Busch Gardens Tampa announces 2014 Howl-o-Scream VIP prices (image courtesy Busch Gardens).
We're not even out of August yet, and Central Florida's annual Halloween event wars are already well underway. In recent weeks, Universal Orlando has been steadily releasing information via social media about the new haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights 24, which gets underway on September 19, but today their nearest regional competitor was the first to reveal details on their lucrative up-charge add-ons. Busch Gardens Tampa has announced pricing for 2014 Howl-o-Scream VIP tours and other extra-cost items.
Here's the breakdown of your front-of-the-line options at Howl-o-Scream this season, direct from Busch Garden's press release:
All-inclusive VIP Packages include event admission, a tour guide and a choice of three levels of special treatment. All tours include commemorative photos, merchandise discounts and complimentary beverages. Packages start at $99, and Busch Gardens® Tampa Pass Member discounts are available.
General admission is $89 plus tax. Reduced advance-purchase rates and special offers are available for Busch Gardens Pass members at HowlOScream.com. Guests can save $39 on general admission tickets in advance at participating Publix Supermarkets and AAA locations. Take advantage of promotional codes found at participating WingHouse and Taco Bell locations in Central Florida and on Fanta products in participating Walgreens and Coca-Cola products in participating Circle K locations.
Pricing chart for Howl-o-Scream VIP packages (courtesy Busch Gardens Tampa)
Universal has yet to announce VIP pricing for 2014, but Busch Garden's add-ons are generally less expensive that the equivalent HHN up-charge. The flip side is that Howl-o-scream is consistently much less crowded than Universal's event, making the VIP privileges less valuable. I've had good experiences is past years with the Fright Feast option, which provided passable food and allowed me to see every haunted house by 9 p.m. I also enjoyed last year's Experiment, though it's only a good value if you can recruit 2 or 3 friends to accompany you. If you go without the add-ons, I advise arriving an hour before the event starts, and visiting as many houses as you can before lines get long, saving the rest until the end of the night.