[Review] Howl-O-Scream offers a thrilling and spooky way to enjoy Halloween


Tribune News Service

Spooky costumed performers loom and sometimes lurch at Witchcraft Bayou and other scare zones during Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld Orlando. Photo courtesy of Dewayne Bevil/TNS.

Jessica Gorlach, Writer

Howl-O-Scream, located in Tampa Bay’s popular theme park Busch Gardens, is an annual Halloween seasonal event that is a thrilling and spooky way to get into the fall spirit. Howl-O-Scream is similar to other theme park Halloween festivities such as Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, as they both include haunted houses, scare zones and live shows.

The event began on Sept. 9 and will stay open until Oct. 31. On both Fridays and Saturdays, the event will take place from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. while on Thursday, Sunday and Monday, the park will still open at 7 p.m. but will close one hour earlier at 12 a.m.

Specifically, Howl-O-Scream is composed of five haunted houses, seven scare zones and three live shows. While it does share some similarities with Halloween Horror Nights, Howl-O-Scream is its own authentic event. The roller coasters are open during the event, however there are spooky details: the lighting is dim with fog machines going off and eerie music.

In the scare zones, actors engage in spooky, but comedic scripts, with the guests to bring a sense of humor along with jumpscares. The actors sneak up on you by redirecting you to the other hidden scare actors for more jumpscares. Sometimes they will tag team with the other actors to get you when you least expect it.

However, the haunted houses are exemplary and spooky. There is one house called “Siren of the Seas” where you can walk around a haunted cruise ship full of jumpscares. All the houses are filled with immense details, each telling a story as you walk through while the “Sirens” lure you in with the music.

“[Howl-o-Scream] is way better than Halloween Horror Nights,” senior Carolina Flores said.
“The people will scare you from every angle in the houses and even waiting in the line there are people hiding to scare you in the bushes.”

Diving into the three live shows, first is “Lurking in the Depths,” where you listen to a famed explorer talk about his horrific adventures hunting down sirens. Next is “Siren Song” where Sirens will spin you tales while haunting you simultaneously. Lastly is “Monster Stomper” where Jack the Ripper puts on a dark taunting performance.

There are a few food options available that are decent. There is “Crawling Cravings” which is a quick serve restaurant that offers insects in their meals. This unique addition to food might not appeal to everyone, however, it definitely adds to the horror of it all.

My favorite part of this event is the merchandise. There is an array of t-shirts and sweatshirts to buy, but they are pricey. There is a light up skull you can get, which is interactive with certain parts of the park. You can also fill it up with water and it will work as a fog machine.

Even though Howl-O-Scream is a fairly new event, I definitely recommend teens and young adults to attend for some Halloween fun as this event will give you a thrill.