Forget Christmas in July. Halloween is the new hot holiday emerging in the summer.
Both Busch Gardens and Universal Studios in Orlando are cranking up their scare tactics for this season's screamfests, and it's only July.
Universal announced it is joining forces with AMC's The Walking Dead for its Halloween Horror Nights events. Visitors to Universal Orlando Resort will find elaborately themed, movie-quality haunted mazes that for the first time feature a television series.
The Emmy Award-winning series is based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and tells the story of the months and years that follow after a zombie apocalypse.
In addition to the iconic locations and scenes from the show, mobs of undead walkers will be brought in to bring to "life" the zombies from the show.
"With The Walking Dead, we want to make fans of the series feel like they are literally walking in the footsteps of the show's characters," said John Murdy, creative director at Universal Studios Hollywood. "The goal is to make guests of Halloween Horror Nights feel like they are trapped in the world of The Walking Dead."
See www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com for ticket details.
Meanwhile, this weekend Busch Gardens will hold auditions for its Scare Squad — the hired help who infest haunted houses, scare zones and roaming hordes to shock and surprise guests.
Open auditions for the Howl-O-Scream 2012 Scare Squad will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the park's Entertainment office.
You have to register to audition. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older for all performing roles, and a variety of behind-the-scenes positions are available as well. Those interested should apply online at BuschGardensJobs.com, and then tryouts will be scheduled. If needed, additional auditions will be held July 27-28 and Aug. 3-4.
Performers will be rated on their scare tactics as they try out drop doors, overhead startles and other gotcha gimmicks on the Scare Gauntlet. Then, a series of improvised group games encourage those auditioning to transform their bodies, voices and movements from merely human into truly terrifying.
All Scare Squad positions are paid, and no experience is necessary. Howl-O-Scream is open select nights in September and October.
For details on Howl-O-Scream, log onto TheDarkSideOfTheGardens.com. Further audition details are available by visiting buschgardenstalent.com.