Howl-O-Scream 2020 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay officially got their Halloween season started with the return of Howl-O-Scream this weekend, and we were excited that it still brought the spirit of the season with plenty of scares.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the park was the numerous health and safety updates. Much like the other theme parks of Central Florida, all guests entering the park are required to pass a temperature check and wear face coverings, and social distancing markers were placed throughout the park to encourage safety while waiting for rides and shows.

This year Howl-O-Scream features 10 new terrifying scare zones as well as the return of the “Fiends” show staged in an outdoor stage.

While all of the scare zones were outside, two of them, The Junkyard and The Shortcut were staged like the traditional houses where guests queued up and walked through individually. All the scare actors were situated away from the guests or were wearing facial coverings themed to their costumes.

The first scare zone/haunted house we ventured through was The Junkyard. Although it was outside, the theme and design were excellent, providing the best scares of the night. Parties were staggered well allowing time to interact with the scare actors and get the most jumps possible.

Next to the Junkyard is the entrance to the Fiends show. This is a Howl-O-Scream must see this year as they have taken it to a large outdoor stage. It is bigger and better than ever featuring great music, dancing, and all of the characters you have come to love. Guests can see it twice each nigh at 8:30 pm and 10:00 pm.

Passed The Junkyard was the creepiest scare zone of all, Little Nightmares. Staged on the dark trail alongside Sesame Place, Little Nightmares doesn’t have any jump scares or knockers, but does a solid job unsettling your soul as you walk through.

The second scare zone/haunted house is The Shortcut. Although somewhat shorter than The Junkyard, this house had more a detailed set and much scarier visuals.

Just passed The Shortcut, you unwittingly venture into danger when you stumble among carnivorous campers in Lycan Landing. Here, the only happy campers are the werewolves feasting on the poor souls who enter their campground.

After surviving the Lycan Landing you have to pass through the evil clowns and carnies in the Maniac Midway.

Next comes the terrifying toys come to life in Deadly Toys.

After you have made it this far you find yourself in a town overrun by criminals in The Escape

The final zone you come across is not a scare zone at all, but a celebration of the Día de Muertos. This colorfully decorated area features music, dancing, and characters celebrating the Day of the Dead. It is a wonderful way to end your trip around Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream.

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Howl-O-Scream Scare Zone Announced

This year’s modified Howl-O-Scream event will include ten terrifying scare zones throughout Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s expansive 335-acre park, including four all NEW zones.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Howl-O-Scream 2020

Designed to scare safely, the creative production team has consulted with medical experts to modify this year’s zone designs with a physical distancing focus, as well as enhanced health and safety measures, while staying true to the terrifying experience fans crave.

With significantly limited capacity to create plenty of open space, guests will experience the heart-pounding fear of NEW horrors as they dash between thrilling rollercoasters and the fan-favorite Fiends show every Friday through Sunday from September 25-November 1, 2020.

ALL-NEW 2020 Howl-O-Scream Scare Zones with Limited Capacity

Howl-O-Scream 2020 Halloween Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

NEW: Lycan Landing: It’s always a full moon at this campground and the park rangers can’t hear you scream. When the campfires burn out, will you escape the glowing eyes leering through the trees or will you share their cursed fate?

Howl-O-Scream 2020 Halloween Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

NEW: The Shortcut: Cutting through the cemetery may seem like an easy way out, except when the corpses rise from the ground to invite you into their graves

Howl-O-Scream 2020 Halloween Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

NEW: The Junkyard: You’ll find more than spare parts as you explore this surly scrap site. Will you make it out in one piece or be devoured by the haunted rubble?

Howl-O-Scream 2020 Halloween Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

NEW: The Escape: In this treacherous realm, chaos reigns and rules are made to be broken. The escaped inmates of Grey Echo Penitentiary seek their own twisted form of justice and they’re ready to deliver your sentence.

These four all-new scare zones join a collection of returning fan-favorites. The complete list of frights, reservations, and more are available now at

Guests are strongly encouraged to make reservations early as reservations are required and space is limited each night.

