SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021 Review – A look at SeaWorld’s New Halloween Scare Event

In 2021, and for the first time ever, SeaWorld San Diego has launched a Halloween Horror Scare event. Intended to rival the terrifying Halloween Horror Nights of Universal, this Scare event runs weekends from September 17th through to The Big Night itself October 31st. While this is the first time Halloween Horror hits San Diego, The Brand has a long reputation of delivering top events at its other theme Parks.

We take a look at Sea Worlds Newest Event and see what exactly you can expect from this horror night. What is going on, what to see and do and, how to get the best of things. We also take a look at how it compares with some of its biggest rivals on the West Coast. Our SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021 Review lets you know everything you need to know before visiting this Halloween Horror night in San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021 Review

What is the Howl-O-Scream Scare Event all about?

Scare Events were started by Knotts Berry Farm in 1973 as the Knotts Scary Farm Event, and then popularized at Universal Studios as FrightNights back in the ’90s and have become hugely popular in the last few years. They are based around the classic haunted house attractions, where heavily made-up actors attempt to scare the bejeebus out of the guests as they make away around the sets.

As SeaWorld continues to recover from both the changing mood on captive Orcas and the massive losses from the Pandemic it has moved to open its own version of these nights at its San Diego Location. It may seem a bold move but the event has been running over in San Antonio SeaWorld for the last 20 years so it’s merely an expansion.

The Haunted Houses are the main event and these are best described as living Horror Movies. They are every bit as terrifying, but also every bit as safe, they just do not feel that way. The Actors get right in your face and really are terrifying, but you are perfectly safe from harm with the biggest risk being to your underwear!

The Events are far more than just the Haunted Houses, as the whole Park takes on an air of nightmarish horror, with 6 scare zones, 4 roaming horrors, several themed bars, and a completely transformed park decorated in ghoulish horror. It all looks to be a whole load of fun.

How Much Does it Cost?

Tickets Currently Cost:

Thursday*, Friday, and Sunday – $44.99 * select Thursdays, see below

Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Saturday – $54.99

Unlimited Pass, Any Night – $99.99

Annual Pass Holders get a $5 Discount but every order gets stung with a $9.99 Booking fee!

Undercover Tourist

Book Through Undercover Tourist and get $5 off the Thur, Fri, Sun Ticket AND dodge that $9.99 booking fee! There is no discount currently for AnyDay Passes but you will avoid the Booking fee!

PRICE RISE 17th September!

Prices are set to Rise from September 17th when the Event Begins, There is no info on what the hike will be but Gate Prices are $79.99 every night, so we expect around $59.99.

<<< Book Now to Secure the Lowest Price >>>

Upgrades

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021

There are a few options to upgrade your ticket, most of which we would not really recommend but here they are. Remember NONE of these include the ticket to the event, this MUST be Purchased Separately. These are base prices too and will increase depending on night and availability.

Front Line Fear – $29.99

  • Front of the line access to all 3 haunted houses (once)

Front Line Extreme Fear – $39.99

  • Front of the line access to all 3 haunted houses (once) +
  • Front of the line access to 3 Rides Manta, Electric Eel, and Journey to Atlantis (once)

Really we do not envisage visitor numbers to be very high, People with skip the line passes may be very disappointed with the length (or lack of) of the queues they are skipping. Unless reports start coming in of huge queues we would say take the risk and expect minimal queues, especially for the rides!

Vip Tour – $79.99

  • VIP Tour Guide
  • Front of the line access to all 3 haunted houses (once) +
  • Front of the line access to 3 Rides Manta, Electric Eel, and Journey to Atlantis (once)
  • Included Drinks (including Alcohol)

Honestly, we don’t really know what to expect from the tour, free drinks sound cool but we imagine this is limited. Honestly, it sounds a bit unnecessary but if you really like being shown everything then it’s always an option.

What are the Dates?

The Event Runs for 7 weeks starting 17th September and concludes on Halloween night Sunday the 31st October. It is a Weekend only event running on Friday Saturday and Sunday Nights. Select Thursdays are also included in weeks 5, 6, and 7.

