2015 Howl-O-Scream

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Feb 9, 2013
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I think it will be interesting to see Killarney with a real haunt-atmosphere. It's been more or less party-esque ever since Jack is Back.
 
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Apr 21, 2010
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Zachary said:
On the topic of new houses- what's the chance that we see Drachen Fire's maintenance building used again?

It seems like a great space that is currently being wasted on storage.
It's actually the green room for both Bitten and Lumberhack. So from a operations POV its being used quite well. Especially when the next best option is the Festhaus.
 
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Wings

A Bygone Era of Terror
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James said:
Zachary said:
On the topic of new houses- what's the chance that we see Drachen Fire's maintenance building used again?

It seems like a great space that is currently being wasted on storage.
It's actually the green room for both Bitten and Lumberhack. So from a operations POV its being used quite well. Especially when the next best option is the Festhaus.
What was being used as the green room when there was a house in there?
 

horsesboy

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I was in the first group through Unearthed tonight and I have to say it was great there were more scare actors in it then on my previous trip and they were on the top of there game tonight. I am actually hoping they keep it for at least one more year.
 
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Aug 21, 2013
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Here is my quick take on HOS 2015. Overall I enjoyed it. I thought it was much improved from the last couple years and even with the weather issues it seemed the park stayed pretty busy.

Good:
Cornered
Lumberhack
Unearthed - It might not had the same impact as we had hoped but you have to give the park credit for going big with this one and hopefully they learned that space isn't suited for a house that ISN'T well staffed.
Catacombs/Bitten - Always good but, I feel it's time for a change.
The increased beer selection.
Good decorations.

Bad:
The Groupon days - I understand it was a great way to increase attendance for slow days but man did the crowds suck.
Deadline - Has reached its limit, has become predictable and needs something new.
Cut Throat Cove - Just go away and let us forget it ever existed, the not scary pirates and the blue Smurf makeup they had last year.

Change:
Would like to see a little more decoration on the train. Doesn't have to be the scare train we all have asked for just something.
Casket Club needs to change to a new show.
New ideas/revamp on some Terrortories. The faded hot wheel flags in France looked pretty bad.
And lastly, for me, I would like to see a few more pumpkin related food items. Overkill? Maybe. But hell i don't care, I'm a suck for them ha :)
 

Nicole

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Jul 22, 2013
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We went to HOS on Friday (30 October) for the first time since the first weekend. You can see my thoughts from Friday, 25 September here.

I have three overall observation I’d like to share, before I break down my thoughts on the individual houses.

1. The event felt as if the focus had shifted back to the houses for the first time in years. Staffing seemed to have improved across the board. All three new houses were innovative. The scares were more creative than in the past. Overall it felt more like a haunt and less like a block party, which for me was a massive improvement over the past few iterations.

2. By the last weekend, the lighting all over BGW was excellent. There were almost no areas with bright, white lights. Everywhere we went was creepy and dim. The overall effect improved the atmosphere dramatically.

3. By contrast, the music in several areas detracted from the atmosphere. I have never been a fan of the loud guitar rock in Killarney, and it seems to have spread. Most disappointing for me were the rock additions to the soundtrack at OPEN CASKet. That area was my favorite place last year, and not because I wanted anything from the bar. The music gave the area in front of the Festhaus a great feel. That effect was ruined for me last weekend, when really loud guitars started blaring out of the speakers. Ironically, the Demon DJ didn’t seem as intrusive this year, and the music in the LumberHack queue seems appropriate. I have mentioned before how critical sound and music are for my experience, and I fear the atmosphere was ruined for me in several places by the introduction of rock and pop.

Moving on to the individual houses, predictably my rankings differed between the two nights. From best to worst:

Friday, 25 September
Bitten
LumberHack
Cornered
Deadline
Catacombs
Cut Throat Cove
Unearthed

Friday, 30 October
LumberHack
Catacombs
Bitten
Deadline
Cut Throat Cove
Cornered
Unearthed


We also ended up going through the new houses one last time on Sunday (01 November). I have created a composite ranking, based on my combined experiences.

1. LumberHack. This maze is for me was the most unusual and the most consistent attraction at Howl-O-Scream this year. I think the wide, outdoor paths prevented stacking and made me feel more vulnerable. I think it may also have given the actors a better chance of preparing visually and mentally as I approached, but that is just a guess. For me this maze proved that you don’t need high-detailed theming to be effective. The actors were really creative and actually seemed to chase me with axes and chainsaws. More importantly, they were working really effectively in pairs: one guy would back me into a second. Overall, LumberHack reminded me of the open-air mazes that they used to put where Forest of Fun is now, and I have really missed those experiences. We never had a bad experience in LumberHack; the actors remained strong and I was consistently scared. This maze was by far my favorite this year.

