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SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular (2023 Guide)

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular (2023 Guide)


SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular is making a splash this fall season! Read up-to-date details on what’s included with the ticket price for this family friendly event. Details on how to maximize your day, all the Halloween activities, and what not to miss during your visit.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular sign with kids standing in front

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My family and I received complimentary admission to SeaWorld San Diego to enjoy the Halloween Spooktacular event in 2020. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This article originally published on Sep 25, 2017 and has been updated and republished with a new date.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular 2023

My family and I have been attending SeaWorld San Diego Halloween events for many years! The Spooktacular is a great way to enjoy all the regular theme park activities, in addition to fall fun that celebrates the Halloween spirit.

Keep reading for lots of tips on how to do the SeaWorld San Diego Halloween party with kids.

Details About SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular 2023

When does SeaWorld Spooktacular Happen?

SeaWorld Halloween dates for Spooktacular run from September 15th -through October 29th, 2023. SeaWorld’s Spooktacular event is held only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday during this time period.

Can We Still Experience Everything at SeaWorld San Diego?

SeaWorld is definitely one of the top things to do outside in San Diego! Rides are in full operation and all animal encounters, aquariums and shows are available during Spooktacular.

The Differences Between Spooktacular and Howl-O-Scream

There are two, very different, SeaWorld San Diego Halloween events happening this year. It’s important to compare them, so you’ll know which version is best for your family.

The bulk of this article will discuss the logistics of visiting SeaWorld San Diego Halloween during the Spooktacular daytime event. The following sections will details the differences between the two Halloween events.

What is the SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular?

This daytime event includes kid-friendly Halloween activities inside SeaWorld San Diego. This includes trick-or-treating, a dance party, hay maze, pumpkin hunt, and live shows.

This Halloween themed entertainment is in addition to the usual SeaWorld attractions, including rides, aquariums, and educational presentations.

SeaWorld Halloween map

Which Ages Is This Event For?

The immersive family fun during Halloween Spooktacular is fitting for anyone, making this event appropriate for all ages.

Are Costumes Okay?

Both children and adults are permitted to wear costumes at SeaWorld’s Spooktacular. Keep reading to find out more about the costume guidelines.

SeaWorld Halloween statues with girl in costume
Follow the candy to the “Candy Garden” treat trail

What is SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream?

Guests visiting SeaWorld during the Howl-o-Scream event will be treated to major scares and spooky fun! The separately ticketed nighttime event include walk-through haunted houses and themed scare zones.

Spine-chilling scares are to be had in the Carnival of Chaos, Alien Outbreak, and Deadly Toys zone.

Creepy live entertainment includes DJ dance parties, while themed bars serve up creepy cocktails. Thrill seekers can take a nighttime coaster ride on several of the intense attractions inside the park.

Which Ages Is This Event For?

SeaWorld’s Howl-O-Scream is recommended only for a mature audience, including guests 13+. Even at that, the theme park suggests that the “faint of heart” do not attend (ahem, I’ll be skipping this event for sure!)

Are Costumes Okay?

Guests may not wear costumes to Howl-O-Scream San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Ticket Types

Halloween Spooktacular (SeaWorld General Park Admission)

Spooktacular is included in a regular SeaWorld admission ticket. Guests who purchase a regular SeaWorld San Diego theme park ticket on a day in which Spooktacular takes place may participate in the Halloween fun.

There may be additional fees for some activities (to be explained in this article).

SeaWorld Howl-O-Scream (Separately Ticketed Event)

Howl-O-Scream is a separately ticketed night event, happening on select nights from September 29th – October 31st, 2023.

Nighttime entry Howl-O-Scream tickets do not include regular SeaWorld theme park access. Guests may enter the park as early as 6:00 pm, with Howl-O-Scream event activities starting at 7:00 pm.

Discounted SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Tickets

Purchase SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular and Howl-O-Scream tickets ahead of your trip for discount pricing.

There are options for single day tickets, multi-day tickets, theme park bundles, and dining plan discounts for the best value. During the month of September and October, kids go FREE to SeaWorld with a paid adult ticket, even on days with a Spooktacular event!

Southern California Discount Travel

My travel partners at Get Away Today offer both discounted theme park tickets and SoCal-area hotels to fit any budget! Many hotels include exclusive discounts like free parking, complimentary breakfast or even free nights, just for booking through Get Away Today.

When you’re ready to book your Southern California vacation, my friends at Get Away Today are ready to help! Call 1-855-GET-AWAY to book your trip.

BONUS DISCOUNT! – Mention code REWRITTEN to receive an extra discount off your SoCal vacation package of two or more days.

