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and Team / Co
Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
I hate that my impressions of this event will be the opening post for this thread, but I guess it can’t be helped.

@Zachary and I attended SWO’s Howl-O-Scream last night (Saturday, 16 September), and I would strongly recommend that no one else similarly waste their money. While I am not going to provide a full review or trip report, I do want to share some highlights of my experience, mostly as a warning to others.

In 2021, BGWFans attended all three East Coast HOS events in one weekend, and published this review comparing them:

As you can see, we thought the inaugural Orlando Howl-O-Scream showed real promise, and even outstripped Tampa and Williamsburg in some areas, most notably in storytelling. (“Orlando’s casts were consistently the strongest we experienced at conveying a story through their actions and interactions with guests.”) Sadly, the complete lack of such narrative skill was one of our strongest criticisms this year.

The two “best” houses both had some kind of discernible plot, but the other three were completely incomprehensible. We were so confused by what was going on in Blood Beckoning that we looked up the official description. We still have no idea what it was about, but is seems the park doesn’t either:

Scratch’s strength is weakening and she’s out for blood. No one is safe and what Scratch wants, Scratch gets. Her beauty comes at a price…will you pay it?

For what it is worth, here are my maze rankings and my quick notes:
  1. D3LERIUM666 Laboratories (crap house, but understood story and had a spinning tunnel)
  2. Beneath the Ice: The Meltdown (boring, kinda understood story)
  3. Captain’s Revenge: Drowned in Darkness (no idea what was happening, but had some pirates)
  4. Dead Vines: Nawlins Nightmare (incoherent mashup of Root and Bayou with too much light)
  5. Blood Beckoning (a bookstore, some walk-in freezers, a tent, and a strip club; what is happening here and why do I need to see it?)
Speaking just for myself, I really didn‘t understand why SWO seems to have moved away from the overarching theming and storytelling that formed the promising core of their opening year. Now, they seem to be simply leaning into sex. They have added a Red Light District scare zone with (not at all scary) vampires and a pimp, and a house that mostly seemed to feature audio that sounded like people climaxing and moaning. Taken with the strippers and cage dancers in the entrance area, and the bondage girls selling alcohol on the paths, SeaWorld Orlando really seems to have decided to focus on booze and sex, rather than atmosphere and scares. Is this really an improvement over a single storyline connecting all of the scare zones and nautical (sea!) themed houses?

On another note, SWO’s separately-ticketed HOS had incredibly light crowds. We only encountered one line with more than 5-10 people. In fact, Pipeline was a walk-on. Compare that with a typical Saturday night in Williamsburg. Please do not take this as a reason to attend the event, however. Based on quality, in my opinion, the few of us who were there wasted our money.

One last thought: I do not blame the actors. The problems we identified were with design, not the performers who seem to have been given no more direction than ”point your finger menacingly” or “dance like a stripper.”
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