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  1. #1

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    Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    Just went last night to the opening night with my friends. Definitely fun with plenty of scares. We especially loved the Texas Chainsaw house -- gross and scary, my ears are still ringing from my friend screaming in my ear. Loved the Terror Tram, getting off the tram was great but I didn't like the clowns -- they freak me out.

    Bill and Ted show was entertaining -- lots of killer dancing and Britney was hilarious. Overall the night was a blast and I loved that I didn't have to drive down to Orange County.
    Last edited by karigarr; 10-06-2007 at 03:17 PM.

  2. #2

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    Here's some pics of the preview (as well as some pics from earlier in the day before the event)

    I was quite impressed, especially by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze - it apparently was the favorite of the New Line reps.
    The Freddy maze had some really cool effects (including a literally freezing room), and the actors did some good teamwork scares, to get people screaming time and again.
    The Camp Blood (Friday the 13th maze) had good design, but the actors weren't doing their jobs- too much hanging out, not enough scaring.

    Terror Tram - I like this year's version much more - you get to walk right up to the sets, and the route curves around so it's not a straight shot to the tram to take you back to the unload area. The actors were doing a great job early on, but when we went back out a second time, there wasn't a much mingling in with the crowd.

    Keep in mind, this was essentially a dress rehearsal, and it was already better put together, and better staffed than the best of last years event.

    Have fun, and if you plan to go to HHN, be sure to get there EARLY - security check in can be a long line, and the front of the park gets crowded when there's HHN, a concert at the amphitheater, and the regular CityWalk nightlife.
    Last edited by CoasterMatt; 10-05-2007 at 09:19 PM. Reason: Silly me, forgot to put in the link :)
    See more of my horrible photos (and a few good ones) at my Flickr photostream

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    Last year the worst thing ever... This year AMAZING!!!!

    We arrived at 8:30 but it wasnt crowded at all for some reason so we were able to do it all..

    Texas Chainsaw maze was my favorite.. I was still quite intoxicated from Dinner at Bubba Gump and some how ended up on the floor practically crying with chainsaws surrounding me.. it doesnt get any better than that..

    The Freddy maze was also pretty crazy..

    Scare Zones actually had scary people in them this year!

    Ended the night with the Bill and Ted show, the non stop dancing ending was so awesome!


    Knott's seemed kinda old this year, I'm so happy Universal put on a great event and can't wait to go back!



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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    i'm glad to hear that a couple of you guys had a great time! i'm pretty stoked for tonight then!!!

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    *POSSBLE SPOILER ALERT- Sorry, didn't realize this was a long post*

    OPERATING HOURS 7PM-12AM

    GET DISCOUNTED TICKETS AT CITYWALK'S HALLOWEEN STORE & UNIVERSAL STUDIOS STORE in CITYWALK.

    I got there last night around 6pm to get there early and talk with old friends. They're using the old Sam Goody store in Citywalk as a pretty cool Halloween store. Beware, lots of stuff, very little room to walk around. Lots of black & grey shirt managers & executives walking around the park seeing people's reaction and taking charge of the event. The go-go dancers are back but in clown attire. 1 of them kept bouncing her butt at him for quite awhile when I was video recording. I was waiting for her to do something else but got bored and left, haha. The park was selling Full Throttle shots I think 2 for $5. I heard it wasn't good but a neat souveiner to keep. They didn't have a free sample area this year . And no FULL THROTTLE special lighting on the BTTF, er, I mean Simpsons ride. Kwik-E-Mart sign was lit. The comic book store is right next to it for some reason. Essentially all the scare zones are back. They added soliders to the zombie scare zone along with about 3-4 special lighting to make it look like helicopter lights which looked cool in the smoke. They used the taxi for victims to get away from zombies, not sure if they did that before. A couple sliders, not too much.

    Breezed by secruity and waited about 10-15 minutes for gates to open. Note: Wheelchair access & VIP entry was closest to the Universal Studio Store in Citywalk. I'm not sure about the other side. And try to use the gates away from the main center gates, lines tend to be shorter on the sides.

