You don't have to be left out of the theme park fun just because you know Howl O' Scream or Halloween Horror Nights would terrify your kids.
The intense haunted houses at Busch Gardens and Universal Studios are too much for some adults, let alone small children. But there's a middle ground between staying at home baking pumpkin seeds and having nightmares until New Year's Eve.
Magic Kingdom, Sea World and — closer to home — Lowry Park Zoo all offer Halloween-themed events with a range of scares for the whole family. Bugs and bats, colorful fireworks and Sesame Street characters can help little kids celebrate the spooky season.
Here's what you'll find:
Magic Kingdom: Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party delivers what it promises, Halloween with only a dose of frightful fun. The park stays open select nights from now until Nov. 1, allowing ticketholders access from 7 p.m. to midnight to most of the rides (frequently with much shorter lines), a parade with the Headless Horseman and a Hallo-Wishes fireworks display.
Costumes are welcome. Kids will get a treat bag and can collect goodies throughout the park. It's a separate ticket from regular park admission and ranges from $51.95 to $67.95, depending on age, event date and if tickets were purchased in advance.
SeaWorld: The monsters are Muppets at SeaWorld Orlando's "Halloween Spooktacular," which starts at noon on weekends in October. The Count and his Sesame Street friends perform a musical stage show, "Countdown to Halloween." Kids can trick or treat at 15 treasure stations, make colorful sand art in glass bottles and greet costumed sea creatures who will roam the park.
Cost is included in park admission for the daytime event.
Lowry Park Zoo: Zoo Boo returned this month and runs until Oct. 30. From 7 p.m. on, the zoo shows off its creepy side with attractions that are ranked according to their scare factor. It's a helpful guide to what may — or may not — be appropriate for your child.
You can walk through a seasonal light display, tour a "tangled terror" trail or ride the "roller-ghoster" (groan). It has haunted houses, too, including a non-scary "Boo House" for the skittish.
Only kids 11 and younger can come in costume (and leave the toy weapons at home!). General admission ranges from $14 for children ages 3 to 11 and $17 for ages 12 and older. Members get $1 off.