First off: getting into the park. huge lines at both the security stop and the actual entrance gates. Security line moved well, but the lines at the gates were slow. Apparantly the ticket takers had to manually enter numbers from the tickets to ensure their accurace and validity. This is very time consuming and slowed down our getting into the park.
Once inside we were greeted by...more crowds! There is only one main walkway leading into the park so everyone was pretty much bunched together until there were different walkways to split the crowd up. By continuing straight ahead we ended up in what must have been the Deadwood themed scare zone. What struck me most is their street monsters seemed to be more interested in standing around getting their pictures taken rather than attempting to scare people.
In fact, when it comes to the scare zones in general I saw very little, if any, actual attempts to scare people. There were some fantastic sets, and some fantastic acting (like the guy up in the window of a building in the zombie area who was twitching and thrashing as though he'd just been infected, that was neat (photo below)) but like i said, not a scare attempt to be seen.
EDIT: i forgot to mention the Jack the Ripper scare zone section. Ripper himself wanted to make sure i gave kudos to one of the prostitues who was saying "I'm the queen of england!" he really enjoyed this section (gee ya think given his nickname? hehe). and I have to agree. The street monsters in this section where the only ones realy getting up in the face of the guests.
Imho, the worst part of the scare zones was the lack of definition. You couldnt' tell where one theme ended and another began until you happened to glimpse one of the street monsters. This seemed to give the whole scare zone idea a very "thrown together" look.
The first maze we went through was "The Asylum" which was set behind? the Shrek 4-D attraction. Walking up to the facade, which was nice but not nearly as detailed as KSF's Asylum facade,
i noticed the details of the house then was completly distracted by the line control person. What distraced me so much you might ask? She was still wearing her Shrek 4-D costume!!
Little did i know then that this would be a prevailing theme for the night at HHN, a lack of themeing! Once inside the maze i made sure to try and pay attention to most of the details becuase i coudl tell by the size of the crowd that with only 2 mazes and the tram, lines were going to be hideous all night (and they were). Ripper mentioned his fave thing about this maze was a window which appeared to look outside the building with a crazy person walking on the grounds. When the talent noticed Ripper looking, he ran full force into the window, slamming himself against it. I wish i'd seen it, that is a good scare tactic imho. The sets in the Asylum were beautiful, very detailed and VERY high in the gore/blood factors which I liked very much. Sadly the talent inside the maze really didnt' know all that much what to do. Their scare attempts felt half assed and even when they did get someone to scream, they moved on to the next part of the line instead of getting the most out of someone they actually scared. My fave talent from that maze was the person in the restrooms section who was walking from stall to stall with a pile of fake poop in his hands saying over and over in a high falsetto "pooo poooooooo, poo pooooooo". It made me laugh...laugh, not feel scared. But it was pretty much the only emotion brought out in me thru the entire maze.
Next we hit the Terror Tram. This was the one aspect of HHN I'd been looking forward to the most. The thought of walking the backlot with monsters chasing you around made me feel giddy. Even more evoking of the giddiness was the thought of being close to the Psycho house and Bates motel. The tram guide spiel rules had been pretty much thrown out the window for HHN it seems, and the tour guides on both the ride up and the ride back seemed to really get into their parts. They were both very entertaining, and sadly one of the best highlights of the Terror Tram experience. The film on the tram about the Director was great and very squeamish, sadly some of us recognized that scene from a Dario Argento film, but its still one of those scenes that makes you feel very uncomfortable.
Once off the tram we were greeted by a walkway---lined with 3-4foot fencing...on BOTH sides. So much for "wandering" the backlot. Now most of you who know me know my dislike (read: hatred/fear/loathing/terror) of clowns. Well, the first section of the walking part was clowns. Clowns on the OTHER sides of the fences. Clowns sliding, on the OTHER side of the fences. I do believe there were a couple of clowns inside the walkway, but i was still so stunned by the fencing itself and the fact that someone thought it would be scary to have sliders and talent on the other side of the fence that i hardly noticed them. Me, the gal that used to walk thru C3 with her eyes closed most of the time found nothing scary about these clowns. Espically since there was a (insert sarcasm) nice big (end sarcasm) fence between them and i.
Next was the Sorority Massacre section which was set up in the Bates Motel facade.
Now, my heart skipped a couple of beats seeing the Bates Motel so close, it and the Psycho house are just those kinds of icons that stir up memories and emotions in a horror film lover. Imagine my dismay to see it surrounded by, yep--you guessed it....fencing! I don't want to discredit the scareactors there, they were doing a fine job. Seeing jocks and cheerleaders in the bloodied windows was neat, then seeing a "mother" run into the room and pull them out of the window and hear them screaming, good acting. But where were the scares?!?!
