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Review: Howl-O-Scream 2022

SeaWorld’s Howl-O-Scream returns for its sophomore Halloween season. With five scare zones, two scAREAS (interactive shows/dance party), a major show. and an expanded five mazes (up from three from last year), let’s see how this San Diego multi-haunt compares to its inaugural year.

Howl-O-Scream 2022 Review: Scare Zones

There are six Scare Zones just like last year: Deadly Toys, Graveyard, Sea of Souls, La Llorona, Clown Gauntlet, and The Hauntings. Sea of Souls replaces The Sirens from 2021 and Clown Gauntlet replaces First Fright. They are pretty self-explanatory based on their names. Though there were 6 distinct areas, only three were memorable in the sense of bringing a good scare. We enjoyed Sea of Souls, La Llorona and Deadly Toys the most because of the interaction and improv of the scare actors. We like to throw curveballs to these actors to see if they will either break character or respond, and respond in theme they did.  With their convincing crying, yelling, banter and even short conversations in character, these Scare Zones were the most fun to walk-through.

The layout to the haunt this year has been modified: SeaWorld has cut off the main front area of the park and instead has its Howl-O-Scream entrance to the right after you pass the gates.  However, it isn’t difficult to locate these Scare Zones. We found that if you just kept walking, you’ll eventually pass by or pass through them.

Howl-O-Scream 2022 Review: Mazes

For the three returning mazes – Nightmare Experiment, Death Water Bayou and Simon’s Slaughterhouse – you can read our review from last year here.  We found them to be short in length and lacking in scares this year.

In Circus Of The Damned, the first of two new mazes this Halloween, the evil ringmaster has sent his “dead”-liner acts to do his bidding and convince you to join their circus. Between the creepy clowns and the dressing rooms, it seems that the deeper you go, the more chances you’ll end up condemned to be in the circus. There is no telling who you will encounter as you enter each room and we meant that literally. In a room themed for a psychic or tarot reader, they missed a golden opportunity to place an appropriate scare actor. Had there been someone to curse and condemn you to this circus of the damned, that would have wrapped up the maze nicely.

Area 64: Alien Outbreak seems to be the more convincing maze of the two new ones. Just as the title suggests: lab experiments have gone bad, causing an outbreak of an alternate lifeform. We feel that this walk-through has the best props and scare actors: broken life pods and cracked “Alien” sized eggs, damaged equipment, a Roswell-esque type alien on an operating table, panicked workers in labcoats, little green men roaming around – all this added up to the most enjoyable walk-through with the most apparent storyline. Our only gripes are that we wish it was a bit longer and the “Queen” or “Mother” Alien had looked a bit more convincing.

Howl-O-Scream 2022 Review: Show

This year’s big show at the Nautilus Amphitheater is Darkness Falls. This live performance features a playlist of remixed pop records from past generations but with a modern and eerie vibe.  It’s a story of love and good vs. evil with both sides vying for the same prima donna. With each side’s troupe squaring off in dance battles that fit with the music plus the on-stage percussion, it brings the music to life even more, and it keeps your attention on the stage. A voice overhead narrates each scene so guests can easily follow along. The show runs about 20 minutes, and it is not recommended for guests under 18 because of a sexually explicit sequence.

Howl-O-Scream 2022 Review: Other Activities

The rides Electric Eel, Emperor and Journey to Atlantis were all open in the dark. There are also five themed bars this Halloween: AmBARlance, Simon’s Screamatorium, Big Top Drinks, Toys ‘N Tonic, and Blood Moon Bar. The latter three are the new ones for this season.

If you prefer to hang out with cocktails and watch something, then the Carnival of Chaos and Vampire Underground may be just the thing for you. Carnival of Chaos is the first area you see after entering the event. You can grab a themed cocktail and watch as scare actors insult guests or watch the various acts on the Freak Show stage. At Vampire Underground, you get to party with vampires located by the Blood Moon Bar. If you’re lucky enough, these vampires may take their talents off the stage and come dance with you common, regular mortals.

Howl-O-Scream 2022 Review: Conclusion

Last Halloween, we had no expectations for a debut haunt. This year, we had higher expectations. Though on paper it seems like very good value for the money, we would much prefer three solid mazes instead of five underperforming ones and three solid scare zones versus six underperforming ones. We weren’t sure if the shortage of staff that’s going on everywhere has also affected this event, but overall each maze and scare zone felt short and small.  Now, if you are faint of heart and trying to build a tolerance to haunted houses or theme park haunts, Howl O Scream might be the perfect starting ground for you, since scare actors here are few and far between.

Last year, we also mentioned a lack of signage and the hope of longer hours for this year, but we did not see those either. Though we utilized the map, it was still a bit confusing to find our way without signage directing us. However, if the park hours were longer, then maybe we could afford to get lost and lose valuable minutes searching. Without the Front Line Fear pass, we are not sure we could’ve gotten through everything.

Howl-O-Scream 2022 Review: Photo Gallery

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Bottom Line

Rating Scale

1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See

SeaWorld: Howl-O-Scream is a good starting ground for someone easily scared or unsure whether they like Halloween haunts. Without very many scare actors present and most of the attractions being short, it is ideal for the novice haunt-goer who may be unable to tolerate a higher dosage of scares. Nonetheless, you do get quite a few things for the admission price.

Howl-O-Scream continues at SeaWorld until Halloween Night. The address is 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, CA 92109. Tickets start at 39.99 and Front of Line starts at 34.99. For more information, visit: https://seaworld.com/san-diego/events/howl-o-scream/



Media Correspondent, Videographer, Photographer @Hollywood Gothique, Halloween Fanatic.