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Howl-O-Scream 2017: A Cold Terror Awaits!

This year, Howl-O-Scream Bites right into your fears with scares to make you shiver!

If you haven’t experienced Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens this year, now is your time.  Every weekend until Sunday, October 29th, the park is ready to scare and entertain guests with new additions and returning fan favorites.  This year’s schedule also includes an additional bonus!  The park will be open on two Thursdays (the 19th and 26th) and on select Saturdays (the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the 28th), guests will have until midnight to experience all the event has to offer!

As for me…

I’ve been actively returning to the park since opening day of Howl-O-Scream; making sure to catch up on all the fun opportunities guests can experience.   As always, the park goes above and beyond to bring the ultimate level of fun and creepiness for those willing to be scared.

So what’s new? 

Let’s start with Frostbite.  Located in the Oktoberfest section of the park, Frostbite is a walk-through haunted house that utilizes the interior of the Curse of Darkastle ride.  It was a fantastic choice!  Without revealing major spoilers, I’ll just say that the maze is a very chilling experience; literally.  The AC is kicked on full blast and sets the tone from the first step inside.  Just so you know, “Winter is Coming”.  (Wink…wink to any Game of Thrones fan). 

I sincerely enjoyed the haunted house, with its clever use of the projection screens, sound effects, atmospheric lighting, ghoulish costumes, and a generous use of jump scares.  It was by far, my favorite haunted house this year.

*Also… a cool side note regarding some Busch Gardens History found inside Frostbite:
  • You have to look closely inside the maze, but with a trained eye you can spot the old Neptune statue that was once located in the center of a small fountain in the Rhine River, (way back in the Old Country era).  This statue was also reused in the retired Haunted House, Bitten.  Oh Neptune, how glad I am to see you well. 
  • In addition to Neptune, the lighted Gargoyles holding cauldrons are also found in the maze.  These were originally in the decor of the Enchanted Laboratory, a show that had tremendous success in the old area of Hastings, (currently Ireland).  These gargoyles reappeared in the once popular Howl-O-Scream dinner show, Blood Banquet.  I couldn’t get a clear picture due to low lighting.  Hint: They are near the end of the maze and you have to look up to spot them. 

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Moving from Oktoberfest to New France, you’ll find the other fresh addition.  Axe Alley is a new Terror-Tory that replaced last year’s theme of Windigo Woods.  Axe wielding Vikings stalk guests with unexpected battle cries and staged attacks.  The themed area fits well with the nearby coaster, Invadr.  Be warned!  The Windigo still remains chained up… for now!

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Last but not least is the new Escape Room, the Case of the Haunted Hotel In the midst of a cursed hotel, this new attraction features a series of puzzles to trick guests and delay the possibility of escape!  Returning is the Case of Mr. Karver; a mad doll maker who wants nothing more than to trick you into staying indefinitely!  To those who played the game of Mr. Karver last year, there is good news.  All the puzzles and challenges have been changed to create a whole new mystery to solve!

If you wish to enjoy The Case of the Haunted Hotel or, The Case of Mr. Karver, there are some things you need to know:

  • Both escape rooms have a separate up charge and are not included with regular admission.  Making a reservation online or immediately upon entering the park is strongly suggested.  Only six guests are allowed in each reserved time slot.  You must be 18 or older with a valid ID.  In order to receive a discount on admission, you must have a valid season pass.  If you are interested in booking a time slot at either Escape Room, more information is found on the Busch Gardens website here:  https://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/howloscream/experiences/no-escape

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So what’s back again this year? 

As I mentioned briefly above, the indoor haunted house, Bitten, has been removed.  However, many of the previous Haunted Houses/ Mazes and Terror-Tories have returned.

Mazes

  • Unearthed: Scarlet’s Revenge (Ireland)
  • Catacombs (New France)
  • Cornered (Oktoberfest)
  • Lumberhack (Oktoberfest)
  • Circo Sinistro (Festa Italia)
  • Deadline (Italy)

Terror-tories

  • Ripper Row (England)
  • Demon Street (France)
  • Vampire Point (now located in Oktoberfest)
  • Sideshow Square (Festa Italia)

What about the shows and adult beverages? 

Let’s face it; Busch Gardens Williamsburg is constantly ranked high in theme park shows and entertainment category.  Rightfully so I may add!  Talented singers, actors, musicians, and dancers light up the stage in unforgettable performances all around the park.  Just remember that all the major shows contain suggestive adult overtones.

This year there is a new spin on an old classic.  Night Beats: Revamped features a new stage and story.  Located inside the Festhaus, the show contains a new cast of characters with a quick paced story line that keeps the music going.  I find the show quirky, amusing, and full of current pop songs cleverly mixed in with samples of original Night Beats music.

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Side note:  I was sad to see that the old characters of Ulrich and Beatrix have been retired.  However, I do appreciate the little homage by placing their names on tombstones at the top of the stage.  Speaking of, the stage is opened to reveal the location of once beloved German band platform.  If you grew up in the old days of Busch Gardens, seeing the musicians play back in their old stomping grounds will certainly bring back some memories.

