Metro Weekly

Busch Gardens ramps up the terror on Halloween weekend

Busch Gardens's Jeremy Wood on the art of the scare

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Howl-O-Scream

“I don’t know that anyone has ever fainted,” says Jeremy Wood, technical supervisor for consumer events at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. Like so many other theme parks across the nation, the park extends its season into October by transforming into a Halloween fear fest. “Most of the time…people just start screaming to find the nearest exit. There are more than a couple of exit points for people who can’t handle it. Those early exits get used frequently.”

The park features seven full haunted houses, including Circo Sinistro, Dead Line, Lumberhack, and Unearthed. New this year is FrostBite, a (literally) chilling overhaul of the popular DarKastle ride. “The idea is that frosty giants have taken over the castle,” says Wood. “As you get deeper-and-deeper into the house, it gets colder, and the monsters become more terrifying. We’re able to crank the temperature way down to give the whole thing more dimension.”

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Howl-O-Scream

Wood enjoys devising ways to scare patrons. “I love to put you in a room where we have fourteen mannequins dressed the exact same way. I’ve got three performers in there also dressed the exact same way, posed the exact same way. You have no idea which one’s real and, which one’s fake. It’s one of my favorite types of scares.”

Another favorite has a name Wood jokes may not be printable. “We might walk you through a hallway for a good 40, 50, 100 feet, without a scare. Then you walk into a room and there might be four or five performers in there, and suddenly you’re getting it from all angles. I call them boo holes.”

Remaining Howl-O-Scream dates are 10/26, 10/27, 10/28 and 10/29. The park is open by day and the haunted houses open at 6 p.m. Hours and pricing vary. Click here for full details.

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Shelf Wood
Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at

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