Last season, I went to Busch Gardens to check out Howl-O-Scream. Since I had an annual pass, I didn’t need a coupon code or discount tickets to check it out on the cheap; most activities during Howl-O-Scream are included with admission. 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 leave. 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 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 Root of All Evil, are best experienced when it’s dark. This year, I hope to make it back to Howl-O-Scream so I can check out the newest haunt: the pirate-themed Cut Throat Cove.
Want to get into Howl-O-Scream on the cheap? Take advantage of one of these deals:
- If you buy an annual pass, you’ll get free parking, unlimited admission for a year, 50% savings on Christmas Town tickets, discounts on single-day tickets for friends, & more. Or if you need to add more passes to the mix & only plan to visit through October 27, 2013, you can opt for the Busch Gardens Fall Fun Card, which is valid for unlimited admissions through October 27, 2013. Since the Fun Card doesn’t include parking, at least one person in the family should opt for an annual pass.
- While they last, $36 buys an adult ticket (ages 10+) or $31 buys child’s ticket to Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream, thanks to a deal on Living Social. The vouchers valid on select Fridays & Sundays through October 27, 2013
- Members of the military (active duty, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman) + three direct dependents can get free admission during the 2013 season with the Waves of Honor program (register online). Limit one complimentary single-day admission per person per year. Already used your free admission deal & want to go again? Through November 11, 2013, qualified service members and veterans can buy up to six single-day admission tickets for 50% off when they order online; the offer is available to veterans and military members from the U.S. only.
- You can buy discount tickets to Busch Gardens at the Henrico County Recreation and Parks Administrative Offices, located in the Human Services building. With Discount Days tickets, admission is $40 for kids ages 3-9 (regularly $60 online) & $50 for ages 10+ (regularly $70 online); the tickets are valid on regular operating dates through October 27, 2013. To get the deal, you’ll need to buy the tickets in person & pay with cash (bring exact change), American Express, Discover, MasterCard, or Visa.
- Keep an eye on Busch Gardens’ Facebook page or Twitter feed for deals, too.