New scares for Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens

Jimmy LaRoue

Busch Gardens passholders were in the Halloween spirit on the opening night of Busch Gardens’ 19th Howl-O-Scream last Friday, even as many were in T-shirts and shorts as temperatures reached the mid-80s.

Still, once inside the park’s new Howl-O-Scream attractions — FrostBite and the new escape room, Case of the Haunted Hotel — visitors were transformed, and felt a much cooler, welcome and scarier relief.

“We’re giving something new and different that we haven’t done before, which is great for the repeat visitors to the park who are familiar with Howl-O-Scream,” said Matthew Edwards, entertainment manager of consumer events at Busch Gardens. “And it gives it a new jazz to people who maybe, it’s their first time coming to the park.”

FrostBite is a new walk-through haunted house in the Curse of the DarKastle building, across from Blood Haus in Oktoberfest. Visitors see hues of ice-blue throughout as they weave their way through a fog-shrouded graveyard, with scares coming throughout.

To transform Curse of the DarKastle, crews put up more than 200 walls and, in the creation phase, it had to factor in the monorail of the ride track and how it would be covered to help the scary, frozen allure of the new Howl-O-Scream attraction, according to Busch Gardens supervisor of consumer events Jeremy Wood.

The new attraction uses a video screen at the entrance to the attraction to set up its frosty fear fest, and once inside, various people pop out to provoke scares. Images of icy blue permeate FrostBite. Toward the end of the attraction, fast flashing lights, with eerie sounds and screams permeate.

In the escape rooms, six people at a time will spend up to a half-hour trying to, well, escape, from one of the two themed rooms — an updated Case of Mr. Karver and the new Case of the Haunted Hotel.

In the Case of Mr. Carver, people will try to discover the location of his secret workshop, and, if found, try to stop him from making more of his creepy dolls.

In the Case of the Haunted Hotel, people use clues to solve puzzles and try to escape before time runs out. Both escape rooms give people a half-hour to work their way out.

Visiting a room costs $30 to $50, in addition to admission to Busch Gardens.

Edwards is excited for people to experience the Curse of the DarKastle ride in a different way.

“I hope in general that people just enjoy the experience of something that we’ve never done before,” Edwards said. “We’ve never done a cold, or ice-themed attraction in our Halloween event … so being able to explore a whole new area of scare possibility is hopefully something that the guest can really appreciate.”


Busch Gardens will be open on select Thursdays (Oct. 19 and 26), and every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 29. Howl-O-Scream kicks up its scare-factor after 6 p.m. The park’s opening times varies (either 10 a.m., noon. or 5 p.m.), so check park hours prior to visiting.

The park will close at 10 p.m. Sept. 29-30, and it will be open until midnight every Saturday in October, open until 11 p.m. every Thursday and Friday in October and until 10 p.m. on Sundays.

In addition to the new attractions, Busch Gardens has six other haunted houses, five terror-tories and four Howl-O-Scream-themed shows.

Escape room tickets start at $30 in addition to park admission, and Howl-O-Scream tours, with priority admission to all its attractions, are $75.

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LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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