Keeping in theme with our last couple of posts, we're staying local for this week's blog. We're taking everyone on a frightful adventure around one of our favorite park's Halloween events: Sea World San Antonio's Howl-O-Scream! It's become tradition for us to attend Howl-O-Scream every year, and it's something we really look forward to. The last few years we've started noticing a new effort put forth by the SeaWorld team (which we mentioned seeing in their food and beverage department in an earlier post) and it has made attending the yearly event even more exciting. This year we focused on all the new food and drink booths, new nighttime show, and of course their newest haunted attraction: Dark Side of the Gardens.
We decided to start making our way around the park counter-clockwise beginning with the I.C.U/ Rehab area of the event. This area of the park features a haunted house that's returned a few years in a row and hasn't really seen too many updates. But, SeaWorld definitely made up for that in the theming and scares around the house this year. Walking into the area you're greeted by deranged hospital patients, nurses selling I.V. shots, and a brand new bar called Rehab.
The bar offers custom cocktails all themed with clever names, a selection of draft beer, and a couple of wine options. The pop-up bar was actually pretty impressive. Not only did they have well-themed drinks and eye-catching souvenir glow glasses, they also had an amazingly well-trained bar staff performing bar tricks and entertaining all of the guests passing by. We actually stopped at this bar and stood around for quite a while watching the tricks and taking pictures and videos of the staff. As far as the drinks go, we ordered the "Totally Bananas" and the "Doctor's Orders" cocktails. Each drink came in its own unique souvenir light-up glass (bonus points for them because Brittany is a total sucker for souvenir cups!) It was a smart move on SeaWorld's part because we were probably stopped about five times throughout the night by guests wondering where we got the "cool glasses." The drinks themselves were very good. The #1 pick of the night actually came from this bar- Totally Bananas! It was refreshing, the perfect amount of sweet, and was a good mix of different fruity flavors! Thumbs up to Rehab! It was a great way to start off the night, or as Parker cleverly added to "Check-In!" Haha!
The next area we hit was the Hunter's Hangout/Prey area. This entire part of the park is themed to the haunting idea of being hunted like "prey." This haunted maze is our favorite and has been a part of the Howl-O-Scream lineup for five years now (which is blowing our minds because it still feels brand new to us!) You're thrown into a backwoods camp-site and quickly begin to realize that the other campers are there for only one thing- to hunt you. The maze has maintained its creepiness over the years thanks to the scare actors which are a little too realistic to ever let that uncomfortable feeling pass. Between their borderline inappropriate comments, separating groups and even couples through different parts of the maze, and squeezing people through tight spaces, these actors have got it figured out! Every time I walk through this haunt I can't help but think that the whole idea would make a great movie (...or maybe it already is one..?) Either way, it's a scary-good time!
The terror-tory, as SeaWorld has cleverly named it, around the actual maze itself is known as Hunted Hangout and features the same theming as "Prey" itself. Complete with backwoods hunters trying to wrangle people into their traps and escaped victims warning people to stay away from the campsite, you're sure to get a few good scares and laughs in the area. There was also a pop-up food stand here called "Roadkill Cafe" which featured a selection of Bobby D's tasty treats and a themed bar called "Ma's Moonshine." The Roadkill Cafe had a sausage sampler, which we tried, and a bacon-wrapped turkey leg, which we didn't but should've. The sausage sampler came with four different types of sausage and a roll. Unfortunately, the stand did not have any barbecue sauce, but, we went inside Shamu's Smokehouse next door and grabbed some. We liked the sampler overall and it was easy to share! At Ma's we decided to share the "Holler Hooch" which was a spicy cocktail that Parker surprisingly really enjoyed despite it being out of our typical comfort zone. Both of these stands were great additions for this area and perfectly fit in with the theming and atmosphere.
After this, we headed toward the newest haunt in the park: Dark Side of the Gardens. This haunted maze replaced a long-time favorite of local SeaWorld fans: The Frightmare Forest. Although we were excited to see a new addition to the haunted house line-up at the park, we were a little sad at the idea of losing a classic. Admittedly though, the forest was never one of our favorite haunts, it was more of the IDEA of losing something we were so used to. The Dark Side of the Gardens is a maze themed to the idea of living nightmares and the unknown. The haunt was filled with several things that definitely made us scratch our heads and look at each other in confusion, but I think that was the point of the whole thing. Less jumpy scares, more psychological scares with this one. The most memorable moment from 2017's visit probably came from a line that one of the scare actors said to us inside this house (I don't want to give anything away but it was just a weird, out-there comment and we'll never forget it) and that's saying something.
Located next to the entrance for this new haunted attraction was the Z Bar. An apocalyptic-themed bar complete with zombie bartenders, cocktails, shots, and food! At this point we'd been seeing these test tube and syringe shots being offered around the park and decided to give in and finally try them. We each had a test tube shot which is described as a "special blend of punch and rum." It was definitely more rum than punch and lacked any real "special" flavor, but, for $4.99 I guess that's a pretty good deal!
The last area of the park we spent time in was "Vampire Point." Although this area doesn't have a haunted attraction attached to it, it's still really well-themed and offers a bar, photo-op, and short live show. The bar, "Blood Thirsty," offered vampire-themed concoctions made by the undead bar staff. Like the other pop-up bars around the park, this one also offered cute souvenir glowing glasses for their tasty cocktails. There was also a short live show which featured vampires singing and dancing around this lounge-y area for guests to sit and watch. It definitely had a creepy vibe, which is what they were going for, so props to them.
At this point, we didn't realize how late it had gotten or that the houses all closed 30 minutes prior to park closing, so we didn't get to do the last two haunts. Unearthed and Karver's Kradle. However, we've done both houses before in previous visits, so it was okay.
We ended the night by making our way up to the front of the park for the new nighttime show: "Jack is Back!" Although the park typically ends the night with a show near the entrance featuring the event's haunted host, Jack, this year's show seemed better than others! It not only featured everyone's favorite creepy pumpkin man, it also featured singers, dancers, fireworks, and an illusionist! It was the perfect ending to a very fun Halloween night!
Howl-O-Scream runs on weekends from now until October 29th, so you still have a couple of weekends left to enjoy! We're going to try to make it back at least once before it's over because we enjoyed it so much! And you can bet that the tradition won't end this year, and we'll be returning to SeaWorld's Howl-O-Scream for years to come. Until next time, Happy Howl-O-Ween!
Parker and Brittany Ruhmel- Lovers of all things food and theme park related!