Howl-O-Scream kicks off on Friday, September 25, and runs through Halloween. Busch Gardens Tampa is a big park, which means plenty of walking as you visit the seven haunted houses and maybe score a night ride on Falcon’s Fury, Cheetah Hunt, or one of the other thrill rides.
If you’re planning to visit Howl-O-Scream this year, here are five tips to help you get the most out of your experience:
1) Plan to spend the entire day and evening at Busch Gardens Tampa. While Howl-O-Scream doesn’t officially start until 7:30 p.m., your ticket gets you in at 5 p.m., and many of the rides are open in the holding areas. I love to score multiple rides on SheiKra during the period with minimal to no waits. You’ll want to stay all the way until 1 a.m. to make the most of your night, which brings us to the second tip…
2) Wear well broken-in shoes. As I mentioned earlier, Busch Gardens Tampa covers a lot of area, and the haunted houses are spread out around the park. You’ll do a lot of walking, especially if you follow my advice and stay as long as you possibly can, so it’s not the time to try out those brand-new shoes. You need an old tried-and-true pair to get you through those thousands of steps.
3) Make a plan. Howl-O-Scream can be overwhelming, especially if you’re coming for the very first time. Even if you’re a veteran, you’ll want to make a plan of attack. The map is available online at the Busch Gardens Tampa website, so familiarize yourself with the haunted house locations, as well as the rides, restrooms, places to dine, and anything/anywhere else you plan to visit. If you don’t want to make your own plan, book a tour through the Howl-O-Scream site and let your guide do all the work for you.
4) Work in some down time. If you come at 5 p.m. and stay until 1 a.m., you don’t want to be standing and walking the whole time. Make time to see the Fiends show, and work in a dinner or snack break. Hang out on the streets and watch the ghouls terrorize other guests (just watch out so they don’t sneak up on YOU). Your feet will thank you for it.
5) Buy a Front Line Fear Pass or do Fright Feast if you have a low tolerance for waiting in line. With Front Line Fear, you get to use the express line once for each house. With Fright Feast, you get to dine on a buffet while enjoying Fiends, and then you have an exclusive hour to go through the haunted houses before the general public is allowed in. Either of these methods reduces your wait time dramatically.
Use these five tips and you’ll up the enjoyment factor when you visit Howl-O-Scream. It’s always a terrifying but fun experience, and if you go in with a plan, you’ll like it all the more.