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Aug 26, 2012
Sorry if this is in the wrong place (new here). I just didn't think my ramblings needed to be in the 2012 howl-o-scream rumors thread.
I have been a Busch gardens pass member for many years. My favorite time and event of the year is Howl-o-scream. The whole park is usually very nicely decorated, the haunted houses are fun, and there is a different theme each year.
However, there are a few things I would like to discuss.
Mostly I would like to share some ideas that I think would make howl-o-scream even better.

1) the start of howl-o-scream at 6:00

Signs are posted throughout the park and guests are fully aware that things become scary at 6:00. It is advised that those with small children leave before then. However, once 6:00 comes along, there is no big change. Some scare zones become active and possibly a person in costume will walk by. But one still has to check his or her watch to see that things have actually started.
I think there should be a park-wide announcement at 6:00. In a really creepy / cool way to pump up enthusiasm. A great idea is to have the Big Ben in England chime at 6:00, and the chime could be heard from speakers all around the park. Then roll in some fog machines, and a few minutes of spooky music. In essence, this alerts guests that it is 6:00…it is howl-o-scream, and that “all hell has finally broken loose”.
This would be a simple task, but would make the night a lot more enjoyable. Shortly after, people in costumes could make their way out and let the fun begin.

2) Jack is back train ride

One of my favorite attractions was the jack is back train ride. It was like a movable haunted house. It was an amazing experience. The creepy music, the way the train was decorated, and all of the people in costume you would see as you rode along.
Recently, the train has been reduced to a simple transportation device. This is not unique or different than during any other time of the year. Since this is howl-o-scream, shouldn’t the train ride be different? Why has the effort been reduced? Last year it was just a train ride. And the year before that, it was extremely family friendly with Scooby-do music.
Howl-o-scream should be an event for adults. If kids must be around, then designate them to Sesame Street.

3) Shows

Monsters revamped or monster stomped – it’s a decent show. But I would like to see a short and scary play somewhere. If not in Ireland, then in another location. Having people dressed as werewolves singing queen does not give me the Halloween feeling. It’s goofy. I think a creepy, 25 or so minute play would make a lot of people happy.

Then there’s the globe theater. It showed a cheesy 4d pirate movie. How about a 4d Halloween themed film? Then there's the royal palace which is such a beautiful theater with potential which isn't used right. I don't even know if busch plans to keep it. If so, then it would be much better hosting something instead of being empty during howl-o-scream.

4) Scare zones compared to “scare is everywhere”

I think the scare zone idea was neat initially. You see each one on the map and are curious what it would be like to walk through one. However, I like the way things were run a few years back, when the scare was everywhere. Howl-o-scream should be the entire park. Not in designated areas. The werewolves, chainsaws, clowns, etc should roam the park so you do not expect them. Fear is when you are surprised and cannot control things. Please bring back the fear is everywhere.
Also, outside the area of "brothers grimm", in the grassy area where there are bmx bike riders and skateboarders during other times of the year, is an amazing spot for a large maze. It was my one of my favorite parts during howloscream when I leave lets say the "brothers grim" haunted house, and then have the joy of going through the large maze outside. I think this maze was still there last year, but it was extremely shorter than usual and felt like just another weak scare zone.

5) Haunted houses
Unless a haunted house is soooo good, then there is no reason I should see the same one year after year. Keep some of the ideas, props, etc...but for the love of god it should not be more than 40% the same as previous years.
Busch gardens makes an incredible amount of cash. It would seem that paying their employees and electrical fees is a drop in the bucket for a days worth of profit. Is it that difficult to create at least a few new and exciting houses? What does the creative team do all year? It's not like they change rollercoasters all the time. Probably be stuck with verbolten and gryffin for 20 more years. Not a fan of gryffin and have not ridden verbolten (hope its good). My point is that besides special events, the creative team should have ample time to make howl-o-scream fresh each year.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts. While some items may have come across as overly-critical, I just think this event should get better every year or at least stay consistent in quality. I think Busch Gardens is the most beautiful and enjoyable park in the world. Thus, it pains me anytime I feel like the ball is dropped during howl-o-scream.
I realize that this is also a business. The main strategy is to make as much money, while trying to keep costs low. But I am a believer that this does not have to hurt innovation. Just change some things up.
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

I like ur ideas but...

