If you love a good haunted house, there are many places across Florida that can put on a eerie, scary, spooky production and do it so well, it will have you jumping out of your skin! Whether you’re in Tampa Bay, Orlando or South Florida, you can find a fun haunted house event for you, where the production values and drama are turned up to eleven!
Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens
This is the fourteenth year Howl-O-Scream has been held at Busch Gardens, and this year’s scary festivities will be running every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night through to Halloween weekend. This year’s theme is “The 13.” The Busch Gardens website describes the theme thusly, “Once every century, on precisely the thirteenth year, evil comes out to play.” Thirteen “icons of evil” haunt attendees as they go through various haunted houses in the park.
A rundown of some of the haunted houses: At the Death Water Bayou (in the Morocco Pavilion), a voodoo queen (an icon of evil) put her zombie servants under her spell of black magic, and it’s up to you to escape from the house before they get to you first. In The Basement (Bird Gardens Pavilion), Momma and the butcher (an icon of evil) plan to put you in their baked goodies unless you escape in time. The Circus Of Superstition 3-D (Nairobi Pavilion) begs you to endure thirteen superstitions as narrated by icon of evil the clown. The Zombie Mortuary (Timbuktu Warehouse) involves getting through this funeral home without becoming one of the undead. Nevermore (Orchid Canyon Building) is an Edgar Allan Poe-inspired mansion, in which the palpable levels of paranoia will eat you alive. But what might eat you alive, literally, are the werewolves in the abandoned casino in Ultimate Gamble: Reversal Of Fortune (Gwazi Event Yard).
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios
Halloween Horror Nights has been a scary staple of Florida Halloweens for decades. The very first Halloween Horror Nights debuted in 1991 with just one haunted house, the Dungeon of Terror. While the Dungeon of Terror has long been retired, other houses have been created to replace it, with each year’s themes trying to outdo the last. This year, there are eight houses to explore, and you can do so most Wednesdays through Sundays through November 2. An overview of a few of them are as follows:
One house is a re-creation of the film The Cabin in the Woods, in which demons live beneath the cabin’s charming exterior and horrify all who make contact with them. An American Werewolf in London is another re-creation awaiting crowds…what will scare you more, the wolves on the moors or Piccadilly Circus by twilight? Beware as the Evil Dead want to make you one of them as the set from the terrifying recent film is successfully copied and rebuilt for Orlando crowds. If you’re a fan of AMC’s TV series The Walking Dead, then you’ll love the house “The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven,” where sets and situations from the third season of the drama are simulated for your horror.
Festival of Souls on Las Olas Riverfront
This is a new event, only in its second year, but it is bound to become a classic in no time considering it has already been voted “Best Haunted House in South Florida” back in 2012. You still have a chance to experience all of the scary fun in Fort Lauderdale, as the festival is open nearly every day until November 1. There is a costume contest on October 26 and veterans’ appreciation day will be held on October 27. There will be live bands on October 24 and 27 and food trucks all night on October 26!
Experience the Demon Mansion. The mansion has the following mysterious backstory: A doctor, struck by lightning in a hurricane, survived only to see demons and angels walking among us. Hoping to help, he created the Institute of Lost Souls, to extract demons from the living. However, his plan backfires when the demons leave the people, but not his mansion. After many attempts to banish the demons for good, he finally accepted that he was the Taker of Souls, and every year he celebrates the arrival of the demons in the Festival of Souls. There is also a Pitch Black Maze, a nearly 7,000 square foot labyrinth that can confuse as easily as it terrifies. Beware of the turns and dead ends, or you’ll never get out alive!