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Team Instinct
Jan 12, 2012
in the rear
So now that it's the end of the season, here's my final review of Howl O Scream. It's been a pretty awesome HOS season filled with pros and cons.

Catacombs (5/5) - Excellent maze, excellent theming, excellent actors. This is how a HOS maze should be done. It was the perfect length and all the actors were on point throughout most of the event. The scares like the dude in the wall and the guy at the end still get me every time. Scares really haven't changed much from the past two years, but it still works well.

Bitten (5/5) - Still a solid maze even though it hasn't changed much. I still got some pretty good scares out of this maze. The actors were about as good as years past, plus the park added a new vampire puppet in one of the walls, which was a surprise. The maze seemed a bit short staffed all the times I've gone through, but it wasn't too bad.

Root of All Evil (4/5) - As everyone's said, this maze was the most improved of all the mazes this year. I didn't really catch the alien theme until the last weekend, so I guess there wasn't much of an emphasis on it. Still the actors are really good, although the maze suffers from staffing issues and dead areas. If they bring back the statues and the pond section, I'll give this a 5.

Deadline (3/5) - Of the four times I did this maze, it felt like 2011 all over again. The actors are all concentrated in one area of the maze and didn't deliver as many scares. Plus there are too many dark sections meaning more opportunities for running into the person in front of you or stumbling into a wall. Maybe its because every time I've done this maze, it was at sundown, but the other mazes never gave me as much trouble as this one. Firecracker guy was gone and subway scene was understaffed each time I went through, but the guy underneath the scaffold at the beginning got me good.

Cut Throat Cove (3/5) - This maze definitely felt too last minute. Not a bad maze scare-wise. All the actors are clearly into their roles and they even got me a few times. Especially the ending (which was good when it was Fear Fair too). My biggest beef are the poorly painted props and emphasis on things hanging from the ceiling. The hanging props are pointless and add nothing to the maze other than a distraction for short-staffed rooms. The painted sets look awful. The re-purposed stuff was alright and the insides of each of the tents looked good, but everything else looked terrible. Speaking of short staffing, half the buildings were empty, so there were plenty of missed opportunities.

13 (2/5) - Same thing as last year, but with clowns. The new room looked great and the park went out of their way to fill some of the dead rooms with props. Still the maze suffers from heavy backups (although Fear of Heights is still a great room for that reason) and the rooms are still hit-miss. You'd think that with the extra time they had between closing EITA and HOS, they could easily make this a fantastic maze with some interesting and creative scares. It's too bad the park didn't bother.

Scare Zones/Terror-tories
Ripper Row (3/5) - This area was perfect at setting the creepy mood for the event. Just too bad it wasn't really that scary. Actors and props were very well-done and I loved the whole murder scene, but the Ripper and his clones just stood around the Globe. The umbrella ladies were cool, but were just a photo op. The other roaming actors were few and far between. I still feel the area was better opening weekend with the officers, Ripper clones, and prostitutes chasing each other. It still kept the mood, but included scares. Later in the season the mood/atmosphere is there, yet I can still walk through the area with my guard down and not feel scared/nervous.

Demon Street (5/5) - I'm a sucker for chainsaws and this area was really well done. Some people may not like the dance tunes playing, but as a fan of rave-type music and chainsaw guys, this was the perfect area to just sit at Crepes & Coffee and people watch. The flames on the rooftops and the DJ booth made the area all the better. Demon rave thing was a cool extra, but I prefer having them roam.

Vampire Point (3/5) - This area suffers from not enough hiding spots and short staffing. The actors are awesome and the little show they put on at the stage by the carousel is great, but all the actors stand out in the open, making them easy to spot. Not only that, but the area is too big for the staffing it has, so there's plenty of dead room. Still those dark areas are perfect for scares and I got a few walking through those areas, especially after letting my guard down. This area desperately needs either more props/hiding spots to make it a better scare zone or a creepier tone to match Ripper Row.

Ports of Skull (2/5) - Like the others, this area suffers from short staffing. Not only that, but the area the actors are allowed to roam is pretty limited. Still makes for some creative scares though. The bungee guy and his partner are awesome and funny. Then there's the guy hiding under the troll bridge in the trees. I let my guard down in that area and he made me almost jump out of my shoes. While I like the fact that they expanded the roaming area to the troll bridge and Festa bridge, the area isn't as themed as the other areas and it suffers from crazy short staffing.

I really enjoyed all three shows.

Fiends (5/5) - Not as good as last year's, but it's still Fiends at heart. Some of the changes bugged me, but it didn't affect the show that much IMO.

Dig it Up (5/5) - The cave people beating up the stage manager at the beginning of the show made the entire show for me. That was all I could think about during the entire show.

Night Beats (5/5) - Still the same show as last year.

Overall, I really enjoyed the event. Still the park has the same problem areas that they had last year and the year before. Short staffing in a bunch of places, Festa's nonexistent theme, and inconsistencies in the scare zones/Terror-tories brought the event down somewhat. I still had a wonderful time despite the crowds.

If the park had the proper staffing, I'd consider bringing the hoards back but combining them with the scare zones/Terror-tories. Maze-wise, the scares were more consistent. The park just needs to focus more on building up the atmosphere and less on hanging things.

Oh and the event seemed darker this year. Literally! There were parts of the park that were so dark, you could easily trip on something or run into someone. Combine that with an oddly placed fog machine and you've got a potential mess. I don't remember this happening as much in the past, but it's a huge pet peeve of mine.
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