1: they have parkwide announcements at 6 already, while not creepy they are there

2: the haunted train isnt coming back for a while, its just too expensive

3: monster stomp is gone...but theres fiends!!
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

Yea I know about the announcements and it being stated in park map. I just think doing something creative would make going to 6:00 a neat experience and not just another time of day.

I realize it's expensive. Lots of workers along the route. But if the train pretty much rides year-round, then all you're paying is for extra decorations and scare squad members. It's worth it for a customers good time.

I enjoyed fiends. Even if it was about music as well. My thoughts on shows is to make them more adult oriented and creepier. As a guy, I loved the nurses in fiends. And anyone who complains about the skirts needs to be shot. lol
-and its a shame to see the royal theater empty and wasted as I wait in line for catacombs. (catacombs is my fav of the haunted houses. Wouldn't mind that returning)
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

I don't agree completely with your 18+ sentiments, but the train ride and 6:00 roll-out I can get behind.
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

Maybe one day when I have a family, then I can agree on "kiddying" things down. But currently it's really frustrating to have limited forms of entertainment. Maybe it's not always to protect the children, but as adults we should be able to interact and experience stuff as such. I guess I am of the opinion of not half-"assing". For the most part, haunted houses are not meant for kids. Teenagers and up. So if there's going to be a month long event centered around fright, then I don't give a crap about catering to young ones.
Simply put, its not for them and end of story. Of course those with kids may disagree and I guess its just something I have to learn as I age. This is why I want to stress that those with kids, get out at 6....and if they want to have a family friendly area then head over to sesame street.
-btw, even year round..there is nothing more infuriating than freaking strollers. Parents do not know how to keep to one side. They always zig-zag or stop, and it holds up everyone. Shouldn't take me all afternoon to get from one place to the next. I know I'm exaggerating but yea lol
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

I can agree with Howl-O-Scream going PG-13. But not R. Honestly, outside of strippers, I'm not even sure what an 18+ halloween event looks like.

The park should have Halloween events for kids before 6...maybe even a little overlap 6-7...but then the park attractions should go 13, 14+

Just my outlook on it.
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

Doc Dollars said:
I can agree with Howl-O-Scream going PG-13. But not R. Honestly, outside of strippers, I'm not even sure what an 18+ halloween event looks like.

The park should have Halloween events for kids before 6...maybe even a little overlap 6-7...but then the park attractions should go 13, 14+

Just my outlook on it.

Big issue is the parents not wanting to take their kids out at 6. They use the line "we paid to be here so why should we have to leave because we have kids." Those are the same people that do not think twice about leaving the park when 6pm is the closing time in spring.
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

Well, you could always make HoS a wrist-band event. Have the ticket takers/sellers hand out wrist bands only to parties over 13-ish, and anyone without a wrist band is out after 6 (or at least prevented from going into the mazes). Kind of like how rides are handled at state fairs. No bracelet, no rides. You could even print on the bracelets that the event was for 14+ (or whatever). You can't get much more explicit than an optional bracelet that you have to wear all day long that says in bold print that the event is for 14+ only. Not a perfect solution, of course, but...

Ultimately, Busch Gardens is a family park. It doesn't become something it isn't just because it's September. That's not good for branding. Again, just my view, but an 18+ event at Busch Gardens makes about as much sense as a Chuck E. Cheese that that converts into a Crazy Horse on Thursdays.

