Last week we got to see inside the haunted houses of ZOMBIEzi Bay and we’re here to give you a sneak peek too! For the third year in a row, the Columbus Zoo’s neighboring waterpark, Zoombezi Bay, is transformed into central Ohio’s biggest and most varied Halloween haunt event. Victims, I mean guests will explore a fiendish world of four haunted houses, two scare zones, six amusement rides (including a roller coaster), and other sinister surprises.
“2023 is shaping up to be the best ZOMBIEzi Bay event yet. Central Ohio’s ultimate Halloween experience will once again be the largest event in the region, featuring haunts, amusement rides, and unique food and drink options. Guests will recognize upgrades to the entire event and get to experience our brand new haunted house, gRAVE. No other Halloween event in Central Ohio features more attractions than ZOMBIEzi Bay. Whether guests’ are interested in the frights and rides of ZOMBIEzi Bay, or the family fun of Boo at the Zoo, fall is an exciting time for our organization,” said Anthony Sabo, Vice President of Zoombezi Bay and Guest Services at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Zoombezi Bay.
While visiting ZOMBIEzi Bay, guests should expect to be scared not only inside the haunted houses, but also while roaming the park pathways. Guests should be aware that strobe lights, loud sounds and music, and fog are in use throughout the park. Those with light and sound sensitivity, heart or lung conditions, or any other condition that could be aggravated by special effects should not participate.
New for 2023— For guests entering the gates of ZOMBIEzi Bay who are hesitant to be scared, “No Scare” necklaces are available for additional purchase in the park. Guests wearing these light-up necklaces will not be interacted with by any of our scare actors while walking around outdoors. These necklaces do not protect anyone once inside one of our four haunted houses.
BREWS AND BITES, presented by Harvest Pizzeria
ZOMBIEzi Bay is crawling with new flavors this fall! Purchase a six-item Brews and Bites Craft Beer tasting card during your visit, and sample from a selection of dozens of craft beers, ciders, hard seltzers, and non-alcoholic specialty beverages. Guests must be ages 21+ to purchase or consume alcohol at ZOMBIEzi Bay. Custom ZOMBIEzi food options are also available for purchase throughout the park, including fried pickles, buffalo chicken tater tots, and injectable donuts.
ZOMBIEzi Bay Rides
This horror theme park experience is not complete until guests have also explored an additional feature found at no other haunted event in Central Ohio—amusement rides! Normally a part of the Adventure Cove region at the Columbus Zoo, six pulse-pounding amusement rides will be included with ZOMBIEzi Bay admission, including Sea Dragon, which has been recognized by the American Coasters Enthusiasts as the oldest operating wooden roller coaster in the state.
For coaster enthusiasts looking to add to their coaster counts, the Tidal Twist Zamperla spinning coaster is NOT part of ZOMBIEzi Bay.
Haunted Houses of ZOMBIEzi Bay
Here’s a peek into the haunted attractions of ZOMBIEzi Bay and without spoiling too much, I’ll share my thoughts on where you’ll find the best scares this year. Please note, I was hosted by the park for a special media preview and was given permission to film inside some of the houses in certain areas. There is no photography or filming inside any of the houses.
New for 2023 – gRAVE
For 2023, the open-air house previously known as Catacombs has been rethemed as gRAVE. The new storyline is “teenagers went to party in the cemetery. They weren’t counting on patient zero to be there, too. Come join in their eternal party!” For me, gRAVE had the single best jump scare of the night. Get a sneak peek in the video at the end of this article.
Most Disorienting – Eternal Darkness
The award for most disorienting haunt goes unsurprisingly to Eternal Darkness. Why? Because it’s really dark in there! I found myself turned around questioning which way to go multiple times. Previously, Eternal Darkness was my favorite haunt by far but this year dropped to 3rd. Maybe it was just due to being preview night but it had the least amount of scare actors and one of the best effects from previous years was missing. Definitely at the top of my list to give it another chance if I go back again this season.
Best Props – Sinister Sideshow
The maze with the best props and animated figures goes to Sinister Sideshow, my second favorite haunt this year. Just like the last two years, you wear 3D glasses which make the paint jump off the walls. The preview in the video below doesn’t do this haunt justice due to the lack of 3D.
Most Improved – Photosynthesis
Maybe it was because I visited too early and it wasn’t fully realized yet, but for whatever reason I thought the Photosynthesis scare zone previously was very weak with a lack of scare actors and props. I was happy and surprised to see it has been vastly improved this year and is now the best scare zone in the park. And you have to walk through it in order to get to the rides.
Best Haunted House – Pleasant Screams
My favorite haunted house at Zombiezi Bay for 2023 is Pleasant Screams. It is the most complete house and offers the best experience. It begins with a pre-show video and has the most solid storyline of any of the haunts. I’m not sure if it actually is length wise but Pleasant Screams feels like it is the longest haunted house here, To top it all off, it has by far the best scare actors as well, who do an amazing job really getting into their roles! See for yourself in this walkthrough video:
ZOMBIEzi Bay Video
To see inside some of the haunted houses of ZOMBIEzi Bay, watch the video below:
ZOMBIEzi Bay Cost and Dates
ZOMBIEzi Bay will be held on Friday and Saturday nights in September, and every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night in October, with additional bonus hours on Thursday, October 12 and Thursday, October 26 for our all-new 21+ Adult Nights. Event hours are from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on all Thursdays and Sundays, and 6 p.m. – midnight on all Fridays and Saturdays.
Admission is $29.99 for all September dates and Sundays in October, and $33.99 for any Friday or Saturday in October. Parking is $10. 2023 Zoombezi Bay Season Pass Holders and Gold Members receive free parking and can purchase tickets for only $14.99 on any operating day—the lowest price at ZOMBIEzi Bay! Columbus Zoo and Wilds members can purchase tickets at a discounted rate of $24.99 at the gate through October 1. Admission provides unlimited access to the four haunted houses, two scare zones, and all rides. For an additional $27, guests can purchase a six-item craft beer tasting card to experience themed beverages at ZOMBIEzi Bay’s Brews and Bites.
Due to the intense nature of this event, parental discretion is advised and the experience is recommended for guests ages 13 years and older.
For more information, visit the website here.
Have you visited ZOMBIEzi Bay? What’d you think? Let us know in the comments below!