Week 1 – Friday 17th Sept – Saturday 18th Sept – Sunday 19th Sept

Week 2 – Friday 24th Sept – Saturday 25th Sept – Sunday 26th Sept

Week 3 – Friday 1st Oct – Saturday 2nd Oct – Sunday 3rd Oct

Week 4 –Friday 8th Oct – Saturday 9th Oct – Sunday 10th Oct

Week 5 – Thursday 14th Oct – Friday 15th Oct – Saturday 16th Oct – Sunday 17th Oct

Week 6 – Thursday 21st Oct –Friday 22nd Oct – Saturday 23rd Oct – Sunday 24th Oct

Week 7 – Thursday 28th Oct –Friday 28th Oct – Saturday 30th Oct – Sunday 31st Oct

Opening Times

It is also worth noting the Times Fridays and Saturdays the Event runs from 7 pm till 1 am giving you six hours of horror. On Sundays and Thursdays things wrap up at 11 pm giving you only 4 hours to explore.

Really only the very hardcore will make it right through till 12-1 am so the earlier closing time is not too much of an issue, but it does make Friday the clear winner in terms of value.

One final point of note, Ticket Holders can start entering the park from as early as 5 pm, despite the event not kicking off until 7 pm. This gives you a couple of hours to explore SeaWorld in the day and see some of the cool animal attractions available before all hell breaks loose!

Ok, let’s get into what is actually going on.

Haunted Houses

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021

The main attraction is always the Haunted Houses. These terrifying set pieces will have even the bravest cowering in fear as nightmarish horror scenes come frighteningly to life before your eyes. Expect immense horror, unsettling atmospherics, and terrifying scares as you make your way around the houses. SeaWorld San Diego is offering 3 Houses.

Nightmare Experiment

A Medical Themed House with an unhinged doctor, and deranged subjects running amok. Exploring the creepy lab filled with all kinds of creepy and disgusting jars, Equipment and Parphaniails set the mood as you witness experiments, run into unlucky victims while being hunted by the doctor. It is a great use of physiological horror!

Death Water Bayou

A misty, atmospheric swamp complete with a graveyard and pagan iconography and even its own Water Witch. A really atmospheric house with plenty of shuddering scares.

Simon’s Slaughterhouse

Simon’s Slaughterhouse offers up some pretty intense gore. It has less psychological terror and replaces it with all-out blood-splattering horror. Lots of Blod Guts and screaming! The Blades are all fake, but they still make you wince when directed towards your own insides!

Are the Rides Open

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021 Rides

Of Course! It would not be a horror night without some good old-fashioned thrill screams too. The Electric Eel, Manta, and Journey to Atlantis are all available to ride on the night. It makes a real change to ride these in the dark as the Park has pretty short opening hours and you normally only get to ride during daylight.

Your Howl-O-Scream pass gets you into the park from 5 pm, despite the Scare Event Starting at 7 pm so you can get all the rides in first before the park closes properly then re-ride after dark!

Read all about SeaWorld’s Rides here

What Else Is Going On?

With the Haunted houses and rides being the headline attractions you may be forgiven for thinking that was all that is going on, but there is still a load of ancillary attractions that are always worth checking out that all add to the experience and value.

Scare Zones

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021

Scare Zones are like mini Haunted Houses that you do not have to queue for, as you wander through, hidden actors will reveal themselves in pants-wetting fashion. Sometimes they will be in plain sight, but largely immobile before springing into life right before you, other times hidden completely ready to jump out and make you change your underwear.

There are Creepy Dolls, an Un-Dead Graveyard, satanic Sirens, a Haunted Forest, and a First Fright as soon as you enter the event. You may also get to meet La Llorna, the Weeping Women, an old Latin American Folklore villain.

The Zones are all incredibly atmospheric and just being in the zone ramps up the trepidation of what may jump out at you. You are constantly on edge and by the end, it’s best just to avoid the zones to try and give your nerves a rest.

Roaming Haunts

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021

Up until now, any scares have been limited to areas where you know they will occur, outside of these zones you are safe to relax. Well not really, certain cast members have the privilege to roam anywhere in the park to hunt for unsuspecting victims to haunt and frighten at any time in the park. Nowhere is safe and you need to be on edge at all times!

The Vampire Circus Show

There is also a Vampire themed Circus show mixing horror-based cabaret Acts with Circus feats, acrobatic, and a stunning set. It may not be the reason for visiting but it’s definitely worth your time checking out.

Themed Bars

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021 drinks

There are three themed bars dotted around the park offering novelty horror-themed Cocktails. These are all definitely novelty first, quality second but they are great fun. The AmaBARlance offers boozy cocktails served in IV bags and Syringes, along with Vodka Vitimains, While Simons Screamatorium offers drinks laced with bodyparts! The abandoned Madi Gras float offers mud cocktails tainted with bugs and insects…yum.

As we say these are likely to be fairly poor quality. Expect sweet pre-mixed cocktails but with a great novelty twist, all part of the fun.

