Make us your home page

Watch out for the goons! Top tips for getting your scare on at Howl-O-Scream

A solo trip to Howl-O-Scream was something I never had on my bucket list, but I have to admit I did enjoy myself, mainly because everyone there is up for conversation, either because of nervousness or intoxication. • But that's not to dismiss Busch Gardens' role. The park does a solid job putting Howl-O-Scream together to ensure visitors have a good time. Here are some pluses and minuses to help you be fully informed before you get your scare on.

Why you should go

Artistically speaking, the creepy, haunted scenery puts you into the mood. Plus the haunted houses are longer this year, and have more scare-actors; in one house alone I counted more than 40.

There is more variety in the haunted houses this year, too, with different layouts in almost every house. Signs tell you haunted house wait times, so you can plan your attack. The main one is under the Cheetah Hunt turnaround.

The roller coasters are all active, and roller coasters at night are the epitome of awesome. There is an app that will tell you the roller coaster wait times, so you can bounce around to the shortest lines.

Things to know before you go

A good amount of alcohol is consumed at the park by the 21 and older crowd, so some of the patrons can be rather unruly.

Scare zones around the park will keep you on your toes. Keep your wits about you to avoid fainting when a stray goon jumps from a bush.

Be prepared for repetitive loud and/or abrupt noises. Every goon in the haunted houses has some way of making an ear-splitting banging sound.

Some of the haunted houses are actually very gory, with guts and blood and realistic bodies all over the place, so if that is not your cup of tea, you have been warned.

It's tough to avoid lines at Howl-O-Scream's haunted houses, but they get shorter the later the hour and during the week. Try starting out at the houses that are farthest from the entrance to avoid some of the congestion. In line is still is where you will spend most of your evening regardless, so have a good attitude.

From the time I pulled through the entrance on a Saturday night, it took me half an hour to get inside the park. They start filling the parking lots farthest from the park entrance, and there seemed too few trams to handle the early rush from the far lots.

ticket info

Howl-O-Scream starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and runs on select nights through Oct. 26 at Busch Gardens in Tampa. Admission is $89 but online tickets start at $48; other deals include Thursday Four Pack for $30 to $35 each. (813) 987-5600.

Watch out for the goons! Top tips for getting your scare on at Howl-O-Scream

10/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 6:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours