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Mar 9, 2016
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it’s your boy stoney... and I’m about to go to howl o scream for the first time in years tonight! I remember 2013-2016 being SUPER disappointed and hating it, nothing like the 2002-2004 years I remember as a kid!

I’m going with an open mind. Previous years I went I was in my alcoholism phase and was getting trashed, sneaking vodka in and pounding bottles in the mazes, arguing with unruly guests disrespecting me. Now I am a sober boy with social anxiety and intense paranoia. Hopefully it will be ok! But I’m waiting for the wrong drunk person to accost me, I will film it!
 
Mar 9, 2016
40
48
18
I went to Howl O Scream last night. I saw on the website all those disclaimers “warning, we really turned up the scares this year” and I really thought, is this just a marketing gimmick or are they really revamping the whole thing?

def just a marketing gimmick! Unless this weekend was just understaffed and unorganized because it was first weekend. Went on all the mazes. The Festa Italia and Pompeii one seemed best to me in terms of how immersive and engaging the actors were. The Woods one by festhaus was by far the worst to me.

diner one in Ireland was well themed but felt short and kinda empty, not much going on.

was there any major police incidents last night? One thing I noticed was, coming out of the DarKastle maze, 4 cops and security were interviewing people by the exit and stormed through the end of the maze like they were on a mission! Multiple times I saw people pulled off on the side arguing with security/police at various places in the park! On my way out there was a woman GOING OFF on an officer! I also noticed a sign saying “DO NOT TOUCH ANY ACTOR OR WE WILL PROSECUTE YOU”. Have there been incidents of people assaulting cast members? Is that why there’s a heavy police presence???

decent time tho, park wasn’t too crowded, walked onto most mazes, only line was for the DarKastle one. But yea, can they not lie and act like this year was anything different than the previous years?

edit: also, plz don’t get mad at me for bringing this up, I’m just mentioning it because it was amusing. Wasn’t there a big rule in the past you’re not allowed to wear drug themed clothing? Saw soooo many people rocking pot leaf shirts lmao, multiple sections of the park REEKED like bud, like wow, we walked around Pompeii areas and this chick was walking smoking a straight up BLUNT out in the open, blowing huge clouds of pot all in the open, no one cared it was kinda wild. Also in line for the DarKastle maze where it was packed, two people were taking HUGE hits off a vape of some kind and just blowing the clouds into the air and no one cared. Multiple cars in the parking lot windows down smoking weed. Guess since it’s legal now and it’s howl o scream, all the stoners came out. Was pretty hilarious
 

Jonesta6

Glumble
Feb 14, 2019
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edit: also, plz don’t get mad at me for bringing this up, I’m just mentioning it because it was amusing. Wasn’t there a big rule in the past you’re not allowed to wear drug themed clothing? Saw soooo many people rocking pot leaf shirts lmao, multiple sections of the park REEKED like bud, like wow, we walked around Pompeii areas and this chick was walking smoking a straight up BLUNT out in the open, blowing huge clouds of pot all in the open, no one cared it was kinda wild. Also in line for the DarKastle maze where it was packed, two people were taking HUGE hits off a vape of some kind and just blowing the clouds into the air and no one cared. Multiple cars in the parking lot windows down smoking weed. Guess since it’s legal now and it’s howl o scream, all the stoners came out. Was pretty hilarious

Though I'm not a fan of the smell, I'm impressed those stoners could do much more than find a bench and/or the food lines with the new medical grade dispensaries open.

However, 2 things about that - the medical stuff has the psychoactive elements mostly removed to my understanding, so you won't really get baked on it but will have an alternative to hardcore pharmaceuticals if your doctor believes that's the best route and can prescribe... And the state law is clear that consumption in public is still as illegal as open-containers without the same exceptions (to my knowledge, there aren't any festival licenses to smoke).

As to the increased shenanigans requiring security and police presence - while it's definitely sounding like it's picked up, this was also an issue when Club BGW was around and parents used it as a way to abandon their kids expecting the park staff to supervise... Though the escalation to adults causing many of the issues is really sad.
 
Apr 11, 2017
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I went to Howl-O-Scream yesterday.

My honest review of the mazes is simple. Scare actors need to be more aggressive. I'm not sure if it was because of it being the first weekend; so they are not trying to give out the grand presentation so soon. For something that was talked about to be such a big thing; it definitely fell short. I was there with my sister, and did a total of three mazes. The Diner themed one, NeverMore and Witches Trail. What made me so sad was that the mazes do have the size and space; but the scare actors just weren't into it. And they are too bright. I was very impressed with the scare zone themes.