Genral Horror Themeing

Finally, the whole park is just transformed into a Halloween horror land, it’s just one big Halloween party and is a lot of fun.

Go On… How Scary is it?

SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021

Ok, this is a tough question to answer, as it is very dependent on the guest. For some these are fun-filled nights with the odd jump, others can barely cope with the constant on edge fear.

The Nights rely on psychological fear. There really is nothing here that is scary at all. Apart from the odd occasion where a cast member will make you jump. But the Phycological suspense can drive some people into a state of utter terror. Well, not terror, that’s the wrong word, it’s more a state of on edge, but in real overdrive. Constant Trepidation and worry about where the next fright is coming from.

As we said earlier, the nights really are like a Horror Movie come to life, and you can pretty well gauge your reaction to the nights based on your reaction to a good Horror Movie. Are you the one petrified, hiding behind a pillow scarcely able to watch, constantly waiting for the next scream, well you are going to have a very strong reaction at the horror nights!

If you are more the kind of person that loves Horror Movies, but find the scares fun, and all part of the experience, then you will have a great time. There is the trepidation, the fear, the shock but you will know it’s all ok really.

Some People, just don’t get Horror Movies, they are acutely aware it’s just a film, nothing can hurt them, and if they get a little fright then who cares. For these people, the horror nights and Haunted houses, in general, are a bit of a bust. If you are looking at a terrifying clown and thinking “so what, it’s just an actor in a costume” then you are not going to have much fun. The Nights require a little participation, for you to get into the spirit of things and let the Psychological Trick works on you.

Some People just resist this, probably as a coping mechanism as they really don’t want to be scared.

Really where you fall on the above spectrum will determine how much fun you will have, the middle ground is best, as those too sensitive will spend the night in abject fear, but those not willing to play along will also miss out on the real joy these nights can bring.

Can We Still Visit During the Day?

SeaWorld is open as usual during the day. Your Howl-O-Scream Ticket will not get you un however, it is a separate ticketed event, although you can enter the park from 5 pm.

For those not wanting to visit the Event, The park is pretty much as usual. There are naturally going to be loads of Halloween decorations around and the park runs a fun Haloween Spooktacular event every weekend through October and late September. This is a fun Kid-Friendly event that just adds Halloween sprinkles to the SeaWorld Experience. It is only as the light fades and the ticketed event opens that things get DARK.

Is the Howl-O-Scream better than Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Hollywood?

This is a NEW event at SeaWorld San Diego so really we can’t make any accurate assertions yet. But let’s be honest, it’s not going to top one of the best Haloween events in the USA. Universal Set’s the bar due to its incredible movie Franchises and the events really are out of this world.

However we should also say at this point while Universal is the Undisputed King of Horror Nights, this is Largely based on its Orlando Horror Night, The Hollywood version is still brilliant but less so. In fact, Universals Horror night is a fair way off being the BEST SoCal Haloween Event.

The King of the West Coast Horror Nights is Knotts Scary Farm. This is pretty much the next best thing to Universals Orlando’s Horror night, and SeaWorld has a LONG way to go to get close to this Incredible Event. But for locals or visitors to San Diego then the SeaWorld San Diego’s new Event might Just be the ticket for some really Fun and Scary Halloween Activities.

We really can’t wait to check it out!

Have Your Say

Are you Looking Forward to the Howl-O-Scream Event at Sea World Sand Diego? Let us know in the comments below. And if you have visited, let us know what your thoughts on the event were? how does it compare to Universal and Knotts Scary Farm? Just let us know in the comments and if you have any questions fire away!

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2 thoughts on “SeaWorld San Diego Howl-O-Scream 2021 Review – A look at SeaWorld’s New Halloween Scare Event”

  1. Haunt events were NOT started by universal in the 90s. Not by a long shot. Knott’s scary farm started in 1973 and was the only show in town for decades. Also scary farm is the king regarding talent. Universal Orlando’s horror nights is a close challenger to scary farm but only it’s mazes. The scary farm monsters are much better and have pioneered everything, including the invention of sliding.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      Thanks for the comment, we have updated our intro, but we want to try and keep this to Sea Worlds offering.

      We think we meant “popularized” by Universal, they really brought the Scare events to the mainstream, but you are right Knottsberry was first but back in 1973 it was a LONG way from the scare events we know today, but absolutely they deserve the credit as first.

      If you had read to the end we had already given Knotts Scary the Props we think it deserves, but have updated the intro to reflect the First Status.

      Thanks

      Steve

      Reply

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