As part of Busch Gardens Thrill Seekers Blogger Ambassador team we get insiders previews of new rides and events but this last preview was one of our favorite escapes from reality: Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg!
If you have not yet been to Busch Garden’s Howl-O-Scream here is a breakdown of the event. The park turns into Terror-tories™ and Haunted Houses to scare you as you walk through the park and through a venue. It really is fantastic. We have a complete list of all the Terror-tories and Haunted Houses at the bottom of this review.
NEW this year The Count’s Spooktacular, children 9 and younger dress in their Halloween costume and trick-or-treat through the park at select locations as well as participate in a parade. This event is from runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays from October 7 – 29.
Also, if you have young kids, the park is a great fun place during the day but it definitely changes at 6 pm. If your little ones do not like scary creatures coming at them with chainsaws, or creatures jumping out from the woods, then you might plan to end your visit at 5:59 pm. They will have a great time during the day and for older kids, teen and adults – Howl-O-Scream is a great time anytime!
Now if you don’t like being scared, there are plenty of fun shows like Fiends (yes with the naughty nurses, this is NOT kid friendly) and, the Pet Shenanigans and The Secret Life of Predators. Most rides are still up and running – unless they are a haunted house (Escape from Pompeii becomes Dead Line). Fest House has family friendly shows and yummy food is everywhere!
But if being scared is your thing….you have come to the right venue.
NEW this year NO ESCAPE room. This was one of the highlights of our evening (additional fee does apply). You choose from two rooms: Case of Mr. Karver or Case of the Haunted Hotel. Once you enter you have 30 mins. to search for clues and escape the room. We did indeed find our way out with just seconds to spare…but at one point we were stuck in a ruse and the voice of the Bobby came over head and gave us a clue. I guess the staff was watching us go down a rabbit hole and after we proceeded to knock our heads against the wall for a good 5 min – they took mercy on us!
It was great fun – our husbands were with us and so the four of us laughed, searched, guessed, schemed and in the end…got out! You get a group photo for each participant at the end. Yes, there is an additional fee but it was great fun and something none of us had done before! You can schedule your time before you get to the park online or you can walk up and book it that night – we would recommend doing it before you go as it may be sold out. They only take 6 people at a time for 30 minute time slots.
That said, I guarantee you my kids are not ready for it this year. I however, will be back this season. Why? The dancing, singing, stomp choreography and the dancing skeletons are show stopping. Don’t let Jack the Ripper hold you back from seeing this talented ensemble bring down the house!
As for Haunted Houses – there is a new one in town this year – FrostBite – if dare to walk through the ginormous castle be prepared for a ton of chilling elements including fog and ice. We enjoyed this haunted house but beware it is a long chilly and freighting walk through the castle. Lumberhack is still a favorite of ours. And there is Circo Sinister, Catacombs, Unearthed and the classic Dead Line – all not to be missed. In Dead Line – the subway scene is always frightening…and awesome!
There are absolutely no costumes allowed in the park for the general public. But if you want to join in the Halloween fun, we would recommend getting your face airbrushed. I had my whole face done in under 5 minutes. It is easy, silly and you look crazy in selfies which is great fun. I did see my kids when I got home and they were not sold on mom’s new look.
Something new this year are the six Spirit Bars located throughout the park. Here is the skinny:
*Demon Drinks is across from the Demon DJ
*Frost Drinks are frozen beverages located near the newest haunted house – FrostBite
*Inoculation Station where your syringe shot and photo with your favorite Fiends (yes, the Naughty Nurses too) are just what the doctor ordered
*Open Casket bar has specialty drinks served by the coolest vampires this side of the Rhine River
*Pirate Baarrrgh where you can mingle with various pirates as you take a swig
*The Fuzzy Hat is a great place keep from dying of thirst but keep an eye out for the real killer: Jack the Ripper.
Admission to Howl-O-Scream is included in your Annual Pass but you will need to purchase a Fall Fun card if you had a Summer Fun Card or Preschool Passes as those both expire on Labor Day. Continue here to purchase your tickets for this year’s Howl-O-Scream or click the icon for the latest discounts we can find! (Scroll down for description of Howl-O-Scream’s Terror-tories™ and Haunted Houses.)
- NEW Sideshow Square™ (Festa Italia): Your jaw will drop on your way to the big top. What was once only in your imagination is now a frightening reality full of haunts, curiosities and plenty of scare to make you shriek. So step right up and brave Busch Gardens’ newest terror-tory if you dare.
