Last weekend, I went to Busch Gardens to check out Howl-O-Scream. It proved to be a rather fun day at the park. I didn’t bring the girls (tweens) because intense zombie-ish monsters freak them out. That said, I think they would have been fine exploring most of The Dark Side of the Gardens even once the creatures began roaming about at 6:00 p.m.; their costumes & makeup are rather mild (in comparison to some haunted attractions), and they tend to practice the art of startling you vs. instilling fear.
If you’re planning to go, be advised: Saturdays are high-volume days, and Busch Gardens tends to reach capacity by mid-afternoon; they’ll often re-open the gates an hour or two later when people start to laeve. Fridays are the second-most crowded days, and Sundays are generally lightest. I went around midday on Sunday, and the ride lines moved quickly all day. Once the haunted attractions started opening up at 5:30 p.m. & 6:00 p.m., those lines moved quickly, too, but by the time I made my way over to the new Root of All Evil, I was trapped in a very long line.
Another thing to note: With indoor haunted attractions, you can explore as soon as they’re open for the evening. However, haunts with outdoor elements, like Fear Fair & Root of All Evil, are best experienced when it’s dark. Clowns don’t scare me in full light, and since I went to Fear Fair at dusk, I could see too much to get the creepy vibe. I’d like to make time to go through it again at night for the real experience.
Planning to head out to Busch Gardens for Howl-O-Scream? You don’t have to pay full price. Here are a few ways to get in on the cheap:
- If you buy an annual pass ($119.99), you’ll get free parking, unlimited admission for a year, 50% savings on Christmas Town tickets, discounts on single-day tickets for friends, & more.
- Busch Gardens season pass holders can save 50% on one-day tickets for friends during Howl-O-Scream; the discount is valid for admission on Fridays only through October 26, 2012. You’ll need to log into your Busch Gardens account to access the online-only deal.
- If you buy the Fall Fun Card ($69.99), you’ll pay for a day but get unlimited admission to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens through October 28, 2012. Parking is not included.
- Members of the military (active duty, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman) + three direct dependents can get free admission during the 2012 season with the Here’s to the Heroes program (register online). Limit one complimentary single-day admission per person per year.
- You can buy discount tickets to Busch Gardens at the Henrico County Recreation and Parks Administrative Offices, located in the Human Services building. Through October 28, 2012, you can buy Discount Days tickets for $49 for those ages 10+ & $39 for those ages 3-9. To get the deal, you’ll need to buy the tickets in person & pay with cash (bring exact change), a Mastercard or Visa debit card, or a Discover card.
- Keep an eye on Busch Gardens’ Facebook page or Twitter feed for deals, too.