Racing heartbeat. Rapid breathing. Unrestrained screams of sheer terror. Public mocking from those you gave birth to. It’s all just a day at the park, if you’re me and that park is Busch Gardens Williamsburg during Howl-O-Scream – Cursed.
Some people get totally into Turkey. Others bring the awesome to decking halls (um, lights synced to music and everything). Me? Well, Halloween is my thing.
I own no less than two full, instructional-grade skeletons. You won’t find a single cuddly black cat or smiling jack-o-lantern in my house. I’ve spent decades perfecting the art of scaring small children – even a handful of grown men. People drive from other cities to test their nerve at our doorstep on Samhain.
I do the scaring. Not the other way around… or is it?
I’m not even being ironic with that opening paragraph, people. I screamed. I was mocked. This weekend I suffered the revenge of countless trick-or-treating folk and new family tradition, (a-la-Rosemary’s-baby) was born.
It all started out rather slowly. The park we’d visited in the summer had gone through a creepy makeover. Gone were the Union Jacks that hung in London Square, replaced with posters of Jack The Ripper. Jack-O-Lanterns were strung amongst the trees and some scary spiders lurked. But other than the ghoulishly awesome upgrades, the park remained the same.
Emily rode her favorite flying dragon. We enjoyed some Guinness in Ireland, the big kids waited forever to take on Verbolten. Then, with the sinking of the sun, came an eery sound track and time for the small ones to head back to the hotel with dad.
I stayed behind with Ryan and Kaytie to check out the scares. Yeah, like some theme park is going to be “terrifying” – pfft!
We waited in line for our turn in, “Root of All Evil,” a greenhouse themed haunted house walk through. The wait was long, but there were vendors along the route peddling refreshments, and trinkets. note: the barbequed scallop skewers – worth the waiting in line. Time with my teen and Marine made the waiting fly by.
Walking into the maze I was keyed up to get new ideas for this year’s festivities – then the wall came alive and growled at me! I screamed like a 4 year old, and it was on. At every twist and turn another something, or someone popped out at me and nearly caused me to pee!
This isn’t your mall parking lot “haunted” attraction people. IT. IS. SCARY. I haven’t involuntarily cursed that much in the presence of mixed company since my days in the Navy. Chased through fog so dense that you can’t see two people ahead of you, actors lurk through the hanging vines emitting noises that are decidedly non-human. Emerging back into the open air, you might think you were safe… until a guy with the chainsaw chases you!
At one point the adrenaline coursed so rapidly through me that I picked my 20 year old son – a muscular, solid US Marine- up off his feet and tossed him at .. whatever the hell that was that just tried to grab me!
Weak, shaken and down right terrified I turned to my kids for succor. Wrong answer. The two of them where breathless with hysterical laughter.. at me.. THEIR MOTHER!!
At least the small crowd that gathered to point and laugh, having been near me in the maze, weren’t related.
Naturally this meant we had to head over to, the “Catacombs” for more. But first, we had to get there. Through Canada where it seems there was some sort of biological disaster. I honestly don’t know because I was hiding behind my son – who pointed me out to nearly every actor roaming the scene all too happy to take part in a game of “Scare the Old Lady.”
Inside the Catacombs it was so bad that I needed to throw my son again – since he obviously wasn’t going to save me. It didn’t help that his sister sold me out too. I turned around at one point to comfort her only to come nose to bone with a guy in the BEST skeleton makeup I’ve ever seen. Though that didn’t register as I tried to climb UP the wall.
Apparently I’m the best attraction at the park – or at least that’s what the guy ahead of us felt compelled to share.
So traumatized was I that while heading out of the park I felt a soft brush on my arm and took off with a hop. I thought something had come out of the trees after me. Turns out it was only the water bottle clipped to my backpack. Yes, the kids will be telling that story for years to come.
There is only ONE weekend left in this year’s Howl-o-Scream event.
When: October 24-26th 2014 (but is an annual attraction)
Tickets: $75 (ages 10 and up) $65 (ages 3-9)
Those tickets are pricy, so I did some math for ya. Here in Maryland Bennett’s Curse (a haunted walk through attraction) will set you back $30. Howl-o-Scream features SIX of these type of attractions, PLUS the full fun of the park before the sun goes down, so you do really get your money’s worth.
Not into scaring yourself (seriously, I had nightmares) for fun? Then give it a couple of weeks. On select days November 21st through December 31st Busch Gardens turns on the charm for Christmas Town. Sip hot cocoa, stroll through “Europe” enjoying seasonal traditions from all over, and take in the lovely lights. You’ll love it as much as we do… but dress warm. We learned our lesson on that one last year when we almost became part of Frosty’s family!
This post was made possible in part by my participation in the Busch Gardens® Williamsburg Ambassador program. I paid for my oldest son’s ticket, though the rest of family were provided park passes in order to experience the park and share with my readers. All other items, including, games on the mid-way, feeding the birds, food and drink (nothing like Guinness on tap), I paid for. My opinions and those of my family are 100% our own – because YOU deserve nothing less!