Someone please fill me in on the facts. Will maze scare actors be more aggressive in the month of October. I have a date marked out on my calendar for October 30th. The rides, food and atmosphere are really what I come there for. Are later operation hours such as midnight closing; needed in order to operate Howl-O-Cream at a high performance?
 

Ice

FFF
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Jan 5, 2018
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The experience of the event relating to the scarers will vary wildly over the course of it running for a large number of reasons. Experience of scarers, which scarers are staffed that night, number of scarers staffed that night, how many shifts the scarers have already worked (scarer fatigue), any poor experiences with guests (decreasing scarer moral), and many more.

They have a job that is often perceived as easy though is extremely taxing and stressful, so any performance I am glad to see. The nights where spirits are high and the energy is there, when the scarers feel as though they all unanimously came together for a curtain call performance, those are the special nights. I have found the best strategy for getting good experiences at the event is simply just maximizing the amount of time you are there by going multiple times. Of course generally the event should increase after the first weekend or two as the new guys get more comfortable and more people are brought on, but you never really know when things will magically click.
 
Mar 16, 2016
233
637
93
Richmond, VA
I'll toss in my $.02 from my visit Friday night. Arrived right at 6, stayed until about 9:45. We were able to pretty much walk into any house or ride, with the only exception being Nevermore, where we waited maybe 15 minutes. Found staffing to be really good. Far better than I was expecting given the current labor issues and the fact that it was a "preview".

Started with Ripper Row, obviously. It was a real treat to be back at HOS, and walking through a much beloved area really lifted our spirits and made us thrilled to be there. There were plenty of actors, and maybe they were just fresh since the even had just started, but they really seemed to be into it.

We then hit Dystopia. It felt largely the same. There may have been a few changes, but nothing that jumped out at me. I still enjoy this maze, but it's beginning to look and feel a little stale to me.

Went through Garden of the Souls. I've always thought this was more charming than scary, and while it did feel a little darker this year, I feel like the change has taken some of the former beauty away.

Next was Nevermore, which I was RIDICULOUSLY excited for. I really, really liked the experience. I can't promise it wasn't just a combination of my excitement at being back at HOS, and my generall affinity for Poe, but I thought the park did a tremendous job. There seemed to be plenty of staff, and some really nice set pieces. I hope this one sticks around for a good ling while. Definitely my favorite of the night.

After that, we did Witch of the Woods. That location is so great, and I feel like somehow they aren't taking full advantage of it. It really just felt like Lumberhack with some decoration and costume changes. It has real potential, so it's possible as the event continues, things will improve. It wasn't BAD, by any means, but I was expecting better. I did appreciate the 2 characters working the line, I thought that was a nice mood setter.

We headed through Hexed Hollow, which atmospherically was great. It's quite dark, and the actors in the area took full advantage of it. There were many, many chainsaws, so I'm not sure if those are the regular actors in that area, or if it was just roaming chainsaw people, but we saw LOTS of great scares on our way through.

Next up was Meat Market. I feel like this area hasn't really been anything great since maybe Wendigo Woods. it was fine, but not as immersive as some other areas, and it seemed like there were a number of actors just milling around not doing much. It was a miss for me that night, but it may be better in the future.

On to Killarney Diner. This was definitely the weakest of the new houses for me. I can't really put my finger on it, it just wasn't working well for me. There were some decent set pieces, and what seemed to be lots of employees, but it was just a miss for me (except for the car, which gave my probably the best jump of the night). Again, not BAD, but not great. It's new, there are, I'm sure, kinks to be worked out, so hopefully things will improve.

Lastly, we circled back to Circo. Honestly, I've never been a fan of this house, and to me, it's really showing its age. It just felt blah... I know "run down" is part of the look, but I think the entire set is just aging poorly. I'd love to see this entire area scrapped and something brand new in it's place. Our time would have been better spent going back through literally any other house.

Overall, we had a GREAT time. I really missed having a scare zone in Aquitaine, and I felt like there was considerably less fog than in years past, and a couple of the houses were slight letdowns, but again, it was a "preview", so some of that may get worked out in the coming weeks. I think though, that we were so excited to be back at HOS, that mostly that stuff didn't matter. In fact, there were even things that in past years I would have been more than happy to say goodbye to (I'm looking at you Germany and Das Festhaus soundtracks) that not only did I not mind, I found comforting in a nostalgic way. We're super excited to make several more visits!

Oh, but boy did I hate THIS addition...


