LAKE ALFRED – Scary? …. Linda Hitchcock is asked, and she thinks about it a second and then shakes her head no.
Just fun, really.
“We want the kids to come in costume,” she said. “It’s all kinds of fun stuff.”
While Universal Studios is terrifying adults this month with its annual Halloween Horror Nights and Fantasy of Flight is inviting ghost hunters to tour its attraction in Polk City, it’s clear that October can be very big business for the local tourism industry, as residents and visitors alike seek out ways to get positively terrified.
But at the Lake Alfred Public Library, the staff is hoping to do something aimed more at those original trick or treaters: little children. The staff is hosting a Library Costume Party on Friday, Oct. 28 from 6-8 p.m.
Hitchcock, Lake Alfred’s library director, noted that this would be a chance for parents to bring their kids to safe place for some Halloween fun, where the children could enjoy snacks, crafts, music, and maybe even a few scary stories …
But again, not too scary.
“It’s going to be spooky stories, and we want the kids to come dressed up as their favorite character,” Hitchcock said.
All month long, communities across Central Florida are hosting safe events like this one for children, while at the same time, the theme parks are reminding the public that there’s plenty of money to be made as tourists flock to the region for some real scares – whether aimed at adults or children.
At Old Town, the theme park on U.S. 192, the special Halloween activities are geared to both.
Zombies, ghosts, Florida Ghost Busters and pirates started roaming the streets of Old Town on Friday, Oct. 14, when the theme park introduced a new Halloween festival for all ages, a zombie walk down its Main Street.
This “Old Town Halloween” is being held this weekend and again on the weekend of Oct. 27-31, nightly from 6 p.m. to midnight. And on the final Halloween weekend, children can trick or treat from 6–9 p.m. each evening.
In addition to the Zombie Walks, there’s live entertainment, Florida Ghost Buster Fan Club appearances, Monster Mashes and Costume Contests on Saturdays. And Gary Conroy, the president of Old Town, pointed out that unlike the other major theme parks, it’s free to park at Old Town, and admission is the same price. All you pay for is whatever you want to buy at the theme park’s restaurants, gift shops and clubs.
“Halloween activities at other theme parks can cost as much as $80 per person, plus parking, while entrance to Old Town is absolutely free and so is parking,” said Conroy. “Our innovative approach to providing spooky and family fun activities that meet everyone’s scare and budget thresholds will launch a new Halloween tradition for local residents and area visitors.”
He also noted that Old Town hosts a permanent attraction, The Haunted Grimm House, which has been scaring visitors for two decades.
Old Town is at 5770 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (U.S. 192) and is open from Sunday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, noon to midnight.
At nearby SeaWorld, the special October events are geared more toward children than adults.
SeaWorld Orlando is hosting a Halloween “Spooktacular” as a family-friendly event that allows children to trick-or-treat, dance with whimsical sea creatures, and watch spooky but comical shows. Spooktacular takes place every weekend in October from noon to 8 p.m.
The highlights of this event include Penelope’s Party Zone, an underwater environment that immerses children in the wonders of the sea through kid-friendly music, games, and colorful characters at SeaWorld’s Bayside area, a zone where guests can dance and play along to the spooky sound waves broadcast by a live DJ; a new Apple Decorating Post, a station where apples can be dipped into sauces that include white chocolate, fudge, or caramel, then topped with sprinkles; Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween Show, a live musical at the SeaPort Theatre where Count Van Count heads out on a quest to find his friends Elmo, Zoe and Telly, and ends up meeting dancing skeletons; and the Spooky Sand Art Station, where children can make a multi-colored sand souvenir at this interactive arts and craft area where sea-themed glass bottles — in the shape of dolphins, turtles, and starfish — are filled with an array of vibrantly-colored sands.
In Lake Alfred, though, the staff of the library at 195 E. Pomelo St. is looking to create a much more simple and old-fashioned Halloween event: a place where kids can hang out together and have a great time.
As Denise Caudill, the children’s librarian, put it, “It’s going to be about food, and fun, and games.”
To learn more about the Lake Alfred Library Costume Party, call 863-291-5378.
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