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Photo TR: Howl-o-Scream Saturday Night at BGE


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Busch Gardens Europe kicked off Howl-o-Scream this weekend. Yes, it seems a bit early, but ever since Euroburg discovered gold in Halloween ten years ago, they've been starting the event earlier (and making it a little bigger). Unlike its Florida cousin, HOS at Euroburg isn't an upcharge event. It's part of your one-day admission (or season pass), so it's not as elaborate a show as you get in Tampa. That being said, the Williamsburg event is very popular (especially on Saturday nights) and a lot of fun.

 

HOS yesterday was particularly cool for two reasons:

 

1. Derek, Nicole, and Heath were in town.

2. We were able to fit in all the coasters easily, because most people were drwan to the Halloween stuff after 6:00 p.m.

 

The park had a large crowd and pretty long lines for the haunted houses last night, but give Eruoburg credit--those lines moved pretty quickly, and there was three-train operation on all the coasters (Griffon had the longest wait at about 15 minutes for the back row).

 

Here's how the haunted houses and mazes stack up (starting with the best):

 

Wicked Woods: Ripper Row--The best and biggest of the HOS's mazes takes you through a nightmare world of British history and folklore, inlcuding Jack the Ripper and the Black Death, with a touch of Sweeney Todd for good measure. The single coolest effect of HOS is here (but I'm not going to spoil it). Located in Festa Italia, this maze had to be moved due to construction of the park's new Sesame Street kids' area. It's all outdoors, so wait for dark before you go in.

 

Tormented Tales--They've improved this twisted take on fairy tales quite a bit since last year, by adding more scareactors and effects. You wander through a sick mirror world where the Big Bad Wolf, the kid-hungry witch of "Hansel and Gretel," and other denzens of storybook evil rule. Located in what used to be Drachen Fire's barn.

 

Curse of Pompeii--This is Euroburg's oldest HOS maze (nine years now, I think), but this tour of a haunted archaelogical dig, with mummies, bubbling lava, and assorted ghouls, holds up pretty well. They run a "friendly" version from 12:00-3:30 p.m., and then the "scary" version from 3:30 to closing. Located in the lower level of Escape from Pompeii.

 

Masquerage--This maze is new for '08, and although it starts out a bit slow, it builds to a good finish (a big improvement over the evil-clown stuff that used to be here). There's a party of the damned at a ruined Italian castle, and you're invited--but as a guest or as part of the menu? Located in the Roman Rapids queue house. The atmosphere is marred a bit by the location (you can see the queue's video monitors hanging from the ceiling, and there isn't a lot of space). But they cram a lot of scareactors in there and a few other surprises.

 

Grimm Hollows: Deadtime Stories--This maze is supposed to be inspired by the legends behind the tales of the Bros. Grimm, but I'm not a folklore historian, so I can't vouch for that. It seemed more like a generic haunted house to me, but a pretty good one--the "story" just isn't very clear. Located in the Drachen Fire station.

 

The Beaten Path scarezone is pretty good, being as it's loaded with props and scareactors (one of whom looks like he should be part of World Wrestling Entertainment). The zones involving scarecrows and werewolves need a little work, but usually improve as the season moves along. We did catch the family-friendly Starfright Orchestra show while were were eating dinner in Italy--kinda corny, but the band is pretty good.

 

You can buy a "Quick Queue" pass for the park's big rides, plus the haunted houses at most of the park's gift shops. We didn't bother with it and did just fine.

 

All in all, it was a great evening. One quibble: The park was open until 10:00, but it doesn't start getting dark until 7:00.

 

Here's a look BGE's Howl-o-Scream 2008.

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If you clear your mind, you can hear the ghost of Drachen Fire roaring by--along with the sounds of much cursing as ghostly riders have their brains beaten in. More to come.

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Next stop--The Never After, a place where you can mourn for Drachen Fire and check out two mazes and a scarezone.

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Even Nicole thinks riding the Big Bad Wolf is better than hearing me sing.

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You don't want to hear me singing. Really, you don't.

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Curse of Pompeii? OK.

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Where to now, guys?

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"If it were dark, you'd so be peeing your pants because I'm so damn scary!"

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W-o-o-o-o-o . . . even the trees are haunted!

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Hmm--you know, this looks like a skeleton-pirate version of the Village People. Rather disturbing, actually.

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I was nearly trampled by a stampede of teenagers when this stilt-pirate dude lurched forward.

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Halloween has taken over the stores, too.

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"Aghh! Thar be no privacy aboard this ship!"

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Yes, England has become "Piratical Purgatory."

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Just in case you missed the Grim Reaper out front . . . it's HOWL-O-SCREAM!

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That is one relaxed, casual skeleton there. One imagines him picking up a bony lass in a local bar with such a nonchalant attitude. "Yeah, I'm a skeleton now, but I'm working to become a full-fledged zombie by 25, then retire at 40. Your crypt or mine, babe?"

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"It's a Mr. Grimm . . . something about the 'reaping.'"

