Last September, I did a wonderful trip to Florida to spend the whole week in Orlando. Yes a whole week in Orlando with many days at Disney and FINALLY a visit to Universal Studio for Halloween Horror Nights. I’m saying finally because it’s been so many years I was thinking about going (especially for a huge horror fan like me).
Here’s my final review about the events with info about houses, the scare zones. Will also try to give more info about the event itself, useful if you’re planning to ever go in the future.
Note: This is my first official Video blog review, hope you’ll enjoy it! All was done (filming, photo, editing) with iPhone / iPad.
Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield
A maze based on 1981’s Halloween II? Halloween II specifically?. This house is a worthy successor to the great house featured in HHN 24. While it may not feature the eye-candy set-wise as some of the other houses featured this year, it makes up for it with lots, and lots, and lots of Michael Myers around every corner. From the moment you walk up to the wonderful, giant-sized recreation of the film’s poster outside, you feel like you’re in for a treat – and wow does this maze deliver.
At once a literal recreation of the film (it begins with the final moments of the original Halloween, then follows Michael’s murder spree to and through a hospital) and also a notable amplification of its scares, Hell Comes to Haddonfield makes Michael feel appropriately relentless and inescapable, as he comes at you over and over again – sometimes appearing multiple times in the same area. The end is really great too, using sound, FX and lighting to convey the explosive finale of the film and adding in a couple of burnt versions of Michael that deliver some terrific scares. If you’re a slasher movie fan like me (and of course, if you’re a Michael Myers fan specifically) this maze is a must, completely making you feel like you are right in the middle of the night he came home. And don’t forget to say hello to Dumpster Mike!
Tomb of the Ancients
Tomb of the Ancients, one of the “original content” houses, that is, not something based on a licensed horror property, was a very well designed house, the claustrophobic environment, moving floors and low hanging ceilings made one feel as if they were in an ancient temple. So if you’re claustrophobic, this is not the maze for you, as it features some of the most confined spaces Horror Nights has ever had. TOTA is an extremely dark environments with very detailed sets, unpredictable scares, winding narrow paths, special effects and a whole lot of stuff dangling in your face. Did this one 2x, got me all the time… and don’t miss the Crocolion 🙂
Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch
Another one of the “original content” houses. This is a great house for 2 reasons. The first being its ability to create a brilliant set design and create the world with an incredibly amount of detail but still maintaining the story. The second reason was the created weather environment, walking through the house you feel the rain falling from the sky and you get the gusts of wind along with the flashes of lighting. It made me feel like I was brought into the house and the world they were attempting to create. I truly loved this house but although the story was not the most terrifying… and of course I’m still wondering “Where’s My Gold???”
American Horror Story
This year’s biggest house, the AHS house takes you through the events of Murder House, Hotel, and Freakshow, and has some fantastic thematic elements. Fans of the show will really enjoy this house, but someone who doesn’t watch the show, may find themselves a bit lost on the material, especially when entering into the Hotel scenes.Essentially it’s a highlight reel from the mentioned seasons, rather than its own cohesive storyline, the callbacks to the best scenes of the series will work on fans, but less so on non-fans. Either way, it is a solid representation of the show and features some very clever scares. The rubber men room is GREAT!
This house got one of the cutest design of all. It’s a really fun house filled with naughty sprites and a general sense of the holidays gone very, very wrong. You really feel the Xmas spirit there… even smell it! But for a Krampus house, he’s not very scary or present at all. My biggest let down was the most important scene of the movie (The Gingerbread cookies) wasn’t really well done. Yes, you go thru the kitchen but nothing happen… nothing scary, no puppet attacking you etc. But like I said, it’S a fun and pretty house to walk in.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Adapting the original 1974 movie, there are chilling moments that recreate key scenes, including seeing Leatherface slam that metal door shut after taking a hammer to a victim or the infamous dinner table. This is the shortest houses but packed with scare actors. A lot of details to recreate all the rooms in the house. The butcher scene after the slamming door (you can miss the Slamming Door cue, based on timing) is amazing detailed and gross! Love it. As we all know, an horror movie is never over until the end, this house goes beyond that… and not once…
The Walking Dead
Although you’re not going to find out who Negan kills ahead os Season 7, with the WD house, you will see some of the most recognizable scenes from seasons past (sadly without the main Characters) — such as from the hospital in the first episode, Terminus, the prison, and Alexandria. Some people think The Walking Dead house has been around for too long, but according to many others, this house was really done well this year, kinda like a greatest hits of the show. I think this would have been more effective as a scare zone since it didn’t really work as a story (and they didn’t use the storyline like Universal did with AHS).I legitimately was scared when I passed through the room full of mirrors and Stobe lights (most heart-quickening climactic scene of any house this year), which made it feel like you were being enclosed by a zombie horde. That effect was used in many houses and ALWAYS worked on me.
