For the 2nd year in a row Busch Gardens has invited me to the opening night events for Howl-O-Scream, one of the premier Halloween haunted events in the whole state of Florida. This year we were provided with VIP entry and skip the line passes to ensure we would get through all of the houses. 2 new haunted houses were introduced along with new scare zones for the 2016 themed, Evil Encore, and they did not disappoint. I hope you enjoy this Howl-o-Scream 2016 review and I hope it is helpful in making your plans to attend this year’s festivities.
Through my relationship with Tampa Bay Bloggers and Busch Gardens, complimentary tickets were provided in exchange for my honest review. Full Disclosure.
This is one of the new attractions added this year. It’s a deserted motel with paranormal presences. I have to say this is one of the more impressive set designs we’ve seen from Howl-o-scream. We really felt like we were walking through a creepy old abandoned motel with horrible 1960’s decor. There was no shortage of screams in this one. The teenager actually jumped about 3 feet when he was spooked really good. The appeal of this house is that it’s a motel, which means lots of doors. You never know where the scare is going to come from, but rest assured the scare WILL come so don’t let your guard down! If you are prioritizing,definitely add this one to the top of your list.
The Black Spot
This is the other new haunted house added this year. It’s pirate themed! Who doesn’t love a good pirate scare? There are actors roaming the queue line so beware or you could be marked for death. There were plenty of good scares throughout this attraction. There’s also a piratey photo op just beyond the entrance so don’t miss that fun opportunity. They have a professional photographer to take it for you and you can purchase it or you can take one with your own camera/phone.
Returning Haunted Houses
Unearthed Scarlett’s Revenge
Unearthed is a returning haunted house. It debuted last year and created lots of buzz because it was brought to us by the producer of the Blair Witch Project. This year, I have to say it was an even better experience. Last year since it was the new house it was very crowded and it’s hard to be scared when you are walking through the house lined up heel to toe. This year it was a much better and scarier experience.
Circus of Superstition 3D
You need 3D glasses for this one as you wonder through a neon black light creepy fun house. If the creepy clown sighting in recent news has you spooked, this haunted house will have you covering your eyes and running for cover.
Zombie Containment Unit
This is one of the most popular houses. The wait for this one on opening night was over an hour but it’s worth the wait. We were armed with our Z.E.D. (zombie eradication device) and ready to take down some zombies. It’s basically laser tag with zombies. It’s more of a fun attraction, than scary.
Death Water Bayou
We wandered through a bayou, saw the voodoo queen, and basically got the pants scared off of us.
This is an oldie but still goodie. Zombies in a funeral home are always a sure fire scare!
Last year one of my wishes was for more scare zones between attractions. Howl-O-Scream 2016 answered the request with creepy characters literally everywhere! There were plenty of roaming characters throughout the night to scare the pants off of you. The spooky children’s playground near the elephants was probably the best scare zone of the night for us.
Many people don’t realize that the price of admission also includes access to ride many of the best roller coasters in the park. If you need a break from the haunted houses you can ride the classics like Kumba, Montu, and Sheikra. The newer attractions were also open, Falcon’s Fury, Cobra’s Curse, Cheetah Hunt.
Cobra’s Curse is one of the most unusual roller coasters I’ve ever ridden. It’s got killer drops and spins and surprise maneuvers you don’t expect on a roller coaster. My only wish is that the fun could last even longer.
We also finally rode Cheetah Hunt! This probably gave us our biggest scare of the night. I had no idea it was so intense. The G4 forces definitely had us screaming at the top of our lungs and riding it at night just makes it even more thrilling.
Don’t forget to check out the Crash Test Zombies, the Fiends show, and the Fright Feast dinner show. There’s plenty of food and drinks available throughout the park. This year’s signature potions, “Karver’s Creation” and “Evil Encore”, are worth trying. Evil Encore was my favorite.
If you are planning to go and get your fright on, dates for Howl-O-Scream are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month of October. Visit the Howl-O-Scream website to get tickets and all of the details.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. It’s Florida and although it’s technically fall it can still be extremely hot. Drink plenty of water so that you don’t get woozy standing in the queue lines.
- Ladies this is not a heel wearing activity. Don’t be the girl who rolls her ankle really bad because she’s running through the haunted house or scare zones in heels or wedges.
- Take advantage of being allowed entry at 5 pm since you can still ride some of the rides and then you are in place early for your first haunted house. The skip-the-line pass is definitely worth considering if you are going on the weekend or closer to Halloween. You will need to purchase this when you buy your ticket.
- Thursdays are typically your best bet to beat the crowds.