Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida and HowlOScream at Busch Gardens Tampa both offer tours if you'd like to see the events in a structured way. Normally, you go to an event and see the haunted houses, scare zones, and tours on your own. However, if you pay extra for a tour, you have a guide who escorts your group and makes sure you see all the major sights and experiences.
While both parks offer private tours, most people opt for a group tour because it's less expensive. Your group gets paired up with others until the maximum group size is reached, and you all go through the park together with a guide.
If you're not sure whether you'd like to do a tour or see one of these events on your own, here are five points to help you decide:
1) Do you like structure? A tour gives you a structured approach, with no planning necessary. Your guide has the itinerary and you simply follow along and enjoy yourself. You don't have to create a touring plan and worrying about sticking to it.
2) Do you want to make sure you do everything? You can usually accomplish that on your own if you purchase an express pass or arrive early and having a solid plan, but a tour is pretty much a guarantee. The itinerary is planned around getting you through all the haunted houses, as well as any relevant shows.
3) Are you new to the event? Tours are a great way to experience the Halloween events if you've never been to them before. If your past haunted house experience is with the local haunts, you'll probably be overwhelmed when you come to Central Florida. You don't have to worry about finding your way around and planning your evening when you hire a tour guide to do it for you.
4) Do you like to use your time efficiently? Tours make the most of every minute because you go from hour to hour on a set schedule designed to allow you to experience everything in the allotted time. You also get front of the line access. Depending on which tour you book, you might have time afterwards to hang out and explore things on your own for a while. It's more relaxed because you already made it through all the haunted houses, so now you can soak up the ambiance or perhaps repeat your favorite houses.
5) Do you plan to go through all of the houses? A tour is a waste if you're not sure how you'll react at the event because you're paying a premium for front-line access to all the haunted houses. If you freeze up after the first one and don't want to go through any more, you'll be pretty bored while the rest of your group enjoys the experience.
I've actually been on tours where one person hung back while the others in their party went through the houses. I suspect that person was pressured into signing up for the tour by friends or family. It's a shame, because they've wasted a lot of money just to stand around.
Personally, I do a tour at each of the parks every year, and then I go it alone with an express pass on my other visits. You'll have a great time either way, but tours have some advantages that make them a nice option.