    *TERROR TRAM- walk on. Walking through the clown set being one of the last people in the group, a clown lady jumped in a screamed extremely loud into my ear. I wasn't really scared, but I rubbed my ear and said "Ouch". The clown lady laughed, but I'm not sure if it was in character or she thought it was really funny as well. I think they put more tram cars in the pathway. Jason was out killing people in tents in that wilderness-like area... that was awesome to see... wish it had more blue lighting so you can see better. Last year near the Psycho House they had a random butcher set. This year it's themed to Leatherface and positioned differently so you kinda walk THROUGH/ BETWEEN the set. But it's still a random butcher set. I think they put up more barricades so you can't touch the Psycho House. Secruity/crowd control makes sure people who are slower move along. The greatest improvement for this is people can actually walk THROUGH the War of the Worlds set. Although they added a "Elm Street" sign, I don't recall seeing Freddy, mostly zombies. I wish they replace the metal barricades here with one of those police wooden/plastic caution barricades, I hope you know what I mean. There seems to be more better hiding places for actors, but they would still have to dock and cover. Why not 6-7 foot panels made to look like part of the wreckage- then again that might confuse where guests are supposed to walk to...? Make sure you catch Jack at the end of the walk to see him put a victim in the wood chipper. Waited awhile for the Tram to pick us up. Jack was talking through the speakers and mingling with people. He said a line from Batman: "You ever danced with the devil in the pale moon light?" They didn't have the murderer and victim set in the wilderness before The Mummy's Tomb which BTW the tour guide mentioned the 3rd film's upcoming release. Jack controls the tomb's curse however via videoscreen.

    *8PM DARK MAGIC & DIRTY TRICKS (1st performance)- this was quite boring unfortunately. It didn't bring in us much people into that Animal Actors Stage as last year's performance. The pre-show video started out the same, but I'm pretty sure they changed it a bit. The show starts with dancers... at that point I probably would have left like some other people but I was video recording the show. After that torture, Kevin James comes out. The show is slow paced and seems not very rehearsed. In fact I heard the close-up magic he was doing didn't work out his way during employee previews. And the performers kept signaling to the audio guy to cut or lower the music's volume.

    *9PM SLAUGHTER WORLD 2 (1st performance)- Different costumes. Last year they basically did a more adult version of Waterworld. This year it was like, um... modern & kinky clothing. Added more characters... but essentially 2 characters doing what 1 person would do in Waterworld... it was interesting to see more female stunt performers. The audio was horrible in the beginning... I understand they had the same problem with employee previews and actually CANCELLED the show. Some pyro didn't work. And OH LORD THEY STILL HAVEN'T FIXED THE JET SKI/WATER SKI LAUNCH SINCE JUNE!! The dialouge was quite poor and the music was mostly missing as well. Made me miss the Waterworld music. Basically tried to stay with the same plot. Deacon is replaced with a female villain. Added dead body parts for set dressing. The highlight was all the ways they spilled out blood. Essentially doing Knott's Scary Farm's "THE HANGING"'s blood fest and saving the parody gags for Bill & Ted. Overall not too impressed except for how they did the blood SFX which I'm sure most of the crowd felt.

    *9:40PM Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure (2nd performance)- Most definately the highlight of the shows they have. It started off like what I think was about the 1st few minutes of the Bill & Ted show from last year in Florida... I think mainly the fact it's a new stage location & for some reason Fear Factor is still here. Instead of the Phone booth coming out from behind a wall, IT LOWERS & RISES FROM THE CEILING BY CABLES, which I think is pretty cool. Had a bunch of random set pieces & props around. Had some nice gags, I really liked their take on Spider-Man 3, Rambo vs John McClane, and in the middle of the dance sequences, everyone gets on the spinning floor and spin around which I've seen done on youtube & HKDL's LionKing show I believe... it just looked really cool and refreshing seeing it done at Universal. They made quite a good use of the fact that this show is indoors so quite a few characters dropping in from the ceiling which is cool. OH, I also liked the Jason, HEROES' cheerleader, To catch a Predator bit . THEY REALLY NEED TO FIX THE VIDEO PROJECTORS, YOU CAN'T SEE A DARN THING EVEN WHEN ALL THE LIGHTS ARE OUT. There are private home entertainment projectors that are better than what that Fear Factor stage has.

