Hi Thrill Seekers,
What evil has taken root at Halloween Horror Nights 23
As the sun sets in the beautiful Orlando sky something terrible starts to emerge at street level. Suddenly Universal Studios is not such a happy place to be. You can hear eerie music in the distance as mist and fog start to roll into the streets, suddenly you think you’ve just seen a zombie lurking at the corner only to be terrified as you realise there are many walking among the crowds!
Yes its fair to say that Universal have not heard of the term ‘less is more’ as clearly their philosophy, when it comes to putting together an amazing experience, is ‘more, more, more’
This year I was lucky enough to be invited by Universal to experience Halloween Horror Nights 23 at Universal Studios. I sort of new what to expect but what I didnt expect was the sheer size and scale of this amazing experience.
The first thing that struck me upon arrival was the size of the crowd waiting to get inside. I am talking thousands of people. It was like queuing up to see your favorite band. The entrance to Universal Studios was just a sea of people all just itching to get inside. I spoke to lots of people waiting outside, some were looking forward to their first HHN (like me) but many were seasoned Halloween Horror Night pro’s that come back year after year – specifically for this event! Its only then do you start to realize why Universals HHN is consistently voted the #1 Halloween event.
Once inside you get to see just what all the fuss is about. The streets are filled with scary sounds, screams, mist and fog, zombies, chainsaw carrying psychos and more. Throughout the streets there are ‘scare zones’ clearly marked out. When in a scare zone you can expect to meet a zombie or two! But don’t show fear as you’ll only fuel their fire!!!
The zombies do an amazing job of blending into a crowd. You’ll be walking down a street only for the guy in front of you (who turns out to be a zombie) to suddenly turn around and scare the brown stuff out of you! At least 4 or 5 times I shrieked like a girl.
Through out the street you can also stop and buy things like, t-shirts and other merchandise, Vodka jelly shots in a syringe or a blood curdling cocktail in a blood bag – all on sale by your friendly neighborhood zombie of course.
Here are a few of my favorite houses
The Walking Dead
Based on AMC’s popular TV series this house was getting huge props as one of the highlights. Built within one of Universals sound stages this was one of the bigger mazes. I was expecting there to be a lot more room in this house, however there were lots of little alleys to negotiate with twists and turns packed with zombies just waiting for their chance to jump out and terrify you. There was even one alley which you had to duck down to get through which just added to the claustrophobic feeling of this maze. If you are a fan of the Walking dead you’ll recognise some scenes from he show. Scenes like human heads in an aquarium and a prison scene where guards try frantically to keep the zombies at bay.
The Cabin In The Woods
This maze, based on the film, was one of the more scary houses. As you wondered through the house you couldn’t help but feel really creep-ed out buy the ‘help, help us’ pleas from the tortured victims inside. Those victims wait inside for their chance to scare you, one thing I didn’t expect was there to be people above you trying to claw at you as you walked past. Probably the most disturbing scene in this house is a surgeon who is seen mutilating one of the poor victims. Towards the end of the house you enter the surveillance room where you get to glimpse various screens showing the horrors that had befallen the victims of The Cabin in the Woods. Incidentally, this house scared one of my friends so much that they refused to do any others! I think that’s probably the best compliment that Universal could have asked for 🙂
Sticking pretty close the the principal story of the film. 5 friends head to a remote cabin in the woods (yeah, bit like cabin in the woods but not cabin in the woods) where they discover the book of the dead and unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods! If you have seen the film you will recognise the story being told. This house is situated in a Universal sound studio so there is plenty of audio to help creep you out just a little bit more. Audio like thunder and lightning. There are some pretty disturbing scenes to be had including a possessed victim eating flesh and a girl sawing off her arm! yikes! Oh and look out for a demonic girl trying to break out of a hatch in the floor – classic!
An American Werewolf in London
This has to be my favorite house! I think I enjoyed this house best because I’d recently been at a Universal Screening of the film which also included a Q&A with Director John Landis. The house follows the story of the film with epic detail…you enter through the Slaughtered Lamb Pub and then flow through some classic scenes such as David being haunted in the cinema, the werewolf attack on the London underground and final scenes where the wolf tries to attack you as you turn a corner. Some scenes are pretty creepy, such as the werewolf feeding on its victims. This house, for me, was the highlight, very true to the film in the classic sense of horror! and you even exit the house to the sound of the song Blue Moon!
Based on a Mexican urban legend. La llorona (The weeping widow) tells the story of a beautiful woman by the name of Maria who drowns her children in order to be with the man that she loved, but is then rejected by him. Eventually drowning herself she is challenged at the gates of heaven as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the afterlife until she has found them. So now she wonders the banks of the river searching for the souls of her children. This house actually creep-ed me out the most, it was so chilling. Statues come to life as you pass by, crying can be heard throughout the house. You even pass by a river and can see the bodies of the drowned children. If I had to say which house scared me the most, hands down…its this house!
Overall I was extremely impressed with Halloween Horror Nights. If you are ever in Orlando while its on you just have to go and see it. Its not just Halloween on steroids! it’s also one of the best nights out you’ll ever have. Many try to imitate the success that Universal have had with Halloween Horror Nights but I think they forget that making movies, with amazing special effects is Universals business which is apparent in the amazing detail put into everything you see, hear and run away from at Halloween Horror Nights.
My Halloween Horror Night Tips
Get there early! By the middle of the evening the park is probably as full as its gonna get. I saw many wait times to get into the houses at 90-100 minutes. So get their early to visit the houses you want, then just enjoy the street experience.
If the houses are based on films then Watch those films. By doing a little research on the houses you’ll appreciate just how much detail Universal put in.I watched Evil Dead and An American Werewolf in London and read up on La llorina before visiting and really found it enhanced my experience.
Take your time! The temptation when your walking through the house is to keep moving and rush through – Dont! its OK to have a look around, you’ll discover loads of detail. Remember you probably queued up for ages to get in so make the most of it.
Catch a show. I watched Bill and Teds Excellent Halloween Adventure. Party on as Bill and Ted poke fun at all the biggest celebrity antics and news of the year. Its a really funny show, a little ‘American-centric’ so you might not get all the gags…but they do make up for this with some scantily clad dancers 🙂
The other show on this year was The Rocky Horror Picture Show so you can Rock out to clips from the classic cult film with your favorite Transvestite, live tribute performers, and audience participants.
Click the following link to view some pictures from the first first week of Halloween Horror Nights 23
You can still buy tickets for this years Halloween Horror Nights. Please visit Orlando Attraction Tickets for details.
If you’ve been this year, we’d love to hear what you thought and what was your favorite house.
Smiles…and screams included…