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Brace yourself for more Howl-o-Scream.

 

Remember--you have been warned.

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The Beaten Path in broad daylight--it's better after dark. One more set of photos to come.

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Last year, this path was just a trail of LEDs on the ground--the cornfield is a nice touch.

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"You! If you don't buy a cookie, a soft pretzel, and some cotton candy, they'll be serving you on a stick!"

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"You know, I was going to be an orthodontist, but look at these teeth! I'm a natural as a soul-sucking, body-rending ghoul!"

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Uh oh! Choke slam comin' up!

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My God! It's Barry's undead, smaller, almost-as-evil twin!

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Welcome to Ghost Hunters! Here we have some blurry documentary evidence that confirms what Elissa has always believed--Pepsi is the soda of Satan!

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"Hi there! I'm Satan! I hope you're havin' a great time, 'cause I'm so gonna suck out your soul later!"

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See that screaming kid? Busch should hire him. He's louder, scarier, and more annoying than anything!

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"Aw-wo-o-o-o-o! Make way! Werewolf comin' though, and he's gonna be marking some territory!"

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Scareactors harrassed guests waiting for the mazes to open.

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One more set of Howl-o-Scream pics. To look at them is to invite madness. Thought you might like to know that.

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Jack may be back, but we're outta here! Thanks for reading.

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Are you afraid of werewolves, little girl?

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Anybody up for a little "3-Point Challenge" game?

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Er, Mr. Cast Member? You might want to look behind you.

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Even the Rapids' usually buck-naked statues got into the act.

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This line actually wound through a restaurant, then a bunch of switchbacks next to the Roman Rapids. Still, it moved pretty quickly.

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Time for a "Masquerage."

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Derek checks out a tall, sweaty bottle of Bud Lime. Verdict: He'd like a little beer with his lime juice, please.

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What's this--a Civil War-era mummy? Well, half a mummy.

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Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!

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Hmm--maybe Angus can protect us from this "vicious dog."

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Nice Angus McNasty! Nice kitty! Don't show any fear, guys . . .

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Here's a look at the Beaten Path. Seasoned Howl-o-Screamers may recognize a few of these props from the old Jack's Nightmare Express train ride.

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Once upon a time, the Big Bad Wolf ate a little girl and a wicked witch scarfed down a little girl and turned her brother against her. Enjoy.

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Awesome TR Chuck! It looks like you had a blast. Looks like Derek had some bad beer as well.

 

Can I just say... ...God I love Halloween! You can not start these events early enough! I am of the sound mind that every day is Halloween if you believe! Yay! More! More! MORE!

 

Guy "And so the horror begins!" Koepp

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I just got back. Today they weren't too busy. I didn't do much HoS stuff, but:

 

Curse of Pompeii (6/10): CoP needs a makeover. I've heard it's been the same since it opened 9 years ago. It was the same as last year, save for less scareactors and a new prop.

 

Festhaus Fright Night (4/10): I hated this last year, I hated it this year. Enough said.

 

I was going to do Masquerage, but the line was too long.

 

My parents, one of my cousins, and I plan on going again next weekend, probably Saturday night, and we'll do everything (hopefully) and give a PTR.

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Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us, Chuck! BGE's Howl-O-Scream may not be as good as its Tampa brother's, but considering it isn't an upcharge, it's pretty well done. I was impressed with the theming, most of the stories, and especially the way they handled the crowds. The whole Never After area was very well organized, only having you queue up once and doing two houses and a scare zone in order was really nice. It would have been nice if the park was opened a little later, especially for a Saturday when it doesn't even get dark until after 7, but oh well. While we managed to hit everything and get night rides on all the coasters, I think visiting on a Friday night or a Sunday would be really beneficial to anyone going later in the season. Can't wait to do it again next year!

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Thanks for coming out and hanging with us Chuck!

 

Count me in as also being impressed with the way that BGE has continued to grow this event. I wish that we had another free weekend this fall, as we'd love to come down again and see it's doing a little later in the season. Considering that this was just opening weekend, I thought that they did a very nice job with the event.

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^I had a great time with you guys, too, Heath. Howl-o-Scream usually gets better as the season grinds on, so I was pretty happy with what I saw on Saturday night. One of neighbors was chatting with a park security guard, who said that they pulled in about 7,000 people on Friday, but 28,000 on Saturday (take that for what it's worth).

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Great TR.

 

Going to be there with my daughter 10/17 and 10/18. If you are not doing anything then Chuck and are in town, would like to meet you so you can guide us in a most efficient way around BGE. We are not much on the HoS stuff, mainly interested in the coasters/flats.

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^I'm going to be out of town that weekend, but I hope you and your daughter have a great time. Drop me a PM is you want any BGE advice, but you shouldn't have much of a problem with crowds on Friday. The place will be very busy on Saturday.

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^If you're referring to "Jack's Nightmare Express," I'm afraid not. The train went back to being a transportation system last year, only with Halloween music and family-friendly Halloween light displays along the tracks.

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