HowlOScream runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Busch Gardens Tampa through October 26, but I strongly recommend getting to the park early. Here are the top three reasons to arrive before the official 7:30 p.m. opening time:
1) You can get in early and enjoy some of the major rides. Even though the haunted houses don't open until 7:30 (unless you do the Fright Feast buffet, which gives you early access), many of the rides are open from 6 p.m. on. The lines are typically short because many guests don't realize this. Ride SheiKra or Cheetah Hunt to your heart's content while you wait for the event to begin.
2) You get a jump start on the haunted houses once they open. People who don't realize that they can get in early arrive at 7:30 p.m. and start their journey at the front gates. If you start in the back of the park, you'll enjoy much shorter lines until they catch up with you. You'll also avoid the long parking lines that develop as the official opening time gets closer.
3) You have the most possible time to enjoy the event. Even though the park is open until 1 a.m., the time goes very quickly. You have seven haunted houses to get through, or eight if you book the extra-cost house, The Experiment. You'll also want to walk through the scare zones and catch the Fiends show, and you'll need to eat if you didn't have dinner beforehand. If you're at the event from open to close, you'll have the best opportunity to make sure you experience it all.
If you want to ensure that you'll get to see everything at HowlOScream without any stress, sign up for a group or private tour. You can read more about the Ultimate Tour, which is my favorite, in this article. If you'd like to see a video of the Fiends show, check out this article.