SNEAK PEEK – Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights 2016

Written by Dusty Sage. Posted in Destinations, Features, Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, Universal Studios

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Published on September 15, 2016 at 3:00 am with No Comments

American Horror Story, Freddy vs. Jason, Krampus, The Exorcist, Halloween, The Walking Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Purge, The Terror Tram . . . that’s the impossible to believe lineup of experiences Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights has planned for 2016 – which opens THIS Friday (September 16th). MiceChat was recently invited to take a sneak peek at two of this year’s mazes, American Horror Story and Krampus. We won’t give away all the surprises, but there are some spoilers here. There’s also some fun information from the Creative Director of Halloween Horror Nights, John Murdy.

Halloween Horror Nights

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American Horror Stories, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, Eli Roth’s Terror Tram

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The Walking Dead, Freddy Vs. Jason, Halloween, Jabbawockeez, Krampus

We arrived at Universal expecting to walk through the Exorcist maze. However, it was unavailable at the time of our tour. John Murdy made a last minute route change and took us to American Horror Story instead. Even without scare actors, it was an amazing experience. Walking through the maze with its designer, Murdy, was a real treat. He’s a kid at heart and a true horror inspiration. His deep knowledge about the subject matter and how to bring those stories to life (or shall we say death) in a theme park setting is truly amazing.

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Every year, John and his team create concepts for frightful maze experiences, pitch it to the directors of popular horror properties, and then build, dress, light, staff and open a slate of brand new attractions for the ever-growing base of horror fans. All that hard work for something which will only last for about 6 weeks.  It’s exhausting just to think about. But the payoff is huge for Universal. Halloween is a massive profit opportunity and Uni Hollywood has become a leader in the theme park horror niche of the Halloween industry.

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Approaching the American Horror Story maze, you’ll immediately get the feeling of walking into a TV show. There’s a screen set up above the entry to the attraction. Murdy explained that the maze will use three seasons worth of content for the experience: Season one – Murder House, Season 4 – Freak Show, and the recent season 5 – Hotel. The facade of the maze will show clips from the seasons to set up the experience inside.

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For those of you who are AHS fans, you’ll be excite to hear that the amazing title sequences will play a part in the set up for each of the scenes within the maze.  In addition, each of the scenes will feature a Halloween episode.

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One of the mysteries fans of AHS wonder about is Constance’s fourth child. Though she mentioned having four kids, only three of them appeared on the show. John Murdy remedies that situation by having the missing child appear in the maze. And, for the record, the fourth child was cast and filmed for the show, but was left on the cutting room floor.

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Two effects in one. Piggy Man shows through a mirror, while the photographer, Dusty Sage, appears reflected in the glass. Which is more terrifying?! 😉

 

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The Freak Show portion of the maze is a stark contrast to Murder House. The colors are bright, there’s a sense of whimsy, but it is tempered with a sinister veneer. You’ll also encounter Chester, who is performing his magic act with Marjorie (his devious dummy).

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Murdy explained that he had full access to American Horror Story artwork, sound and scripts. These posters were based upon the originals from the show!

The maze will wrap up with the Hotel season of the show. Some great effects have been designed for this section. I’m really withholding some info from you here folks. There’s just too many great scares that I don’t want to ruin for you.  But expect this section to be haunting, beautiful and scary.

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Watch out John. There’s a creepy vampire child behind you.

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Baby Bartholomew’s nursery. He may be the center of attention, but there are some good scares before you run screaming from the maze.

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Behind that handsome face is a gloriously sick and twisted mind.

 

Here’s their teaser about the American Horror Story maze. You’ll see a lot of this imagery in the attraction itself.

Just a short walk from American Horror Story is Krampus. We took this walk without Murdy. Everything about his maze is awesome. They’ve built an entire house as the facade. The interiors are superbly detailed. And there’s a sense of humor to this maze. Mind you, they were still working on this maze when we walked through and there were no actors or show lighting yet.

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Look at all that snow.

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These guys were too cute not to share with you. These vicious little gingerbread men are amazing.

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This is why you have to put your gingerbread men in tupperware folks.

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Holy Krampus!

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There will be some great special effects in this maze.

And just steps away from Krampus, behind a burned out facade, is Freddy Vs. Jason. We didn’t get to tour this maze, but I really wanted to share this exterior shot.   IMG_26

The Walking Dead is a permanent maze that was unveiled this summer. However, it will be amped up for Horror Nights with about double the cast.  I thought it would be fun to take you on a little journey with me. And since this one has been open for a while, I’m going to share a few more photos than I did of the other mazes.    IMG_40

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Lines for this attraction can get very long. It’s very popular. On a Monday afternoon, the wait was over 50 minutes!

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You see the famous “Don’t Open” doors while you are in the interior portion of the queue.

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The animatronic hands are great.

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The burning cabin effect is so convincing. Disney should use this technology for the burning town in Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Lots of technology is used in this maze.

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 You’ll also find Scare Zone props throughout the park right now. All of this year’s scare zones are themed to The Purge.

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This historical recreations using skeletons are all kids of awesome.

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Betsy Ross

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Spirit of 76

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Paul Revere’s ride

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Our founding fathers

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The first maze you’ll encounter when you enter the park is the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. All of the signs have a digital wait time near the bottom.

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Some Halloween Horror Nights merchandise is already in the stores.

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Halloween Horror Nights starts this Friday, September 5th, and runs through November 5th on select nights.  Tickets and details at the official Halloween Horror Nights website HERE.

And, because I don’t go to Universal without stopping by the Wizardng World, here are a couple quick shots of Harry Potter’s amazing land:

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Who’s ready for Halloween Horror Nights? It all kicks off this weekend!

About Dusty Sage

Dusty is the founder and CEO of MiceChat.com. When he's not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty stays busy as the Executive Director of both the Walt Disney Birthplace AND the Dick Van Dyke Foundation. He also run's O-Zell Soda (the company originally operated by Walt Disney's father and at which Walt once worked). If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]

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