Halloween, once a one-day event, has morphed into an entire tourism season, with haunted walks, costume balls and pumpkin-carving events throughout October. Some even start in early September, like Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Florida's Walt Disney World, which started Sept. 5 – just four days after Labor Day (www .wdwinfo.com/holidays/halloween. htm). In 2004, the same event at Disney World started Oct. 1.
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The Illinois Bureau of Tourism has gone so far as to trademark the term “Fall-O-Ween” to describe what it calls the state's “distinctive fifth season.” Events range from Six Flags Great America's “Fright Fest,” which started Saturday, to the St. Charles Scarecrow Festival, Oct. 10-12. A Web site highlights three-day getaways in Illinois for the season:www.enjoyillinois. com/3-day.
Salem, Mass., which has the most authentic claim on witchy whoopla of just about any destination in the country, started a Halloween celebration 27 years ago as a one-day event for children. Now the city where witch trials were held in 1692 holds the Salem Haunted Happenings throughout October, until Nov. 2 – www.hauntedhappen ings.org – and gets 30 percent of its annual tourist visitation in that one month.
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Highlights include a costume ball at the Hawthorne Hotel Oct. 31, “Festival of the Dead” nighttime parties geared to adults and Harry Potter-themed daytime events for kids. At the House of the Seven Gables mansion and historic site, there are tours and dramatic presentations about the families who inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous novel.
In Ohio, the Cedar Point amusement park's “HalloWeekends” run weekends through Nov. 2 with a parade, a new fun house for little ones and outdoor walk-through attractions. Details: www.hallo weekends.com.
In Florida, at Universal Orlando, the Halloween Horror Nights spectacle runs Oct. 9-12, 16-19, 22-26, 29-31 and Nov. 1. In California, Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights runs Oct. 10-11, 17-19, 24-26, 30-31 and Nov. 1. Details: www.halloweenhorrornights .com.
In addition to rides, the Universal parks feature haunted houses and “scare zones” where actors in bloody garb may leap out at any moment. Parents are strongly cautioned that the event may be too scary for young children.
Hotels are embracing the Halloween theme too. The New England Inns and Resorts Association – www.New EnglandInnsandResorts.com – started offering “Ghoulish Getaways” in 2004.
The Admiral Fitzroy Inn in Newport, R.I., has a “Mazes, Ghosts, and Fall Fun in Newport” package, available through Oct. 23, starting at $354 per night including two nights' accommodation, breakfast buffet and tickets to Newport's “Old Town Ghost Walk.” The Orleans Inn in Orleans, Mass., on Cape Cod, has a “Hannah's Haunting Escape” package, named for the hotel's resident spirit. It's available throughout October, starting at $175 a night, and includes breakfast, a book and a DVD about local ghosts.
North Carolina's southern Outer Banks area is promoting “Ghosts on the Coast” – highlighting local haunted houses, pirate tales and maritime heritage – at www.crys talcoastnc.org. In earlier times, the area was nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” because some 2,000 ships sank off the N.C. coast.
The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, a historic site in a grand gabled building that is no longer used as a jail, offers the “Haunted Prison Experience” with actors, animatronics and props, through Nov. 1. Details: www.haunt edx.com. No one younger than 13 is admitted.
Even the Great Lakes Brewing Co., a brewery and restaurant at 2516 Market Ave., Cleveland (www.greatlakes brewing.com), is getting into the spirit of the Halloween season. Through October, the brewery is offering a specialty beer called Nosferatu. The red ale is named for a 1922 German movie about a vampire.