On Your Way to Fiends, Enjoy a Taste of Bier Fest During Howl-O-Scream:

As guests roam between zones and coasters, they can enjoy select favorites from the Bier Fest menu available throughout the night.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Bierfest 2020 Howl-O-Scream Halloween

Delicious drinks and dishes from favorite culinary cabins are the perfect grab-and-go accompaniment as guests head to the Festival Field for the fan-favorite Fiends show starring Dr. Freakenstein and his frightful entourage, on its largest stage ever!

Bench seating will be arranged in a physically distant manner to ensure there is plenty of space for a limited number of guests to enjoy each performance.

Best Way to Play: Buy Early and Save!

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Howl-O-Scream 2020

In addition to enhancing the park’s already strict health and safety measures, park capacity will be significantly limited for guests to enjoy Howl-O-Scream.

Reservations are limited each night, so guests are encouraged to buy their tickets now at an advanced rate for a discounted gate price and make their reservations at

Additionally, Pass Members and Fun Card holders enjoy exclusive discounts for Howl-O-Scream.

Additional Expanded Health and Safety Measures:

For general admission and special events including Howl-O-Scream, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is committed to the health and safety of our guests, employees, and the animals in our care.

The park has worked diligently with state and local health experts, outside consultants, and attraction industry leaders to enhance our already strict health, safety and cleanliness standards.

These protocols and guidelines will be modified based on evolving industry standards and methodologies, public health, and governmental directives, and advancing scientific knowledge on the transmissibility of COVID-19.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is excited to continue to provide our guests with fun and memorable experiences while addressing important health and safety needs during this time.

For detailed information about the measures that guests can expect when visiting the park, including key operational changes, visit

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Howl-O-Scream 2020
Open-air scare zones will cover Busch Gardens for physically distant frights at Howl-O-Scream 2020

Howl-O-Scream is intended for a mature audience. This event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore, and blood. Howl-O-Scream 2020 is a separately-ticketed night event. Protective Face Coverings are required, but no costumes are allowed.

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Halloween in the Theme Parks 2020

Halloween in the theme parks of Central Florida may look different this year, but they are creating safe and spooky fun for the entire family to enjoy.

Fall into Fun at the Magic Kingdom

Halloween 2020
Kent Phillips, photographer

Until October 31st, Walt Disney World is inviting guests to experience Fall Fun at the Magic Kingdom Park. During the celebration Fall decorations will line Main Street U.S.A., beloved characters will pop-up throughout their park in their Halloween costumes, special treats will be served up, slightly spooky merchandise will be available, and PhotoPass photographers will be snapping special pictures. Best of all? Guests of all ages are invited to wear their Halloween costumes to the park to be a part of the festivities.

SeaWorld Spooktacular

Halloween in the Parks Halloween 2020

SeaWorld Orlando is hosting an ocean of safe Halloween fun for the whole family during Halloween Spooktacular weekends until November 1st. While this is an annual event, this year the modified daytime event, guests can safely explore the slightly spooky trick-or-treat trail, meet silly Halloween characters with physical distancing protocols in place, and much more during this safe, family-friendly event. SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is included in admission to SeaWorld Orlando.

Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store at Universal Studios Florida

Halloween 2020
Universal Orlando Resort

The spirit of Halloween Horror Nights carries on in Universal Studios Florida’s Tribute Store. This spooky shopping experiences dares guests to brave Frankenstein’s Lab, step into Jack the Clown’s Carnival, party with the ‘ghost with the most’ Bettlejuice, and enjoy creepy specialty beverages and treats. The themed rooms, spooky sounds, and exclusive merchandise will have Halloween Horror Nights fans feeling festively eerie. While you are in the Tribute Store, make sure to keep an eye out for past Halloween Horror Nights Easter Eggs.

