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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bewitching festivities at Central Florida theme parks

What comes after a Harry Potter summer? A fall filled with Halloween parties.It's no trick. Gruesome goblins and ghosts, witches and wizards, not to mention headless horsemen, are taking over central Florida's theme parks beginning in September and continuing full blast through early November. The parks are ready for visitors eager to celebrate the season with spooky haunted houses, scare zones, and even coasters in the inky darkness of night. Some parks present nightmarish events sure to spook the bravest visitors; others feature family-friendly festivities that are fun for all ages. Here's a park-by-park look at what's going bump in the night:

Walt Disney World

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is a family-friendly event at the Magic Kingdom. Highlights include the "Boo To You Halloween Parade," during which Disney characters — including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy — can be seen in their favorite Halloween costumes parading along with others down Main Street.

The party also features "Happy HalloWishes" fireworks spectacular. And the most popular Magic Kingdom attractions, including Pirates of the Caribbean with Capt. Jack Sparrow and the park's Haunted Mansion, are open.

Visitors are invited to come in costume and trick-or-treat at a variety of stations throughout the park during the event. Party hours are from 7 p.m. to midnight. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is featured on Sept. 14, 21, 28 and 30; Oct. 4, 5, 8, 11, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30 and 31; and Nov. 2. Tickets at the gate are $63.90 for adults, $54 for children ages 3 to 9. Visit www.disneyworld.com/halloween; or call 407-934-7639.

Universal Orlando
Now in its 17th year, Halloween Horror Nights is where you can come face to face with Freddy Krueger, Jason and Leatherface. There are also chilling haunted houses that terrorize even the most intrepid guests; intense, skin-crawling, scare zones; scores of "scare actors" roaming around; and themed shows which are sure to chill and petrify.

Halloween Horror Nights are presented on Sept. 28-29; Oct. 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 24-28, 31; and Nov. 1-3. It is too intense for youngsters, and guests in costumes are not admitted. Single-night admission (valid all nights the event is presented) is $71 for adults and $60 for children ages 3 to 9. A Frequent Fear Pass offers 13 nights for the price of one ($64.95) valid on select nights: Sept. 28-29; Oct. 4, 7, 11, 14, 18, 21, 24, 25, 28, 31; and Nov. 1. Call 877-284-4679 or visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com.

Sea World
Halloween meets the sea with friendly sea witches, flamingos, mermaids, schools of pumpkin fish and other costumed characters haunting the park during Sea World's Halloween Spooktacular, an event suitable for the whole family. The event's theme is, appropriately, "FantaSea." If you like, dress in costume, as there are trick-or-treating treasure troves with treats galore throughout the park. SeaWorld's otters and sea lions present Halloween-themed shows.

Sea World's Halloween Spooktacular is presented on Oct. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21, 26-28 and 31. It is included in park general admission ($64.95 for adults, $53.95 for children ages 3-9). Park hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call 800-406-2244 or visit www.seaworld.com.

Whichever park's festivities you choose to attend, you'll find the best selection of costumes at AnniesCostumes.com.

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