Spooktacular Candy Trail

Kids can get their candy fix during this annual fall event! Here’s how to participate in the SeaWorld San Diego Halloween trick-or-treat through the park.

Purchase a Spooktacular candy bag

In order to participate in the trick or treat trails, a SeaWorld candy bag is an additional charge. The cost of the reusable treat bag is $4.99 per person.

Guests cannot bring their own treats bags. You must purchase the exclusive SeaWorld candy bag in the park to participate in candy collection. These bags are sold at any retail location.

Who can collect candy?

Only kids aged 12 & under can participate in the Spooktacular candy trail.

Where is the SeaWorld Spooktacular candy station?

There are 7 total candy stations on the trail, all located towards the back of the park. Check the map posted around the park, or view the key on the SeaWorld app.

Candy options vary each year. My kids each received a variety of candies, including Twizzlers, Airheads, Nerds, Smarties, Skittles and Haribo Gummy Bears.

What time do the SeaWorld candy stations open?

  • Fridays – The candy trail begins at 4 p.m. and lasts until park closing.
  • Saturdays & Sundays – Candy stations are open from 12 p.m. to park close.
Little girl holding treat bag at candy chute during SeaWorld Halloween spooktacular
Candy drop stations are located throughout the Spooktacular area

Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt

The Spooktacular Pumpkin Hunt is a fun add-on to your SeaWorld Halloween day. Purchase a map, then as you tour the park, search for hidden animal themed pumpkins. Mark each location on the map with the included stickers. When you have found all of them, redeem for an exclusive prize!

My kids and I purchased the map at the SeaWorld Shop. Each of the pumpkins to look for in the scavenger hunt are large, real pumpkins with a hand-painted image on the side.

Some of the locations are a little tricky to find! The prizes change each year. I won’t spoil what we received as a prize but my kids were happy.

SeaWorld Halloween Character Meet ‘n Greets

Within the Spooktacular party area there are several locations for kids to meet with friendly characters.

  • Mermaid Meet n’ Greet – Halloween-themed mermaids pose with guests.
  • Hay Maze – Fall characters greet guests as they make their way through this family-friendly maze.
SeaWorld halloween hay maze

Spooktacular Dance Party Fun

Families are encourage to dance at the DJ Dance Party. Located towards the side of the Manta roller coaster, there’s a live DJ hosting the Halloween dance party music and fun.

Fun characters are dressed up and dancing with the kids, including scarecrows and a not-scary mummy.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Costume Tips

Yes, every guest can dress in costume during SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular! Costumes are encouraged, but not necessary. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with all the Halloween fun Spooktacular changes for 2023. 

Halloween Spooktacular Costume Rules

  • Guests ages 13+ may not wear costume masks or hoods.
  • All costumes are subject to the normal SeaWorld dress code.
  • Face painting is not permitted, except what is done by an artist in the park.
SeaWorld Halloween mermaid cove sign with two kids

Dress Appropriate for the Weather

Weather in September and October can be extremely warm in San Diego. In general, short sleeves, short pants, and breathable fabrics are ideal. Check the forecast ahead of your visit to know what’s best to wear for a day at the theme park.

Bring a Change of Clothes

Bring extra clothes for the kids to change into when they don’t want to wear their Halloween costumes anymore. There are lockers for rent at SeaWorld for storage of clothing and other essentials.

Read my complete SeaWorld San Diego guide for additional family touring tips.

SeaWorld Halloween spooktacular sign with kids on either side

Party at San Diego’s SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular for FREE!

Did you know that kids admission to SeaWorld San Diego is FREE in the month of October?

In fact, LOTS of San Diego amusement parks, museums and restaurants offer freebies for kids in October in San Diego. For every adult ticket purchased, you’ll be able to bring in a child for free!

Favorite SeaWorld Shows

Shows are operational during the SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular (and other days of the week). Check the SeaWorld app for the days of your visit to view show times and guide map for location.

Dolphin Adventure & Orca Encounter

Dolphin Adventure and Orca Encounter are both extremely popular outdoor live shows. These stadiums fill up, so aim to arrive early for a seat. That’s extremely good advice if you want to avoid sitting in the “splash zone”, the seats nearest to the tank!

SeaWorld Rescue Talks

Animal conservation ambassadors speak to guests about personal stories of animals rescued and rehabilitated at SeaWorld San Diego. These standing room only talks take place within the Rescue Jr. area.

*NEW* O.P. Otter’s Spooktacular Surprise

O.P. Otter’s Spooktacular Surprise at the Mission Bay Theater is a new live show, featured only during the Halloween season at SeaWorld San Diego.

