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.
The Big E, the largest fair in the Northeast and fifth largest in North America, has just kicked off its 101th year with big talent, phenomenal food, animals, rides, shopping and more! The 17-day event will feature a Mardi Gras Parade and The Big E Circus Spectacular.
Some of the biggest names from the past and present, as well as those on their way to the top, have played before crowds at The Big E. From legendary entertainers, like Bob Hope, Roy Rogers and Liberace, to the musical talents of Johnny Cash, Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, Reba and Blake Shelton, the Fair has been the venue to introduce these icons. This year top name talent like Grand Funk Railroad, Smashmouth and Night Ranger take the stage! Concertgoers are in for a ton of great shows at the xfinity arena and Court of Honor Stage, sponsored by xfinity®.
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.
A festival vacation – colorful, energetic, and culturally immersive – is a terrific way to meet locals and enjoy a new experience. In New Braunfels Fall is festival season and the mild temperatures and scenic Texas Hill Country make it a perfect vacation destination. Get away with your BFF or enjoy a romantic holiday with the love of your life. It’s a vacation to remember!
There are art festivals, craft beer pubs and wineries to visit. There’s outdoor recreation like cycling, running, kayaking and stand-up paddling. It’s often still warm enough to float the two fantastic rivers in a tube. Check some of the “festival” fun you can have in the Fall in New Braunfels:
The Comal County Fair – Have a taste of Texas culture! There’s a barbecue contest and a washer pitching contest. There’s a PRCA Rodeo, Bull Riding, a tractor pull, and livestock shows. Enjoy scooting a boot to The Bellamy Brothers and a George Strait Tribute Band. Don’t miss the parade that kicks it all off on Friday, September 29. New Braunfels takes the day off and everyone is either in the parade or gathered to watch it!
Cycling – As the weather cools off, cyclists converge for the Bike MS Valero Ride to the River. The October 7-8 Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River, presented by H-E-B, offers a variety of one-day and two-day ride distances. There’s even a 161-mile option. The ride from San Antonio to New Braunfels includes celebrations overnight and at the finish line. There are fun-interactive themed rest stops along the route. Experience the beauty of South Texas and the Hill Country for a cycling experience like no other.
Bring your bike for the Tour de Gruene November 4, too. Choose recreational tours from ride lengths of 14, 29, 41, 49, and 63 miles. Enjoy the Hill Country scenery along the tree-lined banks of the Guadalupe River. Ride through the heart of Texas and enjoy a post ride lunch and party. Cap off your evening with dining and dancing to Bavarian entertainment at Wurstfest!
Book Now! Find Your Perfect Room in New Braunfels…
Wine and Craft Beer – The Gruene Music & Wine Festival October 5-8, is a four-day celebration of Texas and Americana music. Sample Texas, German and New World wines. Enjoy specialty beers, food and handcrafted items. “Texas Tastings & Tunes” on Saturday includes more than 40 wine and food producers for tastings. There’s ‘Le Cordon Gruene’ food alley, too. Sunday’s “Texas-Style Musicfest” includes a Specialty Beer Tasting event, two entertainment stages and the big game on a big screen TV. There’s a Craft Market on Saturday and Sunday. The “Not From Texas” kickoff event on Thursday features German and New World wines, live music and door prizes! Add a tour of the Texas Hill Country wineries and craft beer breweries. Start with the wineries and breweries in New Braunfels!
New Braunfels Historic Modelers Society Train Show – If you’re into model trains, you don’t want to miss this great show October 28-29. It takes up the entire New Braunfels Civic Center Exhibit Hall – 11,789 square feet! There are additional exhibits throughout the facility, too. Special features include a huge exhibit of Lego Trains and traveling model railroads of various scales. More than 60 vendors have displays on more than 300 tables for buying, selling, or swapping. There are door prizes, a silent auction, a museum store, and a mini food court. Children will enjoy the free ride ticket for the Landa Park Miniature Train. Or, they can be a Junior Engineer at a ‘Kids Run the Trains’ layout!
The Texas Clay Festival – The Gruene Historic District hosts the 25th annual Texas Clay Festival October 28-29. It features the work of more than 60 Texas potters and clay artists. You’ll find a wide variety of pottery, from traditional to sculptural by the top clay artists in Texas. The festival also provides a unique opportunity to watch and learn. There are demonstrations in four tents throughout both days. From the potter’s wheel to hand-building to raku firing, there is something for everyone.
Dia De Los Muertos – This fun packed festival October 29 includes food, arts & crafts, shopping, live music, and entertainment, as well as educational info on the history of the day. Entertainment includes Mariachi Internacional Monarca, Compania de Danza Folklorica and Tejano star Patsy Torres.
Marathons – November 18, runners gather for the Chosen Marathon CHOSEN HALF MARATHON & 5K. It’s the “Prettiest Race in Texas” making it the perfect destination race to add to your calendar. The Half Marathon is a point-to-point course that runs beside the Guadalupe River. The 5K is an out-and-back course that starts and finishes at Rockin R River Outfitters in Gruene. There’s also a Kids Fun Run!
Thanksgiving in New Braunfels includes the opportunity to run off a few pounds on November 23 with the city’s “Turkey Trot.” Enjoy an exhilarating 5k run/walk through the Gruene Historic District to start the day. Children under 12 years old can participate by chasing a Turkey Mascot for ¼ mile through Gruene!
Book Now! Find Your Perfect Room in New Braunfels…
Wurstfest – The food festival to enjoy in Texas according to National Geographic Magazine. Wurstfest is one of the two top “Oktoberfest” celebrations in the nation according to USA Today. You don’t want to miss this November 3-12 unique annual celebration rich in German culture and full of Texas fun! There’s great food including sausage on a stick to sausage tacos. There’s lots of music and dancing, carnival rides and games. Try the German, Texan and domestic beers. Enjoy special events and the finest in Alpine and Bavarian Style Entertainment. It’s the best ten days in sausage history.
It’s time for a festival vacation! Make your reservations in New Braunfels now!
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.