2. Bitten. Although it wasn’t quite as good the last week as it was the first, I always like Bitten. I know a lot of people think it is old and needs to be replaced, but as long as the staffing is good, the scares are great. The first week Bitten was the only house that made me anxious. I love that the actors don’t rely exclusively on startle scares. I believe the more interactive approach increases my tension all of the way through. This maze is always just a great experience for me.

3. Catacombs. This maze improved dramatically from the first week to the last, in my opinion. I still I much preferred it in the dark, but the actors really stepped up their game, and scared me repeatedly. As I said before, I appreciate their revamping and decorating this house, but I wish they had left the ceiling in place and turned the lights out. I don’t know, if Catacombs needs to be cycled out, but if they do keep it next year, I hope the park considers lowering the lights again, as a lot of the tension in house in past year came from the darkness.

4. Deadline. Looking back at what I said the first week, my views of Deadline haven’t changed much. I think that is wasn’t as well staffed the last week, but it was still significantly better than last year. I can understand why some people love the theming of this house so much, and I think the subway train section is fantastic, when properly staffed. As I really don’t like gross-out houses, I don’t have much else to say. Overall, Deadline was for me the most improved house, since 2014.

5. Cut Throat Cove. I have always enjoyed this maze, especially the ambiance. Unfortunately, it was severely understaffed both nights I went through it. In the past, they worked effectively in pairs and really used the house to their advantage. I felt less of that this year. The strobe and sheet room was still disorienting, but it wasn't enough to make up for the shortcomings elsewhere. To be fair, however, we were trapped behind incredibly slow groups both times, which effectively made it impossible for the house to create tension for me. The stacking created by inconsiderate guests ruined the entire experience, and must have been incredibly frustrating for the actors, as well.

6. Cornered. This house feels like two separate mazes for me: before and after the hated balloons. The front part of the house felt understaffed and weak every time we went through, while the mirror and corn mazes at the end were simply fantastic. For context, we tried Cornered five separate times, because we wanted to love it. It should be as effective as Lumberhack, but it never seemed to live up to its potential. In the front of the house, we consistently went through entire sections without interacting with a single actor. The scarecrow section was great once, but was the other four times it felt like a ghost town. The stacking before the balloons got so bad one time that we were at a complete stop two rooms before we even got to those inflatable germ spreaders. I felt particularly bad for three actors who were trying very hard to scare us, while we were completely stalled in their spaces. Once we escaped the big, black bladders, however, the house was brilliant. The guys with the shovels chased us, and the slanted floor was a cool effect. The mirror and corn mazes were disorienting and creepy. I got completely lost the first weekend in both. Unfortunately, because the lighting was broken last weekend, the effect wasn’t quite as strong. The use of sound effects was really sophisticated throughout the house, as well. My hope is that Cornered comes back next year with all of the wrinkles ironed out. Like Root before it, I think this can become one of the best mazes in the park.

7. Unearthed. By chance we ended up going through Unearthed a third time on Sunday, and it honestly changed my mind about the maze a little. The actors were dramatically better than even two days prior, and I was actually scared a few times. That said, I still think it was incredibly understaffed, and overall I simply did not like this house. The two EITA screen rooms honestly left me perplexed. After three times through and with plenty of time to examine the screens (since there were actors in sight), I still really don’t understand the purpose of these sections. I fear they were there simply because of the layout of the building, and the park was doing its best with the venue. Or maybe the Blair Witch people thought it would be effective? I just don’t know. What I do know is that the long hallways remained boring and empty. I did notice that Scarlett (the one time I saw her), jumped out in conjunction with a sound effect. I loved that BGW is experimenting with sophisticated devices like that, but at the end of the day the innovations we saw were not enough to save this house.

I suppose I should comment on the Terror-tories, as well. Overall I liked them a lot more than last year, because they weren’t as intrusive.


Windigo Woods was the most like a scare zone for me, and the actors seemed more effective than last year. I have always liked the way this area looks and sounds, as well.

The pirates in Ports of Skull seemed more interested in scaring people than partying and telling bad jokes, which was a huge improvement. The music and lighting were good, as well.

Ripper Row was fairly similar to last year: the sets and costumes were great, but there were too many actors breaking character to pose for pictures than I would like. Of all of them this area was the least eerie and the most like a party.

The Demon DJ seemed much less intrusive than last year. I didn’t have to navigate around a massive dance party on Demon Street. The area felt chaotic, which I liked. I missed the fog, however, as it really improves the “burning” effect.

I saw more actors in Vampire Point than ever before. Sadly, it was still ineffective and far too spread out. The decorations were sparse, and the area just didn’t feel like a dedicated scare zone at all to me.

Thinking about the other paths, I continue to adore the Wild Reserve and Heatherdowns. They are charming and dark and spooky and they both just feel Halloweeny. I was thrilled that the Nurses seemed to be mostly inside this year, although I did see them posing for pictures on Sunday. Regardless, I think Killarney needs a complete re-theme at HOS, and I have posted a concept here. As I mentioned before, I don’t like what they have done to OPEN CASKet, as I think it is less eerie than last year. I did love the effects on the Troll Bridge, and the Unearthed bridged looked great.

