It’s the inaugural year for Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld Orlando. This event comes after a year of closures and travel uncertainty. So what do you need to know to make a great and spooky night possible at Howl-O-Scream? How does it differ from the event at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay? Read on.
Howl-O-Scream Orlando offers four haunted houses, four scare zones, two shows, and two theme park rides. It also hosts themed bars and some themed food items. It’s also the cheapest major Halloween event in Central Florida. Compare Howl-O-Scream Orlando, starting at $42, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, starting at $71 and, Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash, starting at $129. Click here for a digital map of the event.
Park Entry & Parking
Howl-O-Scream Orlando limits bags of certain sizes. Bags measuring larger than 8” x 5”, including purses and backpacks, are not permitted through the dedicated Howl-O-Scream entrance located to the right of the SeaWorld main entrance. Normal bag policies apply for guests already inside the park who are also attending Howl-O-Scream. Exceptions to this policy may be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection. Any item required for medical reasons that will be screened is to be carried in a clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bag not to exceed the size of 12” x 6” x 12”. Guests arriving with a bag not meeting those standards will be asked to return to their vehicle.
Parking for Howl-O-Scream Orlando 2021 is the same rate as SeaWorld Orlando. General car parking starts at $25. Premium and VIP options will also be available. But daytime benefits for Silver, Gold, and Platinum Pass Members, including free parking and discounts on food and merchandise, still apply for Howl-O-Scream Orlando 2021. But passholders can avoid the parking charge by arriving before the event and staying in the park …
You may stay in SeaWorld Orlando and transition over to Howl-O-Scream when the event begins. Guests already inside SeaWorld with evening Howl-O-Scream tickets may enter the event through the Shark Wreck Reef entrance located across from Shark Encounter. Guests may begin entering as early as 6 p.m. at the dedicated Howl-O-Scream entrance. This area has one of four themed bars. Once the event begins at 7, guests are allowed into the rest of the park and into the haunted houses.
Howl-O-Scream has a different entrance than the theme park. The parking lot and entrance for Howl-O-Scream is right around the corner from the parking toll booths. You enter the event at the Educational buildings and walk into the park behind Bayside Stadium.
Any age is allowed to enter, but Howl-O-Scream doesn’t hold back. This event is meant for a mature audience as blood, gore, violence, and sexual themes are included in this event.
Social Distancing and Mask Policies
Face coverings are not required to be worn at Howl-O-Scream Orlando. However, in accordance with CDC guidelines, it is strongly recommend guests wear face coverings when indoors, including haunted houses. Costume masks and face coverings that cover a guest’s eyes and head are not permitted.
Performers inside of the haunted houses, as well as during the indoor Monster Stomp show, will be using facial coverings. As with the nature of haunted houses, social distancing is not enforced. It is a continual walk-through experience and while most guests will continue forward at the same pace, the exact distancing cannot be enforced to an exact amount. Unlike in particular areas of Halloween Horror Night haunted houses, there is no use of plexiglass in the Howl-O-Scream Orlando haunted houses. And, occasionally, scareactors may walk in front or behind you, but you will not be touched.
Skip the lines
Howl-O-Scream Orlando offers three different ways to skip the lines for rides and haunted houses for this event. Front Line Fear gives single entry quick access to all four houses and one ride. Front Line Fear Extreme gives unlimited quick access to all four houses and both rides. There is also the VIP Terror Tour, which takes you along with a guide from 7 p.m. to midnight with unlimited front of line access to rides and haunted houses. It also includes four free drink coupons (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), reserved seating for the Monster Stomp show, and special access into a hidden bonus room in one of the haunted houses. You can purchase an “Evil Upgrade” here.
All of the haunted houses are ADA compliant and wheelchair accessible, but there are some tight corners to turn. SeaWorld asks that guests transfer to a standard (non-motorized) wheelchair to tour the haunted houses. Transfer chairs will be available at the beginning of every haunted house.
Both motorized wheelchairs (ECVs) and standard wheelchairs will be available for rental inside the Shop of Horrors located just inside of the dedicated Howl-O-Scream entrance. Guests who are arriving at SeaWorld earlier in the day can rent both ECVs and wheelchairs at the stroller and wheelchair rental facility located just inside the main entrance.
