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A head start on Halloween

The scaring season is upon us again. The Halloween fests get into full swing next week, but for those who can't wait, Busch Gardens and Lowry Park Zoo are offering sneak peaks this weekend.

On Saturday, Busch Gardens throws a "Freaky Preview" of its Howl-O-Scream, with advance tickets for $19.95 to $26.95, half the regular general admission price. As always, Howl-O-Scream features lots of gruesome fun but isn't recommended for children or the faint of heart. Above, Colleen Matthes, left, Meggie Ford and Geoffrey Miller get a surprise from a live "body" in the Mortuary haunted house.

Howl-O-Scream will be open from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays in October and 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Oct. 14, 21, 24, 28 and 31. General admission is $53.95, but discounts are available. Toll-free 1-888-800-5447; or

For those who like their Halloween fun a little tamer, Lowry Park Zoo's Zoo Boo features haunted houses and trails for kids of all ages, with each attraction rated by intensity so parents can decide which are suitable for their children.

The zoo event also includes a midway, animal shows, games and carriage rides. The Zoo Boo sneak peak is from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday with admission of $7 per person. (Some activities cost extra.)

The event continues from 7 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through October and 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 21, 24, 27-28 and 31. Regular admission is $11 adults, $9 ages 3 to 11. (813) 935-8552 or