Now that we’re just over a month away from the September 9th start of this year’s Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream, it seems high time that we begin sharing what we expect to see out of this year’s event. Since May, we’ve actually known the basic skeletal outline of this year’s Halloween event. That said, with so much time having elapsed since then, how about a quick recap?
According to an email sent out by Busch Gardens Williamsburg back in May, HOS 2022 will feature five houses—two of which will be new—and four scarezones—again, two of which will be new. The park also announced that this year’s event would feature four shows, but they didn’t specify how many (if any) would be new.
So, armed with that information, it seems like a quick review of last year’s lineup would help a lot here too, no?
Last Year’s Lineup
- Killarney Diner (Killarney Simulator Building) [New for 2021]
- Nevermore (Front Half of DarKastle) [New for 2021]
- Witch of the Woods (Woods Maze) [New for 2021]
- Circo Sinistro (Behind Roman Rapids)
- Dystopia (Pompeii Show Building)
- Hexed Hollow (Rhinefeld) [New for 2021]
- Meat Market (New France) [New for 2021]
- Garden of the Souls (San Marco)
- Ripper Row (Banbury Cross)
- Phantoms of the Festhaus (Das Festhaus) [New for 2021]
- Skeletones (Il Teatro di San Marco) [New for 2021]
- Monster Stomp on Ripper Row (The Globe Theatre)
- Jack is Back (Killarney)
We also go into this haunt announcement season armed with another large piece of the puzzle: We know that, thanks to ongoing Project DarKoaster construction, one of last year’s new houses, Nevermore, has long since been completely disassembled and its previous home is now completely inaccessible. With that in mind, the biggest mystery of this season thus far over in the ParkFans Busch Gardens Williamsburg Howl-O-Scream 2022 thread has been “Okay, so where is this year’s new house location gonna be?“
Over this last weekend, we actually stumbled upon what we believed to be the solution to that mystery. As you’ll see in the photos below, we spotted significant new construction inside Drachen Fire’s former station building and caught a glimpse of Howl-O-Scream props scattered around outside the building.
This isn’t just a suspicion anymore though. Freshly-filed building permits from Busch Gardens Williamsburg (originally spotted by ParkFans member, Jahrules) confirmed our hypothesis on Tuesday.
Yesterday, BGW requested construction permits for all five of their 2022 houses identifying the locations of each in the process. Based on those filings, we can say pretty conclusively that the park is planning to use the following facilities for Howl-O-Scream houses this season:
- Area Behind Roman Rapids
- Drachen Fire’s Station
- Killarney Simulator Building
- Pompeii Show Building
- Woods Maze Location
Our Thoughts & Predictions
Since both Killarney Diner and The Witch of the Woods were new in 2021 and since both of their locations have, as far as we know, been left untouched, it seems likely that both will return this year. Since those were our two highest-rated Busch Gardens Williamsburg houses last season, you’ll certainly hear no complaints from us about their likely inclusion this year.
Assuming away those two, a good argument could be made for replacing any of the remaining three.
Nevermore, despite being new for last year, has already had to be completely removed. House relocations at Howl-O-Scream are very rare because, in order to move a house to a new facility, it has to be completely redesigned and rebuilt anyway. Because of that reality, it normally just makes more sense to design and build a new house instead—even if it is just designed and built from scraps of a previous attraction (see: Catacombs).
Howl-O-Scream 2021’s second-oldest house, 2018’s Dystopia, was our least favorite house at last year’s event and we’d love to see it replaced. That said, for the purposes of our analysis here, if Nevermore is replaced instead of being relocated, I actually think Dystopia’s chances look pretty good—not because it deserves to survive, but because Circo Sinistro is in far more dire need of replacement.
Regardless of what happens to Nevermore and Dystopia, I really, desperately hope that Circo Sinistro is on the chopping block this season. Built on a tight (and in my opinion, horribly misappropriated) budget back in 2016, Circo Sinistro has been cut to bits over its much-too-long life. Full rooms and scenes have been removed from this house since its debut and it really wasn’t working with that much to begin with. Worse yet, last year the house was in downright abominable shape—it was run down and falling apart in all the wrong ways.
Anyway, all that said, I think there are two most likely outcomes for this year’s Howl-O-Scream house lineup based on what we currently know. In addition to the return of Killarney Diner and The Witch of the Woods…
- Nevermore moves to Drachen Fire’s station building and Circo Sinistro & Dystopia are both replaced.
- Dystopia stays, a new house is designed and constructed in Drachen Fire’s station building, and Circo Sinistro is replaced.
Since we don’t have any new evidence to work with on the scarezone or show fronts yet, we will only speculate about them very briefly.
Starting with shows, especially with the park’s recent unwillingness to invest in stage productions, I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see zero changes to last year’s lineup. Two of the three large stage productions at last year’s event were new and the third, Monster Stomp on Ripper Row, is still widely believed to be the event’s strongest (and most popular) show. We don’t see much reason to displace Jack again either so we’ll assume he’s back too.
On the “Terror-tory” (read: scarezone) side of things, if our assumption about Monster Stomp is right, Ripper Row’s return to Banbury seems like a given to us. With last year’s shocking costuming and atmospheric degradation of the once-incredible Garden of Souls, we wouldn’t be remotely surprised to see it replaced. The remaining two 2021 scarezones debuted at last year’s event. Neither strike me as particularly memorable, but I imagine that Meat Market stands a better chance of survival than Hexed Hollow as the former introduced new props and theming while the later really brought very little to the table at all.
How does our speculation about this year’s event line up with yours? Which two houses and which two scarezones from last year’s event would you most like to see replaced? Are your expectations different from your desired outcomes? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or over in the ParkFans Howl-O-Scream 2022 thread!
Thanks for reading! There will be more soon…