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Question: My three sons (ages 12, 13 and 17) have been begging to go to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando this year. Frankly, it looks terrifying and I'm worried that my youngest two kids are just not old enough to handle it. I understand that being scared is part of the fun, but I don't want them to be traumatized. What do you recommend? —Amanda K. from Ansley Park, GA
Suzanne says: You're right to think twice. Universal's wildly popular Halloween event is arugably the scariest frightfest in the country. The web site contains the following warning: "Event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13. No costumes or masks allowed."
I have attended Halloween Horror Nights with my teenage kids and we had a great time, though I would not recommend it for young kids. I also ran your query by my colleague Arthur Levine, the Theme Park Expert here at About.com. This is his assessment:
"I'd say that Halloween Horror Nights is a 'hard PG-13.' Like horror movies that bear that rating, there is plenty of graphic violence and psychological mayhem depicted in the form of blood, gore, maniacal creatures, etc. as well as profanity, sexually provocative scenes, and other things that are decidedly not for impressionable children. There is no way to experience the event and avoid the explicit material. The explicit material IS the event. As to what minimum age would be appropriate, I'd say that's up to parents to determine. But using the general guideline of the PG-13 rating, I suppose mature 13 year olds might be the minimum age I'd recommend."
I hope this helps. If you decide to skip it this year, Halloween Horror Nights is not going anywhere so you can come whenever you feel your kids are ready for it.
See also: Here's my parent's guide to HHN.
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