Halloween Horror Nights gets a lot of love, and deservedly so, but I’m always shocked at the number of people who’ve never been to HowlOScream at Busch Gardens Tampa. It’s only about an hour away from Orlando, and I consider it a must-do part of my Halloween season every year. Here are six reasons why you should, too:
1) You get to hit up seven haunted houses all in one place. I’m all about getting the most bang for your buck, and Busch Gardens Tampa features seven haunted houses that are included with your HowlOScream ticket and one intense experience (The Experiment) that costs extra. Basically you can spend your whole evening enjoying the haunts all around the park.
2) You enjoy a truly spooky atmosphere. I’m a theme park junkie, but it’s pretty rare to run across a park with a true wooded atmosphere. Busch Gardens Tampa has it, and the lush trees, tall grasses, dense bushes and other landscaping that looks so welcoming during the day turns truly sinister at night. All the more places for scareactors to hide in the scare zones.
3) You can buy a Quick Queue pass. When I visit a Halloween event, I want to make sure I’ll get through all the haunted houses, even if it costs a little extra. I can buy a Quick Queue pass at HowlOScream that gets me through an express line, letting me make the most of my time. Better yet, I can use it on any of the seven houses I choose. If I get to the park early and get through some of the houses via the standby line, that means I can use my extra Quick Queue options to do repeats of my favorites.
4) You get a perfect combination of jump scares and exquisite set design. I cut my teeth on community haunted houses, so even though I love technology, I’m a sucker for a good jump scare. HowlOScream embraces the old school techniques but also works in houses with detailed design that will make you wish you could take your time going through them. Sadly, you don’t get a change to dawdle where scareactors are on the attack.
5) You can dine while you watch Fiends. I love the comedic Fiends show, which features Dr. Freakenstein and Egor each year, along with the Naughty Nurses (yes, there are male nurses for the ladies, too). At Halloween events, I hate to give up haunted housing time to see the shows or eat, but at HowlOScream the show takes place in the Pantopia Grill, so you can grab some food to fuel up and kill two birds with one stone.
6) Great night rides. I’m a huge fan of the Busch Gardens roller coasters (especially SheiKra and Cheetah Hunt) and the new Falcon’s Fury. Sure, you can ride them any time, but if you’ve never been to Busch Gardens before, you can try them out at HowlOScream. Even if you’ve experienced them in the past, they’re truly better at night when you’ve got a view to go with the thrills.
Granted, there’s limited time to experience HowlOScream this year, but if you can possibly do it, head west on I-4 to Tampa and you won’t regret it (okay, maybe you will if you’re faint-hearted, but hey, I warned you).