If you’re familiar with Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens and Halloween Horror Nights at Universal, then you know how haunted houses work. Usually you wait in line, and then go through the haunted house with that line, single file, conga line-style. You may get a scare if the intended effect doesn’t happen to the person in front of, or behind you. The new Alone house at Howl-O-Scream changes all that.
As its name implies, Alone allows you to experience the house all by yourself, or with a group of up to four. But it’s not the same experience you’d get in other haunted houses if the park wasn’t busy and you went through by yourself. Alone is designed to be personal. It’s a horror tale and you’re the star. Not only are the characters in the house focused only on you, but you’ll experience some cool effects that can’t be done with large groups.
The story of Alone has you visiting the collection of the deranged Master Alexander Daedalus in a place he calls Minotaur Storage. After a seemingly long, but really short, elevator ride down in the dark with an elevator operator who’s had his eyes torn-out, you’ll meet some of Master Daedalus’ assistants. They warn you to look, but don’t touch. You soon find out his obsession with hoarding has expanded to people, and you may be his next prized possession.
Some people smile and laugh the whole way through, some are terrified and scream, but most have reported an enjoyable experience. If you’re a haunted house veteran, don’t go in expecting to come out terrified. It’s not an extreme house that goes to the limits of what’s acceptable. It’s more like being in your own personal horror movie. If you smile more than scream at horror movies, you’ll do the same in Alone.
Many park guests balk at the $34.95 extra charge to enter the house. But Busch Gardens staff has made it so the cost is eased if you look at the details. If booked online at MyXRocks.com, the charge comes down to $24.95. Up to four people can go through for the one charge. That’s brings it down to $6.23 to $8.74 per person. If you decide to go through by yourself, and you make it out, you get an exclusive T-shirt that is only available to survivors.
Although it’s hasn’t been used in the first two weekends of Howl-O-Scream, guests are given a code word to utter if they decide they’ve had enough and want to leave the house at any time. If they say the code word, one of the scareactors will repeat it to them. If they say it again, they’ll be escorted out – with no reentry and no refunds. No T-shirt for wimps.
If early reviews are any indication, this type of house will be back again next year. Such an experience has been discussed at Universal for Halloween Horror Nights for many years, but it’s never made the cut. Maybe Howl-O-Scream’s success will lead the way to more Alone-type houses at haunts everywhere.
Here’s a short look inside the house, with more details from Scott Swenson, Busch Gardens’ director of Creative Services and creative director for Howl-O-Scream:
Click Here for the full lineup of Howl-O-Scream’s houses, scare zones and shows.
Click Here for more photos and videos from Howl-O-Scream 2010.
Top photo by Kevin Cantor.