Brick or Treat at LEGOLAND Florida

Halloween 2020
LOCK + LAND, Edward Linsmier for LEGOLAND Florida Resort

LEGOLAND Florida is filling October weekends with spooky, kooky fun for the entire family! During Brick or Treat, included with admission to the park, guests will enjoy neighborhood-style trick-or-treating, seasonal shows, exclusive Halloween LEGO characters, and LEGO themed activities with fun prizes. It’s important to note that all character and performer interactions will be staged using generous spacing, of six feet or more, and elevated platforms and during trick-or-treating model citizens will be practicing social distancing while wearing face coverings (masks and/or face shields) and gloves.

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Halloween 2020
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Howl-O-Scream is returning for its 21st year at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay with frights Friday and Saturday nights until November 1st. Created in consult with medical experts, significantly limited crowds will experience the heart-pounding fear of unexpected horrors including freakishly fun themed open-air scare zones throughout the 335-acre park and a new outdoor venue for the fan-favorite Fiends show. In addition to the frights, Howl-O-Scream guests can enjoy the thrill of the park’s coasters at night. It is important to note that Howl-O-Scream is intended for a more mature audience, as the event contains intense adult content such as violence, gore, and blood. Guests will also be required to wear protective face coverings and costumes are not allowed to be worn. Howl-O-Scream is a separately ticketed event, and reservations for the event are required.

You can find more information about theme park news and tips by subscribing to our YouTube Channel and following @onthegoinmco on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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Pumpkins in July? Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Is Growing “The Dark Side Of The Gardens” for Halloween


When It Comes to Creating “The Dark Side Of The Gardens” for Halloween,
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Horticulture Team has to Start Early

TAMPA, Fla. (July  2012) 
– As Busch Gardens began preparations earlier this year to transform the park into “The Dark Side of the Gardens” for its 13th annual Howl-O-Scream event this fall, the horticulture team realized that they faced a challenge: It’s hard to find heirloom pumpkins and winter squash in Tampa in October.

Their solution? To research seeds and plant their own heirloom pumpkin patch. Heirloom pumpkins are the antique varieties of fruits and vegetables not normally found in mainstream produce markets. Heirlooms often feature unusual shapes, unexpected colors, plus a very flavorful flesh. Busch Gardens’ crop of pumpkins is destined not for pies, however, but for the delight of park guests who will be ready for the cooler temperatures and Halloween fun that pumpkin season signals.

Pumpkins growing on a tree at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay!

“Last year was our first try at pumpkin farming which ended in miserable results due to heavy rains,” said Busch Gardens’ Director of Horticulture, Joe Parr. “This year, we started in February with raised beds of rich compost made right here at the park with zoo and landscaping debris, and are watering with a water-conserving drip irrigation system.”

It must be working: The pumpkin experiment has yielded more than 60 fruits so far, much to the excitement of the proud gardeners who coaxed the vines from seeds by hand-pollinating the flowers with cotton swabs… and who are now sharing their office with piles of pumpkins.

Some examples of the different varieties of pumpkins they have grown at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Pumpkins are all American members of the squash family and have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. When Columbus discovered America, he found the native people growing a variety of pumpkin which would come to be named Seminole. Busch Gardens’ pumpkin patch features the Seminole, as well as La Estrellas, a tropical pumpkin hybrid from the University of Florida. Both thrive in Florida’s heat and humidity. Parr’s team is also growing Rouge Vif d’Etampes (also known as the “Cinderella pumpkin”,) tiny Jack-Be-Littles,  warty, dark-green Marina di Chioggias, the 50- to 60-pound“Big Max,” and even a “Pumpkin Tree,” which is actually a rare orange eggplant with tiny, ribbed fruits.

The challenge now will be to keep the ripe fruits looking their best until September when autumn harvest displays appear in the park for both day guests and Howl-O-Scream visitors to enjoy. If properly stored, pumpkins can last up to a year in Florida.

A member of the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay horticulture team with one of their many pumpkins!

“As the summer temperatures soar,” says Parr, “it’s nice to think that October’s chill and pumpkins are coming soon.”Follow us for more updates: Facebooktwitteryoutubetumblrinstagram