There are four haunted houses, each are about four to five minutes in length depending on your walking (or running in terror) speed. A difference between Howl-O-Scream Orlando and Halloween Horror Nights Orlando is how the houses are run and built. Universal Orlando has chosen not to use dangling wires, cords, props or plastic dividers in their houses this year. That is not the same at Howl-O-Scream Orlando as you will have to walk through plastic barriers, move hanging dead body props in your way and you will inevitably be touched by a few dangling strings for an extra creepy feel. Universal Orlando also sends guests in at a consistent pace, with guests one after another. During our experience, Howl-O-Scream allowed gaps between parties. This made for more consistent scare moments for our group, and gave time for scareactors to walk in front of, or behind us.
Not all of the houses exit where you enter. Water’s Edge Inn’s exit is located near the front Howl-O-Scream entrance, but to enter the house, you need to go past the Frozen Terror scare zone first. We recommend doing this house to end your night since it exits near the Howl-O-Scream entrance/exit. Dead Vines entrance is a bit harder to find, and is located in-between Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen and Sea Harbor Soft Serve; it exits near the Waterway Grill.
- Water’s Edge Inn – This inn sure doesn’t look like the pictures in the review. From the moment you arrive, you can feel that something is terribly wrong. Every crumbling hallway and decaying room is crawling with restless souls. Maybe those wild stories about this place’s sea-crazed owner and his search for the sirens were true all along. Having second thoughts about checking in? Don’t worry, the staff will be right with you … everywhere you turn.
- Captain’s Revenge – A tempting and terrifying force has possessed those who once labored aboard this vessel. Against every warning, you descend into its dank underbelly in search of the captain who swore revenge on you. What grisly horror lurks around the next dimly lit corner? Creaks and groans fill the musty air. You’re surrounded by what remains of the ill-fated crew. it’s time to find a way out … before they find permanent quarters for you.
- Beneath The Ice – In the icy wilderness above the Arctic Circle, a research facility was lost … buried under snow and cut off from the outside world. Something compelled you to join the rescue party, but doubt is creeping in. Was that laughter, or the wind? That shiver you feel isn’t just from the cold. These chambers aren’t just frozen tombs. They’re pulsing with unspeakable horrors, and you’ll have to stay frosty and alert to survive.
- Dead Vines – Something is stirring among the trees. A shiver runs down your spine as you creep forward, one timid step at a time. Is this jungle alive … or undead? There’s an ominous force at work here, a merciless mistress of ivy and evil. She’s poisoned these woods with an all-consuming appetite for visitors like you. Keep moving and find a way out before it’s too late. You don’t want to end up dead on the vine.
Scare zones are located throughout the event, each with their own theme. During our experience, the scareactors thoroughly interacted with us, adding to the story and distracting us for another scareactor to run up for the surprise. If you don’t want to be scared in the scare zones, you can pay for immunity. Guests can buy a No Boo Necklace for $15, but it only guarantees less scares in the zones, not in the haunted houses.
- Deadly Ambush – The year is 1961. You’ve wandered into a quaint campground, nestled in nature. It might sound like a dream, but a new nightmare has just begun here. What’s happened to the campers? Creatures are emerging from the darkness. There’s nowhere to hide, and no park ranger to rescue you. Get back to civilization now, before it’s too late.
- Sea of Souls – This is it … the site of that horrifying shipwreck. Those marauding pirates were too arrogant to see their downfall coming, and now they’re doomed to wander through a sea of gruesome reminders. Their souls are restless, and their anger is real. They’ll never stop seeking revenge on those who’ve escaped their ghostly fate. Steer clear — if you can.
- Frozen Terror – You might think you’re a safe distance from the snow-entombed research facility, but you’re not free from the frozen horrors. This inhospitable Arctic wasteland is swarming with icy, subhuman walkers. They may have pickaxes and shovels, but they’re not here to help dig for survivors. They’re here to turn you into one of them.
- Witchcraft Bayou – The cult is growing, and the lure is powerful. It’s hazardous to pass through this backwater bayou, but there’s no way around. Voodoo and witchcraft aren’t real, right? Tell that to the zealous worshippers trying to shackle you with their spells. They won’t rest until your soul belongs to her too. Stay alert, or the dark magic will drag you down.
There are two shows that each happen multiple times a night during the event.
