Williamsburg, Virginia Haunted Attractions: Behind the Scares: The Short Film & Commercial – Howl-O-Scream 2015

I absolutely LOVED the new, more intense house this year at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Here is the making of the commercial for it:


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 Williamsburg, Virginia Haunted Attractions: Busch Gardens Howl O Scream “Monster Stomp on Ripper Row” 2015 Review


This is a guest post by Kara Dennison.

The last time I saw “Monster Stomp” in any form was also the first time I saw it — back then it was still in the New France section of Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and it was rated as five pumpkins (indicating that it was up among the hardest-core things going on during Howl-O-Scream). My friend and I asked a park attendant if the show was really that scary. Their response: “It’s not rated that because it’s scary.”


So, my memories of “Monster Stomp” have been “lots of banging done by people not wearing much.” (Take that as you will.) And that’s not a criticism. The smaller-stage show I saw back then, I recall being extremely fun and accomplishing exactly what it set out to do: be loud and sexy.


The move to the Globe isn’t a new one, as I recall, but it’s new to me. Lots more stage space told me already that there would be a great deal more spectacle, and the “Ripper Row” branding told me we might actually see a storyline come through. Which, I suppose, we sort of did. It wasn’t the clearest one, but it’s a theme park jukebox musical. Plots don’t need clarity, they just need to house the music. In this case, it seemed to follow Jack the Ripper as he hacked and slashed his way through Victorian London until he fell in love with a girl? I think? She fell in love with him, I think. He sure seemed to like her, but he also wanted very much to kill her?


Anyway, that honestly doesn’t matter because, as I said before, this show exists to be loud and sexy. And it most definitely does that, and goes above and beyond the early days of the show in pretty much every respect. The opening is big, boisterous, and gory as all get-out. The Rhythm Chefs (or at least a callback to them) remain toward the middle of the show, doing their knife routine on a coffin. The black light skeletons still do their thing shortly after. Now, tying it all together is the aforementioned plot-shaped thing, allowing for love ballads, aggressive dancing, and a mash-up of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Tonight Is What It Means to Be Young” that honestly left me wondering if I’d accidentally side-stepped into a high-end performance of Tanz der Vampire.

Speaking of other shows — and the aforementioned claim of gore — I’ve gotta speak up about the lighting design. Because when I say “gore,” I don’t mean actual literal gore. Any blood (and yes, there is blood) is done with video and lighting effects. When a character is taken behind a screen and knifed, the audience’s vision is flooded with a wash of red, rather than any use of practical effects or stage blood. Much appreciated for a weak-stomached individual such as myself, and much more in keeping with the spectacle. It was reminiscent of stagings of Sweeney Todd (unsurprisingly), but also shared a lot of stylistic choices with the recent West End musical adaptation of American Psycho. I was even a bit tickled to see that the theme and choreography of their opening number was reminiscent (homage or coincidence, I don’t know) of the second act opener of American Psycho, with a steadily decreasing chorus of dancers being picked off by our antihero.


Some of the musical choices did seem a bit off-the-wall (I’m still trying to grok the placement of “Beat It”), but again, injecting common sense into a noisy spectacle defeats the purpose. It was eye-popping, it made you shiver at points, and it was full of gorgeous people in gorgeous costumes doing gorgeous things. I was also pleased to see that, while they advertised that there would be strobes, said strobes were used in a small enclosed space onstage for one specific effect and not directed out toward the audience. Your mileage may vary, of course, but there was nothing overly intense or inescapable.

I mean, truly don’t take kids or people of a sensitive nature to “Monster Stomp.” That’s a given. There are many family events in the park and this is almost certainly not one for the younglings. But if you fancy a macabre Victorian aesthetic with a pounding bass line, come to the Globe and enjoy.



 DAILY REAL TALK: How I review Haunted Houses and why people care

This is the ultimate TL; DR of why I write so much about the Haunted Attraction industry.

Haunted House Guy: “I NOT SCARED I BIG MAN.”


Me: “I love the staging of this room because they truly understand 3D space and how to build above eye level. The actors were placed well and that tag team in room 4 was fabulous. Thematically this didn’t seem like it worked on paper but the actual implementation was fabulously astounding and really tied the entire experience together. Let’s dissect the 4 genres of Haunted Attraction I’ve defined and match this one up later after hell yeah run around have fun eat a donuts!”


I think that the more things people of all ages and tastes have to do together the better our world will be. I want to see more things to do with my family and friends, not less. I want to delve into the industry and really pull out the multifaceted aspect that many regular folks don’t know exists. Not every haunted house is trying to scare you or achieve the same thing. Simply judging a haunt on if it’s scary enough is reductive and missing the entire point. There’s a wide scope of different types of interactive theater experiences that are available to us. It’s just that not many people really talk about it. The haunts themselves don’t always have money for marketing and telling you this because they are focused on their art.