    I was going to go down to the lower lot but at this time around 10:10-ish, the line for Texas Chainsaw was 50 minutes. So I headed to Friday the 13th for a 5 minute wait.

    *FRIDAY THE 13th: CAMP BLOOD- I think this didn't get enough attention is because of the location of the entrance, even though there were signs up and maps to go around, it's still kind of dark to see. Essentially the old waiting area for the Wild West show and 1/2 of the area inside the arena is used for queue. The maze is inside a black tent. The set up was great but like CoasterMatt said, the actors really had nowhere to hide. It was really about how good looking it was inside and basically Jason just standing there waiting for you. The least he could do was stand behind a wall and hide/ walk out from behind a wall into somebody's path in order to keep in character. No need to for jump and scream technique. Exit into the "Deadwood" scare zone. Oh yeah, beware of blood/water .

    *UNIVERSAL'S HOUSE OF HORRORS- I had little intention of going through this maze since it's here year-round, but I noticed from before it was another walk-on and was already close from finishing Camp Blood so figured yeah why not. Nothing too special. This one mummy kept following us. There was this couple standing in a corner near the end of the maze. I don't know if the girl was scared or something else this couple had in mind... These 2 tech guys were working on something with a flashlight... I thought that was kinda weird. They had the extended queue through Blues Brothers stage but I don't think it was used. And there seemed to be just the same number of scare actors compared to year-round operation. No new characters you wouldn't see year-round in here either.

    *A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: FREDDY'S NIGHTMARE- I figure it's about 10:30-sh by now and this maze had a 25 minute posted wait, it was less than that. Essentially the same maze last year in the Shrek queue. I don't think they ever had to resort to the extended queue that winded around Nickelodeon. Had some good upgrades to theme more for Freddy. I liked the Freddy in the mirror effect. They replaced a room so they can add a boiler room which was great. What was even better was seeing Freddy bursting through this boilder doorways or something with a full billow of smoke around him with strobe lights and his claws reaching out for him. I have to be honest in that I was more amazed and amused with the decor & work put into all this than being scared. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was smiling.

    It's about 10:45 and started walking towards London Scare Zone & Chucky. Stopped by Terminator Store and was told The Terminator attraction has actually been down all night. It was schedule to be performed but has had technical difficulties. Obviously the store was quite empty with the Team Leader not able to do much.

    * CHUCKY's INSULT EMPORIUM- started hanging in that courtyard at 10:50ish. This European area is the best looking area in the park IMHO. BUT the show was supposed to start 11pm, people gathered and waited. Black shirts & crowd control kept going in the front and back. I started walking out 11:13ish along with other people. The Texas Maze was supposed to close 11:30pm.

    *TEXAS MAZE- the Hellbilly scare zone was neat. There was enough room for a couple good slides sparks from sliders. Queue for the maze in the Special Effects Stage show queue & behind Revenge of the Mummy. The maze was in the unused Mummy queue behind the showbuilding. I always knew this area was good for a maze. A posted 20 minute wait. The facade is the mansion. It was a very nice maze. But sometimes, just don't look up or you'll see the immersion effect ruined. I didn't realize there was a scare actor at this table scene and if he jumped at me instead of the people behind me I probably would have got the best scare of the night.

    * It's almost midnight but I managed to jump in line for Mummy after making use of the free 1 hour locker with a 15 minute posted wait. I was in the 2nd to last car of the night. The loading area is still very freakin bright. The PA announced to workers that it's midnight and the ride wasn't taking anymore riders. They cheered and shouted at riders to move faster to get in and out of the ride... I'm serious... they shouted out riders so they can go home early... You know, the more I visit and worked at Universal, the more it makes me appreciate Disney? Let's just see how that POV turns out later next summer... Oh, and all effects seemed to be working except Imhotep's AA jaw doesn't work and the mummy on the left side that slides down at you before launch is not working.

    Stuck around with old friends til 1AM and then headed out. Oh, someone made a comment that they would appreicate the makeup of actors better if there was better lighting... that was just their opinion and I'm not sure if I agree or not yet.