Siren’s Song is an outdoor show, which could be subject to delays or cancellations due to weather. It is a 360º show, utilizing multiple stages all around you to bring you into the action. The beginning of the show, and the finale, both happen on the main stage near the walkway entrance to the Orca Stadium, but each stage has its own moment.
Monster Stomp is located in the Nautilus Theater. This show features live musical acts, with dancing, instruments, and singing. We went opening night of the event, arriving at each show 20 minutes beforehand, and we able to get good spots to watch each time.
- Sirens’ Song – Who’s behind all these ominous occurrences? Here’s your chance to find out … if you have the courage to face her, and the ones she’s summoned to help her carry out the carnage. Prepare for special effects, hypnotic dancing, and spine-chilling savagery in this outdoor spectacle. This is the story of the sirens, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
- Monster Stomp – In the misty corners of Victorian-era London, a fiend known only as Jack the Ripper walks the streets. Watch him take the stage in a way you’ve never seen before in this modern rock and rhythm spectacular. Hold onto your seat as electrifying percussion, dancing, and singing combine for a show that’s as darkly entertaining as it is exhilarating.
Speciality Themed Bars
There are 11 spots to get alcohol during the event, but four locations are themed. These bars each offer speciality themed drinks as well. At the Tormented bar, next to the Beneath The Ice haunted house, there is a spot to pay to activate scares inside. Unsuspecting guests will get an extra dose of fear as you choose who will be your victim.
- Sirens’ Last Call – Creatures of the shadows need a place to play too. Could it be this rusted-out underground warehouse? Glance around and do your best to blend in. The regulars here are followers of the siren, and they know how to spot an outsider. Be sure to pay homage to her by trying the bar’s signature drink, “The Siren’s Kiss.”
- Longshoremen Tavern – When pirates pull into port, this be the tavern where they warm their bellies with rum. Take a break from the monsters and squalls, plant your weary hides, and join the merriment. In here, you might discover that an old SeaWorld treasure has been (partially) resurrected. They’re the Longshoremen, and they’ve been dying to entertain you again.
- Tormented – This is one place where a cold frosty one is a good thing. Take refuge from the wintry terrors of the Arctic hellscape outside and do a little refueling here. If you’re feeling mischievous, you can even join in and frighten your fellow expeditioners while they’re braving the horrors beneath the ice. How’s that for refreshing?
- Poison Grotto – What’s your poison? Unwind with a refreshing concoction and explore the enticing atmosphere of this unearthly lounge. It’s a fleeting escape from the deadly vines and savage servants nearby. Just be sure to keep your eyes open and pay proper respect to the one who invited you in. You’re her guest here, and she’s always watching.
Foods: Some of the bars offer food items, but also check the many stands located around the park for some lightly themed, and non-themed foods. The Pretzel Kitchen, Altitude Burgers, Panini Bistro, and Waterway Grill are also open.
The Mako roller coaster and Infinity Falls are both open for part of the event. During our specific night, Infinity Falls closed at 10 p.m. and Mako closed at midnight. Both attractions are outdoors and could be closed or delayed due to weather.
You now know about the haunted houses, rides, shows and drinks. What else can you do to have a great night?
- There are numerous dead-ends in the park, due to the entire SeaWorld Orlando park not being used. You will need to turn around shortly after the Mako coaster exit. Both entrances to the Sesame Street Land are dead-ends. And, at the Bayside Stadium, you will need to turn right, as the left is guest relations and a dead-end. Click here for a digital map of the event.
- Talk back and interact with the scareactors in the scare zones. The scareactors learned their story and love to interact, if they come up to talk or intimidate, feel free to play along.
- Do the houses again and again, you probably missed something.
- The sunlight makes it hard to see the first few rooms in the haunted houses. Your eyes will need time to adjust, so make sure to do them again later in the night. Overall, the houses are much darker than the ones at Halloween Horror Nights.
- Don’t forget to look up! In the Poison Grotto themed bar, there is an acrobat hanging above you.
- Photos and videos are not allowed in the haunted houses, so save the selfies for the scare zones.
- Re-Entry is not allowed, make sure if you are leaving, you are truly done for the night.
- There is a lot of themed merchandise, some funny, some horror based, and others with the event’s logo. It is the inaugural year, don’t forget that T-shirt in commemoration. There’s a store near the entrance to the event and another one at the exit of the Beneath The Ice house.
Here’s a look at our reporter Josie going through the Waters Edge Inn haunted house with a scare cam: