Halloween is no longer a one-night celebration. The weeks preceding All Hallow's Eve are packed with fantastic ways to have merry-not-scary fun with the kids. If you're avoiding the constant sugar high, rest assured there is more to these events then candy. (Of course, you can always invoke the "I get half the candy" rule.) Here are eight spooktacular ways to celebrate Halloween:
Mickey's Halloween Party, Disneyland
In true Disney-style, Disneyland is completely transformed for Halloween. Go dressed in costume and trick-or-treat at special stations that offer candy, healthy treats (like sliced apples) and souvenirs along Main Street. Take pictures with your favorite Disney villain and do the monster mash at one of the dance parties. Having a Mickey's Halloween Party ticket gains you admission to the park up to three hours before the party, so be sure to take advantage of this. A perennial favorite is the Haunted Mansion, which is transformed with a Nightmare Before Christmas motif featuring Jack Skellington. If you are brave, be sure to take a ride through Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy. Coming to Mickey's Party is also the ONLY way to see the Halloween Screams Firework Show, which, in itself, is a reason to go.
Doheny State Beach Halloween Haunt
Bring a can of food and gain entrance to the Doheny Campground for it's 11th annual Halloween Haunt. There are games, snacks, face painting, airbrush tattoos, a spooky walk, a talking mirror, craft center and really fun educational booths. Booths include live snake exhibits, real creepy crawly spiders (you don't think any of those get out, do you?), learning about the night sky and its constellations, deep sea creatures, sharks, mountain lions and coyotes, nocturnal animals, and other fantastic spooky information. The whole place is decorated with props, fog, spooky lighting, and general Halloween cheer.
Boo at the Zoo & Halloween Zootacular
Both the Santa Ana Zoo and Orange County Zoo respectively offer Halloween fun. Boo at the Zoo in the Santa Ana Zoo has a costume parade, storytelling, trick-or-treating, crafts and animal presentations. Buy your tickets online and avoid waiting in line to get in. The Halloween Zootacular at the Orange County Zoo has a petting zoo, scavenger hunt, crafts, face-painting and trick-or-treating. Watch the animals eat their treats from carved jack-o'-lanterns (who doesn't want a picture of that?) and giggle at the spectacle.
Snoopy's Costume Party at Camp Spooky
Wear your costume as you join Snoopy and the Peanuts gang and some friendly monsters at the dance party and parade. Walk through the Haunted Harvest Maze of corn with its funny scarecrows or through Hay Bale Maze to join Linus in the search for The Great Pumpkin. Watch a show at the Camp Spooky theater, create at the craft depot, and visit the creepy crawlies at the Critter Cave. The best part is that all of this is included in the park admission.
Autumn Harvest Festival, Heritage Hill
Take a step back in time at Heritage Hill Historical Park dating back to 1863. Enjoy narrative tours through the buildings, the haunted Harry Potter school house, a maze, trick-or-treating, a costume parade, and watch a live pirate adventure show. For older kids only, there is also the Haunt at Heritage Hill the night before.
The parade dates back to 1924 when Babe Ruth was Grand Marshall and continues on every year. Watch floats, marching bands, horses, vintage cars, and special guests. During the day there are game and food booths, entertainment, a haunted house, pumpkin patch, and trick-or-treating. These are spaced out throughout the day so be sure to check out the schedule online. Oh, and don't forget to enter your little pumpkin in the costume contest!
Dr. Nobles' Halloween, Fountain Valley
Every year Dr. Tony Nobles, a surgeon, entrepreneur and inventor, pays to have his block (the 8600 block of Tern Avenue off of Magnolia and Nightingale) transformed into a Halloween fantasy. Last year the theme was Star Wars and took an estimated 80 hours a week of planning and set up through the month of October and nearly $250,000 to complete. It included a Death Star that covered an entire house along with actors and animatronics to play out life-size scenes from each of the movies. This year's theme is Haunted Fairy Tales and you can expect lighting, sound effects, music, and characters from a rumored 27 different fairy tales and mazes. Hundreds go every year, so be sure to get there early; by sun down it's completely packed and parking is scarce. Dr. Nobles outdoes himself every year, and this will be spectacular!
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