Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s iconic Halloween event, Howl-O-Scream, returns for it’s 18th year with 19 menacing nights and two brand-new haunted houses (and five returning houses), five terrifying scare zones and thrill rides in the dark, some of which are “infected” with roaming creatures of the night.

I have a love/hate relationship with Halloween events. I really enjoy the creativity and fun of these events . . . but I’m a lightweight and a screamer, which makes me a target for the monsters. I dread what’s coming and I can’t wait.

Howl-O-Scream 2017 returns with two new haunted houses this year:

NEW! Undead Arena: Live

In a post-apocalyptic world, survivors of the Great Conflict have been divided into The Worthy and The Unworthy. Now for sport, you are The Unworthy and the stars of a gruesome event at the Undead Arena: Live. Invaded with Brain Eaters, this gauntlet is an almost impossible feat -with no guarantee that your group will stay together.

NEW! Demented Dimensions

Constructed above a vortex of otherworldly energies, the abandoned Sterling Manor contains doors to unwanted worlds, creating a series of portals in Demented Dimensions. Every room and hallway leads to a different universe where the rules of your world do not apply and escape is nearly impossible.

As any good haunt fan knows, once you leave one of the haunted houses, the streets are no safer for you. Howl-O-Scream’s infamous scare zones are amped up and swarming with creatures in the night this year:

NEW! Facebook Fans Name Scare Zone

See what happens when savage school kids punish their cruel headmaster. This year, Howl-O-Scream is giving Facebook fans the power to choose the name of an abandoned schoolhouse-inspired scare zone. Voting started Aug. 17 on the Howl-O-Scream Facebook page and ends Wednesday, August 30. The results will be announced the following day.

NEW! Carnie Camp

The backstage area of an old carnival breathes new life with its dirty inhabitants. Eerie street-fair music fills the air, as spine-chilling fairground performers prowl for new test subjects to be featured in the next spectacle of this horrid attraction.

NEW! Meat Market

Watch a band of sinister and cannibalistic creatures feast on the weak. They might just smell your fear and add you to their monstrous menu.

Wasteland

Dare to enter through the perils of the post-apocalyptic Wasteland where scenes of past and present atrocities still linger in an abandoned strip of roadway. Rush through the rotting piles of debris, because those who remain will do the unimaginable to survive.

Playground

A paranormal Playground lurks in the shadows of Howl-O-Scream 2017. Squeaking swings and rusty merry-go-rounds are now inhabited by hordes of deadly toys and lost children eager to stalk unsuspecting guests.

And if that wasn’t enough… Guests will have nowhere to hide – not even on Busch Gardens’ top thrill rides in the dark – including the all-new spin coaster, Cobra’s Curse. Infested with cringe-worthy zombies and spine-chilling creatures, thrill rides will double down with suspense as empty seats get filled with roaming creatures in the night.

Howl-O-Scream 2017 runs select nights from Sept. 22 through Oct. 29. Event hours are 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. This year, tickets start at $39.99, plus tax; and special offers are available for Busch Gardens Pass Members. Additionally, out-of-towners can take advantage of great vacation packages, like the Overnight Fright or Wild & Wicked Weekend packages. For more information, visit HowlOScream.com.

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