Halloween is my most favorite time of year. I’m always a willing target participant for the next big scary attraction. I’ll be the one screaming my head off, but I’ll be there.
I recently had the opportunity to check out the new haunted houses/mazes and other attractions at Howl-O-Scream 2016. I try not to be a spoiler, so I’ll be as careful as possible when giving my thoughts on the event.
As always, the park did an amazing job with decorations, props and theatrics. There’s a great autumn atmosphere during the day (not scary at all, for those of you with little ones). As dusk sets in and the creatures come out, the pumpkins look just a bit less friendly and the music takes a turn to the sinister side. The quaint village you walked through at noon is now seething with vampires, demons and even Jack the Ripper himself.
Circo Sinistro and Sideshow Square: New haunted maze and terror-tory at Busch Gardens
Circo Sinistro takes guests through a Big Top circus setting that is both indoor and outdoor. A pathway leads through covered tents with names like “the gauntlet,” “the dollhouse” and “the portal.” Expect clowns, puppets, giant dolls and lots of other creepy circus-inspired props.
Circo Sinistro is really well done and has a lot of potential for even more scariness. I like the way guests are gathered under the Big Top by the ringmaster, sort of like a live theatrical performance, before being sent through the maze. The concept of walking through a series of different circus tents was great as well. My only suggestion would be to add more scare actors throughout the maze.
As you’re walking to the maze, which is located in the Roman Rapids queue area, you’ll encounter the inhabitants of Sideshow Square. I hope to get back to the park in order to experience this area when it’s dark. I really enjoyed the characters … especially the puppet with strings still attached.
This new haunted maze and terror-tory is located in the Festa Italia section of the park. They replace the pirate-themed Cutthroat Cove from previous years, which was a good move in my opinion. Even though pirates are always a fun feature of Halloween, I was never a big fan of Cutthroat Cove. Circo Sinistro gets a big thumb’s up.
Curious about the rest of the haunted maze themes? Click right here to find out all about them.
Howl-O-Scream 2016 haunted houses
- NEW Circo Sinistro (Festa Italia)
- Catacombs (France)
- Bitten (Germany)
- Dead Line (Italy)
- Cornered (back lot near Germany)
- Lumberhack (enter beside Das Festhaus)
- Unearthed: Scarlett’s Revenge (Ireland)
No Escape – Escape Room
I also got to check out the new Escape Room experiences at the park. Escape Rooms are the newest craze for groups these days. You’re “locked” in a room filled with props and clues. You have to figure out the clues and solve the mystery/puzzle before the time is up. Six people per room have 30 minutes to solve the clues and riddles.
I did not participate in an actual clue-searching game, but I had the chance to walk around and look at both of the rooms. Guests can choose from No Escape: Case of Mr. Karver and No Escape: Case of Jack the Ripper. The actor playing Mr. Karver, the doll maker, should win some sort of award. He was awesome!
Unless you book the whole room, you’ll be paired with other players to make six to a room. There is an age limit of 16 to participate in No Escape. No Escape is located in Germany at Wilkommenhaus (the former site of Blood Banquet), near Land of the Dragons. Escape Room experiences are at an additional charge.
Here are a few scenes from the escape rooms …
Howl-O-Scream 2016 Shows
- Fiends (Ireland) – Abbey Stone Theatre is the setting for this song and dance number starring the wacky doctor, his bevy of pink-haired nurses and fiends like The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Dracula and the Wolfman.
- Monster Stomp on Ripper Row (England) – Upbeat songs, energetic dance numbers, creative percussion performances and fun-loving skeletons make Monster Stomp one of my favorites. Parents, take caution, this show is about Jack the Ripper, and there are a few scenes with simulated gruesome-ness.
- Night Beats (Das Festhaus) – The Casket Club features a sizzling line-up of song and dance numbers from the ‘20s to today. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a meal and relax a bit.
- Starfright Orchestra (Italy’s il Teatro Di San Marco Theatre) – This 12-piece swing band returns after an eight year absence. Shows are only on Saturdays.
Howl-O-Scream 2016 Terror-tories
- NEW Sideshow Square (Festa Italia) – Busch Gardens’ new Terror-tory is a Big Top extravaganza of dolls, puppets and clowns.
- Ripper Row (England) – Ripper Row is our favorite terror-tory. It’s fun to interact with the reporters, bobbies and headless women with umbrellas. Jack himself is quite the interesting character as well. Watch out, or you just might meet him when you’re not expecting it.
- Vampire Point (Germany) – Vampires, vampires and more vampires.
- Demon Street (France) – Dancing flames, soot-soaked chainsaw-wielding creatures and a giant skull with a demon DJ … Demon Street is always rocking.
- Wendigo Woods (New France) – Watch out for the supernatural sounds of the Wendigo in the woods.
Don’t forget to take a selfie with “Georgie.” You can even do a Face Swap with him. This is located on the bridge over the Rhine River, going from Italy into Germany.
If you go:
Howl-O-Scream takes place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October 30. The park opens at 10:00 a.m., but the scary stuff doesn’t start until 6:00.
Please Note: Guests are encouraged to consider the elevated scare factor when bringing young children to the park. During the daylight, it’s completely fine. At night, however, the low light, spooky sounds, props and scare actors may be too much for some young children.
Please visit Howloscream.com/va for more information and to purchase tickets.