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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
You’ll also find Scare Zone props throughout the park right now. All of this year’s scare zones are themed to The Purge.
This historical recreations using skeletons are all kids of awesome.
Some Halloween Horror Nights merchandise is already in the stores.
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:
Who’s ready for Halloween Horror Nights? It all kicks off this weekend!