The Scaredy Cat’s Guide to Howl-O-Scream

September 18, 2018

You were dragged to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens by your friends? Trying to figure out how will you survive a whole night of scares? We’ve been there…so we wanted to give you a few insider tips on how to avoid peeing your pants in panic. Like we said, we’ve been there.

This is the Scaredy Cat’s Guide to Howl-O-Scream—written specifically for those guests who spend most of their time in the park with their eyes closed, afraid of every doorway, corner or curve in the pathway; for those who have bruised their friends and torn their clothes because of the death grip they have going through the terror-tories (or scare zones).


The Scaredy Cat's Guide to Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream

There are more scares than ever before for this year's event. We are celebrating Howl-O-Scream's 20th anniversary, but don’t worry, we will prepare you the best we can for a night of fun. While there is an appeal to staying wrapped in the safety of your blanket collection, this new era of terror may level the playing field between you and your friends. Who knows, they may be more frightened than you.

Enough already! Keep reading-- your friends can thank us later.


Scare actors during Busch Gardens Halloween event

Scare Squad Survival 101

Those evil creatures waiting to catch you off-guard are known around here as the Scare Squad. They arrive in the park every night at 5:45 pm.

Our advice on how to handle them? Stay cool, don’t look scared. They prey on the weak so you have to appear strong, no matter what your heart rate monitor is tracking. Also, go in to the park knowing that as close to you as they might get, they can’t touch you. After all, they aren’t REALLY trying to hurt you, just scare you into thinking they might.


Start Halloween off with a special ceremony in Oktoberfest at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

The Haunting Hour

If the thought of monsters running wild terrifies you, you may want to steer clear of Oktoberfest at 5:45 pm. There is a special ceremony outside of Das Festhaus where Jack will kicks off each night by summoning and unleashing his horde of minions out into the park.


Tips for Terror-tories

Grab a park map when you arrive; it will tell you exactly where the terror-tories are so that you know where the Scare Squad might be lurking. The entrance and exit to the park (England/Ripper Row) is a terror-tory, so be mindful that the fog rolls into that area at 5:45 pm.

All scaredy cats should be mindful that there is a large concentration of scares in Oktoberfest with five nearby haunted houses to explore: Cornered, Demented Dimensions, FrostBite, Lumberhack and The Vault: XX.


Coaster Creepers at Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream

Coaster Creepers

The queue lines used to be a safe place to get away from the scares, but this year, some of our hottest thrill rides will become even more terrifying as you might suddenly find yourself sitting next to one of Busch Gardens creepiest monsters.


FrostBite haunted house at Busch Gardens Halloween event

Control Lab at Inoculation Station

This is probably going to be the most fun you'll have during our Halloween event. You may not like being scared, but for the price of a token* at Castle O’Sullivan in Ireland, you get the power to unleash your own scares on the unsuspecting victims making their way through our haunted houses.


Navigating the Mazes

If you're daring and brave enough to enter...

We suggest walking in the middle of the group. Let the brave ones mine through the surprise elements first.

Wait a second, don't people also say that you should be first or last going into the maze, that the monsters never scare the people at the beginning or end of the pack?

Please also be aware that our Scare Squad has been known to split up groups in our mazes sending parts of your group on different paths. Rest assured that your group will always be reunited in the end. 

Unfortunately, there is no safe space if you dare to enter any of our haunted houses. Once you survive the maze,you can celebrate your bravery or shake off those cobwebs with an adult beverage from one of our five Halloween themed bars.*


If you find yourself up to your ears in fear...

No worries, there are emergency exits in every house and a Team Member there to assist you out if needed (they are in park uniforms and will not be trying to scare you). Scare Squad knows to back down once you reach the point of sobbing, which is actually kind of reassuring, right?


Be prepared...

Read the stories for each of the mazes ahead of time to give you a feel for the theming. If clowns are your worst nightmare, you might want to think twice before heading toward the big top of Circo Sinistro.

We’ve also taken the liberty of sharing the intimidating aspects of each maze (our opinions, of course). You’re welcome for that.

•  Cornered – More open, which makes it easier to see which scares are ahead of you. Includes fog machines.

•  Lumberhack – Very open, but beware of loud noises and startles with chainsaws. Includes fog machines.

•  FrostBite – Lots of startling scares in a cold indoor environment. Includes strobe lighting, fog and snow effects.

•  Dystopia – Post-apocalyptic theme rather than the traditional monsters you see. Includes strobe lighting and fog machines.

•  Circo Sinistro – You never know what is real and what is waiting to pop out and scare you. Clowns and creepy dolls call this place home. Includes black and strobe lighting and fog machines.

•  Demented Dimensions – Lots of unexpected scares unlike you’ve ever seen, you might not know which way is up. Includes strobe lighting and fog machines.

•  The Vault: XX – Your favorite nightmares from the past 20 years have returned to bring a whole new level of terror to Howl-O-Scream. Includes fog machines.


Pep Talk

I, (state your name), can do this. I have officially done my research so that I’ll be a pro at navigating the park after 5:45 pm. Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a fun place, and it’s even better in the fall.

While my friends suffer in the mazes, I’ll take advantage of the Control Lab and give them a scary surprise. I’ll feel fearless as I enjoy a specialty cocktail* at Inoculation Station before getting in the holiday spirit at Fiends. I’ll simultaneously outsmart Scare Squad and get some festive shopping done at Blood Haus.

I’ll challenge myself to at least one maze so that I can appreciate the intricate theming, and show off in front of my friends when they realize I kept my eyes open this year. Most importantly, I’m truly going to have a great time at Howl-O-Scream.


What tips do you have to keep yourself calm during Halloween? Share your story with us on social media using #ShareMyBGWStory @BuschGardensVA

Note: By using the hashtag #ShareMyBGWStory, you are granting Busch Gardens Williamsburg the right to use any content in connection with your submission through social media channels to Busch Gardens Williamsburg for use on one or more of its website and/or social media accounts. Please see the Content License Agreement and Publicity Release for more information.


* These experiences are an additional fee and are not included with admission. Must be 21 years of age to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Proof of age with valid ID is required.