Remember when Halloween was a one-night affair? Now the spooky season stretches from mid-September through October, much to the delight of boos and ghouls of all ages. Throughout the lead-up to Halloween, theme parks are pulling out the stops with special evening events, from gentle hayrides to jump-out-of-your-skin scare zones. Keep in mind that everything seems scarier in the dark, so choose wisely with your children's ages and sensibilities in mind. Here are some of the many Halloween events going on at theme parks around the country (click on the names to link directly to event listings):

The Count's Spooktacular Halloween
Sesame Place: Langhorne, PA
When: Weekends only, September 29 to October 27
What to expect: Little ones can go trick-or-treating in their costumes, take a hayride, walk through Count von Count's castle, see the "Countdown to Halloween" musical show featuring their favorite characters, and more.
Best For: 2 to 10

Idlewild: Ligonier, PA
When: Weekends only, September 27 to October 26
What to expect: This gentlest intro to Halloween includes trick-or-treating through Storybook Forest, meeting Ricky Raccoon and other characters, specially themed rides and attractions, games and a walk-through maze, favorite fall foods.
Best For: 2 to 8

Mickey's Trick-or-Treat Party
Disneyland: Anaheim, CA
When: Select dates, October 3-31
What to expect: The frightfully fun evening includes meeting with Disney characters at treat stations, doing arts and crafts, going on rides, and enjoying live entertainment.
Best For: 3 to 8

Brick-or-Treat Trail
LEGOLAND: Carlsbad, CA
When: Weekends only, October 4-26
What to expect: Festivities include trick-or-treating on the kid-sized Brick-or-Treat Trail, entertainment from "the Boo Crew" and a LEGO candy corn scavenger hunt at the haunted hideaways. A free souvenir bag includes collectible commemorative LEGO bricks and other surprises.
Best For: 3 to 10

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney World, FL

When: September 5 to October 31
What to expect: Arrive in costume for trick-or-treating with your favorite Disney characters (they'll be wearing their Halloween outfits, too), and don't miss the expanded Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade, featuring the new "Goofy's Candy Factory" finale, and the "Happy HalloWishes" fireworks spectacular.
Best For: 3 to 11

Hersheypark in the Dark
Hersheypark: Hershey, PA
When: Weekends only, October 17 to November 2
What to expect: It's off to Hersheypark for exciting rides, entertainment, favorite fall foods, and storytelling.
Best For: 4 to 12

Screams Halloween Theme Park: Waxahachie, TX
When: Friday and Saturday nights, October 3 to November 1
What to expect: Billed as "The World's Largest Halloween Theme Park," this Dallas-area park delivers four haunted houses, a maze of the macabre, ghoulish graveyard, and trail of terror. For younger kids, Spooky Hollow children's area has games, rides, face painters and fortune tellers.
Best For: 7 to 14

Fright Fest
Six Flags Theme Parks: Nationwide
When: Weekends in October
What to expect: The entire park is transformed with creepy scenes and scare-actors that lurk in the shadows. Rides are spookier thanks to special effects in the darkness.
Best For: 12 and up

Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Orlando Resort: Orlando, FL
When: Select dates, September 26 to November 1
What to expect: Now in its 17th year, Universal's Halloween Horror Nights is promising to be the most frightening ever, with seven -- count 'em, seven -- chilling haunted houses, three scare zones with no escape, and a host of demented fiends such as The Storyteller, Jack the Clown, and The Caretaker.
Best For: 16 and up

Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios: Universal City, CA
When: Select dates, October 3 to November 1
What to expect: Haunted walk-through attractions, roaming scare-actors, and nightmare-inducing rides, shows and attractions. Plus live music dance performances by "The Mutaytor." Heed the warning: "No kids, no costumes, no wusses."
Best For: 16 and up

Knott's Scary Farm Halloween Haunt
Knott's Berry Farm: Buena Park, CA
When: Select dates, September 25 to November 1
What to expect: Now in its 36th year, this 160-acre living horror movie is filled with 12 chilling mazes, six hair-raising shows, four horrific scare zones, and a cast of a thousand monsters roaming for their next victim. This one is for grown-ups, folks.
Best For: 16 and up is an authoritative online guide to family trip-planning. The site features reviews of kid-friendly hotels and resorts, expert planning advice, readers' travel tips, destination insider guides, vacation deals, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter to hear about resort specials and exclusive, money-saving offers.