Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Come Into the Gardens If You Dare! Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Review

One of my favorite things to do every fall is get my scare on at Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream. I love the park year-round, but wow do they really do it up for Halloween!

I had the honor of being invited back to Busch Gardens' "Fright Night" in celebration of the opening of Howl-O-Scream a couple of weekends ago and had a blast as always.

This invitation from "The Lady of the Gardens" should give you a glimpse of how much creativity and fun Busch Gardens puts into Howl-O-Scream each year:

Inside of the straw nest is an old-style apothecary bottle filled with "muddy" gummy worms. I was instructed to "take one a day" until Fright Night. How ingenious and fun is that?

My husband and I arrived for the event around 4pm, about two hours before the scare officially starts. Even during the day, the decorations are so festive and lift your "spirits." (ha!)

We strolled around the park, soaking in all of the sights and imagined how they'd look even cooler when evening hit. We were summoned to dinner by The Lady of the Gardens at 5 pm and were treated to a ghoulishly delightful meal!

As we were filling our plates with delicious, fun food, the star of the evening entered the tent. The Lady of the Gardens was even creepier in person, silently sneaking up behind guests and scaring them to death. Thankfully she let us take a picture with her instead of making us all into her zombie meal!

As we were finishing our meal, the announcement came on throughout the park that Howl-O-Scream was officially beginning (it starts at 6 pm). We were told that this year, there was a traveling caravan of "scarers" who would be chasing victims in the park when and where they least expected it.

Off we went wondering when we might run into them, with me silently hoping we'd come up behind them and not the other way around! Luckily for me, that's what ended up happening, but we still had to walk through the gang of zombies and hope that our lives would be spared. ;)

The first haunted house on our path was "Bitten" and already the line was SUPER long! Howl-O-Scream is such a popular event each year that the park has had to close due to capacity, so I highly recommend Busch Gardens' Unlimited Quick Queue passes to bypass the long lines.

We were fortunate enough to have the passes ourselves, courtesy of The Lady of the Gardens and it was so awesome being able to go right to the front of each line with no waiting! Some lines can be over an hour long, so the Quick Queue Passes are worth every penny and really help you get as much fun in as possible during your visit.

Bitten was fabulous and had my heart racing! I assumed my usual position of squeezing my husband for dear life and bracing for the unexpected. If screams were dollar bills, I'd be a rich lady because I screamed a LOT! Want proof? Here it is!

Yes, that is me screaming thirteen trillion times!

Before we hit our next haunted house, we had to treat ourselves to the pretzel bites with beer mustard in Germany as well as one of our favorite traditions...face painting!

My husband scared quite a few kids with his skeleton face paint for sure! The artists do such a good job on these creations that I even won an eBay Halloween costume contest for the cat face I had done at Howl-O-Scream last year!

By the time we finished with the pretzels and face paint, the sun had set and Howl-O-Scream was in full glory! One of our favorite views at night is Dark Kastle in Germany, where we love to ride "Curse of Dark Kastle." You feel like you just stepped in to Transylvania when you see the tower looming in the darkness. So awesome!

We hit a few more haunted houses after that, then went to Scotland to catch the fabulous show "Fiends." This year's show was even better than last year's, which is saying a lot because last year's performance was pretty spectacular!

The entire audience was having a blast singing and dancing along to the music, and the two young guys next to me were definitely entertained by the gorgeous nurses! ;)

We got to meet the cast after the show, some of whom were part of last year's cast as well. The male characters are just as funny offstage as they are on, and the nurses are as friendly and sweet as they are beautiful.

We had time to go through one last haunted house after the show. "13, Your Number is Up!" was just across the way from Fiends, so we immediately headed there.

Next to "Fear Fair," "13" is my absolute favorite! And here's a video that shows you just how fabulous "Fear Fair" is!

Hard to top that, but "13" definitely comes close! In fact, two men we had chatted with after leaving "Fear Fair" earlier in the evening asked us if we had been to "13" yet.

They had no problem admitting that they had been frightened silly when they had gone. "It's REALLY scary," they warned us.

They were right! As you go through the maze, you enter numbered sections that are designed around popular phobias.

For me, the scariest part was the fear of heights section. I can be in a tall building or on a para sail, but in "13" you have to walk along what appears to be a plank over boiling water.

It's all smoke and mirrors, literally, but it really messes with your head. In fact, the line had come to a halt inside of the maze because one woman could not cross it, even though there really is no plank and it's just a flat floor. She had to be escorted back out.

I myself froze when I went to take my first step as my husband obliviously crossed it without a problem leaving me behind. I kept yelling for him but he couldn't hear me over the screams and noises inside of the maze.

When he finally turned around and saw I wasn't behind him, I made him come back and walk me across "the plank" lol. I really could not do it by myself! Funny how the mind can play tricks on you and make something seem so real that it freezes you in your tracks like that!

It was the PERFECT way to end such a fun night and we were so sad it was over! Time really does fly when you're having fun. We could have stayed for several more hours and still wouldn't be able to get enough!

Here are more pics of the fun we had and the delightfully spooky sights we saw:

"Spider" and "web" covered bridge

One spider's big meal!

"Fear Grows Here!"

Fred Escare Scott

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! We finally found him!

I snapped this while bravely walking through "Fear Fair."

For more information on Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream, click their official website here. There are links to each of the haunted houses, including fun web cams you can watch from at home as people walk through and get scared to death!

There are only four more weekends of Howl-O-Scream left, so get your tickets and get to the park faster than you can say "Boo!" And if you see the Lady of the Gardens, tell her we said hello and thank you for the fabulous time!

Disclosure: We were treated to complimentary tickets, quick queue passes, a meal and a gift bag as a thank you for participating in this social media "fright night," but as always, opinions expressed on this site are never influenced by comp products or events.

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