    *SOUVEINERS- Full Throttle shot, shotglasses, coffee cup, lighted horn ears for $5, Freddy & Halloween hats, masks & costumes, and about 3 different shirts. I got a Freddy UHHN 2007 shirt. I didn't like the other shirt designs with the Carnival of Carnage theme. That just looks better on promotional campaigns, not really good for shirts IMHO. Oh, and DVDs too at SRP.

    *OVERALL- pretty good. Made some improvements. REALLY liked the work put into the mazes, not all that scary. The shows need real help. Bill & Ted could be funnier, but still enjoyable. And I didn't notice too many people walk-out unlike last year's FEAR FACTOR LIVE: DEAD CELEBRITY EDITION. Bill & Ted is the best show, Slaughterworld is second, Dark Magic & Dirty Tricks is a low 3rd. I'm gonna have to say Texas was a great maze, Camp Blood a close 2nd, Freddy's showmanhip with what I describe from above was a great highlight of that maze for a 3rd place, Universal's House of Horrors is down in last place.

    "You're not thinking fourth dimensionally!" -Back to the Future

    "With this place, I wanted to give them something real, something that wasn't an illusion, something they could see and touch. An aim devoid of merit."
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  6. #6

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    I went to HHN yesterday, and I must say I had more fun here than Knott's this year.

    I think its best to get there really early in order to avoid heavy security lines. I've arrived at the lines at 4:30pm and in an hour, 6pm, the security lines are open. The gates open around 6:30pm and once inside around 6:45pm barriers are taken out.

    Yesterday, it wasn't crowded in the beginning of the night. I was able to do all three mazes and Terror Tram within 1 1/2 hr. House of Horrors didn't bother going. I strongly suggest getting to the park early to avoid 45-90 mins wait for the mazes.

    A Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy's Nightmare": I was kinda disappointed with this maze. I felt it short from last year's Asylum. I've noticed that some scenes were the same as last year's Asylum. The monsters were ok and the sets were well detailed, but it ended too fast. 6/10

    "Friday the 13th: Camp Blood": I was really impressed w/ this maze. well detailed and great sets. monsters were great and got a few good scares. 9/10

    "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Back in Business": My favorite maze. A must see maze. the highlight of the night. The sets were amazing, well detailed and amazing talent. I've got a lot of good scares. The smell was horrible but works really good in this maze. I recommend to go on this maze a.s.a.p since it does get really crowded and the wait time goes to 90mins. 10/10

    "Terror Tram": A major improvement from last year's disaster. I've loved it a lot. USH really did a great job keeping the backlot from overcrowding like last year. Now you can actually walk more close to the sets and actually walk around the plane crash site of War of the Worlds than just walking straight up like last year. Jack the Clown was amazing and the rest of the talent did an outstanding job. 10/10

    "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure": Great show, funny parodies and Britney was funny. The cast were great. Kept me entertain throughout the whole show. A must see. 9/10

    "Dark Magic & Dirty Tricks": hmmm... this show is ok but rather boring. can't really say much since there wasn't anything interesting to say. 1/10

    "Chucky's Insult Emporium" This show was freakin' hilarious. Laughed the entire show. 9/10

  7. #7

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    Quote Originally Posted by filmfreak11 View Post
    I think they put up more barricades so you can't touch the Psycho House.
    Touching the Psycho house was the only thing good about HHN last year!

    However, based on the reviews here, it sounds like they've made some positive changes. Can't wait to see for myself on Saturday.

    Thanks for the information.
    ~Gina


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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    Does anyone know how or if the Terror Tram handles wheelchairs? My husband always just transfers from his chair to the normal USH tram, but he'd definitely need it if everyone's dropped off mid-route. Or for that matter, did it look like the mazes and haunt zones are accessible?

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    I don't know how you all do it. I went once, and the people running after me with the chainsaws pretty much made sure I never went back!

    I haven't even done Stitches Encounter at MK (Alien Encounter scared me!)
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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    ^ The haunts didn't appeal to me either. But after going to my first haunt at Knott's 2 years ago, I love it . And Halloween is my favorite holiday. I LOVED ALIEN ENCOUNTER!

