Howl-O-Scream returned in 2003 with a focus on fear, featuring six haunted houses, five scare zones, and two shows.
- Darkheart’s Fear Fair (New)
- Escape from Insanity: Residents’ Revenge
- Ripper Row
- The Mortuary
- Demented Dimensions
- Whiplash (New)
- Speed Demons (New)
- Grisly Gardens
- Agony Express
- Eternal Reward (New)
Howl-O-Scream 2003 ran for a total of 15 nights between Friday, September 26, and Saturday, November 1. The event operated on each Friday and Saturday evening from 7:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Thursdays, October 16, 23, and 30 from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The theme for Howl-O-Scream 2003 was Fear Has a New Face, with the tagline Caution: Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide. Fear, the Dark Prince of Howl-O-Scream, served as the icon for the event, the human embodiment of all things that frighten.
There were a total of six haunted houses at Howl-O-Scream 2003, with Darkheart’s Fear Fair being the only completely new one. It featured a maze that had both indoor and outdoor portions and allowed guests to choose one of four paths through the carnival-themed house. Co-chair of Howl-O-Scream 2003 Scott Swenson was quoted in an interview saying, “As they go through the house, they come to several forks along the way and, depending on which way they choose, they’re going to end up having a different experience.”
The roles reversed with the doctors locked up and the patients taking over at Escape from Insanity: Residents’ Revenge. The other houses that returned from the previous season were Tortured, Ripper Row, Demented Dimensions, and The Mortuary.
Five scare zones were scattered around the park, with new areas Whiplash and Speed Demons joining returning zones Cursed, Grisly Gardens, and Agony Express.
Fiends returned with sultry singers, Naughty Nurses, and host Dr. Freakenstein. There were four performances of Fiends scheduled each event night at 8:00 p.m., 9:15 p.m., 10:30 p.m., and 11:45 p.m.
Replacing RIP-TV was Eternal Reward, a new pop culture parody show where audience members helped decide the fate of performers.
General admission for Howl-O-Scream 2003 was $49.95, with passport members receiving a discounted rate of $19.95 for off-peak nights and $29.95 for peak evenings. Day guests visiting Busch Gardens Tampa could upgrade their tickets to include Howl-O-Scream for $29.95 on peak nights or $19.95 for off-peak. Special discounted tickets were available online through a promotion sponsored by Pepsi.
Upgrades included the Fright Feast dinner show and VIP Tours. Guests could also upgrade any single night Howl-O-Scream ticket for $34.95 to a Recurring Nightmare Pass and receive unlimited admission on all off-peak nights of the event.
Advertising for Howl-O-Scream 2003 included it being rated as the #1 Haunted Theme Park Attraction by Haunt World Magazine in 2002, and Haunted Attraction Magazine called Howl-O-Scream “the new king of Florida Halloween events.”
Additional details on Howl-O-Scream 2003 at Busch Gardens Tampa will be added in the future.
Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream Tampa Bay | Press Room – accessed 9/20/2003
Haunted Attraction Magazine | Issue 40 – accessed 2/23/2006
Howl-O-Scream | Fiends – accessed 10/15/2003