We went to Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream this weekend.
(all photos taken with my iphone 4s and edited in google+.)
For those unaware, Busch Gardens, in Williamsburg, Virginia, is the most beautiful theme park in the country. Literally. It's award-winning:
World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park – Awarded by the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA), Busch Gardens has received this honor every year for the past 23 years. NAPHA Historian Jim Futrell says, “Members have long praised Busch Gardens Williamsburg for its amazing setting with its world class thrill rides and attractions surrounded by detailed European theming all nestled into a lush, rolling, forested landscape. As demonstrated by the survey results, it’s an atmosphere that is hard to duplicate anywhere else.” - via Busch Gardens official website.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg (there is also a Busch Garden Tampa) has a European theme with 10 "hamlets" that are based on villages in England, France, Germany, Italy, Scotland, and Ireland.
Ok. So, maybe during the month of October that beauty is shrouded in darkness...and a little gore. For the "Howl-O-Scream" season each European country has it's own themes, or as they call them, "Terror-tories" with six haunted houses throughout the park, including 13 Your Number's Up, Bitten, Catacombs, Cut Throat Cove, Deadline, and Root of all Evil. We only made it to Bitten this visit.
|England becomes "Ripper Row".|
|Germany becomes "Vampire Point"|
When we got to the park the first item on the agenda was food. Our favorite is brisket at the Smoke House in New France. I highly recommend it.
The shows are always great fun. The photo above is from the show "Night Beats", which is located in Das Festhaus, or rather the "Casket Club". Two other shows are "Fiends" and "Monster Stomp".
My one beef is that the haunted houses are not as scary as they were when the park first started putting on Howl-O-Scream back in 1999. Throughout the park they also have a "scare squad" that walks around the hamlets jumping out at guests. They used to be great years ago with stilt-walkers dressed like dark lords, and just all around more elaborate and SCARY costumes.
|New France is "Wendigo Woods"|
It just seems each year the scares get more and more tame, which is probably directly related to parent complaints, even though there is ample warning that at 6pm the scares start and might not be suitable for younger kids and other sensitive souls.
I know they can't alienate the families but I wish there could be some compromise so those of us who want to be terrified can get what we want, too. Every time we go, I think of ways they could make the haunted houses scarier without compromising safety, or hiring tons of people, or spending tons of money. (Ok, maybe they'd still have to spend money.) Ah well, they didn't ask me for my help.
Aquitaine is "Demon Street"
Don't get me wrong! We still have a great time, and it's always fun to walk the park and see all the work they put into it each Halloween season. I just want more scares. I mean, I'm a certified scared-y cat, so when it doesn't scare me and make me climb over top of my husband then it's really not even remotely scary. But then, I know everyone has different tolerance levels.
|ok, this photo might be scary, but maybe that's just my awesome editing skills..with the help of google+. ;)|
And that reminds me of the best Haunted House I think I've ever been in, which sadly is no longer. We live near the small town of Poquoson, which is on the Chesapeake Bay, and there was an old abandoned house that would open up during Halloween season. You walked through each room and there was a different scary, gory scene, and people chasing you around, grabbing at you, and the last thing I remember was that you had to crawl out of the house on all fours through this dark, creepy, tunnel. Now, that was a scary good time, and that place always had a long line each night. You probably couldn't get away with today what you could get away with years ago, though, which is a shame.
(We didn't even make it to Italy this visit, which becomes "Ports Of Skull".)
I love these last three photos above. I might even print them out for I-don't-know-what. Maybe I'll start sending out Halloween greetings.
All in all, it's a really fun time, and I highly recommend it, even if I didn't get my requisite scares in. It is still a really beautiful park. (And you know, amazing roller-coasters if you are into that kind of thing.)
Thanks for visiting.
P.S. Did I mention that my first real job was at Busch Gardens, waaaaayyyy back in the late 1980's? It was kind of a rite of passage for local kids to work at Busch. Fun times. Even if I had to walk 15 minutes through the park, up and down those beautifully landscaped hills, from the employee parking lot to my work area. Needless to say, I was quite fit back then. ;)