Orlando Parkhopper had the pleasure of attending the opening weekend of one of the country’s top haunted attractions. Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights returns on weekends and select nights until October 31st for its 22nd year. This year there are seven new haunted houses, two shows and six scare zones. Parkhoppers, Eric and Andre, braved the terror filled park to bring you the low down on the hits and misses of this popular and often crowded event.
Eric (Left) and Andre (Right) surrounded by the living dead.
We’ll start our review with the haunted attractions not to miss, then move on to the should dos and finally the ones you can skip if the lines are long or you are running out of time.
- House of Horrors: Universal Classic Monsters at its best. This maze is in Black and White, and really takes some classic monsters and makes them scary again. 10/10 – this one is a slam dunk.
- Gothic: Statues come to life, breathtakingly large set pieces, and some really impressive old tricks have been reimagined to bring this experience to life (or to death). 9/10
- Penn & Teller Nuked Las Vegas: This years “funny house” takes the concept of the 3D house to all new levels, which tricks that are surprising, jarring, perception bending, and scary all at the same time. Penn & Teller are a very welcome addition to the Halloween Horror Nights family, and I hope to see more houses from them in the future! 9/10
- The Walking Dead: If you are a fan of the series you might not be surprised as this maze unfolds. But you will feel as if you have been transported into the world of the Walking Dead, and if you aren’t a fan of the Walking Dead, this house, will make you one! 9/10
- Silent Hill: Based on the popular Video game, movie (and to be released sequel) this house, takes you into the world of Silent Hill. Some great uses of technology and some of the largest scareactors you will ever see. 7/10
- Dead End: A cursed house that uses some HHN favorite tricks in some new ways. A fun maze, but very familiar if you have attended Horror Nights in the past. 7/10
- Alice Cooper Welcome to My Nightmare: Based on Alice Coopers twisted tales, this house seems to desperately want to make you grab your mouth in disgust. However it didn’t seem too twisted nor overly nightmarish, and came off as kind of ok. After a night of excellent and phenomenal experiences, this one just stood out like a sore thumb in the presence of excellent mazes elsewhere. 5/10
- 20 Penny Circus: A must miss. A complete lack of energy, showmanship, story, cripple this show fully of tried and true side show acts. As a local Orlando act, I was disappointed, because I was hoping this could be a launching point for them, but the “edginess” felt forced, the dialogue painful, and the execution unbearable. 1/10
- Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure: As bad as 20 Penny Circus is, Bill and Ted’s is Excellent. Simply the best Bill and Ted show in years! With a new set, new writers, new choreographer, new life has been breathed into this staple! You will find yourself belly laughing, and wanting more when the show ends. An absolute MUST DO for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights! 10/10 A perfect score.
With all the construction going on, and the new Superstar Parade, Halloween Horror Nights has had to adapt to the changing map of the park. With the streets jammed pack full of day time entertainment and construction crews, having large stationary Halloween sets just isn’t possible this year. With that, Universal has themed the streets to compliment all of the construction. Something has been unearthed, and now there is no escape. While the clever ideas work to include the ubiquitous construction, one can’t help but remember that this is the park that gave us flying monkeys over our heads, Robo-saurous, school houses full of demented children, crashed buses, and countless other large set pieces. To have small rollout pieces makes the scare zones feel minimal this time around.
The overall experience inside each house this year is incredible. With stories that are unique, and familiar, with old familiar tricks used in surprising news ways, and new technologies being employed, you really get the sense and feeling that this year the creative team really cranked it up to 11. And minus a few mistakes, these haunted attractions are as close to the perfect scare as we’ve seen in a long time.
Join Us For MiceChat’s Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Night Event – Friday, September 28
Interested in joining some fellow MiceChat readers at Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights? Fishbulb will be leading a small group of Halloween lovers through one of our favorite Haunts this Friday, September 28th. If you’d like to explore Universal’s excellent lineup of haunted attractions with us, please email [email protected] We’ll fill you in on all the details.