Be warned: If you wander into the Death Water Bayou, you may fall victim to the Voodoo Queen and her Zombie servants, who transform lost visitors into her minions of evil. And you better stay away from Momma’s Basement, or she and the Butcher will make a secret sauce — out of you!
These are two of the new haunted houses that will chill visitors during Busch Gardens’ annual Halloween attraction, Howl-O-Scream. On select autumn evenings, Busch will transform its 335 acres into a frightful quagmire of Halloween-oriented horrors. You may run into the walking dead, demented deviants, werewolves, vampires and other sinister creatures as 13 evil beings “take over” the Tampa park.
Florida’s other theme parks also stage special Halloween experiences.
Universal Orlando, whose annual Halloween Horror Nights is one of the nation’s largest, this fall is erecting eight haunted houses for terror-seeking visitors. Among them are grisly adventures based on several horror movies — Evil Dead, An American Werewolf in London and Cabin in the Woods. Also new will be a haunted house based on the video game series “Resident Evil” in which guests encounter bloodthirsty zombies, packs of Cerberuses (hellhounds with multiple heads) and even Nemesis himself.
Deliberately less frightening is Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which will run for 23 nights at the Magic Kingdom. Legoland also puts on less chilling Halloween doings for its young visitors, and SeaWorld’s Spooktacular confines its Halloweenish activities to daytime.
Halloween presentations at Busch Gardens, Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World are separately ticketed night events. Those at SeaWorld and Legoland are daytime events included in regular park admission.
Beyond the theme parks, dozens of special Halloween-themed activities are planned all over Florida.
A number of zoos, for instance, have “Zoo Boo” activities suitable for families. Among them are the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Central Florida Zoo in Sanford, Jacksonville Zoo, Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Palm Beach Zoo and Zoo Miami.
For a list of haunted houses, mazes, pumpkin patches, petrified forests, spook walks and the like in Florida, click on www.flori da haunted houses .com.
Here’s a rundown on the theme park events:
• BUSCH GARDENS: Howl-O-Scream, which is adult-themed, will open Sept. 27 and run for 14 nights. New this year are The Basement, Death Water Bayou and The Experiment. Returning are Circus of Superstition 3-D, Blood Asylum, Zombie Mortuary and Nevermore. The Shop of Horrors has been transformed into The Butcher Shop.
Several all-new scare zones will threaten guests, and creatures of the night will perform nightly in “Fiends,” a deranged dance party.
Dates for Howl-O-Scream are Sept. 27 and 28; Oct. 3-5, 10-12, 17-19 and 24-26. General admission is $89, but advance purchase and special offers can reduce the cost as much as $39. No costumes allowed. www.HowlOScream.com.
• UNIVERSAL ORLANDO: Halloween Horror Nights 23 opens Sept. 20 and runs through Nov. 2. Besides the recreated movies and Resident Evil house, the park is devising terrifying mazes based on AMC’s The Walking Dead television series as well as scenarios with a serial killer in “Afterlife: Death’s Vengeance” and genetically engineered soldiers bent on mayhem in “Havoc2: Derailed.”