Busch Gardens celebrates their fifteenth year by getting Cursed

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Kiani Walman

Sabrina Olivier, News/Features Editor

Celebrating their fifteenth-year anniversary, Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream has begun again with a brand new theme. New houses and more keep people on their toes in fear of what’s to come from the moment they enter the attraction.

One of the many masterminds behind Howl-O-Scream is Creative Director Scott Swenson who has been part of the event since the very beginning and hopes to exceed people’s expectations each year.

“We start planning these things an entire year in advance so there is a lot that goes into what we do and we really hope, and expect, to get people leaving scared and overall satisfied with their time here,” said Swenson.

This year’s theme for the event is Cursed. Visitors enter the park, hear a song, and become cursed. After having heard this song, they’re faced with the challenge of having to survive the night to break the curse or do the opposite and spread the curse to others.

“I’ve never been before [to Howl-O-Scream] because I’m terrified of the ‘horror’ side of Halloween, but I might go this year with a group of friends,” said Sophomore Jeanelly Torres. “I’m really looking forward to the haunted houses, but mostly the Zombie Containment Unit because that’s what everybody keeps talking about.”

This year at Howl-O-Scream there will be eight haunted houses located throughout Busch Gardens. Zombie Containment Unit 15 and Dead Fall are both brand new houses that guests will have the opportunity to experience this year.

In Zombie Containment Unit 15, guests are asked to be part of the action where they’ll be handed a gun. They are supposed to shoot the savage zombies who escaped their ‘containment unit’ in search of flesh to feast upon.

Dead Fall has more of a paranormal-feel where the story is set in a Victorian house in New Orleans and ghosts are still lurking and looking to find permanent residents to become part of their home.

A house that was well-known last year for its uniqueness has returned: The Experiment. This house, instead of the typical clowns and zombies, tests peoples’ mental fear, literally. Guests are allowed to get a hands-on experience with snakes, bugs, total darkness, and more in eight different rooms with eight different tasks. To experience this house, guests have to make a reservation online prior to coming to Howl-O-Scream.

“I have a feeling that this year will be better than the ones in the past,” said Senior Marcus Macias. “The song in the commercial just makes it seems so creepy, so I’m really excited and anxious to go this year.”

Scare zones, most of Busch Gardens’ rides, and Howl-O-Scream’s show Fiends will all still be continued this year, as well. Nevermore and Ultimate Gamble: Reversal of Fortune, two of the haunted houses from last year, will not be part of this year’s event.

Howl-O-Scream will be open every Thursday through Saturday night (October 19th is the only Sunday the event will be open) of October and its last night will be Saturday, November 1st. The hours of operation are from 7:30 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. each night. Tickets and packages can be purchased online at seaworldparks.com/howloscream or at Busch Gardens.