PHN 2014: Busch Gardens’ Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream 2014!

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Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream® offers chills and thrills to guests brave enough to venture into this cursed park. Navigate through Wendigo Woods™, one of five Terror-tories™; brave a darkly entertaining show like Monster Stomp™ on Ripper Row™ or explore six haunted houses waiting for those daring enough to enter the park after dark.

Be warned: at 6 p.m. Busch Gardens® becomes a seriously scary place and may not be suitable for little ones. Please use discretion when bringing children into the park at this time. The curse spreads Sept. 12 and continues weekends through Oct. 26.

Check out our review of this year’s event after the jump!

It gets a little harder every year to review Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s annual Howl-O-Scream event. Not because it’s bad, mind you. Far from it. Busch Gardens, the nation’s most beautiful theme park (an award it’s won for 23 consecutive years) also manages to have the best deal when it comes to its annual Halloween event. Included in the cost of your admission or season pass, the park is open all day and converts to Howl-O-Scream at night, for no additional cost. It’s a fantastic deal, and really allows you to enjoy the park and focus on the HoS events after dark.

No, it gets harder to review because this year, Howl-O-Scream is essentially the exact same as last year. All six haunted houses are the same as last year (I didn’t even notice any changes inside the house to advance or alter the experiences). Instead, the only new additions are one new terror-tory, Wendigo Woods, and alterations to the existing Monster Stomp show.

Again, it’s hard to complain, given the value, and given that we’re not in Florida, I’d imagine an separately ticketed event wouldn’t get anywhere near the level of audience that the event currently does, but it’s a shame that there’s not at least ONE new house yearly.

So for a review of the houses, I’m going to point you to last year’s review, which itself points you to the review from 2012

That being said, if you haven’t attended HoS before, or haven’t attended in a couple of years, this year is a can’t-miss event. Even if you do go annually, it’s worth going if you have a season pass just for the sheer fact that there’s nothing anywhere near this level for haunt fans in the area. Busch Gardens really does a ton of work (in a surprisingly small amount of time) to convert the ENTIRE park into something scary from the second you walk in, where you enter Ripper Row and walk through a hallway of hanging body parts.

The “Terror-Tories” (BG’s version scarezones) are all pretty great, especially Demon Street, a surprisingly demonic conversion for Germany that features a demon DJ spinning tracks in what’s one of the park’s most impressive sights. The new terror-tory, Wendigo Woods, isn’t as impressive, but is actually pretty cool. Taking place in the New France area of the park, huge structures have been built to tell the story of a military compound set up to hunt the elusive Wendigo, who himself makes an appearance via an impressive animatronic.

The revised Monster Stomp on Ripper Row show has been moved to the Globe Theater (where the show’s new London Rocks show currently resides in the non-HoS season) and is actually pretty fantastic. I’ve seen the show in years past and I’ve never been as impressed with it as I was this year. Supposedly retooled by the creative minds behind London Rocks (which I actually don’t care for), this show is very impressive, and a ton of fun. Also? Sets the tone right at the beginning that BG is willing to go darker this year.

One disappointment for me this year is the theme of the event – Cursed. Supposedly this ties into a song that plays around the park and, as the story goes, if you listen to the song, you’ll be hunted down by monsters. I don’t recall actually hearing the song and, other than the song itself, there’s really not much themeing specific to the concept. I like the idea – would have been great to get a house dedicated to it, or even a terror-tory, but no such luck. Great idea, but would have liked more follow through on it.

A couple of other new additions include a Vampire Vogue shop, and a new dining experience, Crow’s Nest Grill, that serves hot dogs.

Your enjoyment of BG’s Howl-O-Scream this year is really going to depend on if you’ve been recently, or if you’re a die-hard haunt fan. If you’re a casual fan who went last year, you may not find much different for you this year. Still, as a good number of rides are open, and really…you’re not going to get any better in Virginia, Howl-O-Scream may be worth the venture out to Williamsburg. Make sure not to miss Monster Stomp on Ripper Row!

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