If i wanted acting I could have stayed home and rented a movie. Kudos for the high gore factor, but thats kinda lost by the notion of none of it really truely being scary becuase it all happened on the other side of a fence! When you are *that* seperated from the horror, there is no reason to be scared. You're protected by a fence afterall from the scary monsters.
I forget if this was before or after the motel and psycho house, but there was also what appeared to be a USH tram that had been "attacked" off to the left side of the trail. It had very gory looking corpses, and one live actor screaming for help. Sorry,this did nothing for me, it was too far away from the approved walking area to be effective.
The Psycho house was the definate highlight of Terror Tram.
It was the one thing we were allowed to get close to and had a fantastic! Norman Bates look-alike standing on its steps.
When I went up to have my picture taken with him he said "Mother usually doesnt' allow girls so close to the house" in this deadpan, completely creepy voice. He was amazing and being as he was at the base of the steps of the house, it gave us a chance to actually TOUCH the Psycho house, something Ripper and I had hoped would be part of the experience and, in my opinion, was the only redeeming quality of the entire experience.
Next was the War of the Worlds set rethemed as a zombie location. As with the clown area, the entire place was bordered by the now hated fencing and the majority of the monsters were on the other side of said fencing. One zombie appeared to be chowing down on a corpse and as i moved closer to snap a photo i got blasted in the face with a water gun. Sort of neat, made me jump a little and thing "Crap, I hope its only water and not colored red for the effect". thankfully it was only water. I finally got my pic after getting blasted 4 times.
Once was effective, shots #2 and 3 were funny, 4 was almost downright annoying. Again, no real "scares" seen attempted, just a lot of staying in character.
The second biggest highlight of the Terror Tram after the Psycho House was the scareactor dressed up like Chuckie from Child's Play.
Not much to really say here, the highlights kind of speak to how lacking the experience as a whole was to us.
Next we caught Mutaytor Dance Party. Ripper had really wanted to see this being that he's a huge Oingo Boingo fan and he wasn't disappointed and neither were the rest of us.
I'm sure there are some people who watch the show going "WTF?", but for people into Burning Man-type presentations this was a sheer audio and visual delight. The band/dancers were even nice enough to come out after the performance and take pictures with us.
This was the only show we were able to catch due to the length of lines for the attractions and the short amount of time the park was open. 5 hours is no where near enough time to experience everything the park had to offer with as many people as were there.
After this we rode Jurassic Park In The Dark. A waste of time in my opnion as the In The Dark part made it so you couldn't really see the details of the sets.
Next was Revenge of the Mummy, since most of our group had never been on it before. Wow, you know a ride is a huge disappointment when the queue is more entertaining than the actual ride itself.
From this point we headed back up to the main lot and the House of Horrors maze. We skipped this at the beginning of the night becuase within 30mins of the park opening it already had a 90min wait due to its location right near the park's entrance. Now I personally haven't seen the Van Helsing building before, the last time we went to USH during regular park hours was in 1999. But according to those in our group that had, there was very little changed from the regular attraction set-wise. What bothered me the most was the complete and utter lack of theming around the monsters. We came around a corner and there was Freddy. Standing. Doing pretty much nothing and surrounded by...the Van Helsing themeing. Further along the maze was Carrie White. Standing. With absoluetly NO THEMEING! Why on earth would Carrie White be scary just standing around not even with a prom set! The monsters seemed to just be placed willy nilly in the building with no themeing, sets, or presentation of any kind. What a stinker of a maze.
And that ladies and gentlemen pretty much concludes my review. I went to the last HHN in 2000 and had a complete blast there. The clive barker maze Harvest, rob zombie's maze House of a 1000 corpses, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer maze...those were all top notch. And even though they had long lines, there were enough mazes to evenly spread the crowds out that year. I can't understand why USH thought the 2 mazes this year would be on par with those.
Touching the Psycho House
The Killer Sock of DOOM! (inside joke, sorry! rofl)
The people we hung out with, without their company i would have felt like we had wasted a night of our vacation
lack of definition to scare zones
lack of scares in general, too much acting, not enough scaring
lack of themeing in HoH maze, it made it worse than some of the smaller haunts i've been to
too few mazes
the fencing along the Terror Tram walking path, they completley distracted from the gore and horror of the scenes on the other side of them
lack of The Director! the website pumps up this character so much and yet the only "appearance" he makes is on the tram films. if you are going to try to make an icon out of someone, then you need to present him in some fashion other than film.
i really feel like the website and its descriptions of the the Terror Tram and the House of Horrors maze are completely misleading. No "plants" were yanked from our tram and the walking on the backlot ideal is compeltely lost by that annoying fencing.
I'm hoping to add pix once i get them downloaded and such, should be by tomorrow!