MiceChat was given a great preview this week of Universal Orlando’s newly announced haunted house for Halloween Horror Nights 2012. We’ve been through a number of haunted houses and different mazes at parks all over the country, so we consider ourselves seasoned haunt veterans. Having said that, we were still quite excited to see what Universal Orlando had in store for us this year. Universal tends to have the most detailed houses in the US, although in Orlando, they are often on the shorter side.
The house is officially named “Gothic”, though they might as well have named it “Gargoyles.” This house is unique because of how tall it is… which makes sense, since it is set inside a Gothic cathedral. The art direction required that all the walls be built between seven and eleven feet tall. This gives the house a larger-than-life feel which is grandiose and foreboding. The house is located in Universal’s Soundstage 20. This soundstage was used more recently for Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Show as part of Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure. (It’s the closest soundstage to Islands of Adventure’s Seuss Landing Gate)
Once inside the soundstage, we see two large gargoyles on either side of a large gothic cathedral. Dense fog fills the entire building, and chilling organ music plays. The story of this house is being kept under wraps, but we were given a simple version: The cathedral was built many years ago, but hadn’t been used in years, so someone finally bought the property and decided to restore the cathedral to its former glory. But, as you can imagine, something went wrong, and they somehow disturbed an ancient curse that brought the gargoyles to life. Now abandoned due to the gargoyle hauntings, it is your turn to experience what is inside.
As you enter the cathedral, you move through an extremely detailed maze. You’ll walk through the belfry of the cathedral, around a storage room, through an offering hall with hundreds of flickering candles that blow themselves out and then relight, you view floating gargoyles above you, walk over a 50 foot abyss, and then meet some Gargoyles that actually “launch” towards you, and a finale with a beautiful star lit night.
In case you’re not completely familiar with Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, and what differentiates it from similar events, it’s this: Universal doesn’t reuse a house or its design. Instead, Universal only reuses some individual props and walls from previous houses. (That’s okay, because the detail work is re-done every year anyway.) This creates an entirely random and different experience every year. And the themes are usually creative and varied from year to year.
Gothic uses a couple walls and props from previous houses, and an excellent effect from the Interstellar Terror house a few years back. (Walking on a small bridge over the 50 foot ravine) The house also includes some effects from the Wolfman house from a couple years back. If you recall, the Wolfman house had Wolfman on bungee cords that launched out towards you. The beautiful star curtain from the Wolfman also reappears near the exit of Gothic.
We’ll hold off on a detailed review with spoilers until after opening day. But from what we saw, Universal hasn’t lost it at all. In fact, they may have pushed the envelope even farther this year.
Are you a Universal Studios Orlando Halloween Horror Nights fan?