Overall, I think BGW produced a fantastic event this year. I all thrilled with all of the innovative techniques and the obvious effort that went into all of the houses. The actors seemed well trained, and the make-up looked good. The bars felt less intrusive. I cannot wait to see what they do next year.
 

Zimmy

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Sep 28, 2013
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I was going to write something about last night. It was my only HOS trip this year. I only went through the 3 new mazes and Nicole has summed up my feelings nicely. I loved Lumberhack, best maze I have been in in years. I felt like Corrnered could have been amazing, but just wasn't. Finally I really do not understand what is supposed to be going on with Unearthed. I get that there is a witch and we are going into her house. But it is not conveyed very well at all.
 

netdvn

Team Instinct
Jan 12, 2012
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With HOS done and gone, its time for my review. Not really one bad maze this year, which is a definite plus from previous years where half the park mazes were awful.

Mazes
Cut Throat Cove (4/5) Done 4x - Atmosphere-wise this maze is lame. Scare wise, I managed to jump at least twice each walkthrough. I wouldn't really mind this maze being the next in line to get replaced or upgraded. The actors, however are performing extremely well.

Bitten (4.5/5) Done 5x - Each walkthrough I've done has gotten me some pretty solid scares. It would be nice to change up a few things in this maze to keep it fresh though like adding a few props or something. Still its a fantastic maze that's usually fully staffed outside of the last few rooms, which weren't as strong as they used to be.

Catacombs (5/5) Done 3x - The actors are performing as well as usual. Glad to see the park keeps changing things up in this maze to make it feel a little different each walkthrough. Each time I've gone through I've gotten a few scares.

Deadline (4.5/5) Done 4x - When this maze is fully staffed, its fantastic. When its not however, it falls on its face like it was the past few years. I'm glad the park finally utilized some of the scares that weren't in previous incarnations like the person behind the diaper change and the person underneath the scaffolding at the entrance. Would be nice if some of the other rooms like the security room had actors though. Still there are far more actors this year than the past two years so that's a definite step in the right direction.

Lumberhack (4.5/5) Done 5x - The park went all out with the new mazes this year. This one is no exception. The actors are pretty good and managed a few scares out of me. The park uses some cool gimmicks like the giant saw prop and the elevated walkway with the chainsaw guys prowling around underneath. My biggest gripes are the maze length, and the long walkback to get to it. Considering the maze length is shorter than the walk it takes to get there, I feel the park could extend it out a little bit next year.

Cornered (5/5) Done 5x - Wow. My favorite maze of this year. The park went all out with this maze. Cool gimmicks, good scares, what more could you ask for in a maze? The ending was pretty great even though once people figured it out, it sorta ruined the effectiveness. Maybe add more mirrors and taller corn stalks to address that.

Scarlett's Revenge (4.5/5) Done 6x - A fantastic maze. The sets are amazing to look at and the actors do a pretty decent job. I really like how they utilize the simulator rooms. The staffing was hit-miss unfortunately, which ruined the maze a little bit. The dead room is also still there and could've been utilized a little better. Maybe add some of the playing card characters in those rooms instead of just having them in the hallway scene.

Scare Zones
Pirates (4/5) Just have actors up and down the pathway from Battering Ram to the troll bridge. Lots of potential for scares right there. Bring back the photo op too. That was always entertaining. Otherwise 100% better than last year.

Ripper Row (3/5) This was more of a miss this year. Good thing staffing improved but the scares still aren't there. This area works great as a staging area at the beginning and end of the event. That's it.

Wendigo Woods (3/5) The good actors are great. The bad actors are awful. Unfortunately half the people that made the zone great last year were pretty much gone. The animatronic in the middle of the zone wasn't working half the time either.

Demon Street (5/5) What do you get when you take awesome rave music, fake fire effects, chainsaws, and cheap Party City flags that look amazing when its lit up at night? You get the best scare zone in the park that's what.

Vampire Point (3/5) Another hit-miss scare zone. Just catch it when all the actors are still there. If you don't you'll see nobody.

Shows are good as usual. Shame Fiends is going since that was still the best show of the year so far. I hope its replacement is just as good.
 

Nicole

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Jul 22, 2013
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So, one thing that has been bugging me about Unearthed: Why did BGW staple vintage Pappagallo Burmuda Bags to the wall? This seems like much more of an atrocity than severed heads to me.
 
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Jul 16, 2013
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Wings said:
BGW Family said:
We were told by several sources CTC has seen it's last year. However, we were told the same about Fiends. Time will tell I guess.
Here's to hoping the clowns come back with a "Fear Fair" Terror-tory.
A clown maze in general. The old one in Festa scared the living Hell out of me back in the day.
 
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