- Erica Hansen
Halloween time is a little bit different in 2020. We've all got plenty of real-life fears—political, economic, existential—occupying our brains. But there are still plenty of activities going on throughout Utah if you want to spend some time with controlled creepiness. Here's just a sampling of seasonal activities that, in addition to being able to take your mind off of actual terrors, can help support some of our great local businesses.
Salt Lake Film Society Motor Cinema: Throughout the early fall, the Salt Lake Film Society—with theater venues still closed to the public—has supplemented its "virtual cinema" online offerings of new independent films with a slate of classics at a pop-up drive-in location (Redman Movies & Stories parking lot, 1075 S. 700 West). The programming wraps up this weekend with the original 1978 version of Halloween and the 2018 Sundance horror tale Hereditary. Tickets must be purchased in advance, and concessions packages are also available for advance purchase; visit slfs.org/component/k2/1838 for full details.
Loveland Living Planet Aquarium "Haunted Aquarium": No, you don't have to worry about the sharks, even if you're standing beneath them as they swim overhead. For the month of October, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium offers a variety of family-friendly Halloween activities with safety guidelines always enforced. Patrons can enjoy a daily scavenger hunt that lets kids search for mysterious creatures like Bigfoot and the Kraken. With online reservation, select dates (Oct. 24-25, Oct. 30-31) can include trick-or-treating for wrapped candy through the decorated aquarium included with general admission. And for an after-hours treat (online reservation required), Oct. 24 features a "Frights Under Lights" night of music and entertainment for all ages. Visit thelivingplanet.org for full details.
Hogle Zoo "Boo Lights": Outdoors at Hogle Zoo allows kids a safe experience with a little something extra. In addition to taking a walk through the Bat Cave and riding the train in the dark, visitors can see decorations including a graveyard, Land of Spiders and a Pirates' Lair. The "wizarding world"-themed maze also allows an opportunity to meet a familiar character or two. The activities take place on select nights through Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., with tickets $9.95-$12.95. Visit hoglezoo.org to make reservations.
Tracy Aviary Halloween Hoot: The swimming critters and the land critters aren't about to get all of the seasonal fun, as Tracy Aviary makes sure that our flying friends can get in on the action. The Halloween party for kids includes take-and-make craft activities, treats and more, beginning 10 a.m. on Oct. 24, 25 and 31. And while costumes are not required, kids under 12 in costume will be admitted free on Halloween day. Purchase tickets online at tracyaviary.org, and check for mask requirements and other safety protocols.
Gardner Village WitchFest: For 20 years now, Gardner Village (1100 W. 7800 South, West Jordan) has transformed during the Halloween season into a place of spooky witch-themed events and activities; this year, the transformation has taken place in a slightly different way to keep things touch-free and safe. You can still interact with live witch characters, and take a scavenger hunt with a list you can print at home or find on your mobile device. Witches Night Out encourages costumes while shopping or dining. Make a reservation for the Cackling Cantina, or Witchapalooza Dinner Theater. Masks are required for all events, and parking is $5 for all vehicles. Visit gardnervillage.com for additional event details and safety procedures.
Halloween Lift Rides at Sundance Resort: The Provo Canyon resort (8841 N. Alpine Loop Rd.) allows you to soar into the mountain night on a 45-to-60-minute lift ride evenings through Oct. 31. Hot chocolate and other treats are available at the base, where masks are required. Weather permitting, a complimentary Halloween movie (title TBD, but intended to be family-friendly) will play at the base. Visit sundanceresort.com for reservations.
Front Row Film Roast: Scream: The cut-ups of Front Row Film Roast apply their movie-skewering skills to the original 1996 Scream, which itself did some skewering of horror-movie tropes and clichés (along with skewering some of the characters on knives). Online admission is free, but registration is required to receive the link to the event, beginning at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24. Visit frontrowfilmroast.com to join in the screams of both laughter and thrills.
Salt Lake City Library Frankenstein's Lab Online: Physical branches of the City Library are once again open, but there are still virtual programming for families, including this series of Halloween themes videos. Every Monday—up to and including Oct. 26—you can find crafts, experiments and other hands-on activities with a spooky sensibility. Check slcpl.org for the latest installments.