Existing Howl-O-Scream Dystopia

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Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
From the BGW website:

In a futuristic post-apocalyptic world, a new world order has risen. In this new system, you have a choice—join or be forgotten. Welcome to Dystopia, one of three new haunted houses at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream. Surrender to the utopia, and don’t worry—you won’t feel a thing. Ever again.
Reactions: jornor
Apr 5, 2011
Just curious, I didn't make it out last night and I've heard varying opinions on the houses. Ranking them from a Root of All Evil 2012 opening night fiasco, to a fully staffed Deadline 2011 quality where would these houses fall? Also, I'm still very confused by the theme of Dystopia, for anyone who has gone through the house what is the setting like?

I'm going to post my thoughts of what the story is as I remember it. Spoilers, of course.

Throughout the entire maze you're being corralled or processed through the maze. You go through an electrified fenced cage and into an underground bunker or shelter. You're then walked through various rooms containing brainwashing, medical experiments, containment units, body disposal, and ect. Most of the actors are wearing hypno goggles and some actors are other victims. At the end there's this big blob monster connected to wires that is presumably the thing in charge.

Non spoiler version is you're going through a post-apocalyptic bunker where you're under the order of the people who run the place.
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Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
My biggest objection to what I saw yesterday was that there were only two rooms that dealt with an authoritarian regime practicing mind control and the resistance to that government. The rest seemed to be themed to a prison, which is not the same thing.

A guy yelling at me to "go there," is not a sophisticated approach to a dystopian future. Where was the propaganda? The overwhelming media? The Utopian facades?

I felt as if I was in a cheap knock-off of KD's Lockdown, not a clever 1984/Handmaid's Tale universe.

Hopefully, as I said in the main HOS thread, BGW simply wasn't done with the maze. I would love to see screens telling what to think and how great the regime is in every room. And I think there needs to be more development of the resistance, and actors portraying the state dealing with those who fight back.
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Aug 15, 2014
Virginia Beach VA
I didn't mind this maze, got a few jump scares. My main concern is walking through a curtain before the very last room there are some very heavy wires hanging down and i walked face first into them since you don't see them coming until after you've passed through the curtain.

I also enjoyed the split path effect as short as it was.
Reactions: CastleOSullivan


𝓡oyal 𝓜ango 𝓒réme Frappuccino Survivor
Sep 23, 2009
Newport News, VA
Spoilers ahead!

@Pretzel Kaiser nailed the story from what I can gather of it. That said, it's important to note that this story is conveyed through only a few rooms in the house. The majority of the house felt pretty barren to me.

The entry to the house is very Dead Line-esque. The elevated pathway remains, but the white plastic has been removed, expositing the metal framework and fencing that was, presumably, always behind it.

The ceiling balloon is gone (thank god) and has been replaced with what was easily the best non-stolen new set of the night. I'm not entirely sure what it was or why it was in this house, but I think it was supposed to be a sewer tunnel of some sort? It's basically a round tunnel that the elevated walkway crosses through the middle of.

As nice as it looked, nothing happened in this tunnel. No lighting, no fog, the tunnel didn't spin, etc. It was just a path placed inside of a nice set that didn't seem all that Dystopic to me...

After the tunnel, you continue to follow the metal elevated walkway from years gone past through largely unthemed, gray hallways. No interesting lighting, no interesting sounds, and only one or two actors standing at ground level completely uncamouflaged. They had little fog blaster things mounted to the ceiling that occasionally blew bursts of fog, but, uh, that's not enough to justify this whole section of the house.

After some seemingly pointless wandering through gray sets on the elevated pathway we get to the first good room in Dystopia: the Brainwashing room.

THIS is what I expected from this house. There are TVs playing hypnotic videos with words like "Obey" written across them. The room is lined with benches featuring figures with some sort of mind control masks on their faces. Some of these figures rock back and forth which is, of course, a great effect given the context.