Well, it just so happens that I am a Marketing VP and – I see it.

I do, and I will continue to illuminate this for all.

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 Williamsburg, VIrginia Haunted Attractions: Busch Gardens Howl O Scream Blood Banquet 2015 Review

This is a guest post by Donika Haddock!

Friday, September 25th marked the opening night for Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and once again we were able to dine at Howl-O-Scream’s famed Blood Banquet.

The Blood Banquet is a unique event to the park. Buffet style dining experience with a show. Located adjacent to the Oktoberfest area of the park, they have transformed the Wilkommenhaus gift shop to a buffet restaurant, complete with a stage surrounding the statue that is located in front of the building, as well as adding outdoor seating. Yes, it’s also the same location where Santa’s Workshop is during Christmas Town.

2015 may not be the first year for the Blood Banquet, but it IS the first year that they did not use a Vampire as the main character of their dinner show. Gone is Count Vlad and his family of vampires. If you remember Igor’s Fright Feast from 2013 and 2014, that dining experience is missing from 2015 and Igor has actually moved and taken over the Blood Banquet. What does he have to do with a vampire themed hotel dinner and show experience? I don’t really know. Opening weekend was a wet and soggy weekend with off and on rain cancelling the show. I will admit, I went back to the park on Sunday night and caught about two minutes of Igor’s show while passing through the area, and while entertaining, I still failed to understand what Igor has to do with the Blood Banquet, even though he was dancing with a group of vampires. I’ll check the show out on another visit to the park where I can time it to catch the beginning. Since we didn’t get a show, we did get to meet the characters as they came out and visited with the guests. That was a nice touch.

Now, on to the actual food.






I have dined at the Blood Banquet the previous two years and have enjoyed it immensely. As with most banquets, you get your choice of veggies, meats, breads, and desserts. Popular items on the buffet include their carving station with your choice of Diablo turkey or garlic and rosemary roast beef, their CASKet Club Chili, and baked potatoes complete with your choice of toppings (butter, sour cream, bacon bits, cheese), as well as returning desserts of red velvet cupcakes, chocolate tarts, and blood splattered cake. While going through the line and checking out the offerings this year, I thought something was missing. They have changed out some items that were offered in the past two years (pork skewers, empanadas, and roasted veggies) for some newer items (corn medley, chicken parmesan, knockwurst, and my new favorite, mustard glazed pork loin). Also gone this year is their cherry cobbler. WHYYYYY??? That was my favorite dessert out of all of their desserts!!

How was the actual food this year? Still good. Our only ‘complaint’ was that it wasn’t hot. Most was luke warm, except the potatoes. Those were nice and hot. Perfect comfort food for the rainy weather. Yes, we ate there. In the drizzle of rain. But we were hungry and to the point that we didn’t really care. So, with that said, due to the weather, and small group of people eating at the buffet, AND the fact that our reservations were set for 8:15, you can say we were set up for the ‘don’t expect the absolute best dining experience’. Mind you, the food was STILL GOOD, just not hot. What can you really expect for a dining experience with a low turnaround in crappy weather?

The diablo turkey was still delicious, the chili still had it’s spicy kick, and the desserts were still scrumptious. Would I go back? HECK YES!!! Would I go back at 8:15? Not if I can help it. Unless it’s busy. There’s also the lack of lighting once the sun is down. I like to SEE my food while I’m eating. Black plates and darkness don’t work well together. So if you plan to check the Blood Banquet out, I recommend doing it at least once, but make your reservation for as early as you can. It opens at 4pm. This will give you plenty of time to eat before Howl-O-Scream opens at 6pm. This time is also crucial if you want to go through as many of the haunted mazes as possible during the night.

The Blood Banquet costs $22 for adults and $15 for children. Pass members still get their discounts. Price includes soft drinks and water. Adult beverages available for additional cost. Reservations, while not required, are recommended, and you can book online at the park’s website or in person at Guest Relations.

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 VIDEO: Pennsylvania Haunted Attractions: Hotel of Horror 2015 review: Shark Week

Read all of the haunted attraction reviews here: http://www.onezumiverse.com/halloween-haunted-house-and-haunted-attraction-reviews/

I’m Oni Hartstein. I run the big Doctor Who Convention (ReGenerationWho.com) and Intervention, the kick ass artist makerspace (InterventionCon.com) – both in Maryland.

I travel a lot. OnezumiVerse.com is my blog of weird things that I like. One of the main things that I like are haunted attractions. Every year Harknell and I cover over 3000 miles to find, review, and spotlight the best haunted attractions, bizarre theater experiences, and offbeat travel destinations. We love our job.



Video Editing: Stephen Baker

Equipment Used
in Car: Sony AS15 Action Cam w/Skeleton Frame and Suction Mount
On Foot: Sony AS15 Action Cam w/AKA LU1 lcd screen Adapter



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