Fans of the movie know that this was always going to be a complicate house to recreate for HHN as a majority of the scenes take place in one bedroom. While the artistic choices made are great to make it not feel repetitive, the house kind of bounces between amazing / scary and average. The facade, the first room who’s the hallway of the house, the Pea soup vomit scene (Warning! It smells bad and feels gross) were great but the bed shaking scene, the spider-crawl scene (very badly design), and some of the other transition rooms are kind of a let down. Oh yeah again, the really sickening thing about this maze is that there is vomit all over the walls and the sounds they use are of actual people vomiting.
Lunatics Playground 3D – You Won’t Stand a Chance
Sadly, I didn’t do the 3D house… After hearing some many so-so comments, I didn’t bother. I was more interested to walk thru the great houses one more time.
As you can see, no real bad houses… but so many amazing ones!!! Maybe my only concern or problems, too bad we are rushed to walk in and out of them. No time to really look and take a second to admire the amazing set design. Of course, if you have a chance to go more than once in them, you’re in for a real treat!
The Scare Zones are a very feature from HHN, because, like with the original content houses, the event’s creators can get, well, creative. The actors can too — more so than in the houses, actors who aren’t wearing masks can actually talk to you and interact (in-character) with the other actors out there.
2 zones were more about the ambiance and with a lot of atmospheric mood:
The Dead Man’s Wharf, an imaginative area with undead and mutated fishermen, doesn’t feature a lot of scares but focus on the the atmosphere and character designs. Some of the best I’ve seen at HHN26. And what about the fog and lights effect! AMAZING!
Also in the same vibe, Lair of the Banshee is just a creepy, woodsy area with freaky witches, Banshee ladies and this cat-man. The atmosphere is great and some of the hiding areas for the actors are done really well that you don’t see it coming. FOOOOOOG!
Survive or Die Apacalypse, a very, very Mad Max-alike zone didn’t do much for me. 3 factions are fighting in the apocalyptic world so there are 3 unique feels throughout New York. I though it was loud and just create to fill a huge space. But the projections on actual buildings were amazingly done.
The Vamp 55 zone, which was a 50s high school Homecoming Parade gone undead. This zone is all about the cast. Think about Buffy VS Greace! The themeing is simple, with just some lighting and 2 “homecoming” floats, but the cast is strong. They are consistently interacting with each other and guests to really breathe life into this zone. This is the zone to stop and watch the show….
The Chance in Hell zone was ok with lunatic actors walking around. But felt it was a missed opportunity for the event icon who seems stuck on her little stage. Oh well…
HHN is a special even and also an add-on ticket. It mean that Universal close the park at 5pm and when it’s done, they reopen the park for HHN. So you can buy a simple ticket for HHN or you can also buy an add-on ticket to your Universal day ticket. If you buy an add-on, you can stay in designed section of park while they close the park at 5pm. This is great way to get a head start for HHN.
Also about tickets, there’s the possibility to buy some Frequent Fear pass allowing you to attend the event more nights. This could be an amazing dead because for me a one-night ticket cost 104$ and the Frequent Fear pass (good for every night during the first 3 weeks of the event) was 91$. Great deal!
On top of the ticket you can also add more like the Express Pass or a Tour. This is good if you have only one night and want to experience the whole thing without wasting too much time in line. The value of the passes will vary depend on the day. Early in the month, it’s cheaper… I did the event twice and on the first night, with the express pass, it was just great!