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Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo

by Lily on October 8, 2023
San Diego

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Hi! It's me, Lily. The smallest tadpole in the Frog Family and the biggest zoo fan. Our family hopped by HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo, and I can't wait to tell you all about it. If you love animals as much as I do and dressing up for Halloween (but don't like the scary parts of Halloween), then you are going to love HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo. I toadally have a good time playing games, hopping to the music and seeing the zoo looking so boo-tiful and gourd-geous at night. Let's hop into the details of the HalGLOWeen San Diego Zoo celebration!

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo - San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen Sign

Overview of San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen

This not-so-spooky event is a lot of fun for the whole family. It doesn't get much better than the San Diego Zoo's fall event, HalGLOWeen! This family-friendly nighttime party is included in your San Diego Zoo ticket, and best of all (if you ask my dad) all kids 11 and under get in for free every day in October!

The zoo is decorated with fluorescent pumpkins and creatures, which glow after the sun goes down. You can enjoy extended nighttime hours with music, games, entertainment and spooky "featured creatures" in this HalGLOWeen extravaganza! You can even try some creepy treats if you are brave enough!

San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen Dates, Tickets and Hours

HalGLOWeen runs from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for the whole month of October. All the fun is included with regular admission to the San Diego Zoo. The biggest treat of all is that kids 11 and younger get into the San Diego Zoo for free for all of October — one adult with a valid form of admission can bring up to five kids! They just walk right in with the ticket holder! So easy peasy!

You can purchase your discount San Diego Zoo tickets and Go City passes from your favorite frogs. Ribbit!

San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen Entertainment

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Skeleton Band plays with fog

There’s so much to see and do for this event. The whole Frog Family had a ribbiting good time. If you also want to visit the animals at the zoo, tell your mommy and daddy to arrive early, while it is still light out so you can visit your favorite animals before it gets too dark to see them.

The HalGLOWeen festivities begin at 5 p.m. You can get the list of Halloween activities and download a map beforehand. You can pick up a paper zoo map at the entrance (I always love to hold the map!). Use the San Diego Zoo app to see the schedule of the night.

HalGLOWeen isn’t a trick-or-treating event, but kids can wear costumes and get prizes for participating in activities, so be ready to join in the fun. If you’re looking for a trick-or-treat event, check out the LEGOLAND Brick-or-Treat, Sesame Place Spooktacular and SeaWorld San Diego Spooktacular Halloween events. If you're looking for a Halloween experience geared toward animal-loving littles like me, HalGLOWeen San Diego Zoo is a great pick!

The San Diego Zoo is such a big place! Look for the glowing pumpkins to draw you in to activities. Here’s a list of all the activities available at this boo-tacular event by the area where you can find them:  

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo - Glowing frog decor

Front Street and Centennial Plaza

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Kids dance with hoops at Boolamoves

  • Boolamoves: Family fun, games and dancing are where it's at! Each 30-minute session takes place right in front of the Wegeforth Bowl and showtimes are at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. Win prizes for your hooping and freeze dancing.
  • Skeleton Band: Get your groove on to the ghostly sounds of this frightfully good band. They are also at the Front Street Stage. Showtimes are at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. with 30-minute sets.
  • Boo Crew: Meet and greet stilt-walking scarecrows. They’re at Mercado on Front Street with showtimes at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. for 30 minutes

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Pumpkin sign in front of Reptile House

  • Python Path: If you like reptiles, check out the Reptile House to see snakes, lizards and our own kind — FROGS! This creepy critter experience is open all day without set showtimes, but is glowing at night.
  • San Diego Zoo Rock Radio 201.8: Playing the hits of the season on the Oasis Stage. This also doesn’t have a set schedule, so go over and tap those toads and sing along.

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo - Spider acrobats

Wildlife Explorer's Basecamp:

  • Featured Creatures: Wildlife care teams introduce some animals with a “spooky” reputation and how the animals are important to the environment. It’s in the Rady Ambassador Presentation Area and showtimes are at 5:15, 6:15 and 7:15 p.m. for 15 minutes.
  • The Spiders’ WEB: These talented acrobatic spiders are toadally cool as they hang overhead the Desert Dunes area. Shows are continuous, so hop on over whenever you're nearby.
  • The GLOW-Go’s: Squash, Gourdon and Alicia, the animated pumpkins have some funny HalGLOWeen songs for you to sing along to and will keep you laughing. They sing every 10 minutes from 7 to 9 p.m. and are located at the Busy Bee Patio.

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo - Piano player


  • Dusty Keys: Join the eerie organ keyboardist, who plays some songs from "The Phantom of the Opera" at the Boardwalk Beer Garden. He’s so talented! Showtimes are 5, 6:05, 7:10 and 8:15 p.m.
  • Boo Crew: Dr. Harry & Friends: Meet and greet Dr. Harry and character friends dressed in their Halloween finest. They’re at the Boardwalk Beer Garden at 5:45, 6:50 and 7:55 p.m. for 20 minutes.
  • Spooky Revue: Join Scare D. Cat as he features a kooky variety of acrobatic and contortionist acts in the glowing variety show. Scare D. Cat cracked a lot of jokes that had us all howling with laughter. It’s at Sydney’s Grill and showtimes are at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. Get there early to get a seat. Shows last 20 minutes.

