Wednesday, October 21, 2015

BG Williamsburg Howl O Scream (Part 3)-Booze and Haunted Houses

It is not that it was hot, but that the sun beat down so strongly that we took refuge in Grogan's where Kitty had a sangria in a collectible tumbler that lights up like a rave.  I had a cider because I like cider.

She's purposely vamping it up in this picture.  Blood lite, bwa ha ha.
After getting drinks in, we stood in line for an hour waiting for Unearthed to open.  Here is a shot of the vapid twenty-somethings we were standing behind.  This group was smart enough to smuggle a fifth of Bacardi into the park in a souvenir drink container, however.  I did find myself impressed that one guy made it all the way through the haunted house, jump scares and dark stumblings and all without spilling a drop of his beverage.  That's class and gives me hope for the young generation.
Afterwards we exited into the still-not-dark 6 PM Howl O Scream and began to work our way through the now "frightening" TERROR-Tories.  I quoted that because they are not frightening.  Again.
This kid-friendly bullshit really gets on my nerves.

See the giant fake pumpkin?  The fellow standing in the foreground is a park employee.  He will take your picture with his spiffy park camera and then later you can purchase said picture from a shop in Ripper Row.  Does BG not realize that people have phones with cameras in them now and don't give a whit about quality of the shot?  We've come to see the world at that odd 45 degree selfie-angle, we frankly find a well framed shot to be less than aesthetically pleasing.
I get it.  The park needs the dosh.  BG has raised the price on parking, raised the price on refreshments and added smoked turkey legs and churros, two things you would not expect to find together, in every snack bar.  They worked up a card game to sell for the Unearthed event and advertise it with giant tarotesque cards in the Unearthed haunted house and across the park.  They are really trying to get every last cent they can.  All so that they can bring you...
A scary clown!  That's my finger, by the way.  I mock you, scary clown.  Ever since the Hunt Club Farms corn maze incident, I have mocked you, scary clowns.
A few years back they did a whole scary carnival evil clown thing in Italy for Howl O Scream.  They weren't scary then either.  Nothing is scary about a scary clown.  What is scary is a normal clown in a place where he has no business being.  Like working at Victoria's Secret.  Or running for public office...yeah, I know, that was too easy.
Still not dark, but 6 PM had hit so...

Grrr, pirate!  This was one of the pirates in Ports of Skull (why is ports plural?) that wandered about saying pirate things and scaring passersby.  This reminds me of a bad pirate Halloween costume, to be honest.  They said things like, "Yar" and "We be wanting brains" or something.  I wasn't listening.
Which is bad since you are all counting on me to have been listening to bring you this report.
As the twilight slowly came upon the park we headed to Cut Throat Cove, a pirate theme haunted house.  Kitty then asks the obvious question: "How are pirates supposed to be scary?  We like pirates."
I asked the next obvious question: "Then why are we going to queue up for the haunted house?"
To which she sagely replied: "Because I want to see it."
We like pirates.
She snapped this picture as we approached the entrance to Cut Throat Cove.  Now let me set the scene for you.  Some haunted houses have a theme, some have a story, and some are just a random mash-up of spooky shit.  A house with a story should have a theme as well, but it might be a story to tie together a random mash-up of spooky shit.  Here is what the official map has to say about Cut Throat Cove: Join the ship wrecked crew of a pirate ship and see if you can survive without having to walk the plank.
So here is how it was executed, this story.  The crew shipwrecked waaaaayyyy inland, built a town out of the bits of ship, decorated it with eviscerated bodies, guts everywhere, some headless, limbless torsos and then they hang out in the pirate shanty town saying "Arrgghhh" and threatening to make you walk the plank to...the empty Roman Rapids channel?
It was the sort of place I'd quite like to hang out, actually.
Of the two haunted houses we did, this and Unearthed, much of the decor was accomplished with hanging strands of jute and what I think was supposed to be the pirates intimate apparel hanging on clotheslines to dry.

Now fully dark we went to Demon Street and there be the dragon!
Pretty spiffy looking in the dark with the red lights and smoke machines.

Red lighting and faux flames gives Demon Street the look of Hell.
Jack may be gone, but in his place we have this Devil DJ, standing atop a flaming skull and spinning tunes.  A disco remix of "Dragula" was playing as we arrived and a pair of lesser demons, imps most likely, were dancing in front of it.
I did not know devils spoke Ebonics.  Learn something new every day.
Unlike the Lady Gaga laden music of Jack in Ireland in years past, this is a more leather jacket, devil music crowd.  I suppose I can appreciate that.
St. Micheal.  Just threw that in for flavor.
This is one of the scarecrows that flanked the giant fake pumpkin above.  At night, bathed in blue light, mouth aglow, and the sounds of pre-recorded crows playing constantly.  I dug the vibe.
And here we have a wendigo.  In the Wendigo Woods this animatronic "awakens" in its cage, roars, rears, and shakes violently for about a minute.  It's a nice piece.  I like the antlers for verisimilitude.

And here is our friendly giant pumpkin at night, now fully Jack-o-ed.  A noble guardian against the horrors that might seek to escape from the park.

Bonus shot: Turkish Delight, which is oddly a teapot and cups.  This is your basic vomit-inducing spinning ride found in Italy.  We decided to give it a whirl (puns are free at the Pumpkin, folks) after leaving Cut Throat Cove.  I love a spinning ride, but the sun beating down on my head and my horrible allergies usually combine to make me miserable after riding.  The cool night air, however, made me immune to such and it was most enjoyable.
We also rod Curse of Darkastle because you have to ride that.  To not do so would be like going to Disney World and not riding POTC or HM.

That's this year's Howl O Scream, folks.  Not as good as previous years, I'm afraid.  I've seen many changes to the park since InBev bought AB creating AB-InBev, and I am not saying that the one is the cause for the other.  I am saying that my first trip to Howl O Scream was during the Scare Is Everywhere days and it truly was.  Plus the choices of decorating the zones seemed a more logical fit.  Things have to change, I get that, but all-in-all I found Ripper Row and Wendigo Woods to be a disappointment.  Demon Street was a Hell of a party atmosphere (again, puns are free) but not so Halloween to me personally.  Ports of Skull was more like the sort of place I'd just hang out, but it could stand to be a bit more beachy.

Still not scary, and I really wish they'd do something with the train.  I maintain that they are missing out on a great opportunity with the train.  All that back lot real estate, moving through the woods and such, makes a great opportunity to put things.  Even static monster, the likes of which they plaster all over the rest of the park, would be an improvement over nothing.  Heck, through a spooky soundtrack over the speakers that the conductor uses to tell you your next stop.  Anything.  A ghost train.  Something.  Instead it is just a wasted opportunity year after year when they could be upselling the park, which is clearly what they want given all the other junk they pimp in the shops.

That's my review, done in 3 parts.  Happy Halloween and keep your pumpkins lit.


  1. I have been to a haunted pub. Even with a few pints, I didn't see one ghost.

  2. I think I've always been jaded with regards to haunted houses/attractions. It's like I dare them to actually scare me, and they never do. At best, they startle or surprise. That (and time and money and I hate crowds) is why I haven't been to a haunted attraction in years. If it weren't too crowded and I had the money, I might make the time to see something if they really impressed me. My ears did perk up like an Irish wolfhound when you mentioned Ireland and drinking, though.

    1. Back in college days Hoover Metropolitan stadium had Horror at the Met. It was a pretty good haunted house, some shocks, some chills, Tommy fell down. That's good stuff.