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    Quote Originally Posted by filmfreak11 View Post
    ^ The haunts didn't appeal to me either. But after going to my first haunt at Knott's 2 years ago, I love it . And Halloween is my favorite holiday. I LOVED ALIEN ENCOUNTER!
    I love the Mickeys Not So Scary - it's just a little scary (very little), but so much fun! I can't wait to go again this weekend. I've never been to Knotts at all.

    As far as Alien Encounter - I did it 3 times, it freaked me out 3 times, and that was it. I'm such a wuss!
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    Re: Terror Tram Wheelchairs

    Quote Originally Posted by drb View Post
    Does anyone know how or if the Terror Tram handles wheelchairs? My husband always just transfers from his chair to the normal USH tram, but he'd definitely need it if everyone's dropped off mid-route. Or for that matter, did it look like the mazes and haunt zones are accessible?
    They had several big white shuttle-type vans that took groups around.

    We saw vans at several points along the walking tour sections, so I assume they drive you down the hill, drop you off by Whoville, pick you up after the Bates Motel to drive up the hill to the Bates house, and then pick you up past the War of the Worlds set?

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    sorry for the delay! The last couple of days have been crazy for me. But as promised I am back with my review of Halloween Horror Nights at USH.
    Last years event (the first year back after a long hiatus) was mostly a huge dissapointment. There were only 2 mazes, and although the Asylum maze was very impressive the other maze was merely the year-round Van Helsing attraction with random monsters planted throughout and actually quite lame. The Terror Tram was a great idea that suffered from poor execution leaving only the scare zones as a real high point. Having worked at and attended the Horror Nights event in the last years of it's previous stint, I have seen what Universal can do and how awesome it can be and therefore I was quite dissapointed by last year's feeble attempt. I did not lose all hope though, chalking the failure up to a hastily planned, horribly underfunded first year back, keeping high hopes for 2007.
    After visiting HHN last weekend I am pleased to let you all know that Universal is back and poised for a hostile takeover of southern california halloween events! They have taken many steps in the right direction this year, fixing many of last years goofs and improving on what they got right. The scare zones, although rather small, are once again a huge success! With the continuing renovation of Knott's, their scare zones have lost a lot of their intensity and atmospheric impact. This is not the case with Universal's, as certain walk-ways and corners of the park are just perfect for a spooky retrofitting, and each is put to excellent use. The actors are also great in these areas, putting on a genuine show and staying thoroughly in character. The props are great, the costumes and makeup are great and the music and sound design are superb, if a little basic. Best of all, Universal's infamous chainsaw drill teams are back! Anybody who attended the event in the "old days" or has been to Florida will know exactly what I'm talking about and how absolutely awesome it is. I don't want to spoil the shock for anyone but just think of giant roving gangs of chainsaw wielding maniacs all working in unison to continually assault the crowd and scare the living sh*t out of everyone. I am pretty jaded when it comes to being scared at these events and I found myself running like a high school girl from a chainsaw slingin' hillbilly attacking at full tilt.
    The overall atmosphere here beats Knott's hands down this year as crazies and monsters literally chase hapless screaming victims everywhere, scary music and sounds invade your ears at every turn and the rumble of chainsaws is never far away. I would just love to see one or two more zones to really fill out the park, but what they've done so far they have absolutely nailed.
    Now, on to the mazes...

    Nightmare On Elm Street
    Although it's not a bad idea to use last year's asylum maze and redesign it to fit the Freddy theme, the end result isn't as good as it could have been. The asylum maze was one of the only high points in last year's dissapointing showing, coming through solidly as one of the best mazes of it's kind that I have ever been through. With the departure of a few rooms to the Texas Chainsaw maze (most obviously the nasty bathroom walkthrough and a few of the "surgery" and cooking gags) and the inclusion of the Freddy elements, the original asylum layout has been changed and therefore is shorter and has lost some of it's impact. Last year it seemed like you were really going deeper and deeper into the building and that you might never escape, but this feeling was not conveyed by the new design. Also, a lot of the crazies and ghouls wandering the halls last year have been replaced by Freddies lurking beind doors or pop gags so the maze feels a little empty.
    Many of the effects are nice and the newly added freddy sets are superb (The roach motel is one of the coolest set pieces in the whole event) but the individual effects and sets don't flow well into each other and the idea of being plunged in and out of multiple nightmares is not fully realized, with the re-theming feeling a bit forced and the sound design suffering due to too many looping Freddy sound bites. With some work this maze could have been really impressive but as it is, it stands out as the worst of the three Newline mazes, and a monument to wasted potential.

