Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa, one of Florida’s favorite Halloween events, is celebrating its 13th anniversary this year. This year’s main theme is “Unlock the Fear Inside”, highlighted by event icon “Trickster” and his key to the “Dark Side of the Gardens”.

There are seven houses at Howl-O-Scream this year, including 2 brand new houses and some returning favorites with new twists. It will leave you begging for mercy… and screaming for more.

From 13 sinister superstitions to the claustrophobic halls of an insane asylum, Howl-O-Scream 2012’s new haunted houses are designed to touch every aspect of your deepest fears:

NEW!  Blood Asylum – As lightning rages and thunder crashes outside, “The Creature” escapes from his holding cell in a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. Now this sadistic deviant is running rampant, skinning his former cellmates and turning the mental hospital into his own torture chamber. This serial killer’s bloody playground will drive you out of your mind with fear.

Busch Gardens invited me to preview Blood Asylum and wear their infamous “Scream Cam”… now in HD! Want to see what happened? Watch the video below.

NEW!  Circus of Superstition 3-D – You’ve tried to avoid black cats and sidewalk cracks, but Trickster will make sure that all those years of bad luck catch up with you! Under his command, crazed circus clowns challenge you to survive 13 superstitions in their 3-D Tent of Terror, but it will take more than luck to escape this whole new dimension of fear

Houses returning this year have gotten some new terrifying twists to keep them fresh:

Ultimate Gamble: CONDEMNED – Vampires have fallen out of vogue and the Ultimate Gamble casino has been shut down.  The power is off, and the neon signs that once lit up the sky have gone out.  Only the bravest guests dare visit the empty carcass of the once-vibrant casino, grabbing their flashlights to “enter at their own risk.”

Last year, Ultimate Gambler was a great house with some great unexpected scares (and even a few laughs). This new version where the lights are out and each party is given a flashlight to basically “create their own scares” should prove to be quite interesting (psychological scares are always the worst), though we’ll miss the awesome barker vampires outside luring victims… I mean guests… to check out their casino.

Nightshade Toy Factory: MUTATION – The old Nightshade Toy Factory has long been patrolled by diabolical dolls, terrible teddy bears and possessed playthings, but recent containment issues at a nearby nuclear facility have started to affect these terrible toys. Now, the mutations will stop at nothing to devour the humans that have “enslaved” them for eternity.

I did not experience this house last year, but I’ve been told you won’t look at your teddy bear the same way again after experiencing Nightshade Toy Factory. There are rumors this might be the final year for this house (Nightshade has been part of the Howl-O-Scream lineup the last 3 years), so be sure to check it out just in case.

Nevermore – Beating hearts, swinging pendulums and a raven’s cries haunt the manor of Lenore, creating a demented and twisted nightmare. Step inside to experience the gothic terror that maddens the lord of the house. and feel delusion overcome reality. Find your way out of this horror story before paranoia authors your final chapter.

This was my favorite house last year and I am thrilled that it’s back. Nevermore focuses more on straight up scares than going for the blood and gore that’s become so popular at so many Halloween events these days. You never know who (or what) might be lying in wait to make you jump out of your skin. Ever been scared by a chair? It could happen in the twisted world of Edgar Alan Poe. One room even reminded me a bit of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who!

Zombie Mortuary – No one remembers how the epidemic started, but now, zombies live here. The undead that infest this small town funeral home feed on the fresh flesh and brains of mortuary mourners to satisfy their insatiable hunger. Avoid the walking dead or you may find yourself deeper than six feet under.

I didn’t experience this house myself last year, but heard from friends it had some very creative and startling scares.

Alone… (A personal experience in horror) – The deranged Master Alexander Daedalus opened Minotaur Storage to house his vast collection of “cultural” remains. But now his sinister obsession with hoarding has expanded to stockpiling people. Escape this lunatic’s labyrinth or you will become part of his collection. Can you make it out ALONE?

Note: Alone is a unique, all-alone experience through the haunted house for an additional fee. Reservations are required, and each reservation can accommodate you and up to 3 additional victims. Passholder discounts do not apply. Not included with any other VIP tour or upgrade product. Howl-O-Scream admission is required, but not included. Reservations are required. Price starts at $50.00 for one person and goes up tp $80.00 to bring along 3 additional guests (split 4 ways that’s $20.00 per person).

At Howl-O-Scream, even the walkways aren’t safe from the things that go bump in the night. Besides the popular “roaming hoards” that will be back to terrorize guests, there’s an all new scare zone as well:

Faded Memories – 13 years of horror-filled memories come swarming back as the most sinister icons, diabolical characters and disturbing scenes from your favorite Howl-O-Scream haunted houses and scare zones from the past converge to create the ultimate “best of” scrapbook of scares.

Need a breather? Check out the extremely popular classic monsters show, Fiends, which will leave you dancing in the aisles. This show has moved from the Stanleyville Theatre to the Desert Grill and is performed several times each night (including an exclusive showing during the Fright Feast dinner buffet).

You can also check out one of two brand new street shows!

NEW!  Slip of the Tongue: A Demonstration of Dark Magic  – Your mind might play tricks on you as Travis and his silent-but-sultry partner Jasmine conjure up a creepy combination of mind-reading, sideshow freakiness and “don’t try this at home” danger in Nairobi Plaza.

NEW!  The Awakening – This modern re-staging of a fan favorite from Howl-O-Scream’s past “revamps” the bloodsucking story of the transformation from human to vampire through contemporary music and dance, with performances in Stanleyville Plaza and Jungala.

Want to dance your fears away? Howl-O-Scream has that covered too.

CLUB XIII – Escape the hordes and head to the transformed Marrakesh Theater to drive yourself mad partying at Howl-O-Scream’s exclusive dance club.  This adults-only nighttime playground keeps the energy pumping all night long with non-stop music, premium signature cocktails, drink specials and exclusive appearances by Howl-O-Scream’s most terrifying personalities.

Don’t forget to bring home a souvenir to remember your Howl-O-Scream experience for years to come (and we’re not just talking about white hair)!

Howl-O-Scream Shop of Horrors – Remember your evening of undead excitement with a Tricky trinket that’s not for the faint of heart.

Howl-O-Scream event runs Thursday through Saturday nights, Sept. 27-29, Oct. 4-6, 11-13, 18-20 and 25-27. Operating hours are 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

We recommend adding the Fright Feast, all-you-care-to-eat, dinner buffet for an additional $26.00 ($23.00 for passholders). Fright Feast gives you an exclusive showing of the popular “Fiends” show while you dine (the last two years the buffet included an amazing taco bar as well as plenty of other tasty treats), then early access to the houses for 30 minutes before the general public is allowed into the park as well as front of the line access to the houses until 8:30 p.m.

Howl-O-Scream is a separate ticketed night event. No costumes are allowed. For more information, visit or call 1-888-800-5447.

NOTE: Howl-O-Scream is intended for a mature audience. This year’s event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore and blood.  We loved every minute of it!