I went to the park with a couple of friends last night for a beer and the "abbreviated" opening of HOS. None of the outdoor scare zones and mazes were running thanks to last week's hurricane scare, but all the shows and indoor mazes were.
Of the three new mazes, the best was Vault XX in the old Drachenfire station. This was "Howl-o-Scream's Greatest Hits," and featured monsters and rooms from many of the old mazes, such as Unearthed, Cursed, and Masquerage. It was pretty well done (even their old mascot, Jack, has a room).
I'll do a more detailed report when the event is going full steam.
Here's some more info on this year's version of Howl-o-Scream.
BUSCH GARDENS® WILLIAMSBURG CELEBRATES 20 YEARS OF SCARES AT HOWL-O-SCREAM
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia – Fill fall nights with fright at Busch Gardens® Howl-O-Scream® on select dates through Oct. 28.
Celebrate 20 years of fears in this special anniversary year, with more haunted houses, Terror-tories™ and scares than ever before. The park brings the spirit of Halloween to life at 5:45 p.m., becoming home to a host of creepy creatures hungry for unsuspecting victims.
This year’s event promises to be the scariest ever with new haunted houses Demented Dimensions™, Dystopia and The Vault: XX™, and new scare zones Garden of the Souls™ and Fools’ Court™.
Also new this year, No Escape: Jack’s Nightmare Room, an escape room featuring the original Busch Gardens trickster, and five new bars, including Control Lab at Inoculation Station, where park-goers can be the scare-masters for unsuspecting haunted house visitors.
Please note that all kids attractions close at 5 p.m. as the park prepares for the terror to be unleashed. For more information, please visit http://www.howloscream.com/va.
Busch Gardens planned their Howl-o-Scream media day for earlier in September, but an unexpected guest, named Hurricane Florence, persuaded them to change their plans. Fortunately, the hurricane didn't hit Williamsburg, but better safe than sorry; then again, howling winds, thunder, and lightning wouldn't have seemed out of place, either. So, the park treated the media (local TV and "bloggers") to a peek at this year's edition--the 20th anniversary of Howl-o-Scream! Hard to believe, but I've been around for every one of them. Perhaps I'll end up haunting the place myself someday.
How is the park celebrating 20 years of fears? How about with three new mazes?
The Vault: XX--Think of this as "Howl-o-Scream's Greatest Hits." Favorite children of the night have all come together to scare guests in what used to be the station for Drachen Fire near the Festhaus. Look for the Executioner from the Dark Tower (the first HOS maze), Scarlett from Unearthed, Mummies from the Curse of Pompeii, the Pirate Captain from Sea Dog Cemetery, and many more. I think this is the best of the new mazes.
Demented Dimensions--"The energies of a dimensional vortex" have twisted and distorted the rooms of Sterling Manor (and the neighboring Victorian Street) into a new haunted realm where strange creatures dwell and reality simply doesn't matter. Get demented inside of the Ride Formerly Known as DarKastle.
Dystopia--There's a "new order" in charge of our world (or at least the part of it under Escape from Pompeii). "Join--or be forgotten!"
Returning mazes for this year are Frostbite (creepy ice monster inside the old DarKastle show building), Cornered (an evil corn maze behind DarKastle), Lumberhack (insane lumberjacks with chainsaws, axes, and one big buzz saw in the woods behind Verbolten), and Cirquo Sinistro (terror under the Big Top in Festa Italia).
Daring guests can stroll (or run screaming) through two new Terror-tories (that is, "scare zones") this year:
Garden of the Souls--In Italy's Funeral Gardens, guests can visit the graves of the deceased--or with the deceased themselves.
Fools' Court--Chaos reigns in France when motley fools roam the streets. The joke will most likely be on you.
Other scare zones include Jack the Ripper and his minions in England, scary Vikings in Fort New France, bloodsucking vampires in Germany, and evil clowns and circus freaks in Festa Italia.
This year also marks the return of Jack, the event's oldest icon and trickster, after an eight-year absence. He hangs out in Vault XX and in No Escape: Jack's Nightmare Room (this is an up charge). Jack said that his old show at previous events was a "a bit too family friendly" for his taste, and he's hoping to really get back into scaring people this year. It's good to have Jack back.
Guests can help Jack and the other fiends scare people at the Control Lab in Ireland. For a slight fee, you can push a button and scare the crap out of some random person on Festa Bridge or in the Vault, Demented Dimensions, Dystopia, and Frostbite. While you're at it, a Naughty Nurse (or perhaps Dr. Freakenstein) can serve you a nice Jello shot or cocktail in the Inoculation Station.
There are two party zones, and three shows, too: Monster Stomp on Ripper Row in England, Fiends in Ireland, and Night Beats--Revamped in the Festhaus.
Howl-o-Scream is part of your park admission (no separate ticket required); however, some activities inside (such as escape rooms) are an up charge. So, let's have a look at the Control Lab, Vault XX, Demented Demensions, and Jack's Nightmare Room, shall we? (Oh, very well, I'll go first.)
First stop, the Control Lab in Ireland. There were no inoculations today.
Dr. Freakenstein was very busy.
"Tell me about it! I've been waiting to see him since 1842! Never gonna get my bleeding at this rate!"
But the good doctor did provide us with cookies . . .
. . . and witches! (She would like everyone to know that she isn't dead--yet.)
Clowns. Why did it have to be clowns?
Here's the Control Lab. Just push a button and watch the fun on the monitor as something scares the crap outta somebody!
Of course, if ya play, ya gotta pay. Dr. Freakenstein doesn't work free.
Time for a nice, relaxing tram ride to . . . HOLY CRAP, WHO IS THAT?
This one is loud--very loud.
Jack, buddy, how ya been?
Jack gave us a personal tour of Vault XX.
Here you'll find remembrances of Howl-o-Screams past.
Again with the clowns!
Looks like Dr. Carver's evil doll escaped his No Escape Room.
Scarlett (from Unearthed) has been playing a little solitaire.
Hmm--I think this could be the Dark Tower . . .
. . . then again, it could be Sea Dog Cemetery.
I asked this guy, but he was a bit of a stiff and wouldn't answer.
One of the cages from the Catacombs.
Hmm--can't place this one, but they look a little annoyed about something,
The Lady of the Gardens--one of HOS's creepiest past icons.
The Witch from Cursed is happy to be indoors this year.
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