My girls are too young to go to HoS anyway, so we don't bring them. I'm not fighting to be able to bring them in. I think it's already inappropriate for little kids. I just don't know about an 18+ BGW.
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RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

I guess I'm not really advocating for an 18+ event. I wasn't writing my words right and need to clarify after reading yalls posts. What I was trying to get across was: howl-o-scream should not cater to family friendly enthusiasts. I like the idea of it being so during the day, but after 6 then it becomes PG13.

Instead of adult themed, I should of said mature. Soooo this means shows, activities, haunted houses, music, scares, etc that is for teenagers and up. Anyone who is mad because they or their child were scared can shove it.

Example: In Ireland, the Jack is back show. I looooovvvved the way Ireland has been decorated for the past many years. It was the best part of howl-o-scream look wise. But jack is back was nothing more than a family fun dance fest. It is almost sickening to have a cool character like jack and "evil" scarecrows on stilts to only come out and get their boogy on. yuck...I don't know what else they could do show-wise to make it scary, but dancing as if in san francisco was not my cup of tea for a spooktacular evening.
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

The top40 music that you hear on the way to the park is what kills it. A park like BGW should have sounds not commonly heard outside of the park.
RE: my thoughts howl-o-scream

The Jack issue really irked me.. I used to love how every year Ireland would be decorated with hundreds of REAL pumpkins and haybales giving it a true harvest theme. Jack fit right in there, but not only was he there, but he was the face of HoS. When the park converted to Scare is Everywhere, his head bloated to about 5 times normal size as if he was a dying star in a cartoon.. AND they replaced the real pumpkins with cheesy fake foam ones that didn't even light up. THAT just strikes me as cheap. The haunted train, although eerie, was never scary. Even at my young age i could the 'Headless Horseman' was just an animatronic cart w/horse running alonside the train. It was fun, but for the guests who ARE scared after 6:00, it and the skyride are the two primary 'safe routes'.

Going back to the 6:00 announcement, if memory serves me correctly, at the beginning of witching hour, creepy halloween music like the Edward Scissorhands theme began playing and a deep, eerie voice issues a warning of the coming events.
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I Feel last year was a huge step in the right direction. Scare Zones I feel needed to be a bit larger. Scare is everywhere is a great concept, but without tons of actors (more than I think they'd be willing to hire)... There is just no possible way to cover the whole park and for that very reason it was very ineffective. I went several times only seeing one or two actors. It was extremely disappointing.

I feel last year was ALMOST the perfect balance of family and "mature" entertainment. Almost. I think the proper intensity for this event would be around a 8/10 (comparing to something like HHN, which would be 10/10) I feel last year registered about a 6.5-7 They could turn it up a little bit more.

Quite honestly I'd personally prefer if they went to a 10/10 At night and had family entertainment during the day, with the last bits of family entertainment ending around 4:30, with an announcement that the park was gearing up to go scary every 10 minutes.

I think they are aiming to have the "everyone's haunt" event. But they are leaving out the more intense end of the spectrum because of fear of offending. I think they need a PG show, A PG-13 show and an "R" show (see Bill and ted at HHN), the counts show at FoF ending no later than 4:30, the childrens areas closed no later than 5:30. Offer tons of "extra stuff" to do at a small charge. Come up with family friendly HOS tours during the day that end with a Halloween dining with elmo at 4:30. Have costume party show in festhaus encouraging toddlers and stroller children to dress up and participate. End the show with a warning that the rest of HOS is not appropriate. Tie in some 5 Dollar glow toy into the show so all the kids want one and they all go to buy one when they leave... something...

All the mazes should range from PG-13 to R. The Decor should be PGish around the front of the park but PG-13 past Ireland, Scotland, and past The Festa Italia bridge, and over the bridge. The scarezone decoration was the best I've seen it... But they can do better...

