Howl-O-Scream 2009
Teaser art for Howl-O-Scream 2009

Well, we already know how much I love Universal Studios Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights event every October.  However, I’d be lying if I didn’t also admit that, a mere hour and a half away in Tampa, Fl, lies another Halloween event just as good.  Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-O-Scream may not have the kind of big budget houses you see at Universal Studios, but damn if they don’t give it their all in innovation and scareactors.  Howl-O-Screams houses are all very elaborate and, most importantly, long.  I love it when a haunted house takes more than a minute or two get through, and Howl-O-Scream’s houses are all very lengthy, which adds to the overall effect of being trapped in a nightmare world.  Sure, they don’t usually have the licensed characters, but I think that helps them to be more original.  2007’s Death Jockey and 2008’s Raven Twins were not only great creations, they were creepy.

This year’s event looks to be pretty interesting.  A preview video at the official site shows a woman walking out into an audience, before they begin their bloodcurdling screams.  What’s the theme this year?  Still too early to tell.  Still, Behind the Thrills has some information.  Sounds like the icon will be a model of some sort, who’ll walk the runway at the front of the park.  The Plastic Surgery House, an original house for this year, will be the main house (the one fault I have on Howl-O-Scream is that, at least last year, most of the houses were returning houses, instead of original ones-this year it sounds like we’ll have a good number of new houses).

Sadly, the Busch Gardens closest to me also runs a Howl-O-Scream and, despite the last couple of years moving to a more adult-themed event, it sounds like this year will be more family-friendly.  Sigh…

Look for full coverage of this year’s Howl-O-Scream, both in Tampa and here in Virginia closer to the event, as part of Pauloween Horror Nights!