Disclaimer: Ultimately, everything presented below is still technically best described as a rumor. Though right now I’m very confident in the information I’m presenting, I have been wrong before. Furthermore, given the length of time we have till the event begins, the park may still be finalizing their plans. We will do our best to keep you updated, as more information comes out in the coming months.
Over the past few weeks we’ve talked a fair amount about Howl-O-Scream. Our coverage started off with a long-form article explaining what we expected to see out of Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s 2015 Halloween event. That story can be found here. To follow that up, we leaked the full layout for an all-new house code-named the “Woods Maze.” Those plans as well as our analysis of them can be seen here. Today, we have something far more exciting than either of those posts. Today we’re leaking the entire Howl-O-Scream 2015 house line-up.
That’s right. We’re still almost two months away from Howl-O-Scream 2015 and it’s time to leak all seven of this year’s haunted houses. Yes, you read that correctly: “all seven of this year’s haunted houses.” Does anyone remember the last time Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Halloween event featured seven real houses? Spoiler: It never has.
Almost a month ago I speculated that this year could finally be the year that Busch Gardens Williamsburg refocuses its Howl-O-Scream attention and budget towards the haunt aspect of their event. The fact that the park is building three entirely new houses for 2015 and including more houses than ever before seems to be more circumstantial evidence pointed in that very direction. If correct, I’m ecstatic.
Anyway, with all of that said, I know why you people are really here. Lets talk about what houses the park is bringing to the table this season.
First off lets take a look at this year’s four returning attractions. Unlike the last few years, early rumors point to a few of last year’s houses receiving some much-needed love. Continue on below to find out what we know about the park’s plans for 2015.
Location: Drachen Fire’s Station House
Evidence: Activity has been spotted around Drachen Fire’s station house and Bitten is one of the four houses currently listed on Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s Howl-O-Scream website.
What We’ve Heard: Early rumors point to Bitten receiving some much-needed attention before it opens its doors for 2015. We don’t know what exactly will change or even if the changes will be noticeable come October; but, hopefully, at the very least, we’ll see Bitten restored to its original state.
Location: Royal Palace Theater Backstage
Evidence: Catacombs is also still on the Howl-O-Scream 2015 website. Additionally, according to a recent post by one of our forum members, BGW Family, Catacombs’ set pieces are currently being staged near the Royal Palace Theater.
What We’ve Heard: Much like Bitten, Catacombs could see some minor changes this year. That said, expect much of the house’s theme and structure to remain familiar—no demon street theme integration this year (thank goodness!).
Cut Throat Cove
Location: Between Apollo’s Chariot, Roman Rapids, and the Railroad
Evidence: As is the story with Bitten and Catacombs, Cut Throat Cove is also currently being advertised on the park’s website. Furthermore, the house was never taken down following last year’s event and no effort has been made to do so thus far.
What We’ve Heard: It sounds like Cut Throat Cove’s set pieces are in a fairly poor state of disrepair. After two whole years left outside fully exposed to the elements, that really isn’t a huge surprise either. The last time Busch Gardens Williamsburg was presented with this problem was in 2013 after the house that preceded Cut Throat, Fear Fair, had spent two years weathering Virginia’s summers and winters. When faced with the option of renovations or replacement in 2013, the park chose to reinvent Fear Fair into Cut Throat Cove. This time around, however, the park is planning to take the other option: renovation.
Despite the incredible reputation of the house it replaced, its questionable pirate theme, and its incredibly humble beginnings as a house constructed essentially entirely of recycled props, Cut Throat Cove has shown that it can hold its own over the last two years. Atmospherically it may actually have been one of the best houses at the park for the last two seasons. With any luck we’ll see Cut Throat Cove pushed even further towards a top tier Howl-O-Scream house after its renovations are completed this year.
Location: Below Escape from Pompeii’s Show Building
Evidence: Dead Line rounds out the list of houses confirmed to be returning via the park’s website.
What We’ve Heard: Everything we’ve been told thus far this year indicates little to no changes are planned for Dead Line. Hopefully cast training will be a top priority this year and we’ll finally see this fantastic house perform as it always should have.
Each new, rumored house will be presented below and identified by its current internal code-name. There is a good chance that not all of these names will remain over the coming months, so take them with a grain of salt. Themes should be considered a little more firm, but they could experience small tweaks as well.