- Ripper Row® (England): Things are looking a bit unsettling in England; a murderer is on the loose plucking unsuspecting victims from the city streets to satisfy his grizzly curiosity. No one knows what Jack the Ripper looks like or who he will strike next. Authorities hunt furiously among the crowds in search of the killer nabbing anyone who looks at all suspicious. Keep your head down and your wits about you or you might not make it out alive.
- Vampire Point™ (Germany): Even vampires need a vacation once in a while and Vampire Point™ is the perfect destination for bloodsuckers. Watch your step and your neck or you might end up the main course. Dawn is hours away, your last salvation lies in escaping the vampire village before the inhabitants sink their fangs into you.
- Demon Street™ (France): Paris is burning. Can you escape before the city is engulfed in flame? Let the smoldering ruins light your way, but beware, fiery fiends lurk around every corner ready to put you on the coals. The smell of a burning inferno fills the air and rumor has it unsuspecting souls will be roasted on a spit. It’s about to get very hot in Paris, so stay cool or you may find yourself going up in smoke.
- Wendigo Woods™ (New France): Wendigo Woods™ started out as a state-of-the-art facility where researchers could study the flora and fauna of the northern reaches of the continent’s forests. The camp was named after a terrifying creature, the Wendigo, which was thought to be only a legend … until now. Sightings of mysterious creatures stalking through the woods have prompted a security team to shut down the compound and contain whatever is out there. Either unravel the mystery of Wendigo Woods or fall prey to the terror in the trees.
- Circo Sinistro: No one knows when or where the tents will rise, but all who see them are drawn to find out what lies inside Circo Sinistro at Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Howl-O-Scream. The park’s new haunted house is not of this world and not of this time – but beware, what you see, you soon will be.
- Catacombs: Through a ruined cemetery filled with statues lies a tunnel that leads to an underground city. Its history is more terrifying than that of France’s worst revolutions. Deep within these tunnels lie mile after mile of bones—the final resting place for those who are buried here. But all is not as quiet as it appears. As guests venture forth into the dank, dripping corridors of rat infested remains, the voices of the dead begin to speak, and some have taken shape.
- Bitten: Suspicion, darkness and mind-numbing fear surround the “Bitten” house which is set in Eastern Europe in the late 1800s. Full of legends and lore of vampires and the undead that preyed on the innocent, this manor sits by the road upon which all travelers must pass but few return.
- Dead Line: Deep underground, construction of the newest line of the Pompeii Metro was moving smoothly until an ancient pipe was accidentally struck. At first, it seemed like steam. Then the mist became thicker, more sinister. Now the strange gas is leaking quickly, and everyone trapped inside is infected. The difficult decision was made to cut off all communication to the outside world. The Dead Line is off the grid.
- Cornered: It’s 1977 and a picturesque farming community is in an uproar over the ongoing disappearances of its residents. Each time someone goes missing, an intricate corn husk doll is left behind leading many to suspect local corn-farmer Jasper McCobb. The McCobb farm has fallen into disrepair since the death of Jasper’s mother. Could the missing townspeople be somewhere in the maze of maize? Join the search party and find out.
- Lumberhack: Hikers beware: The woods hold a terrifying secret. More than 50 years ago a logging camp was abandoned after a horrific accident where saws ripped into human flesh instead of tree bark. Tragically, the loggers perished … only to inexplicably awaken from death sometime later filled with inhuman rage. The undead loggers rampaged until every living thing in the camp had felt the bite of their axes. Now the forgotten lumberjacks lie waiting for unsuspecting campers to stumble into their den of the damned.
- Unearthed – Scarlett’s Revenge: During maintenance at the park, an excavation crew uncovered a centuries-old house buried deep beneath the ground. Upon opening its door, a sinister force was unearthed—Scarlett—a furious demon who wields a deadly deck of magical cards she uses to summon her evil minions. Journey below to experience the splintered labyrinth of horrors and the revengeful wrath of this demon scorned.
We hope this review helped you decide to enjoy Howl-O-Scream with your family this season. It is a scream-fest-of-a-good-time – it’s official..we love it!
Want to read more about Busch Gardens? Check out our other Unofficial Guides:
Busch Garden: Unofficial Guide (great tips from locals) – here is our guide!
Busch Garden’s Christmas Town Unofficial Guide – here is our guide!
Busch Garden’s Food & Wine Festival Unofficial Guide – here is our guide!
WilliamsburgFamilies.com is a member of the Thrill Chasers™ Blogger Ambassador team and is invited to attend new ride and show openings as well as review food and events at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. And we are lovin’ it!
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