SeaWorld San Diego wants you to keep the kids at home for nighttime Halloween festivities

Splatz the clown at the SeaWorld Mission Bay Theater
Splatz the clown at the SeaWorld Mission Bay Theater on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 in San Diego, CA. SeaWorld announced Howl-O-Scream, a Halloween-themed event that runs from September 17 to October 31.
(Brittany Cruz-Fejeran/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

For mature audiences only, SeaWorld San Diego’s Howl-O-Scream will feature haunted houses, live shows, specialty cocktails and coaster rides in the dark


Starting in September, SeaWorld San Diego will be less kid-friendly after dark with a demented clown, twisted doctor and roaming zombies taking over the otherwise family-friendly venue for its first ever ticketed, nighttime Halloween affair.

On Wednesday, the local theme park previewed “Howl-O-Scream,” a fall attraction featuring haunted houses, live shows, specialty cocktails and coaster rides in the dark. The horror-themed extravaganza, is intended for “mature audiences only,” and is a distinct departure from the park’s standard “Spooktacular” offering. Spooktacular also will continue this year with kid-specific activities during daylight hours and is included with the price of admission.

“It’s the first time we’re doing a separately ticketed, scary event,” San Diego Park President John Dunlap told the Union-Tribune. “As we’re getting everybody back together and looking for reasons to gather, we thought this was a nice, logical addition to our entertainment lineup as a way to help continue to drive visitation and create more jobs in the month of October.”

The announcement comes as SeaWorld attempts to rebound from a rocky period punctuated by the pandemic and health orders limiting park capacity. SeaWorld Entertainment, which operates 12 parks, reported revenue of $171.9 million in the first three months of 2021, up 12 percent from the first quarter of 2020. However, the sum was down more than 22 percent from the same, pre-pandemic period in 2019. And attendance of 2.2 million during the first three months of the year was down 34 percent from the first quarter of 2019, the company said.

Howl-O-Scream appears geared to keep crowd momentum going well after the end of the summer season. The after-dark park transformation is being marketed to thrill-seekers and horror-fiends, with parents being encouraged to keep young kids at home.

“If you think this is too terrifying for the little ones, you’re absolutely right,” Randolph Borden, who is the San Diego park’s vice president of entertainment, said during a media event that included a sample performance from Splatz, the clown, and his killer clown posse.

New to SeaWorld’s San Diego and Orlando parks, Howl-O-Scream has been offered at SeaWorld San Antonio for 20 years, the company said. The local theme park expects to hire as many as 1,000 workers to staff the event.

General admission tickets, available for purchase now, start at $39.99, with discounts available for pass members. The special event will run Fridays through Sundays and select Thursdays from Sept. 17 through Oct. 31.