Location: Employee Parking Lot Between Das Festhaus, DarKastle, and Alpengeist
Evidence: Over the last few weeks a fair amount of new construction has been taking place on the previous site of Root of All Evil. After hearing for a while that Root wouldn’t be returning for 2015, the fact that something was being built on its former was a bit baffling. Thanks to a permit posted by one of our forum members, redheadtanman, we now know for certain that the construction is, indeed, for a new Howl-O-Scream house.
What We’ve Heard: According to the whispers coming out of the park, Root of All Evil is being, uh, reimagined, if you will. Gone is the “garden center-esque” setting of old—replaced instead with a fantastic sounding cornfield theme. The current working name for this new house is said to be “Cornered,” and will likely feature elements that will remind many guests of its predecessor. In any other case I’d say that harkening back to a Howl-O-Scream house from the last couple years would be a huge mistake. That said, in this sole instance, I’m actually more excited about Cornered because it’s building off of Root of All Evil.
Back when it was originally leaked that Root would be retired this year I was surprised and, frankly, very disappointed. Root of All Evil has been, by far, the park’s best house for the last two years. Furthermore, because it has to be entirely rebuilt every year, each of the three year’s we’ve seen it, Root of All Evil has brought a different experience to the table. Throughout all of that though, one thing stuck: Ultimately, Root of All Evil was still basically themed to the lawn and garden center at a Home Depot.
Yes, the layout was good, yes, the cast was fantastic, and yes, it presented a legitimately spooky atmosphere, but there was still always the slight element of “Why should I be scared of potted plants?” Remixing Root of All Evil into a cornfield-themed house fixes Root’s single greatest problem entirely. I have no reason to be scared of a garden center. I have every reason to be scared of what’s lurking in a cornfield. If Busch Gardens Williamsburg can bring the atmosphere and scares like they managed to in Root of All Evil last year to Cornered, I believe it has a chance of being one of the best houses we’ve seen out of the park in a very, very long time.
Location: Between Verbolten, Festhaus Park, and the Railroad
Evidence: We originally posted about a permit, which was filed for the construction of an attraction code-named the “Woods Maze” almost a month ago, here. To follow that up, we then leaked the full site plan for the new “Woods Maze,” here.
What We’ve Heard: We’ve now been told by a few trusted sources that the latest code-name for what was previously referred to as the “Woods Maze” is “Lumberhack.” As the name would imply, it is rumored that this house will be themed to woodsmen. Given its incredibly forested setting, I have to say that it’s a sensible theme.
If you couldn’t tell from the last two articles in which I wrote about the Woods Maze/Lumberhack, I have been (and still am) incredibly excited to experience this house.
Location: Europe in the Air Ride Building & Queue
Evidence: As one of our forum members, Eric, pointed out, Europe in the Air is now closed and signs have been placed outside explaining that it’s not operating due to ongoing work on an upcoming Howl-O-Scream attraction. Additionally, a permit has been filed by the park for the construction of a house in the building. The permit was posted to our forum by redheadtanman and can be found, here.
What We’ve Heard: Everything we’ve been told thus far points to Thirteen’s replacement being the headlining, “Unearthed”-themed house for Howl-O-Scream 2015. For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has developed a very in-depth backstory involving a buried house, a fake historical investigation and archaeological firm named AURA, and more. If you’d like to read more about the “Unearthed” backstory, check out this page on the official Howl-O-Scream site, as well as the American Underground Research & Archaeology (AURA) website, here.
As the title for this section would imply, the current working working-name for this house is “Scarlett’s Revenge.” Scarlett is the name of the witch who supposedly inhabited the house that AURA is said to be excavating. Considering the story tie-in, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this name stick.
The house news presented above has left me thrilled. I’m currently more excited by this year’s Howl-O-Scream than I’ve been about anything the park has done for probably five or six years now. I was left hopeful for this year’s event after receiving the news that we’d be getting Lumberhack. Now that it looks like we’ll be seeing numerous house refreshes as well as the addition of Scarlett’s Revenge and Cornered, I’m downright ecstatic.
If Busch Gardens Williamsburg can finally get Howl-O-Scream hiring and staff training in order for 2015, this year has the potential to be something truly incredible.