The focus is on tot-friendly fun rather than fright By Katrina Brown Hunt on Sep 15, 2014
Boo! at the Zoo at Brookfield Zoo (Flickr: anjanettew)
If your kids love dressing up and trick-or-treating, but they’re still too young for zombies and gory sights, consider planning a trip to the zoo this fall. At scores of zoos across the country, the focus is on tot-friendly fun rather than fright. Here’s how they celebrate Halloween where the wild things are:
Boo! at the Zoo: Brookfield Zoo
When: Saturdays and Sundays, October 18-19, 25-26
What to expect: Visit the acclaimed Brookfield Zoo during the last two weekends in October, and your little goblins can ride a “haunted” carousel, play in a corn maze, show off their costumes, and get up close to wolves, owls, snakes, and other creepy critters. Kids can also carve pumpkins and decorate cookies to take home.
Best for: Ages 2 to 8. Tickets: Included with zoo admission: $16.95 for adults; $11.95 for children.
Boo at the Zoo: National Zoo
When: October 24, 25, and 26
What to expect: Arrive in costume with an empty goody bag so you can visit the more than 30 treat stations in the National Zoo. As a bonus, you can learn more about zoo animals during special zookeeper presentations.
Best for: Ages 2 to 10. Tickets: $30 per person.
Boo! at the Zoo: Phoenix Zoo
Boo! at the Zoo at the Phoenix Zoo (Phoenix Zoo)
When: October 20-26
What to expect: It’s easy to see why this popular two-day event at the Phoenix Zoo has been running for more than 20 years, with a maze full of scarecrows, zoo-animal pumpkin-eating, and dance party with costumed characters. There is even a recycling swap meet for gently used costumes.
Best for: Ages 7 and under. Tickets: Included with regular zoo admission: $20 for adults; $14 for kids.
Wild Zoo Halloween: Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
When: October 17-19, 23-26, and 30-31
What to expect: This highly rated zoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana, goes wild with pumpkin-decorating contests, costume parades, and cartoon-themed days—as well as animal shows and special sea-lion feedings. Kids can also join the “Monster Mash” dance party, explore a maze, and take a free train ride around the zoo. And, of course, there will be plenty of candy.
Best for: Ages 2 to 8. Tickets: $5 per person, $9 per person with trick-or-treating.
Boo at the Zoo: Little Rock Zoo
When: October 18-19, October 24-November 1
What to expect: Little Rock Zoo makes Halloween a theatrical event, with live music, haunted hay rides and a haunted house. Kids and parents can also ride a haunted train, get their faces painted, conquer the hay maze, or nibble on grilled s’mores. Trick-or-treating starts at 6pm, when volunteers hand out candy at different stations throughout the zoo.
Best for: Ages 3 to 11. Tickets: $10 per person.
HallZOOween: Cincinnati Zoo
HallZOOween at the Cincinnati Zoo (Cassandre Crawford via Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden)
When: October 4–5, 11–12, 18–19 and 25–26
What to expect: While kids trick-or-treat their way around the Cincinnati Zoo, they can discover animals “celebrating” Halloween. Don’t miss the popular scavenger hunt, Halloween animal meet-and-greets, and the Hogwarts Express train rides. There’s also a “Beauty Shop of Horrors,” where kids can get a spooky manicure or temporary tattoo.
Best for: Ages 2 to 12. Tickets: Included with general zoo admission: $15 for adults; $11 for kids.
The World’s Largest Halloween Party: Louisville Zoo
When: October 3-5, 9-12, 16-19, 23-26 and 30
What to expect: Throughout October at the Louisville Zoo, the “sweetest party in town” enchants little ones with over a dozen themed attractions, including “Mumpkin the Talking Pumpkin,” an “ogre swamp,” Toyland, a new sports-themed attraction, and an antique carousel.
Best for: Ages 2 to 10. Tickets: $10 per person.
(MORE: Explore kid-friendly hotels in Louisville.)
Little Boo & Pumpkin Path: Toledo Zoo
Little Boo & Pumpkin Path at the Toledo Zoo (Casey Cook via Toledo Zoo)
When: October 23-26
What to expect: This celebration at the Toledo Zoo is two parties rolled into one. Bring your small fries on the first two days to Little Boo, a just-for-toddlers party with trick-or-treat stations, games, and scarecrow-making, as well as spider and bird-feeds. Preschoolers and school-age kids, meanwhile, will love the Pumpkin Path on the third and fourth days, with its own trick-or-treat stations and carnival-style games, as well as a “mystifying magic” show, story-telling “witch sisters,” and free bounce houses.
Best for: Ages 2 to 8. Tickets: $12 per person, kids under 2 FREE but $7 for trick-or-treating.
Katrina Brown Hunt contributed this to www.MiniTime.com.