Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve heard of the mega Halloween event known as Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida. Simply due to the size alone, many call it the nation’s premier haunt event and depending on how you look at it (size), that may be true. Today we are going to talk about an alternative that is just down the road, Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Tampa. Here are the top 5 reasons it is better than Halloween Horror Nights.
Simply due to so many tourists coming to Orlando for the theme parks, Halloween Horror Nights becomes a destination in itself. There are a lot of perks to vacationing in the theme park capital of the world, but many skip the trip out to Tampa.
This thins out the crowds substantially. While it is nearly impossible to find lines under an hour at Halloween Horror Nights even on slow nights, Howl-O-Scream doesn’t suffer from the crushing crowds like Universal does. It doesn’t mean the quality of the event is any less, it just means they don’t have the volume Universal Orlando gets.
This smaller crowd size means you feel more like paying customers and less like cattle. You get much more personal time with the performers and more importantly, you often pulsed through the haunted houses with your group as opposed to shuffled through in a conga line.
This means you can literally stop and smell the roses a bit. If you admire detail, you can actually pause for a moment to examine the fine touches placed in the house that would never be able to be seen if you were constantly being “pushed” to move forward in a line.
#3 Original Storylines
For better or worse, Halloween Horror Nights has resorted to using almost exclusive Intellectual Properties revolving around a movie or television horror franchise. Some of the best houses at Halloween Horror Nights came out of original stories they created. IP’s require a lot of back and forth and red tape to make sure every one is happy. How characters are portrayed, how sets are designed and even storylines need to be signed off on by everyone from Universal to the creator of the franchise to the studio that owns it.
Howl-O-Scream gets to create original storylines which means they only have to answer to themselves. It allows them to be far more creative with an open canvas and original characters, sets and themes.
Those IP deals cost a lot of money from a licensing fee to a percentage of ticket sales, or both! This often times results in a decrease in how much money is left to build the sets, make-up or even the amount of actors. In the end, Halloween Horror Nights still makes a killing (pun intended) every Halloween season.
Contrast that to Busch Gardens Tampa, who gets to invest their money into just the show and not have to pay for rights. Original houses like Unearthed, new for 2015, is a prime example of how Busch Gardens creativity can go in any direction and the money can be spent where it should be: in the haunt itself.
#1 Overall Experience
At the end of the day, the offerings at both Howl-O-Scream and Halloween Horror Nights are pretty similar. Both offer haunted houses, scare zones and live shows. However, the biggest bang for your buck is by far Howl-O-Scream thanks to the personalized attention, quality of the event and attention to detail. Your thoughts?
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