This indoor location is perfect for hot afternoon entertainment. Expect the mid-day shows to be the busiest. Arrive early to line up for entry into the theater.

Dia De Los Muertos Celebration

The Dia de los Muertos celebration takes place near the entrance to the bat ray touch pools. There is a festive ofrenda area to honor those that have passed.

What SeaWorld Attractions Are Open During Spooktacular?

All animal exhibits and aquariums are open for guests during the Halloween Spooktacular. In addition, there are both thrill rides and kid-friendly rides to please all ages.

Read the following sections about strategizing your SeaWorld San Diego visit, including how to maximize time to experience it all in one day.

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Strategies

Maximize Your Time

  • Aim to arrive at theme park opening to beat the crowds.
  • Stay at SeaWorld until park closing. The theme park will thin out considerably, especially in the month of September. In October, guests arriving for Howl-O-Scream will filter into the park at 6:00 pm, which may increase crowd levels in the evening.
SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

SeaWorld Rides

  • Visit rides first thing when the park opens. Wait times will be minimal in the morning hours. As the day goes on, ride queues will get longer.
  • With younger kids, head for the Explorer’s Garden and Rescue Jr. attractions first thing. Consider purchasing Quick Queue Junior on the SeaWorld app. For a minimal charge, guests can “skip the line” for several popular kid’s rides.
  • Older children and adults should aim to visit the most popular thrill rides early in the day. Head for Arctic Rescue, Emperor, Electric Eel, and Manta first. My son was able to walk on three of the thrill rides just after park opening without any wait time!

Shows and Attractions

  • Check the show times in the SeaWorld San Diego app. Schedule your day based on those shows times and locations.
  • Indoor locations, including Wild Arctic, Penguin Encounter, Turtle Reef, and Shark Encounter are ideal during the hot afternoon hours. Aim to visit these spots to escape the heat.

Play Area

  • Leave time in your schedule for kids to play at the Rescue Jr. area. This section offers kid-friendly rides and free play structures. That includes a splash pad, so pack swimsuits or a change of clothing if children plan to get wet.

Candy Trail

  • The candy stations do not open right away, so check the times for your visit. Fit in the trick or treat trail candy stations while touring the back of the theme park.
  • Candy collection locations can be found in the app, or look for the signage. Remember, you must purchase a designated candy bag at a SeaWorld retail location in order to participate in candy collecting.
SeaWorld Halloween treat station

SeaWorld Foods to Dine + Drink

Save Money with the All Day Dining Deal

If you plan to spend the entire day at SeaWorld and aim to eat at least twice in the parks, I highly recommend purchasing a ticket that includes the All Day Dining.

Purchase of the SeaWorld All Day Dining Deal allows guests to order food at as often as every 90 minutes. Choose one entrée, one side or dessert, and a fountain drink.

With the All Day Dining Deal to the SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular ticket, guests can enjoy their choice of several dining locations. The cost is under $50 for adults and under $25 per child (aged 3-9).

Adult entrees range in price (around $15-20 each, plus the cost of beverages). The dining deal can save families a lot of money.

Dessert is included in the All Day Dining plan!

Mobile Order on the SeaWorld App

SeaWorld has recently added a mobile ordering feature to their app. This is an excellent way to save time standing in line for food!

Can you buy adult beverages at SeaWorld?

Given the success of area foodie festivals, including SeaWorld San Diego Seven Seas Food Festival, it’s no surprise to find new food and drink options geared to the grownups.

SeaWorld San Diego has a number of locations around the park to purchase alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and cocktails. Adult beverages are on the menu of every restaurant in the theme park.

Pina Colada was yummy on a hot day!

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Souvenirs

There are ample locations in which to purchase traditional and seasonal SeaWorld souvenirs throughout the theme park.

The shops offer Halloween Spooktacular and SeaWorld Howl-O-Scream merchandise items, including t-shirts, water bottles, spirit jerseys, and more. Some locations even offer costumes and hats for family members that want to embrace the dress-up spirit during the event!

SeaWorld Halloween merchandise location

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Thursday 8th of October 2020

Hi thanks for the great update about the 2020 Spooktacular event at Sea World San Diego. We like to take our son every year. I have one question about the Sesame Street Dance Party. Are the characters out at a specific time or are they out there the entire time? There is no schedule online and I tried calling Sea World but I was on hold forever. Thanks again!

Julie Bigboy

Thursday 15th of October 2020

I checked with SeaWorld staff about this question and was told that they are now in two locations, at alternating times. Nothing set in the schedule.

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