It’s going to be an exciting fall season in Tampa Bay with so many new ways to play and one of our favorite new additions to the Halloween line-up is Spooktacular at a Busch Gardens Tampa Bay -an event that debuted for the first time last year at the theme park.
This year’s Spooktacular will be held on Saturdays and Sundays September 8-October 31, 2023 (Monday, October 30, and Tuesday, October 31).
The best part is, it’s included with admission! We went on opening weekend to explore and help you map out your Spookacular day!
What’s NEW at Spooktacular in 2023:
- Kandy’s Pumpkin Palooza: Kandy’s big dream to become a witch continues. And with big dreams come big spells and bigger pumpkins. This new walk-through experience is the perfect location for a family photo opportunity.
- Time Peace and Alfred: Pumpkins are not the only things affected by Kandy’s training sessions. A slight miscalculation of Kandy’s spells resulted in the creation of the newest long-legged members of Kandy’s world: Time Peace and Alfred.
- Professor Pufflemintz: This year’s Spooktacular sees the debut of Professor Pufflemintz, a science professor in charge of interactive experiments. A true amalgamation of fun and learning.
- Join Kandy as she shares her journey to becoming a real witch as well as stories of her spell training and eagerness to satisfy the sweet tooth with lots of candy.
- Spooktacular Costume Parade: A colorful parade of costumes will bring the Spooktacular Costume Parade to life. On this magical catwalk, all the guests, especially the little ones, are top models!
- Storytime with Kandy: Situated next to Kandy’s picture-perfect pumpkin patch and bubbling cauldron, guests will be immersed in the popular story “Room on a Broom,” where everybody has a place, and everyone belongs.
Trick-or-Treating: With eight trick-or-treat stations, Busch Gardens Spooktacular is the perfect location for guests to purchase a bag and partake in the sweet seasonal tradition.
What is Spooktacular at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay?
If you weren’t able to attend last year, but have been to Spooktacular at Sea World, you might be familiar with the event name, but the experience at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is different.
We caught up with Alexandria Irwin who is one of the masterminds behind the design of Spooktacular at Busch Gardens and she told us, it was a long time coming.
“We’ve had amazing opportunities for adults with Howl-O-Scream, amazing opportunities for kids in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun, but it’s about time we have our own Spooktacular event,” she explained. “We worked with a great team of graphic artists, scenic designers, illustrators, and costume designers to make sure this world came together and that it really connected with kids and kids at heart.”
Spooktacular truly is a whimsical world located in the Festival Walkway area across from the Gwazi Events Pavilion. So, get ready for a fun afternoon because it’s an event filled with tricks and treats!
Should my kids dress up in costume?
Absolutely! We saw a few kids dress up for the occasion on Spooktacular’s opening weekend, however many did not since it was pretty hot outside (we do call Florida home, after all).
Come as you are and just simply enjoy the experience!
There is a sweet Costume Parade area where kids can strut their stuff on the runway. And no, you don’t need a costume to walk the catwalk. It’s really sweet and it makes the kids feel pretty special and you can’t beat that!
What’s there to do at Spooktacular at Busch Gardens?
This is your child’s chance to go trick-or-treating, so don’t forget a reusable bag for treats. You can also purchase a reusable bag in the event area for $3 if you don’t have one handy.
There are several trick-or-treat stations. Last year, the kids got treats like Milk cookies, Smarties, stickers, and even play foam.
We suggest arriving right at noon so you can be a part of the opening ceremony at the front gate and walk in with Kandy the witch and her friends.
Kandy is a 9-year-old witch in training who also helps lead the Costume Parade and even takes the stage for a Halloween-themed Story Time as she reads childhood favorite, “Room on the Broom”.
It’s a really sweet storytime. As she reads each page from her own book, her friends flip through the pages of a HUGE book so kids can read along too.
After storytime, you and the kids can join Kandy for a quick meet and greet and photos, but you’ll also see her throughout the event area posing for photos.
Speaking of great pics, there are several areas to capture a great photo including a few spots where you can surround yourself with magical-looking bubbles filled with fog. The kids loved dancing in the cloud of bubbles and popping them.
The characters also love to stop and pose for photos!
Since Alexandria Irwin was one of the masterminds behind this whimsical event, we asked her if she had any pro tips for families. Other than making sure you bring a reusable bag for trick-or-treating, she told us. “Just have fun! Try all of the different areas. We have a lot of different spaces for all ages and stages. Walk the whole pathway, and interact with all of the characters. They are waiting for that.”
There is a map at the entrance of the Spooktacular area so you can ‘map’ out your adventure. It’s not a huge area, so don’t be too intimidated.
Spooktacular is an event you and the kids can get through pretty quickly so you can enjoy your day at the park whether it’s riding the roller coasters like Iron Gwazi, connecting with the animals, and/or heading over to celebrate Sesame Street Safari of Fun Kids Weekends in October!
As we mentioned, the event is ready to welcome you and the kids on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. through October 31, 2023. Enjoy and have fun with it and be sure the camera is fully charged!
Learn more here about how to take advantage of a Busch Gardens annual pass to get the most out of your visit!
If you’re looking for even MORE family-friendly fall fun like a pumpkin patch in Tampa Bay, head here next. And if you want to explore some of the Tampa Bay area’s spookiest events, our media partners at Tampa Bay Date Night Guide have you covered with their guide to the 20+ Spookiest Halloween Events in Tampa Bay.