Last night was the first night of the anticipated arrival of Howl-O-Scream at SeaWorld Orlando, and we were there to answer the Sirens’ call!

Immediately, guests know they are in for a different experience as they are ushered to a different park entrance, one typically used for educational experiences and other various private events at the park.

The area is quite subdued in terms of theming, but there are scare-actors throughout and in places you might not expect. Take this park map for example. Stare too close, and a frightening friend might suddenly appear. The same can be said for this photo opportunity as well.

This year is the inaugural year for the event, and we were able to speak with Creative Director Patrick Braillard for a brief moment before we ventured into the festivities, checking out all the event has to offer, which includes four haunted houses, four major scare zones, two shows, themed bar experiences, and several surprises scattered throughout.

Despite all that the event has to offer, the main draw is, of course, the haunted houses and Howl-O-Scream Orlando is offering four of them in the first year, and hopefully will increase their quantity in the years to come! Pro Tip: check out the official Howl-O-Scream website so you can get a grasp of the story of each house ahead of time, as there is so much to take in in each house that it might not be fully apparent on the first run-through.

Water’s Edge Inn takes guests to a seaside hotel that has turned into a terrifying struggle to try to escape. This house also features “bonus rooms” that can only be accessed through a Front Line Fear Extreme Pass or a VIP Terror Tour. The bonus rooms are featured in our video below!

Beneath The Ice gives guests the chance to venture into a base camp that was buried in snow in a search to find some survivors. Spoiler alert: you’ll find some…but you’ll probably wish you hadn’t.

Dead Vines takes guests into a frightening world of terrorizing plants and hidden scares that all lead up to an encounter with one of the sirens of the event. All of the houses are tied together by the sirens, actually.

Captain’s Revenge brings guests aboard a cursed ship and searching for a treasure that the ship’s Captain surely won’t let you find.

The Scare Zones of the event might be the sleeper hit of the inaugural year, with four streets heavily themed and populated with scare-actors who bring the zones to life. Frozen Terror is the first you’ll encounter, underneath the yet -to-open Ice Breaker roller coaster, taking guests into an inhospitable Arctic wasteland. Deadly Ambush takes you into a campground where you have to ask yourself…what happened to all the campers? Witchcraft Bayou is full of voodoo and witches ready to make passersby victims of their dark magic. In the back of the park, Sea of Souls will introduce you to some ghostly shipwreck victims doomed to wander the area near Longshoremen Tavern.

Roaming hordes also walk through the park, but be on a particular lookout for “The Creatures.” These scare-actors are brilliantly camouflaged among the landscaping of the park and will catch even the most seasoned of haunt-goers off guard, giving them the fright of their lives.  

This seems like the perfect moment to talk about a handy item that can be purchased at the event: The No-Boo Necklace. Available at select locations, this necklace alerts the event’s scare-actors and ghostly inhabitants that you would not like to partake in the frightening fun, but rather, casually observe. And let’s be honest, that can be even more fun sometimes. With that however, comes a bit of fine print. The necklace “does not guarantee a scare free evening. Monsters will do their best to avoid you, but initial contact may occur.” It should also be noted that the necklace may not be worn in the haunted houses, or on the rides that are open during the event, making it the perfect item for those who do not wish to be scared while walking through the park and the inevitable scare zones.

While we’re on the topic of merchandise, you can find some in the video at the top of the page and take a look at some items that caught our eye below.

Two different shows are presented numerous times throughout the night at Howl-O-Scream Orlando. One of them, Sirens’ Song takes place in the middle of a high traffic area near Wild Arctic/Beneath the Ice. Presented essentially in the round, surrounding the crowd, the show is good to watch early on in the evening as it kind of sets the tone for the whole event, introducing guests to the Sirens who’ve lured you to Howl O Scream and show how they’re out for blood. We don’t have a full video as the show is a bit surprising in nature, and we don’t want to spoil anything, but you can catch a glimpse in the video at the top of the page.

The big production number for the event is Monster Stomp. Talented performers sing and dance in a heavily stylized retelling of the story of Jack the Ripper. The show, like the event, does have a bit of a darker tone, but is more or less a showcase of the performers’ singing abilities and dance skills, and is the show that every Howl-O-Scream guest should see during their night at the park.

Themed Bar experiences are also located throughout the event, usually near scare zones or the haunts. With the exception of Sirens’ Last Call, these locations are already pre-existing bars at the park that have a themed layover for the event with special pre-mixed signature drinks at each location. Sirens’ Last Call is located at the entrance of the event (remember, it’s not the normal park entrance) and proves that even monsters need a place to play too.

Longshoremen Tavern takes over the Sharks Underwater Bar for the event, and populates it, well, Longshoremen who are there to entertain anyone who stops in for a libation. Tormented is the place where the cold drinks (from the surrounding ice of a haunted house and arctic scare zone) are a good thing, and one can sit back and relax while the scaring surrounds them, or they do a little scaring themselves…more on that in a moment.

Poison Grotto, beyond Witchcraft Bayou, offers guests a chance to get away from the nearby deadly vines, and gives them a chance to enjoy what comes off of them. Oh, and if you feel like something is watching you, just look up. Scare-actors populate the lounge and aerial artists swing high above the line to grab a drink.

Guests also have the opportunity to “control the fear” with a scare button at the Tormented bar. After paying a small fee, they will have the chance to watch guests make their way through the Beneath The Ice haunted house and literally blast them with a cannon of air and loud screams (can you tell I got hit with it?) and enjoy the results knowing they were the ones that pressed the button.

Mako and Infinity Falls are open for guests to enjoy as well, with all the lights turned off for the event, so guests can experience these thrilling attractions completely in the darkness of the night. Guests also have the opportunity to upgrade their experience with two different front line passes: Front Line Fear (one time use at each house and one ride) and Front Line Fear Extreme (unlimited use at houses and rides and one-time reserved seating at Monster Stomp), or go all out with the VIP Terror Tour. Guests heading to Howl-O-Scream Orlando should look into these upgrades on the official site here.

Howl-O-Scream Orlando only has room to grow from here. It’s the first year of the event, and the lineup is already a welcome addition to the Central Florida haunt season and we hope to see more content added in the years to come.