HOS BGW deserves to have the grandiose scale that blackstone's other parks have, ESPECIALLY if these rumors of a resort hold any water. HOS as it is now is not quite a "Destination" Halloween event. With the surrounding area having the potential for a very significant draw for the "spooky tourism" crowd, with all the ghost tours and "haunted civil war and revolutionary war grounds" HOS could easily become the center of Halloween spooky activity for the whole nation. It has the history and the ghost tours that destinations like Orlando and Tampa Just simply Lack... But one way or another... In order to tap into this market they will have to expand the event, go all out and increase the budget(I'm positive regardless of how much of a budget they give HOS, it will end in the green, but if they increase their budget their bottom line does shrink...). Now is the time they should be building HOS to receive a reputation that will pack in this rumored resort hotel around Halloween time. And even if the Rumor is false, The potential for becoming a Halloween destination park is still there. The haunt crowd has reason to flock to Orlando and Tampa... Because they got crazy scary Halloween entertainment... Give them more of a reason to flock to VA.

Kings Dominion last year had family activities during the day for an extra charge that isolated families in the snoopy area. BG could easily do up LOD and FoF with childrens activities during the day without breaking the budget, Then when those shows and activities end, send off the families with a warning that now that these events have ended, there are no more entertainment offerings planned for the rest of the evening that are family appropriate, and if they should choose to stay in the park, their family is fair game to be scared, and if they choose to partake in the entertainment offerings, they may be exposing their children to inappropriate content for their age. Not that I thought fiends was all that offensive and suggestive anyway... Most of the things going on would fly over kids heads anyways...

The amount of children in the park last year, after dark did seem to decrease. But alot of those who did stay did seem to be able to handle the event, about two hours into it.

I would also like to see an adult dance party at Busch... The nightlife is pretty dead within a 40 mile radius of Busch. What are they waiting for!!!
Youhow2 said:
Not that I thought fiends was all that offensive and suggestive anyway... Most of the things going on would fly over kids heads anyways...

Seriously, between Benny Hill and "jiggle TV" (Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, etc.), 1970's prime-time was racier than Fiends.
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Haberdasher1973 said:
Youhow2 said:
Not that I thought fiends was all that offensive and suggestive anyway... Most of the things going on would fly over kids heads anyways...

Seriously, between Benny Hill and "jiggle TV" (Charlie's Angels, Wonder Woman, etc.), 1970's prime-time was racier than Fiends.

Some of the newer tv shows on are up there on the list, but you'll have to try hard to get on the level of Ren and Stimpy. That show was marketed so hard as a kids show yet there were moments that made Fiends look like Entwined...
B.Mac said:
Some of the newer tv shows on are up there on the list, but you'll have to try hard to get on the level of Ren and Stimpy. That show was marketed so hard as a kids show yet there were moments that made Fiends look like Entwined...

Change tv shows to commercials and I will concur.
Anyone remember those late 90's-2000's Herbal Essence commercials? Yeah... Way worse than anything in fiends.
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Normally, I get on these forums to complain about one thing or another that the park has changed, and that I don't feel was for the better. Yesterday, however, my family and I went to Hallowscream, and we could not find a single thing wrong!

BG, you did wonderfully this year! The shows are high quality entertainment packed full of talented musicians, singers and dancers.; all three of which far out-strip anything I saw earlier in the season. The houses were fantastic, both in the way they kept the good ones from years past, and improved on the not-so-good ones. And the roaming hoards were awesome. Much better then the scare zones. My only suggestion on that front is that zombies with chainsaws would have been better than werewolves, but I can see how that may have been over the top.

I also thought that the timing was well thought out. We were able to see most shows before the night really got going. Then we stood in the shortest 13 line we've ever seen (because of the 5:30 start), and had the rest of the night to hit the remainder of the houses and two more shows!

We couldn't have been happier with Hallowscream this year. The park looked great (love the hanging jack-o-lanterns in Scotland), the shows were fantastic (especially the naughty nurses... I mean the Fiends in Ireland), and the over-all experience was fantastic. Keep it up, BG. We Love it!!!
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