If you are a fan of last year’s shows, you needn’t worryMonster Stomp (England), Fiends (Ireland), and the Starfright Orchestra (Italy), have all returned!

And last but not least….

Those who are 21 and over will have plenty of opportunities to find adult beverages at numerous places around the park.  Most locations feature “Spirit Bars” where a host of costumed character actors serve up some spooktacular concoctions to guests.  Since there are so many to choose from, here is a link to the park’s website listings:  https://seaworldparks.com/en/buschgardens-williamsburg/howloscream/experiences/dining-and-spirits

  • This list does not include the wine tastings located in France, Germany, New France, and Italy.  The France and Italy wine tasting locations also have themed cocktails!    

Well folks, that’s a wrap!

It is always a pleasure to share my memories with all of you.  I really enjoyed Howl-O-Scream this year and I hope you do too.  Thanks for reading my blog and may you all have a “Wickedly Wonderful” adventure at Howl-O-Scream 2017!   Cheers!

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Here is an additional cool place to explore:    A friend of mine, who runs IoMGeek.comdoes an amazing job with theme park reviews and YouTube videos.  He released a park walk-through and I highly recommend watching!  Feel free to like, comment, and subscribe to his channel.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slObupBBF58

To the Team Members and Park Employees: 
My gratitude extends to all those who have successfully come together to create a highly anticipated attraction each year.   The amount of work transforming the park in such a short period of time always astounds me.
Thank you all so much.  You guys and gals are all top notch!

Invadr:  A Legacy Begins

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It’s hard to believe but April 7th, 2017 has already sprung upon us; ushering in the official opening of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s newest attraction, Invadr.

Starting over a year ago, the park’s executives and marketing team, through a clever use of social media, openly revealed aspects of the ride in stages; even allowing fans to take part by voting on the name and logo for Invadr.   This was a brilliant move.  It created a palpable anticipation that connected coaster enthusiasts together.

Invadr’s selected location is quite sentimental for an old park goer like myself.   It is nestled between three of the original attractions that date back to the park’s opening day in 1975; Le Scoot log flume, the Busch Gardens Railway and Le Catapult.  Invadr ties these iconic rides together through clever location and an organic flow.

This brings up another point.

It took major skill in the planning and design of Invadr.  The wood-metal hybrid coaster winds around (and even over) both the LeScoot Log flume and the park’s iconic train ride.  Though a relatively small footprint, Invadr feels like a continuous interweaving of lines and space; much like Norse art itself.  Even the queue line mirrors the entwining aspect of the coaster and allows riders a great view of the structure below!

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Theming of the ride is spot on with touches of Norse art.  For example, the entrance is a showstopper!  An enormous dragon-shaped battering ram is bursting through the wood fortifications; allowing guests to venture forth.  Wooden shields riddled arrows mark the queue and height requirements.  Fences lining the path are decorated with Norse symbols.  I especially loved the queue line detail of weathering the wooden beams to mimic a ferocious battle with their slashed and scorched battle scars.

The coaster cars are actually the storytellers.  Both trains are adorned with powerful beasts that represent the two battling armies. The Viking raider train features a stylized dragon; steadfast, like a mast of a ship.  The Villager train is adorned with a carved wooden bear; teeth bared and ready for attack.   Who will win?  The answer awaits those who ride.

Overall Invadr is an instant classic.  Between the 9 airtime hills and the 74ft first drop, the rides tightly packed twists, turns, and dips really gets the blood pumping.   Its sharp banking makes the ride seem much faster than the max speed; much like the classic and beloved Big Bad Wolf coaster.  The ride is smooth and packs a punch that will leave a lasting impression to both young and old.

Speaking of young and old, the neighboring coaster Griffon turns 10 this year and its nearby companion, the Alpengeist, turns 20!  Both of those rides hold a special place in so many hearts.  Invadr will now be a part of that legacy.  It will bond parents and their children, thrill coaster enthusiasts, and delight all who ride.   May it continue to battle on for generations to come!

Long live Invadr! 

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  • Special thanks to all who brought Invadr to life.  From concept on, you all have built something extraordinary and presented it to those who have visited the park from the very beginning, to first time guests, and to everyone in-between.  Please accept my appreciation and gratitude. 
  • I would also like to send a personal thank you to a few people in particular:  The brilliant creative team; Cindy White, Melody Methany, and Erin Payne (independent contractors), Janelle Picard (Seaworld Entertainment).  Richard Smith, AIA, ASID at GuernseyTingle.  General Contractor:  Brandon Nice from David Nice Builders, Inc.  The Civil Engineering team at VHB.  Busch Gardens Williamsburg Communications Associate Manager; Nathan Warters. Park President; David Cromwell.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and so many enthusiastic guests on opening day!