The inaugural Howl-O-Scream took place on 10 nights in September and October in 2000. The new event featured three walk-through haunted mazes, live bands, special celebrity guest appearances, and rides on the park’s attractions in the dark. An in-house think tank called To Realize Innovative Busch Experiences, or TRIBE, was formed to get Busch Gardens into the haunted Halloween event market. The team looked to combine scare elements from other haunt events with a party atmosphere like that of Tampa’s popular Guavaween.
The event built on the previous year’s Spooky Safari, which was a kid-friendly Halloween event. The new Howl-O-Scream was geared more towards teens and young adults with scares that startled but avoided the blood and gore of more adult-themed events. Land of Dragons remained as a “scare free” zone, where children could enjoy face painting and other kid-oriented fun. There was also a pumpkin patch near the Clydesdale habitat.
The icon for the inaugural Howl-O-Scream was Dr. Livingsdoom, a mad scientist who served as the tour guide for the Haunted Jungle Trail maze. Livingsdoom was portrayed by Scott Swenson, who would become the face of Howl-O-Scream for more than a dozen years. The icon also made an appearance in Labyrinth of Lost Souls, a prison-like maze where trapped souls haunted the living through a variety of special effects. Dark Cavern rounded out the mazes, held inside Curiosity Caverns, combining the real nocturnal creatures with special effects and scares.
There was also a band of 70 costumed actors, the Creature Crew, who roamed the park creating chance encounters with guests. Other entertainment included appearances by Butch Patrick, the original “Eddie Munster,” and performances by acclaimed mentalist The Amazing Kreskin. A 1961 Cadillac hearse formerly owned by television horror host Dr. Paul Bearer was also on display.
- Haunted Jungle Trail
- Labyrinth of Lost Souls
- Dark Cavern
- Dr. Livingsdoom
Haunted Attraction Magazine (accessed 8/15/2017)