20210910_213132.jpg
 
Jul 6, 2017
30
33
18
William and Mary
I attended Friday night and feel a little conflicted about the event. I'll start with short remarks about houses and zones and then larger observations about the event as a whole.

Houses: First up for me was Killarney Diner(3x). I was in the first group of the night and got to see the scareactors enter the house. From there, I was confused about what exactly were the creatures in the house. The first half of the house is decent from my memory. It had a long black hallway if I remember correctly, but I felt the first portion was fine. It drastically improves when you enter the diner. The set is great, but I wish is dark in there. A dark diner with MINIMAL accent lighting combined with the wealth of actors in there would make that scene very intimatidating. It would also hide some of the more obviously fake limb props. Speaking of props, the guts in the kitchen scene was fantastic. The tables on both sides with the two actors blocking your way is a good tactic, Busch, use it more. The street scene is another portion that is well-done. The ending is a good scare when you don't know about it. In totality, I feel this house was a good step in the right direction. I feel circumstances unfortunately prevent it from being a great house. If you entered from the exit and saw the car first, then the street, and the diner, it makes much more narrative sense in my opinion. You would be entering the town and then the diner to only escape out of the back. I get why it's not possible, but I wish it was so.

Nevermore(1x): My thoughts on this are brief, as I did it only once. The scenes were fine nothing I noticed to write home about from my memory. What stood out was the lack imo of effective storytelling. I'm not asking for word by word adaption of Poe's stories, but if I did not know beforehand that this was a Poe house, I don't think I would have got the point just by walking through the house. Lots of crows and becked people but no sense of the stories. I hope they tighten the maze storywise and in length: stronger scares> filling out the space in DK.

Witch of the Woods(1x): Very good maze with lots of potential. I agree with Zachary that it did feel like Lumberhack's first year. Lot of good boo-holes and positions to really get people. The ending was confusing. I don't think I meet the witch. Fix that and let the cast gel and it's a great house.

Circo(1x): I thought this was very poor. They rearranged the location of some of the tents and many of them did not have adequate actors. I'm not going to all the way penalize them for this as it was opening weekend, but please add more. This has to be the curtain call for Circo.

Dystopia (2x): There may have been some changes, not sure. Cast did ok in my runs. Very good concept that without heavy changes has run its course. Ending still makes no sense.

Zones: Hexed Hollow: Please limit this zone to nightfall only. The daylight makes it laughable. The actors are left out with nothing, no cover, no boo-holes. With none of that, they are reliant on intimidation and presence and they don't have much in the daylight. The costume design here is also lacking. A lot of them are just wearing black drapes and this weird mask. Please switch it and be creative. This location and idea has the potential to be a great, but it's being held back.

Meat Market: Favorite zone of the year. This early, yes. It actually felt like a scare zone. The scareactors were scaring, and still telling a story. Let them fully gel and it's a great zone.

Garden of the Souls: I am not looking for scares in this location. To me, it encapsulates what a "Terror-tory" is. Atmospheric, haunting, and beautiful, except I experienced not much of that. While darkness level is on point, there needs to be some form of light on the big skull. Something that rotates around and shines on it mysteriously. I think the actors' costumes are a little too dark too, make them black light reflective and then have some darker costumes to get some scares.

Ripper Row: Same old, same old. Saw it on the way out.

Roaming Chainsaws: The MVPs. I saw them put someone on the ground. Well done.

General Thoughts: I was very pleased in some ways about the event. Much more I can say than I was in 2019 or 2018. The new houses are exciting, I hope they don't run Killarney into the ground. Other than that, I do have some ideas that I want to see desperately. The first is specific training for the scareactors. The show director or the entertainment official who created a house or zone needs to work with the cast to give specific roles. Too many times, I heard "RAA" or "You're gonna die there" or "Keep moving" as scare words. This completely breaks the immersion. By working with them in their exact spot, the scares are much stronger. Related to that, I want to see spontaneity in the scare zones. Meat Market for example has victims running from the butchers. Allow them create their own little scene. Have a mini break location in one of the stores of New France and let a victim run to the store only to have a butcher hack them up or saw them. They can scream and sell it and then crawl in pain into the break. The butcher can follow them in and they can take a two minute break during their shift. Two birds with one stone. That's just an example I had observing the zone. I want spontaneity, seeing the same thing every lap around the park gets old. A pipe dream, I know, is a more mature event. I saw a lot of kids there Friday night past 6pm and I understand circumstances about why they could still be at the park, but please Busch, age up the event. The soft approach is to sell the No-Boo necklaces, but I if I ran the event, I would give one warning that "you are about to see some stuff after 6" and once it was 6, stuff would be seen.

