Saturday, August 20, 2011

Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream (Preview)

I am a fool for amusement parks.  It's true.  Amusement parks and tourist towns are little fantasy worlds built to cater to my consumer whims where somewhat overpriced food and goods are sold under the shadows cast by roller coasters, Ferris wheels, haunted houses and Chambers of Commerce.  I live approximately 30 miles from the Virginia Beach ocean front and I enjoy the variety of t-shirt sops, beach goods shops, salt water taffy shops and mini golf opportunities, although I rarely partake in them.

I am also fortunate to live a mere 40 miles from Williamsburg, VA, where one can find Busch Gardens, voted best landscaping by NAPHA 21 consecutive years running.  Busch Gardens Williamsburg (BGW) has as its theme "Europe" (although the name has changed a few times, it has always had Europe as its theme) and as such it is divided into "lands" each one representing an idealized fantasy version of a European area, such a Killarney (Ireland) or Germany (all save for New France, which is, in fact, Canada).  As of 2009 Busch Gardens is a nearly year-round operation, opening for weekends in March and then moving through a full 7 day summer, finally going into a weekends only autumn and then a half day winter season, ending at the New Year.

Starting in September, since 1999, the park opens on weekends through Halloween for "Howl-O-Scream", which is perhaps the greatest time to be in the park.  Each land gets decorated in a Halloween themed way, which is apart from the overall theme of that year's event and then there is the mascot, Jack.  He's a sort of pumpkin-head, Jack O' Lantern guy.  If you read the Celtic Pumpkin regularly you've seen him.  Obviously I heartily approve of Jack O'Lantern people.  To give you an example, in 2010 New Canada had a lumberjack-werewolf theme going, Italy had witches (lots of them) and Germany was infested with vampires. It's a good time.  My kinda place.  Ireland is the home of Jack, so they had tons of pumpkins everywhere.  I know, not native to Ireland but I did say "idealized fantasy" world.

The website for 2011 is up but not all the details are on it yet.  I'm excited.  I am.  I love the whole notion of a Halloween themed amusement park as it combines two of my favorite things.  Busch Gardens, long voted most attractive theme park in the world (echo effect effect effect) does decorating right, I can tell you.  What I have learned so far is that Black Widow spiders will overrun New France, Werewolves have overrun Ireland (sure and that will be craic), and a dark carnival (no doubt chockablock with evil clowns) will arrive in Italy.  <<Shudder>>
Much to Frau Punkinstein's discomfort the theme seems to involve roses with eyeballs in the center.  If the advance info on BG Tampa is any indication, zombies will feature heavily this year.  Zombies are so done to death.  (Joey, drums!)
Frau Punkinstein and I have just purchased two-year Annual Passes, so we can actually go multiple times without going broke.  Which is a fine idea to me.

I'll keep updating when I know more.

Let's get those pumpkins lit, people.


  1. Make sure you post some pics!

    There is no Halloween themed amusement park where I live. In fact...there's no amusement park.

    No wonder I want to leave!

  2. That is horrible. Really, really horrible. Growing up the closest theme/amusement park was 3 hours East on the interstate, so we only went once, maybe twice a year. We went to the State Fair (creepy but cool) for our amusements. Ah, the good old days...sausages...funnel cakes...freak shows.
    I will post pics indeed. I had hoped to get some before pics this Saturday when we went to the park to see Pat Benetar, but apparently Hurricane Irene has other plans. Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene, why are you messing up my weekend? Of course I'd like for the Great Dismal Swamp fire to go out, so bring on the hurricane.
    Everyone should have a theme park.

  3. Well I'm a tourist trap gal too...doesn't get much more touristy than Central Florida. But I do LOVE Busch Gardens. It's an hour and a half drive for us, and it's usually the kids' first choice of places to go for their birthdays because we are a family of rollercoaster lovers....and Busch Gardens Tampa has the best ones in FL. And the 'buy one day, go all year' deals are the BEST!

    We've never been to Howl O Scream though. I looked it up last year...but wasn't sure if it was going to be too scary or not. I wish we had a 'Europe' here at ours....especially Ireland! Ireland is our #1 place to go when we finally make it to Europe. I have big plans to go visit all the old sacred sites, ruins, castles and cemeteries! How I'd love to stand in the middle of an ancient Oak Grove. But no Ireland at out BG! We have Africa, and I don't even remember what else. Maybe we'll vacation to Virginia next year and hit up your BG! :o)

  4. Wendy,

    Although small, Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Ireland is small but "enchanting". They have a "Riverdance show" which is interesting because my wife used to clog (and ballet) and clogging is the Applachian evolution of Celtic Dancing so my wife enjoys it quite a bit.
    I've done BG in Tampa a few times in my youth, but that was years and years ago. I liked it. I rode an elephant.
    Howl O Scream is a little scary after dark (for the chilluns) but not too bad. People in camo netting hiding as shrubs jump out, that sort of thing. The haunted houses are pretty intense, but the vibe is more spooky than horrific.