Halloween Horror Nights has returned to Universal Orlando, we’ll give you a tour of all of the houses and check out many of the scare zones for the 25th year of this amazing event!
As we entered, we were escorted to the Pantages theater, where the opening night media event was happening. But, that meant going through Hollywood, and the ICONS scare zone. Here, we saw vignettes from some of the more popular HHN characters of the past. In these photos, you can see the Director, the Usher, the Storyteller, and the Caretaker.
Once we got into the media event, we were greeted by Jack the Clown and he welcomed us to the 25th year of Halloween Horror Nights.
Then, Michael Aiello (Director of Entertainment – Creative Development Universal Orlando Resort) joined the stage and also welcomed John Landis (director of An American Werewolf in London), Greg Nicotero (executive producer of AMC’s The Walking Dead), and Chandler Riggs (who stars as Carl Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead).
They went into great detail about the creative process behind their own productions, and then praised Universal for the extreme amount of work that goes into bringing HHN to the masses every year. Nicotero compared how a zombie on the Walking Dead is on set for maybe three hours at a time, but here at HHN, zombies are on stage for 6-7 hours a night for a full 30 nights. Aiello chimed in here and said that on any given HHN night, Universal employs an extra 1200 people. Amazing!
There were some brief fan questions, and we learned that Chandler Riggs would love to see a Dawn of the Dead house, and Greg Nicotero’s favorite current TV show other than Walking Dead is HBO’s Game of Thrones. They all praised HHN, and the theme park industry in general for their immense attention to detail, and bringing live theater to life every single day for their guests. But after that, it was time to head into the carnage that Jack has brought us this year!
We were walked through the Evil’s Roots scare zone, which takes place in Central Park. This zone had some fun monster type creatures, and some good scares thanks to quite a bit of fog. The jack ‘o’ lanterns were also really quite beautiful.
Walking through the park, we encountered quite a few of Jack’s Maniacs, who love a good chainsaw scare!
On our RIP Tour, our first stop was Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. There were no photos or videos allowed here, but there was a lot of satire of pop culture, quite a few jokes at Disney’s expense, and many moments that had the crowd laughing out loud. This show does involve quite a bit of offensive language and not so PG dancing, not kid friendly (not that you should be bringing kids to HHN anyway).
After Bill and Ted, we headed to Terminus and the Walking Dead house. This house had some good scares, but out of the bunch, it was the one that excited me the least. It takes you through season 5 of the show, and there are some cool effects, like a walker in water.
Moving on, we went into The Purge. This house was in a word, metal. All forms of crime, including murder are legal for one night. It was loud from start to finish, with the sounds of gunfire and knives going all throughout the house. There were lots of scare actors here and a ton of strobe lights, which did a great job disorienting everyone. There also was some cool use of screens to show news footage of The Purge happening. This house also felt like the one that was the closest to real life, which made it extra scary. It was one of the standouts for me.
Next was Insidious, which we got the chance to do last week during the Media Preview, but it still hit on all fronts. This house is just straight up creepy. There isn’t a ton of music or audio cues, so the house kind of just creaks as you walk through. This house excels at close up scares, and going through it a second time, I noticed way more detail than the first go through. Michael Aiello said that for the wallpaper in the house, it didn’t exist, so they had to create it in Photoshop and then spend a lot of money to install. Pretty awesome for a temporary house that is only seen for 30 days.
After Insidious, we headed over to RUN – Blood, Sweat, and Fears. This house was very similar to The Purge in that it involved a lot of loud noises and all human scares, not monsters. This house is an original concept, and takes places in a prison. It had a cool mix of cultures, Halloween fashion, and chainsaws. Here is a video of some of the highlights of RUN.
Next up, we got to check out the All Nite DIE-In scare zone. While we were there, it was all characters in color, but at other times of the night, there are black and white characters roaming and scaring. This takes place in the San Francisco area, right where Disaster’s entrance once was. It was cool to see Chucky and his Bride as well as some members of the Purge out here.
Next, we walked quickly by Psychoscarepy, which we will have more photos of later on our way to Asylum in Wonderland 3D. No photos from this house because we were brought in through a backstage area, but this house needs to be seen, as photos don’t do the 3D justice. This house, while not too scary, is very trippy and does a great job of messing with your senses. Watch out for the vortex at the beginning!
Next up was Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem. This house is kind of a hodge podge of many HHN scenes of the past, but don’t take that as a negative thing. This house was the longest of the night, and was simply amazing. So many great scenes from the past, a couple rooms with disorienting floors, and some larger than life scares. Keep an eye out for different versions of Jack popping out to get you along the way!
After doing the anniversary house, we took a trip through An American Werewolf in London. This house was recreated exactly how it was two years ago, except with an extra wolf, and the molds for the puppets were made more accurate at the request of John Landis. This was my favorite HHN house of all time, and it did not disappoint. Here is video of some of the highlights.
Next up was Freddy vs. Jason. This house exceeded all my expectations. The Camp Crystal Lake section was very eerie, with Jason stalking us throughout. Once you exit the camp, the grand reveal of 1428 Elm Street is massive and beautiful. After Freddy has his fun torturing you, then you get the epic finale, with actors dressed as Freddy and Jason stabbing each other and fighting to the end. We won’t spoil who wins, but we will say that it’s a ton of fun. Epic on all levels.
The final house we did for the night was Body Collectors. This takes place in the Shadybrook asylum and the scare actors do what the title says – collect bodies. There are some cool moments here where you get to see the kills happen, and the Body Collectors are dressed like perfect gentlemen, smiling the whole way. There is one scene in particular that is rather graphic (but that’s all we’re going to say about that without spoiling it for you).
Here are a few more shots of the Psychoscarepy, which was a block party taken over by the inmates of Shadybrook. There was some funky music playing in this house, and a giant fire effect that made me wonder how much Universal is spending on propane every night this event runs.
Here are some photos of the merchandise for this year’s event. The Aftermath gift shop over by Twister is the main merchandise location, and also serves as somewhat of a museum of older HHN props. Pretty cool!
By the time we made it to the Scarytales Screampunk scare zone, it was already 1AM and the park was closed, so we just have a few shots of these props for you. Just means we have to go back.
Overall, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights is a banner event. Most of the houses are extremely strong, and I think they will only get better as the event continues. We didn’t get to spend as much time in the scare zones as I would have liked, but getting whisked across the park to get to all nine houses in one night kind of negates that complaint. We also did not get the chance to see Jack’s The Carnage Returns show, so we’ll need to head back to provide some coverage of that for you all. You can really see the passion and the heart that goes into making this event what it was, and I was extremely impressed by all of it. For more information, head to HalloweenHorrorNights.com.
We’ll see you in the fog!