Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream Review

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Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream weekends offer fun and fright for the entire family. We went last year, with our then seven year old, and decided it was too scary for her. She handled the frights well, but she certainly didn’t enjoy them. This year, we trekked three hours to Williamsburg, Virginia for another round of ghoulish fun, this time leaving the littleone home to enjoy a sleepover with her “BFF.”

This guy’s friendly smile greets park guests

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream Haunted Houses

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, “Dark Side of the Gardens,” now features six haunted houses, including the “Root of All Evil,” added to Germany this year. Of those we have experienced, our favorite is “13: Your Number’s Up” located in Ireland and based on the 13 greatest fears people have. We were impressed with many of the effects and found the corridors between the 13 fears to be almost as scary as the fears themselves. Our second favorite, though not for its fright factor is “Dead Line,” located in Italy at the Pompeii attraction. My husband, older son and I appreciate the gory humor in this haunted house more than any of the others and laugh our way through the entire thing. We hope we don’t spoil the effect for others, but it really is funny! Of the six, our least favorite is “Fear Fair.” We should have known from the short line that it wasn’t very good, but since we didn’t get to it last year, we chose Fear Fair over the new haunted house and its long lines. We would have done better to wait. Fear Fair is quite tame, not very fun and looks worn out. My husband and son were equally disappointed.

The Shows

We attended two of the three shows: Fiends in Ireland and Night Beats, the new show in Germany’s Das Festhaus restaurant. Fiends was not what we expected. Yes, we saw the sign that said it’s for more mature audiences. Silly us, we thought that meant a greater fright factor. Let me just say, teen boys attending this show with their mom were mortified with embarrassment. Mom was equally embarrassed. You’ve been warned. Attend this raunchy, semi-Vegas style show if you enjoy that sort of thing.

Night Beats, which we were a little nervous about after our experience with Fiends, was quite enjoyable. We arrived about 15 minutes before the show and the boys found a table while the rest of us went through the line to get dinner. Soon after reaching our table, the nightclub style show, featuring songs from the 1920’s-1980’s with some quippy dialogue interspersed, entertained us all. No one was embarrassed either!

Obviously, he’s not easily embarrassed! 

Overall Experience

A major change from last year, which I think improves the family friendliness of the park, is that Busch Gardens, Williamsburg significantly downsized the number of “ghoulish encounters” in the general park areas. Traveling from one country to another with ghouls, crazy men wielding chainsaws, and insane clowns terrified my younger two last year. This year, there were a few spooky encounters, but not so intense. We appreciated the change and might take our daughter if we return next year.