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Williamsburg, Virginia (Abbreviation: BGE or BGW)
Formerly: Busch Gardens: The Old Country
& Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Entertainment Corporation

Howl-O-Scream - (10/26/06) I took a trip down to Williamsburg to see what their Howl-O-Scream was all about last Saturday, and boy was it crowded. I’ve been dreaming about coming back to BGW for a Halloween event ever since I first visited the park back in 1999 and I was not disappointed at all. It’s made even better by the fact that, unlike Tampa, this Howl-O-Scream is included with regular park admission and not an upcharge event.
    The park features several different Scare Zones around the park that seem decorated with figures all day long that fit their theme. Lots of scary Clowns over in Italy, lots of Wolfmen near the Grey Wolf exhibit, and Pumpkin headed scarecrows near the old Drachen Fire station. After dark they add to this with the addition of smoke, lights and live characters roaming the grounds dressed just like the inanimate figures you saw in the daylight. These areas were entertaining to walk through, though I didn’t find them too scary which was okay since this was an extension of the normal daytime operations of the park and there were still lots of small children running around after dark.
    There are four walk through haunted houses as well as a haunted version of the train ride called Jack’s Haunted Express. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to try out the train due to the large crowds there on Saturday. We did manage to visit the four haunts however, three of which actually opened up before it got dark outside because they are indoor mazes. First up was Last Laugh Industries held inside a tent where the queue for the Roman Rapids normally is. Considering the small size of the tent, you actually seem to spend about twice the time inside that you think you would. Personally however, I’m not scared of Clowns at all and found this maze to be very light on the fright level. The park ranks it a 3 out of 5, but I’d give it a 2.
    Next we visited The Curse of Pompeii where you are actually allowed through the normally closed gate to walk right up to and inside the ruins of Pompeii itself. This did seem to be a long maze full of different themes and effects and a good use of lighting as we wandered through. A good amount of scares around here and well, both from live and animated effects. The dark building, instead of a tent, really did wonders here as well to create a good Atmosfear level. I’d go along with the park’s rank of 4 out of 5 here.
    Nearby is the Wicked Woods, a mostly outdoor maze that opens at dusk. We ventured inside just before dark however so we got a good look around. There are many themed used here that work out quite well, from a Jack The Ripper section, haunted graveyards, plauge and burnt up buildings and so on. This was perhaps my favorite maze of the evening after Pompeii and if I had time I would have gone back to try it again in total darkness, but a dark right on Apollo’s Chariot was calling my name. More on that below.
    The last maze is contained inside the old Drachen Fire coaster station behind the Festhaus and called Sleepless Hollow Manor. This is a well themed maze as well through a haunted house, but unfortunately I felt the scares inside from the mostly live cast were a little lacking. They did try of course and the house is very well themed as well, but I just wasn’t spooked here.
    Overall I had a great time and the coasters of Busch Gardens all take on different personalities of their own after dark as well. Big Bad Wolf simply has to be ridden after dark... it is a different beast entirely and you can not say you have experienced it unless you’ve taken it on at night. Alpengeist is a great ride day or night, but it becomes entirely disorienting after dark to the point where you can’t tell what’s coming up next even if you just rode it earlier in the day. Then I ended my stay with a pitch black ride on Apollo’s Chariot. The cool night air adds it’s own chill to the experience of course, but the darkness also completely hides the bottom of all of the coasters big drops, so you look like you are just simply dropping out of the night sky into a bottomless chasm for the first two or three huge drops. If you’ve got the time to make it to Busch Gardens before the end of Howl-O-Scream, do it.
    (9/18/06) Coaster World News dropped into Busch Gardens Europe over the weekend to take a look at the start of this year’s Howl-O-Scream.
    (8/22/06) Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens seems like it will be bigger and better than ever this year. The event will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night starting September 15th until October 29th. The park will remain open until 10pm on Friday and Sundays, and 11pm on Saturday nights. New this year will be Wicked Woods, a maze “shrouded in gory history and mystery.” Guests will be transported back in time to a remote English village where they will encounter the Great Fire of London, Jack the Ripper and the effects of the bubonic plague. There will also be a variety music/magic/monster show inside the Palace Theater called Rockin’ Eve’s Countdown to Midnight. The park will also offer a Front of Line pass for $29 that will give you immediate access to: Big Bad Wolf, Corkscrew Hill, Sleepless Hollow Manor, Curse of Pompeii, Last Laugh Industries, Jack’s Nightmare Express and Curse of DarKastle. All other official details can be found at the Howl-O-Scream website.

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