The Halloween season is just around the corner, and Howl-O-Scream is poised to return to Busch Gardens Tampa, starting on September 23. This year's theme is Evil Encore, with a total of seven haunted houses, including several returning favorites and two new offerings, "Motel Hell" and "The Black Spot." The theme park will also have scare zones and roaming hoards to bring the terror to guests starting at the front gate and extending throughout the grounds. Get a little taste of the event in the video below:

Howl-O-Scream features fear and thrill rides

Even though the haunted houses and scare zones are the big draws for Howl-O-Scream, night rides on the most popular Busch Gardens Tampa attractions are an added bonus.

The new Cobra's Curse roller coaster will be open during the event, along with classics like Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, Montu, and more. It's not a roller coaster, but Falcon's Fury is a 335 foot terror generator that's even more intimidating at night, when you see the lights of the Tampa region spread out below as you tip forward and plummet down. See what a ride is like in the video below, then build up your guts to challenge all the thrill rides during the event:

Avoid long lines at Howl-O-Scream

The popular "Fiends" show is back as well, featuring Dr. Freakenstein and his naughty nurses. You can see it throughout the evening or book Fright Feast to get a jump on Howl-O-Scream. The feast lets you fuel up on a sumptuous Halloween-themed buffet, see the show, and then get early access to the haunted houses, plus front of the line privileges for an hour.

It's a great way to get dinner out of the way and maximize your time at the event. If you don't wait a meal, Busch Gardens Tampa gives you other options to avoid long lines. You can buy a Front Line Fear pass for the haunted houses and rides or go whole hog and book a guided tour. All tours include a guide who gets you to the front of the lines and stops at beverage stations for beer, soda, and water.

Depending on the option you choose, you can also get perks like preferred parking, a private guide, and a special character greeting experience.

Howl-O-Scream runs through October 30

Full details for all of these options, as well as regular tickets are on the official Howl-O-Scream website. The event runs on select nights at Busch Gardens Tampa through October 30 (typically Thursday through Sunday), starting at 7:30 p.m.

and ending at 1 a.m.

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