, gingerbread men, elves, reindeer, toy soldiers and other friends from the North Pole. They all join Mickey and friends – including Arendelle favorites Anna, Elsa, Kristoff and Olaf – in an over-the-top celebration of the season.
- Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration – From Dec 23-Dec. 31, Mickey and Minnie take to Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage where they host some of their Disney friends for an unforgettable Christmas soiree filled with classic and contemporary holiday songs. Magical holiday projections on Cinderella Castle build to a sensational, snowy finale. Performances are also featured during each Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
It’s a wild holiday time as decorations around the park frame new day-into-nighttime experiences, including Tree of Life transformations, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali Rivers Rapids and Expedition Everest. Guests will be greeted by a dramatic, animal-themed holiday tree, and festive garlands will have the park all a-glow with merriment.
Every corner of Disney Springs is wrapped and ready for the season with holiday décor and special entertainment, making it the most wonderful place to shop. From top name-brands to cozy one-of-a kind retailers and, of course, all things Disney, there’s something for everyone. Busy shoppers can also take a break and enjoy a quick snack on the go or an unforgettable meal at one of Disney Springs many talked-about restaurants.
North Carolina’s Carowinds Theme Park will debut a newly expanded kids’ area, Camp Snoopy, opening for the spring 2018 season. Formerly known as Planet Snoopy, Camp Snoopy will feature new rides, a climb and play area, and a more natural looking midway that celebrates the beauty of the Carolina wilderness. Also new for 2018 is the Pre-K Pass, a season pass offering free admission to children ages three to five.
The Camp Snoopy playtime spot will feature five new rides:
- Camp Bus: Buckle up on the wacky camp bus and take a ride that will lift guests into the air and back down to the ground in smooth extensions.
- PEANUTS™ Trailblazers: Get behind the wheel of a Jeep-themed vehicle and burn rubber on a small, round speedway.
- Kite Eating Tree: Ride along in a kite vehicle that travels up and down a tree.
- Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies: Take a trip in a “mud buggy,” where guests will rotate around the popular Pig Pen character while bouncing on a bumpy ride.
- Woodstock Whirlybirds: Spin around in an oversized birds nest on this classic ride.
In addition, an 8,000 square foot climb and play area, Beagle Scout Acres, will be added. Children can explore the wide open space with three all-new features:
- The youngest adventurers will be able to gather in a fenced-in toddler area with lots of hands-on activities.
- A new play hill will be an open area for guests to enjoy slides and climb on a turf covered mound.
- Playground wood structures will have hands-on interactives, slides and plenty of things to climb.
The child care facility and Snack Shack restaurant will receive improvements as well.
Also for 2018, Carowinds will introduce the Pre-K Pass, a free season pass specifically for children. The Pre-K Pass provides complimentary admission for kids three to five years of age throughout the 2018 season as well as the remainder of 2017. Online pre-registration is required.
“The expansion of our kids’ area along with the introduction of the Pre-K Pass puts Carowinds as a top destination for families,” said Pat Jones, Carowinds vice president and general manager. “The new Camp Snoopy area joins our world-class attractions such as the record-breaking Fury 325 giga coaster and the massive Carolina Harbor water park in offering features that meet the needs of guests ranging from three to 23 to 93, providing unique opportunities for creating family memories.”
Guests may purchase a 2018 Gold Season Pass at the lowest price of the year. 2018 Gold Season passholders receive unlimited access to Carowinds as well as its Carolina Harbor water park in 2018, along with free admission to SCarowinds and WinterFest, access to special passholder-only events, plus one free visit during the remaining 2017 season. The special pricing ends October 29, 2017.
Carowinds, a 400-acre theme park located on the border of North and South Carolina, is home to more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including 13 world-class rollercoasters and Carolina Harbor, a top-rated 27-acre water park.
Worlds of Fun, Kansas City’s hometown amusement park, will introduce a new family ride, Nordic Chaser, for the 2018 season. On Nordic Chaser, guests of all ages will board mini ships that rotate speedily around a circuit. The ride captures the imagination as guests experience the sensation of rising and falling along ocean waves. The ride will be placed in the park’s Scandinavia themed area.
“The new Nordic Chaser ride will allow parents and children the opportunity to make lasting memories together,” said Tony Carovillano, general manager, Worlds of Fun. “We strive to provide new and exciting changes at Worlds of Fun every year, and look forward to having more families experience every aspect we have to offer at the park.”
Returning for the 2018 season is the popular WinterFest holiday event. Winterfest showcases favorite holiday characters, spectacular light displays, ice skating, hands-on activities and live entertainment. The park will be transformed into a winter wonderland for several weeks starting in late November through December, 2018.
Also returning in 2018 is the Pre-K Pass, which grants complimentary admission to children ages three to five years old for the entire season. Online preregistration is required.
2018 season passes are on sale now at the lowest price of the season, and also include one visit to the park in 2017. The pass gives guests unlimited access to the new Nordic Chaser ride as well as all of the attractions in Worlds of Fun and the Oceans of Fun water park, plus special events like Winterfest, Halloween Haunt and The Great Pumpkin Fest.
Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun is a 235-acre amusement and water park in Kansas City, Mo. featuring more than 100 family rides, thrill rides, waterslides, shows and attractions including seven world-class roller coasters. The park also stages the Midwest’s largest Halloween event in September and October. Worlds of Fun is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a publicly traded partnership and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. For more information, see www.cedarfair.com.
Hersheypark, the 121-acre amusement park in Hershey, Pa., announced today its’ plans for two new family thrill attractions for The Boardwalk At Hersheypark water park – Breakers Edge Water Coaster and Whitecap Racer.
Breakers Edge Water Coaster will be the world’s first HydroMAGNETIC water coaster with flying saucer turns and the 14th coaster at Hersheypark. Whitecap Racer will be the world’s longest mat racer. The new attractions will be located between Shoreline Sprayground attraction and Intercoastal Waterway lazy river and are slated to debut for Memorial Day weekend of 2018.
“We are very excited to announce not one, but two new attractions for 2018 to The Boardwalk At Hersheypark,” said Kevin Stumpf, General Manager Attractions & Entertainment of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. “Our guests always ask for coasters, water and family experiences…these attractions will deliver on all three.”
Breakers Edge Water Coaster will be the world’s first HydroMAGNETIC water coaster with flying saucer turns to smoothly rocket riders through splash-filled hills and sweet thrills that are perfect for the whole family. The four-person inline raft gives families a bobsled ride feeling as gravity drops and smooth Linear Induction Motors (LIMs) power guests up and down hills and turns. This water coaster has an estimated hourly ride capacity of 600 guests and a ride time of about one minute.
Whitecap Racer will be the world’s longest mat racer and will take guests 70 feet high as they race to the finish in six side-by-side tunnels to the bottom. Each rider speeds through two tight 360-degree loops, while open racing lanes with low separator lanes allow racers to see and hear each other as they challenge each other using a slider timing system.
ProSlide Technology Inc. is the manufacturer of both attractions. Both rides are family-friendly and have a height requirement of a Reese’s category and up (42″ and up).
The new attractions will be the biggest splash to The Boardwalk At Hersheypark water park since it opened for the Park’s centennial season in 2007. The area features six water slides, a lazy river, wave pool and more than 600 interactive water features. These new attractions join more than 70 rides available for guests during the 2018 season at Hersheypark Amusement Park as part of a 3-parks-in-one Hersheypark admission, including ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park and The Boardwalk At Hersheypark water park.
For more information, visit www.hersheypark.com.