Haunted events look and feel a bit different all across the country this year, and Howl-O-Scream is no exception. This year’s event focuses solely on outdoor scares, with a whopping 10 scare zones throughout the park. Even though there aren’t any traditional haunted houses, the event still delivers plenty of scares, and of course some of Florida’s best roller coasters! Read on for our full review of this year’s event!
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Howl-O-Scream is one of our favorite annual events, so when they announced that they would still be having a modified version this year we couldn’t wait to check it out. Even though there aren’t any of the usual haunted houses, they’ve upped the ante with their scare zones, cramming 10 of them into the park. And of course, in typical Howl-O-Scream fashion, even when you’re not walking through a marked scare zone, there’s still a good chance you’ll get scared by something – watch out for those bushes!
This year’s event features four brand new scare zones – The Junkyard, The Shortcut, Lycan Landing and The Escape. Both The Junkyard and The Shortcut are set up like outdoor haunted houses – you wait in a short line and then get to walk through with just your own party – amplifying the scares because all the actor’s attention is focused on you. Fans of the Insomnia haunted house will feel right at home in The Escape, which features escaped inmates causing havoc in the streets, and Lycan Landing featured some great sets and really scary werewolf costumes!
One of the staples of Howl-O-Scream is the Fiends show, and this year it gets its biggest venue ever – taking over the the
Gwazi Festival Field Stage. Busch Gardens did a great job making sure the audience followed social distancing guidelines, and even the show itself revolved around being socially distant while still poking fun at everything that’s happened this year. It’s a welcomed comedic break after the year we’ve all had!
Elsewhere in the park, you’ll find the usual scare zones if you’ve been to the event for the past few years. Maniac Midway and Hell on Wheels are among my favorites – but I got my best scare of the night in Deadly Toys – that panda with cymbals will haunt my nightmares for years to come! Long time fans of the event will also really enjoy the First Fear scare zone, which features the icons from past Howl-O-Scream events.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Howl-O-Scream without a few rides. Busch Gardens has one of the best coaster lineups in the country, (and it’ll get even better next spring!) so getting to ride these awesome rides in the dark is always a great time. We made sure to hit Sheirka, Kumba, Montu, and the always surprisingly fun Tigris! The rides definitely provide a nice break from all the scares.
And speaking of scares, there’s still plenty more scare zones to talk about! Little Nightmares is and Dia De Los Muertos are both also back this year, and both provide some great costumes and surprising scares. It’s hard to resist a photo in the Dia De Los Muertos zone thanks to the bright colors and festive décor. And watch out for the trick or treaters in Little Nightmares – I think they were all out of treats.
Overall, a socially distant Howl-O-Scream was still a ton of fun, so if you’re looking for a theme park Halloween event that still takes place at night, definitely head to Tampa and check it out. Reservations are required, and the event runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through November 1st! Be sure to check out the Howl-O-Scream website for more info and to buy your tickets!