    Friday The 13th
    All I can say about this maze is WOW. Maze designers of the world, take note - this is how it should be done! Everything about this maze works beautifully with a good flow and a convincing feeling of total emersion. There is a great combination of flashy effects and old school scares, set up to perfection. The sets are perfect as the path leads you through different cabins and dark corners of Crystal Lake, with the outdoor foresty bits enhanced by cold temperatures and the sharp scent of pine. Many of the classic deaths from the Friday series are present here in all their gory glory with lots of blood spray and screaming victims, making you feel as though you've truly wandered into the world of the films with Jason stalking you at every turn. I also really liked the way they worked in versions of Jason and set pieces from the entire span of the franchise instead of just focussing on one incarnation and thus the bloody history of "Camp Blood" comes to life within the confines of one of the best mazes I've ever had the pleasure to experience.

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre
    Coming in a close second to the Friday maze, this is another prime example of how great maze attractions can be. Despite the fact that the god awfull remake of the film is used as the primary basis for the maze, a handfull of references to the 1970s original can be found throughout, presenting an intriguing combination of the two films' very different tones. Like Friday, the set design and layout of this maze couldn't be better. The house sets particularly are chock full of grisly details (notice the photos hanging in the entryway and how they have all been eerily defaced - no pun intended) and great glimpses into the twisted lives of the chainsaw clan (Leatherface hunched over a sewing machine, finishing a new skin mask leaves a lasting impression) while setting up copious scares using an unprecedented number of impressive chainsaw gags. The use of several live chainsaws and many many "light and sound effects" shows how perfectly the maze designers understand the challenges and intricacies of using the saws in a maze setting and each gag is set up and executed well.
    There are less gore effects than in Friday, although the spraying blood is still prevelant (not to mention the great overhead dripping corpse gag late in the maze) but a meathook gag was nowhere to be found, and more attention is paid to menacing the guests than slaughtering the maze's victims (although there are a few great scenes as actors are tortured and mutilated). This isn't a bad thing altogether, as it leads to a maze with a more intense feel and lots of big scares, but the perfect balance of staging and scaring on display in the Friday maze is more off balance here. The sound design, on the other hand, is better than Friday's, using the themes from the original film and a barrage of atmoshperic effects (not to mention uncountable saw buzzing effects) to magnificent ends without going overboard.
    At the end of the day this maze is very very good. Leaps and bounds beyond anything Knott's has to offer this year and easily one of the highlights of Horror Nights.

    House of Horrors
    I presume that this maze is totally unchanged from it's year-round daytime incarnation, but the remodeling (the maze was formerly based on the lame Universal quasi-horror bomb, Van Helsing) is pretty damn good. Some of the old sets (most notably the massive frankenstein's lab room) are intact, but many of the maze's chambers have been transformed into rooms themed after various horror films and most of said transformations are quite succesfull. There are some corners of the maze that look unfinished (almost as if the remodeling is not quite complete) and some of the theming is a bit slapdash and underwhelming and there is a significant lack of monsters, but the talent level is fairly high and there are a few good scares to be had throughout. As far as effects and good gags go, this maze is definitely lacking - even some of the great bits from Van Helsing have been replaced by more standard haunted house fare - but House of Horros achieves what it aims to and delivers a solid old-school maze experience with great sets and decent sound design, despite the low number of monsters inhabiting it's halls.