Following this room, things quickly fall apart to gray, unthemed hallways once again though. Many of these sections literally don't feature any props at all. Actors are forced to just stand up against walls in some really sad attempt to hide themselves.

And it's around this point in the house where I lose all sense of order and direction because of one huge, awful, problem: The path splits.

Dystopia seemed to feature two different path split points. I'm often opposed to splitting the path at park haunts because it really hurts guest flow through the houses both at the split point and at the merge point. Never in my life have I experienced a path split egregious as the first one in Dystopia though...

Guests who are directed to the right get to experience a very well themed surgery room where people seemed to be implanting mind control devices into victims. Pretty core part of the house story-wise and one of the best rooms in the entire house.

Guests who are directed straight ahead miss the surgery room entirely. Instead, they are treated to a gray room with "body bags" hanging from the ceiling.

THIS IS NOT OK. Both of these rooms tell important parts of Dystopia's story and one of the rooms is exponentially better than the other. Why on earth wouldn't guests be sent through both rooms?! Dystopia already feels like a short house. Why on earth did they make it shorter by not sending everyone though the whole thing?!

On my first walkthrough I got the body bag room and other people in our group go the surgery room. They came out impressed by that room and I came out thinking "what the fuck?!"

We immediately turned around and went through the house again. I was again directed to go straight ahead to the body bag room. I told the actor "No, I'm going right" and experienced what is almost certainly the best room in the whole house.

It's great that I was able to do that last night but do you think people who attend this event in a few weeks will be able to just turn around and repeat Dystopia again to see the whole house? No. They'll be waiting in a one and a half hour line for that privilege.

Hiding some of the best parts of a house behind path splits is easily one of the worst decisions the park could have made here.

Dispersed through the path splits are more bland, flat rooms and hallways. One room had chain link fences and a guy dressed like Aragorn at the Prancing Pony who told me to escape if I could. Thanks for the tip, Aragorn.

The last room in the house had the flesh monster prop that @Pretzel Kaiser mentioned. It seems to move back and forth a couple inches, but it wasn't even close to being scary. No idea what exactly it had to do with the house either honestly.

Anyway, overall, this house just seemed lazy. There were a couple of good rooms, but overall the house was ruined by long sections of gray, unthemed rooms and hallways. The path splits are a textbook example of "what not to do at your theme park haunt." The story seemed half-assed at best and non-existant at worse.

Oh, also, there was a bizarre amount of fake, horizontal, wood paneling on the walls that I didn't understand at all. Maybe it was on sale at Home Depot?

Lastly, in the tunnel room, there was a power strip full of plugs hanging from the ceiling with a bunch of cords emanating out of it in every direction. I'm no electrician, but I don't think this is the right way to wire a house... Hell, is that even up to fire code? Maybe the park is trying to collect on some of that sweet, sweet Pompeii insurance money again...? 😋
Apr 5, 2011
I'm not sure I would call it lazy given the theme is supposed to be a sterile underground facility, but I do agree that everything could and should have been conveyed much better. I honestly believe I only picked up on the theme so quickly because of the various games and movies I've seen with a similar underground bunker set up.

It is also a crime that the best rooms in the maze are ones that you have a 50/50 chance or completely missing.

The things I would do quickly are scrap the splits and rework the layout so you don't miss the good rooms. I would also add more suggestions in the queue area indicating an apocalypse and a speil coming from the entrance to the bunker welcoming refugees.


Nessie thinks it is not polite to ask her age!
Sep 28, 2013
Virginia Beach
The man, "Who is Oceania at war with?"
Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.
Winston, "Oceania is at war with Eurasia..."
The man, "Oceania is at war with Eastasia, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia"


Resident of Mad King Ludwig's Castle
Feb 8, 2018
North Carolina
On member preview night for HOS 2018 my brother and I were going through the house and the first scareactor near/under the bridge you walked on scared him and my brother proceeded to say "I love you!" and the scareactor caringly responded with "I love you too!"
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