Busch Gardens loves Halloween, and this year is getting professional help with its yearly seasonal Howl-O-Scream event. The theme park has hired filmmaker Robin Cowie, the producer of the cult horror classic, The Blair Witch Project.
Universal Studios has been licensing film properties for the use of their Halloween Horror Nights event for years, but this time is the the first time that SeaWorld Entertainment has followed a similar pursuit. Cowie has filmed an intricate story for Busch Gardens’ Unearthed theme, which will include a haunted house specific to that theme. That vision will be implemented in all three of their parks that hold the Howl-O-Scream event, which are located at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, and Williamsburg, Virginia, and at Sea World in San Antonio, Texas. Not only will the event include video elements filmed by Cowie, but will also include online interactivity and a new experience at the front gates of Busch Gardens which, according to the Tampa Bay Times, the producer is being very secretive about. Cowie did offer a statement as to why he is excited to work with Busch Gardens on the project.
“This was an opportunity to really broaden the storytelling experience. This is full-contact creativity. I was a big Howl-O-Scream fan, and what I tried to do was not change it, but to increase the amount of storytelling.”
The story of Unearthed: Scarlett’s Revenge takes guests of Busch Gardens underground to a house being excavated. The house is the property of Scarlett, a woman accused of using dark magic to avenge the death of her husband. Scarlett was apparently trapped and buried in the house, and will terrorize Busch Gardens guests as they traverse through an underground maze.
Howl-O-Scream, as an event, is important to the park, because it generally puts Busch Gardens’ ledger in the black, because it causes attendance to spike exponentially. In recent years, this has been especially important because SeaWorld Entertainment has suffered losses in ticket sales following the 2013 documentary, Blackfish.
Cowie is active in creative endeavors surrounding central Florida area, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, participating in projects for Nickelodeon, Disney Institute, Golf Channel, and Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts.
Annual Halloween events have become a rather large industry, and last year, generated $300 million, as reported by the Haunted Attraction Association. In October, it is expected that 200,000 to 300,000 guests will be attending Busch Gardens this October, just for the Howl-O-Scream event.
[Image Courtesy of SeaWorld Entertainment]