    Terror Tram
    Last year's Terror Tram (the first attempt at this attraction) was a giant dissapointment. It was such a great idea marred by what I thought was completely backasswards execution - taking guests to the backlot and letting them walk through a series of scenes based around Whoville (from How the Grinch Stole Xmas), the Bates Motel, the Psycho House and the suburban plane crash scene from War of the Worlds. The idea of turning giant backlot sets into a haunted house type experience seems like a slam dunk but it seemed that Universal hadn't thought it all through.
    Once on the tram, guests were treated to a creepy video setting up a sort of backstory for the backlot adventure. After getting off and starting the walking tour, guests were basically expected to saunter through large fenced-off walkways that went past the aformentioned sets.
    The attraction had the general feeling of a really big scare zone but it's isolated location and the fact that the park bills it more like a maze, led to confusing expectations and an unever experience. It seemed like the monsters didn't really know how to deal with the situation either, as their performances were generally neither scary nor particularly interesting to watch. Thematically the attraction was all over the place as well, with no real continuity carrying over from the tram video, and no obvious flow between sets.
    But enough about last year...
    This year's Terror Tram is something of an oddity. In some respects it is much more successfull than last years outing, while in other ways it has lost a degree of charm. The story line is better realized but not as initially intriguing. I know the character of Jack Shmidt has been around for years in Florida but his inclusion at the Hollywood event seems forced. In fact, the "host" characters that are so beloved in Florida just seem to not work at USH due to the fact that the theming is not nearly as intense and the history is simply not there. If Hollywood really wants to continue using the hosts (presumably as an easy way to share merchandise with the Florida park) they need to really go for it - theming the entire events around them like they do in Orlando. This half-assed approach is just kind of confusing, and with the Newline Cinema characters in the park, the attempt to theme the event further seems kind of extranious.
    That said, Jack's presence does bring some sort of relavence to the clown re-theming of Whoville, but the area is still underdressed and the clowns again seem unclear as to whether they should attack the guests or just kind of act crazy. More set pieces have been moved inside the path this year, which offers some cover for would-be scarers, and that is something of an improvement.
    Including Freddy, Jason and Leatherface only further confused the theming and really added very little to the overall experience. The biggest improvement is the re-routed path that actually winds through the plane crash and the fabulous effect of Jack jamming a girl into a wood chipper at teh end of the walkthrough is truly impressive - leaving us wondering why they didn't gear this attraction to include more "big" effects set pieces. At the end of the day this is still an attraction with a lot of untapped potential that is kind of a mess. I'm not sure if there are too many cooks in the kitchen or what, but someone needs to give the Terror Tram some direction because it could be the coolest thing USH has going for it's halloween event but currently it is being thoroughly showed up by the traditional mazes and scarezones, and that's just not right.

    At the end of the day, Universal really came through this year. After last year's debacle I was expecting baby steps, and instead I got leaps and bounds! With the inclusion of a couple more mazes, expanded scare zones and a major rethinking of the Terror Tram, HHN will easily be THE premier halloween attraction in California in the years to come.
    There is a fresh feeling about the event as well, where as Knott's is beginning to feel a little stale. Every monster at USH seemed amped for the entire night, running around even when the crowds starting slowing down, and the maze design and execution simply wiped the floor with Haunt's. If you are a quantity over quality fan, you should probably stick with Knott's as they have a sh*tload of mazes, but I would recommend giving Universal a try this year since their event is much more polished, consise and well done. Bravo!

  14. #14

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    I was kinda disappointed they didn't put more effort into the Flinstones carnival games area... I mean come on, Carnival games.... Carnival of Carnage... BLAH! I took a peek at decor pics from Florida, USH's only Carnival of Carnage decor was really just the entrance and then stops there. They had a fortune teller between Carnival games and Animal actors stage, but I'm not sure if that was there already. Also, the carnival workers were REALLY barking for some attention. I don't think I could ever work in that area. I think they were also still in their regular Flintstones costume... not even a special robe for them .

    Anybody know how they managed to do a maze in the Frankenstein parking below Terminator?

    When Simpsons ride is finished up, and perhaps they put back a stage there for HHN, I'd like to see the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue come back and see if it's still attractive to guests. Maybe during the day, and at night a special band for HHN... if not, why not let Beetlejuice come out to play at night as well

    "You're not thinking fourth dimensionally!" -Back to the Future

    "With this place, I wanted to give them something real, something that wasn't an illusion, something they could see and touch. An aim devoid of merit."
    -Jurassic Park

  15. #15

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    Re: Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

    How are they handling the Front of Line passes this year (any restrictions)? Just wondering because least year (for some people) it was a 1-time use/maze.

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