Besides my realistic hopes and my pie-in-the-sky dreams, I had fun at HoS this opening day, something that I can't say I have had in some years. I'm hopefully things will be tightened up and if so, we could have a good year.
 
Last edited:

horsesboy

professional Pantheon observer
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Jun 16, 2013
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I went to Howl-O-Scream yesterday.

My honest review of the mazes is simple. Scare actors need to be more aggressive. I'm not sure if it was because of it being the first weekend; so they are not trying to give out the grand presentation so soon. For something that was talked about to be such a big thing; it definitely fell short. I was there with my sister, and did a total of three mazes. The Diner themed one, NeverMore and Witches Trail. What made me so sad was that the mazes do have the size and space; but the scare actors just weren't into it. And they are too bright. I was very impressed with the scare zone themes.

Someone please fill me in on the facts. Will maze scare actors be more aggressive in the month of October. I have a date marked out on my calendar for October 30th. The rides, food and atmosphere are really what I come there for. Are later operation hours such as midnight closing; needed in order to operate Howl-O-Cream at a high performance?
It really depends sometimes they get more aggressive as they get more seasoned and experienced so times they burn out or get worn down by bad experiences. The latter is already a concern that I have for this year based on some of the guest behavior that we are seeing nothing will kill the actors enthusiasm like being harrassed or worst attacked and abused. Hopefully the park will be able to step up security measures and take a hard zero tolerance line to address these issues quickly.
 
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Sep 12, 2013
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was there any major police incidents last night? One thing I noticed was, coming out of the DarKastle maze, 4 cops and security were interviewing people by the exit and stormed through the end of the maze like they were on a mission! Multiple times I saw people pulled off on the side arguing with security/police at various places in the park! On my way out there was a woman GOING OFF on an officer! I also noticed a sign saying “DO NOT TOUCH ANY ACTOR OR WE WILL PROSECUTE YOU”. Have there been incidents of people assaulting cast members? Is that why there’s a heavy police presence???

I have a friend that was a scare actor for multiple years. The actors in the mazes routinely get assaulted. He told me that one of the woman scare actors in his maze got groped so often she just stopped reporting it. One particularly awful day one of the actors was pushed down and the guests through it was hilarious to stop on the dude's head.

The behavior of some of the people in the mazes is simply awful. And I'm sure that as the general behavior of hte parks has gotten worse the scare actors are having an especially hard time.
 
Sep 12, 2013
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Also, as someone who HATES jump scares... I lave the park before 5 during this time of year. If we found ourselves in the back half of the park when the scare zones were active? I'd SO by one of those "don't scare me necklaces"!!

Would I wear one in a maze? oh hell no! I wouldn't get near a maze in general!
 
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Ice

FFF
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Jan 5, 2018
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Baltimore, MD
The only reason I like this product idea is it acts as a good placebo for children at an age where they need that extra confidence boost to be able to be brave enough to take on the event for the first time. The apprehension to the event mainly stems from the fear to take that initial first step when it comes to a lot of kids, I know I was that way. I could see this as a good "here is your superpower" thing for kids who want to give it a try. Worst case the kid freaks out and you leave the park, no harm done.

I do think that overall this need not exist though, since it is just another thing for scare actors to get yelled at over. A party of unreasonable guests could have some people with the necklaces on, and if the party is scared, some of the more irate members could easily escalate the situation. I expect this to cause some issues as the event goes on.
 

horsesboy

professional Pantheon observer
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Jun 16, 2013
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The only reason I like this product idea is it acts as a good placebo for children at an age where they need that extra confidence boost to be able to be brave enough to take on the event for the first time. The apprehension to the event mainly stems from the fear to take that initial first step when it comes to a lot of kids, I know I was that way. I could see this as a good "here is your superpower" thing for kids who want to give it a try. Worst case the kid freaks out and you leave the park, no harm done.

I do think that overall this need not exist though, since it is just another thing for scare actors to get yelled at over. A party of unreasonable guests could have some people with the necklaces on, and if the party is scared, some of the more irate members could easily escalate the situation. I expect this to cause some issues as the event goes on.
Yeah I witnessed one case of this Friday. The family was coming up the hill after crossing the bridge over le scoot the actor was positioned behind the near market props and definitely only had a line of sight on the members closes to him and jumped out to scare them getting the little girl who had the necklace and was in the middle not visible to him. The parents seriously went of very vocally and ugly on the poor guy.
 
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