Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream terrifies amidst long lines

Busch+Gardens%27+Howl-O-Scream+terrifies+amidst+long+lines

Courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort

ORLANDO — The “Howl-O-Scream” event celebrates its 13-year anniversary this year with seven haunted houses, an exclusive dance club, dance performances and magical sideshows. Five of the seven are old houses brought back by popular demand with new additions, while the remaining two are entirely new.

Busch Gardens’ annual event transforms the family-friendly park into a dark and frightful experience. Guests feel the mood soon after passing through the main entrance into the courtyard. Thick fog clouded visibility and masked scare-actors that waited to startle unsuspecting visitors.

“It’s really scary,” said visitor Bianca Pontanez as screams seemed to echo confirmation.

Throughout the park, scare zones are placed in between the houses. Each scare zone had a slightly different theme conveyed by scattered coffins and actors dressed as deformed scarecrows. Actors disguised as foliage hid within the bushes to wait for their next unsuspecting victim.

The wait time for each attraction soon proved to be the scariest thing the event had to offer.

With the event beginning at 7:30 p.m. and closing at 1:30 a.m., five hours seems like more than enough time to visit most of the seven houses and even ride a few roller coasters, but in some cases lines were so long that park guests left queues altogether. The minimum hour-and-a-half wait for every house or activity called into question whether or not the whole experience was worth the $79.99 price tag.

“If I didn’t have the discount from my year pass, I’d be mad,” said Pontanez while waiting in line for a haunted house. “All the waiting isn’t worth the full price.”

Despite wait times, park guests still left haunted houses both thrilled and terrified.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Andrew Williams. “I love watching other people get scared.”