As the unrelenting summer heat drives millions of scorched individuals into the comfort of their air conditioned homes, the internet is buzzing with speculation as to what this year’s Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa will look like. According to early reports, the immensely popular Dark Side of The Gardens theme will not be returning in 2013, but will instead be replaced by a new and even more terrifying motif.
We already know that instead of the single unifying icon the event has had in the past, the thirteenth year will usher in 13 icons, five of which have already been revealed. Of those, it appears that two will have their own haunted attractions; the basement which will be run by The Butcher, and Death Water Bayou which is the domain of the Voodoo Queen. The question remains, which of the other icons will have their own mazes? Will favorites of the past return for yet another haunting season?
Fans can easily assume that Alone will make it’s presence known once again this year. As a house which has been featured for the past three years, it is unique in the haunting world as it allows a single victim to traverse it’s terrifying labyrinth. It also has an added benefit for the park in that it brings in a few extra dollars, as Alone admission costs roughly $30 in advance on top of your regular Howl-O-Scream admission. The idea of going through a house by yourself can be a bit too much for some, but enables the scareactors to try more in your face techniques.
That leaves more than a few other houses to fill. Recently, a source at Busch Gardens revealed a listing of the top four houses from 2012. They were, in no particular order, Circus of Superstition 3D, Blood Asylum, Zombie Mortuary, and Nevermore. If you read my review of last years event, you will find that three out of the four also made my top listing, though if I never saw Nevermore again, it would be too soon!
A brief description of each house, courtesy of Wikipedia, can be found below.
- Blood Asylum (Former Akbar s Adventure Tours) – As lightning rages and thunder crashes outside, “The Creature” escapes from his holding cell in a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. Now this sadistic deviant is running rampant, skinning his former cellmates and turning the mental hospital into his own torture chamber. This serial killer’s bloody playground will drive you out of your mind with fear.
- Circus of Superstition 3-D (Nairobi Pavilion) – You’ve been taught to avoid black cats and sidewalk cracks your whole life, but all those years of bad luck have caught up with you. Crazed circus clowns challenge you to survive thirteen superstitions in their 3-D Tent of Terror, but it will take more than luck to escape this whole new dimension of fear.
- Zombie Mortuary (Timbuktu Warehouse) – No one remembers how the epidemic started, but now, zombies live here. The undead that infest this small town funeral home feed on the fresh flesh and brains of mortuary mourners to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Avoid the walking dead or you may find yourself deeper than six feet under.
- Nevermore (Orchid Canyon Building) – Beating hearts, swinging pendulums and a raven’s cries haunt the manor of Lenore, creating a demented and twisted nightmare. Step inside to experience the Gothic terror that maddens the lord of the house. And feel delusion overcome reality. Find your way out of this horror story before paranoia authors your final chapter.
The next three months will lead to even more rampant discussions as to the make-up of the 2013 event. One thing is for sure, however, Howl-O-Scream is a definite must see attraction for Halloween lovers everywhere!
Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following this column for news on other spooky events and more. If you know of another local event that needs additional undead light shone upon it, please tell me about it!
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