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Acrobats perform in the Spooky Review

Africa Rocks

  • Dr. Zoolittle’s Tricks & Treats: Join Dr. Z for some HalGLOWeen tricks and spooky treats at the Africa Rocks Stage at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. for 30 minutes.

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Kids dance and reach for Bubbles at dance party

Asian Passage

  • Bubble Dance Party: The DJ plays Halloween hits from 5-9 p.m. and they release billions of bubbles and some fog. It’s located at the Hua Mei Plaza. This dance party is hugely popular. We had the best time dancing and hopping about.

Elephant Odyssey

  • Dia de Los Muertos Mariachi: Grab a bite to eat at the Sabertooth Mexican Grill and get serenaded by mariachis as they stroll around. Performances are at 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m.

San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen Costume Information

The whole family can dress up for HalGLOween at the San Diego Zoo. I never turn down a chance to wear a costume or Halloween-themed clothes — I have so many that it can be hard to pick! Mommy Frog usually looks at the weather forecast and helps me pick one that will be the most comfortable. You do not want to be too hot or too cold! And a word of advice for my sister unicorn princesses out there: No fancy shoes. Always wear some comfy shoes so you can have hoppy feet for dancing and playing!

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo - Costume signThere are costume guidelines for this family-friendly event:

  • Costumes must be family-friendly and may not be obstructive, offensive or violent.
  • Children 11 and younger may wear masks. Masks must not obstruct vision, and eyes must remain visible.
  • Costumes may not contain sharp objects, pointed objects or materials that may accidentally strike another guest.
  • No weapons. That includes lightsabers, water pistols, swords or any other accessory that could be mistaken for an actual weapon.
  • Costumes should not drag on the ground.
  • The San Diego Zoo reserves the right to deny admission or remove any person wearing attire that is considered inappropriate.

San Diego Zoo HalGLOWeen Food and Merchandise

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-2023 merchandise in store

Hop into the gift shops for HalGLOWeen merchandise. You can get pumpkin glow necklaces in the zoo. Mommy Frog says it makes it easier to see me in the dark. I just think they are fun!

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Girl has cotton candy and popcorn

Look for HalGLOween specials all day and night at the restaurants. We saw a sign for a pumpkin pie shake at the Front Street Sweet Shack. We also got some candy corn cotton candy. Yum!

Try the dried salt and pepper crickets. Yep, you read that right! At Zoolittle’s Tricks & Treats, we saw magic tricks and shared some laughs. Dr. Zoolittle was so funny! Magic trick participants got a free glow bracelet, and the kids tried salt and pepper crickets to eat after the show. They were actually tasty!

The Frog Family's Tips for Attending HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo

Your Spooky-Good Guide to HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo-Spooky review sign

Drumroll, please! While we found all of these activities super fun, there are a few tips and favorite shows that made it to the top of my list that I want to share with you so you can get the most from your night:

  • Arrive early if you want to see animals or get some extra time to play. All of the HalGLOWeen fun officially kicks off at 5 p.m., and you won't want to miss a second! Instead, take the daytime to explore the zoo and see the animals so you're freed up later in the evening to focus on fun. My older brother Tad is all about the creepy critters and slithering snakes in the reptile house.
  • Eat early. You don't want to spend time waiting for food once it gets dark.
  • Don’t froget playtime for the littles — like me! I love Wildlife Basecamp to hop and climb around and play with the other tadpoles outdoors. Plus, while there you can hop inside to visit the Cool Critters and Spineless Marvels indoor exhibits to see all the creepy crawlies. Arrive early to make sure you have time to play.
  • Kick off the night with Boolamoves to put you in the right spirit. This was a good way to kick off the party and get moving to the music. This one was for us kids, but it looked like the parents were having a good time, too. They randomly choose kids who participate and give them a glowing bracelet. Every kid who stays until the end gets a Halloween tattoo! I love getting free stuff!
  • Be sure to stop by Bubble Dance Party. Flippers down, this was by far my favorite show of the evening. I loved dancing around in the bubbles with the other tadpoles and singing to the upbeat tunes the DJ played. I could’ve stayed there all night but the rest of the family wanted to see other shows. The whole family had fun!
  • See the Skeleton Band at the end of the night. Their sets are about 30 minutes long, and we sang and danced along during the whole performance.
  • Check the weather and dress comfortably with layers.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Stay hydrated. You can bring your own water into the zoo.
  • Look for the stacked glowing pumpkins to find activities and events.

So, go hop on over to the San Diego Zoo and spend the day with the animals and then stay for the tricks and treats after 5 p.m. I can't wait to go again!

Have you attended HalGLOWeen at the San Diego Zoo? What was your favorite part? Share with us in the comments below!

Related: Not-to-Miss San Diego Zoo Exhibits and Attractions

Related: San Diego Zoo Dining Tips: Where to Eat and How to Budget


Keep hopping, Lily!
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