Every year most US kids are ecstatic to know Halloween is coming. Why is this? Well, it is the first of the major holidays leading up to Christmas. But for kids and parents with autism Halloween can be scary. Starting with the fact, the celebrations happen mostly in the dark can in itself be scary. Couple that with strangers in costumes and loud noises and you have in many cases a recipe for disaster. So how can parents to kids with autism still ensure their children have fun?
Well, one way is to celebrate it in a theme park. Most of the today’s theme parks have special events just for Halloween.To help parents decide where to take their kids here are our top eight Halloween theme park celebrations for families with autism.
Disney – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party
Disney is great any time of the year, but Halloween is one of the best.This celebration is truly an event geared for all ages.
Here, parents and kids can experience Disney magic after dark. Costumes are allowed, but there are rules and limitations. One of the big rules is no costume can drag on the ground. Some masks are allowed, but they cannot cover the entire face, and your eyes have to be visible.
Kids can trick or treat throughout the park; all while families can experience the rides that are open. Families can enjoy special dining packages to see the special shows. Vistors can see the Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular, based off of the movie Hocus Pocus. There is also the Happy Hallowishes Firework show, Boo-To-You Halloween Parade, and The Cadaver Dan’s Barbershop Quartet.
Tickets range from $74 to $115 depending on the night you go.Remember to book everything in advance including the dining packages.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween participating nights
- August 25,29
- September 1,7,10,12,15,17,19,22,24,26,29
- October 1,3,5,6,9,10,12,13,15,17,19,20,22,24,26,27,29,31
- November 1
Legoland – Brick or Treat
Legoland’s Brick or Treat is sure going to be a crowd pleaser for all the younger trick or treaters. Families will be able to experience larger-than-life LEGO models, LEGO building activities, trick or treating, character meet and greets and a costume parade. Oh, I forgot to mention there’s a Halloween Fireworks show too.
If you act quickly and catch their early bird special, you can purchase tickets for the Brick or Treat from 5 pm to 9 pm for only $49.00.
The Brick or Treat will be every Saturday in October.
- September 30
- October 7,14,21,28
SeaWorld – Halloween Spooktacular
At SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular, both kids and families are going to have a blast.
SeaWorld plans to have coloring events, special Halloween shows, and trick or treating. Included are Penelope’s Garden Party, Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween, Spooky Dance Party and Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast. The Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween and Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast is an additional charge on top of regular ticket prices.
The costume policy here only allows kids under 12 to wear costumes and masks. All costumes must adhere to the normal parks dress code rules. And in this case, the only face painting allowed is the one done by the park artists!Ticket prices are the same as standard daily tickets.
Halloween Spooktacular runs September 23 to October 29, 2017.
Hersheypark – Hersheypark in the Dark
Hersheypark in the dark is a super kid-friendly event.
Here, kids will be able to participate in the ‘trick or treat’ trail, where they will have 13 different locations to get super sweet treats. They get to explore Hersheypark, Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, and Zoo America on this adventure. There will also be 13 different roller coasters open for the families fun. The fun does not stop there. Make sure to pack a flashlight, because after dark there will be different night time creatures for your kids to learn about too.
As for costumes, adults can not wear masks or paint their faces. Adults must also dress modestly -so no revealing or offensive clothing. Skate shoes are not allowed.
Tickets start out at around $28.00 for a kids’ single day pass and $38.00 for adults.
Hersheypark in the Dark is open:October 13,14,15,20,21,22,27,28,29
Universal Studios – Halloween Horror Nights
Halloween Horror Nights are not for the young kids. In fact, there is a reason it is recommended for teenagers over the age of 13. Also, if your child has sensory issues and does not tolerate loud sounds, ghoulish appearances, or scary situations, then you may want to skip it.
The theme this year is Saw, The games of Jigsaw. Now if you have seen any of the Saw movies, you will know to expect very gruesome images around the park. The other entertainment will include, Ash vs. Evil Dead Brings the Battle of a Lifetime, The Shining, and American Horror Story.
When you plan your Halloween Horror Nights, remember you will not be allowed to enter if you are wearing a costume. Like mentioned before this is for the older kids who are movie fans and are tolerant of noises and smells.
Advanced ticket prices range from $59.99 to $69.99. If you are an extreme thrill seeker and want to experience multiple nights, there are packages from $77.99 to $599.99.
Tickets available for purchase on the following nights:
- September 15,16,17,21,22,23,24,29,30
- October 1,4,5,6,7,8,11,12,13,14,15,18,19,20,21,22,25,26,27,28,29,30,31
- November 3,4
Knott’s Berry Farm – Spooky and Scary Farm
Knott’s Berry Farm is a place that caters to everyone. The kids get the quaint spooks during the day. The park gets decorated with scarecrows, hay rides, and pumpkins. But by night the park switches to a much more adult macabre theme. The mazes are wildly popular as well as the nightly hanging shows. The Tooth fairy, The Hollow, and Elvira’s Last Show are just a few of the great events planned for the scary Halloween this year.
Tickets range from $40 for a single ticket and as little as $185 which includes the Knott’s Berry Hotel packages.
Spooky Farm runs daily in September and October. Nights to Enjoy the Scary Farm
Six Flags Magic Mountain – Fright Fest
Much like Knott’s, Six Flags MagMountain in Valencia caters to the young and the older crowds. During the day, the littlest trick or treater can have fun in their costumes and go on the rides. Come the night time the park turns into a full-fledged fright fest.There will be mazes, zombies, and shows that are not suitable for the smell or noise sensitive.
Like some of its competitors here too only the younger lot can dress up.And adhering to the no masks and scary costumes applies.As far as tickets, they recommend purchasing the Season Pass. The season pass will allow you back to the park every day, including their Christmas Holiday events.
If you plan on attending the Fright Fest here are the scheduled days:
Busch Gardens – Howl-O-Scream
Howl-O-Scream is another Halloween event that is not suitable for young children.
Due to the nature of their costumes and the gore factor, I would not recommend it for anyone under the age of 18. Although, if you do want to take younger teens, do so at your own risk, and know in advance there is no difference in price.
Howl-O-Scream is a separately priced event at Bush Gardens. Howl-O-Scream starts at 7:30 pm, but will allow ticket holders in at 5 pm.The price is quite steep for $104.99 plus tax.
The nights to attend Howl-O-Scream are select nights from September 22 to October 29, 2017.
Autism Travel Tips
When attending a Halloween theme parks, make sure that your child has proper closed walking shoes. There’s nothing worse than searching for a lost flip-flop in a dark maze.Let your child wear their costume at home a few days before heading out. Doing so will allow your child to become comfortable in their costume, and also give you time to make any necessary changes.
Let your child wear their costume at home a few days before heading out. Doing so will allow your child to become comfortable in their costume, and also give you time to make any necessary changes.
As always, prepare your children with autism for what they can expect once they reach the Halloween theme park. During the weekends you can expect large crowd and kids that are running around everywhere on sugar highs. If you are attending the night events, they can expect loud noises, flashing strobe lights and strange smoke smells.
If you have a young adult with autism, that has sensory challenges make sure to have a quick exit plan to leave the park if needed. Most places have several exits some less crowded than the main entrance.
Regardless of what you do for Halloween, having fun and staying safe are the end goals. Parents should prepare their kids by showing them youtube clips and pictures of what to expect as well as share their own experiences of past celebrations to help make their lids feel comfortable.
Have you attended any of the Halloween theme parks listed above? Which of the Halloween theme parks is your favorite?