You don't have to drive far to find a place to get scared in Tampa Bay. But after seeing the price tag and long lines of big thrills like Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream and Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, you may just want to stay in town, save some many and check out local frights.
Chamber of Terror at American Victory Ship
For its 11th season in Tampa Bay, Chamber of Terror moves this year to the American Victory Ship in Channelside. Creator Courtney McIntyre is crafting a gruesome story in and around a historic and supposed haunted World War II merchant ship docked in Tampa Bay.
"It's one of four haunted nautical attractions like this this year in the country," McIntyre said. "It's something the theme parks can't bring because of the location on a boat."
Visitors of the floating Chamber of Terror get to explore Doctor Grundy's human mutation experiments and the captain's insanity that turned a crew into ghoulish creatures bent on making sure no one leaves the deadly cargo hold.
"We are using the whole ship as the attraction," McIntyre said. "I studied a lot of ship history; many of our characters date back to the WWII era and we use stuff in the ship as props."
The SS American Victory is one of only four fully operational WWII ships in the country. First launched in 1945, the Victory came to serve as a floating museum in Tampa Bay 20 years ago and offers a chance to explore WWII maritime warfare. The museum is still open during the day while Chamber of Terror is running; for information on the ship, see americanvictory.org.
The Chamber of Terror starts Sept. 30 and runs 8 p.m. to midnight select nights through Oct. 31 at 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa. General admission is $25 and first in line admission is $40. chamberofterrorfl.com.
The Vault of Souls
Downtown Tampa's historic National Exchange Bank (611 N Franklin St.) will once again turn into a spooky 1920s gin joint and lounge for the Vault of Souls interactive performance.
Tickets for the reservations-only event are pricey, but the experience from former Howl-O-Scream creative mind Scott Swenson is truly a mashup of elegance and horror. Guests are treated to small bites, refreshments and haunting music while waiting their turn to step into the softly-lit vault in the basement beneath the bank.
This event is not about jump scares. Characters, including psychics and tarot readers, interact one-on-one with guests, providing an immersive paranormal experience. Visitors become a part of the story made complete by wearing a creepy white mask to protect from insidious spirits.
You have to be at least 18, and $100 tickets include admission four areas, valet parking, light refreshments and a personalized tarot reading. elegantfear.com.
Dade City's infamous Scream-A-Geddon is back with six haunted attractions spread out over 60 acres of Florida forest.
For its sophomore year, Scream-A-Geddon brings back the Monster Midway, Deadwoods and Bedlam 3D. New interactive houses this year include Blackpool Prison and Infected, where guests will face off against a monstrous prison riot and escape mutant creatures in a farmer's cornfield.
For both interactive attractions, guests can choose to simply explore the farmhouse or prison, or choose to opt-in on the action and possibly be grabbed, held back, sent into hidden rooms, separated from a group or forced to stay in the mayhem.
Runs Friday through Nov. 5 at 27839 St. Joe Road, Dade City. Tickets start at $19.95. screamageddon.com.