Halloween attractions abound Cities offer spooky thrills, fun for all ages, from pumpkins to zombies

Costumed participants in the Village Halloween Parade make their way up Sixth Avenue in New York. This year’s parade is themed on the end of the world, a reference to a Mayan calendar that ends Dec. 21.

NEW YORK — Too old to trick-or-treat? Busy the night of Oct. 31? That’s OK, because Halloween has become a seasonal holiday, with attractions and activities for all ages through early November.

Many cities now have local haunted house attractions, community zombie walks and ghost tours. Amusement parks small and large revamp for the month of October with faux graveyards, haunted trails and actors dressed like freaks. Some attractions are so creepy they are not recommended for guests under 13.

Other entertainment venues — from Disney parks to zoos, museums, aquariums and even indoor water parks — host Halloween events geared to younger kids.

“Haunted and seasonal theming is growing in popularity not only for theme parks and amusement parks, but also at water parks, zoos, aquariums, museums, science centers and family entertainment centers,” said Colleen Mangone, spokeswoman for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Here’s a sampling of attractions, experiences and events around the country that take place around Halloween or are themed on the holiday.

Get ready for the end of the world if you’re planning to attend New York City’s Village Halloween Parade. This year, the theme for the event is the Mayan calendar, which ends Dec. 21. The annual parade draws 2 million spectators and 50,000 participants and stretches from Spring Street to 16th Street along Sixth Avenue, starting 7 p.m. Oct. 31.

A few signature events celebrate that hallowed Halloween symbol, the pumpkin. The granddaddy of pumpkin-throwing contests, the World Championship Punkin Chunkin, is set for Nov. 2-4 in Bridgeville, Del.

From college campuses to main streets, zombie walks are held year-round, but many of them take place this time of year and are surprisingly family oriented, with little kids, teens and grown-ups alike donning “bloody” bandages and feigning limps in homage to the living dead. Find one near you: www.zombiewalk.com/forum/index.php .

New Orleans’ annual Voodoo Music Experience, http://thevoodooexperience.com, planned for Oct. 26-28 in City Park, offers a mix of big names such as Metallica and Neil Young plus local acts, including the Lost Bayou Ramblers. This year for the first time, tent-camping will be available for concert-goers. Tickets start at $90 for one-day admission, $175 for three days, with packages for VIP, parking and camping. Though there’s no formal connection between the festival and Halloween, some people dress up and the concert vibe builds on New Orleans’ voodoo heritage.

Here are the top 13 haunted attractions from HauntWorld.com: 13th Gate, Baton Rouge, La.; Netherworld, Atlanta; The Darkness, Atlanta; The Beast/Edge of Hell, Kansas City, Mo.; House of Torment, Austin, Texas; Cutting Edge, Austin, Texas; Bates Motel, Philadelphia; Dent Schoolhouse, Cincinnati; The Asylum, Denver; 13th Floor, Phoenix; Headless Horseman, Ulster Park, N.Y.; Erebus, Pontiac, Mich.; and Nightmare on the Bayou, Houston.

Many other cities have haunted attractions as well, from Blood Manor in Lower Manhattan to Apocalyptia 3-D in Jacksonville, Fla.

Halloween brings crowds to amusement parks that rival those on peak summer days, so be prepared for sold-out tickets and long lines, especially on weekend nights.

Cedar Point has Hallo-Weekends in Sandusky, Ohio; Busch Gardens has Howl-O-Scream in Tampa, Fla., and Williamsburg, Va.; Six Flags has Fright Fests in 13 parks, Hersheypark in the Dark takes place in Hershey, Pa., and Coney Island in Brooklyn, N.Y., is featuring Nights of Horror at Luna Park.

Universal theme parks in Florida and California go all out with Halloween Horror Nights, www.halloween horrornights.com. This year park guests on both coasts will encounter zombies inspired by the AMC show “The Walking Dead,” about a band of humans surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Both parks will feature demonic beings from the video game and movie “Silent Hill,” along with shock-and-horror attractions inspired by heavy metal rocker Alice Cooper.

Also awaiting scare-seekers at Universal Orlando: a Las Vegas wasteland covered with nuclear ooze, designed by the entertainers Penn & Teller; an abandoned house, Dead End; an ancient European cathedral, Gothic, where stone gargoyles come to life; and a House of Horrors featuring classic monsters from Universal films like the Mummy, Frankenstein and Wolfman.

At Universal Studios Hollywood’s Horror Night, park-goers can get additional thrills and chills in mazes themed on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and on La Llorona, a Latin American legend about a woman weeping for her dead children.

For younger children, consider Disney World’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland’s Mickey’s Halloween Party in Anaheim, Calif.

The events offer trick-or-treating, characters in costume, kids’ dance parties, parades and fireworks in orange and green; disneyland.disney.go.com/special-offers/mickeys-halloween-party or www.disneyworld.com/ halloween.

Historic hotels pride themselves on their pasts, and sometimes that includes a spooky story or two.

The Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas, which has been featured on “Ghost Lab” on the Discovery Channel and “Ghost Stories” on the Travel Channel, offers a ghost tour, room for two and dinner at $229 a night Wednesdays and Thursdays through October.

Ghost tour packages at other Historic Hotels of America properties, which includes the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston, can be found at: www.historichotels.org/hotel- deals/featured-packages.php.