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    HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Opening Night Review)

    Zero to minor spoilers in this review, for your delight.

    Prologue

    12 hours ago, (at the time of writing this, it's 4:30 AM) we touched down in Universal City for my favorite Halloween theme park event. Arriving there, there was something in the air that just said, "this one's gonna be good." I tried to lower the anticipation. Keep myself at bay. Calm the expectations. But it's Universal - naturally for HHN, you just EXPECT something grand. And it's never until the end of the night, you can truly give an answer to that: did this year meet or exceed expecations or did it fall below the standard? Let's get started... and find out.


    Prior to the Madness & Opening Scaramonies
    Since we were an hour and a half early, we wanted to get some rides in so we didn't have to think about them later in the night. We ran down to the lower lot and hit the Mummy and Transformers (but you don't wanna know about that... so I'll carry on). By the time we finished with that, it was already 6 and we made our way back out the gates as things got set up. 6:30, they started to let the people in for the opening scaramonies. We got stuck by the Pizza Hut and the photo place, which I thought was a decent enough spot. However, after 30 long agonizing minutes, the scaramonies began... not only can you not see squat back there but the sound is practically mute. If you wanna hear and see this little mini-show, be among the nerds and get to the very front. Luckily, I saw the show on YouTube prior and I can say it's AWESOME. The story and everything works really well. And I'm glad to say, although a bit loosely, the event has returned to THEME.


    Klownz
    I'm very tired of clowns. Like... really. I can't even say much about it. These guys are energetic and going crazy but I'm just so sick of 'em at this point with the same dang music, same dang props and same dang characters in their regular location. It's a good zone but it shouldn't be the central scarezone like NY Street needs to be and definitely not 3 years in a row and if it is, it NEEDS to be changed up significantly. Unfortunately, as bored with this as I am, this wasn't the worst zone... we'll get to that later.
    7.5 out of 10 'C'


    La Llorona: The Child Hunter
    We instantly made our way to La Llorona, simply to get it out of the way since it was the only repeat. I asked my girlfriend before we got to the park which maze she would think would be the best, and she named this maze simply because it was SO good last year and it'd be hard to top it. As true as that may be, I still thought: "Ha, what an odd choice." And quite honestly, she wasn't very far off. We waited in line for 10 minutes and at approximately 7:10 PM (I'm gonna tell you how long I waited for each maze and tell you exactly when I went in the maze, just for "quality purposes"), we entered this BEAST. It starts off fairly the same... but right after the church, I noticed things were tweaked, chopped and twisted from before. Some scenes I liked from before are missing, and some scenes I hated are missing as well. It's a very equal balance and for that, it's hard to decide: "was it better than last year?" It's a very odd tie, with only my personal bias of "I've seen this before" bringing this maze down a couple of points. Had this very exact maze been presented this year for the first time, I think I would've been more receptive to it. But let's talk about the differences (without ruining anything, ofcourse). The ending is the part with the most obvious difference to it. In case you were wondering, yes, they keep the girl being eaten, it's just now in a different spot. Only now, that seems to be THE THING (*wink, wink*) this maze focuses on toward the end. It's seriously scary and my mouth dropped, and a lot of "WHOA'S" or "OH MY GOD'S" were said. I have to go through it again, but I think I MAY prefer this version to the original even though I'm giving this one a lower score as I'm looking at from the scope of things offered at the event this year (in other words, a 10 for TCM: Back in Business is different than a 10 for Saw). Still a DAMN good maze and honestly, one of this year's best over some of the new offerings.


    Queue/Facade: 9. Same thing as last year for the facade, but the queue is now missing the story boards that said what the old man... or woman, was saying in the opening narration. This isn't a very big deal breaker, but in case you couldn't hear or understand him/her, these were great ways to get a full understanding of the story. Gotta take away a point for that.
    Set Design: 10. Again, very beautiful maze and the new scenes look great, too.
    Sound Design: 10. Very creepy sounds in here, which work to the overall tone of the maze.
    Scareactor Design: 8. The new or tweaked scareactors weren't that great. And La Llorona is a fairly basic looking villain, so eh.
    Scares: 9. Still lots of scares to be had in here. All the new ones got me, unless I caught the end of it or saw it behind me. However, the predictability factor was a problem since I've been through the original maze 3 times before.
    Special Prop/Set: 10. Yup, lots of crazy **** to see in here.
    Immersion: 8. This one isn't very fair, simply because I was looking for the differences and that took me out of the maze.
    Fun: 10. The differences were fun to spot for a major fan and being scared by stuff old or new is a great treat.
    Story: 8. The storyboards in the queue missing takes away the point. And even though I do know the story, I'm just a little perplexed with the route they decided to go with the ending. It's cool for me, but it seemed it focused on the more uh... monstery side of things instead of the ghostly side of things. It doesn't need explaining, but I think there should've been some type of... set up to unexpectedly expect that, if you catch my drift.
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 8. This actually felt like a worthy repeat with a lot new to say and kept the original VERY creepy tone of the original maze. I still say this is a must see and one of the best this year has to offer.
    90 out of 100 'A'-


    Starway
    After that, ran to the starway. Thank GOD it's back to normal. I missed it and the "Nights with Alice Cooper" thing just didn't work for it. I noticed a little "radio trailer" for Silent Hill: Revelations. It sounded quite silly only hearing it...


    Silent Hill (Scarezone)
    I have to say...... this is the worst excuse for a scarezone I've ever seen. I saw maybe 3 nurses and a stiltsman and that's it. No fog and pretty much just the sirens blaring (which got ANNOYING after being down there for more than 10 minutes). I didn't see anybody running or hear any screaming. Thank you Transformers... because of you... the lower lot is dead.
    No grade for this one. Ghostface's voice: "FAIL"


    Welcome to Silent Hill (Maze)
    Told the mailman the secret codeword for tonight, "Alessa" and he just stared at me and kept walking. I figured he'd listen to my girlfriend, so she said it when we were further up the queue. Still nothing. Just ignored us both times. Almost looked like he didn't know why we were calling out to him with the name Alessa. Oh well. Had a very quick 5 minute wait and got in at 7:25 PM. I don't know WTF was going on in here, but whatever it was, something tells me it was all according to normal, and I have to say the maze was very damn WEAK. There was hardly ANY scares. I got scared ONCE by Pyramid Head in some random spot. And there's like 5 of him in the maze and I don't reckon seeing him ever with a weapon. The main problem with this maze is it's very Knotts-like stance with the scares and having people stand about trying to scare you instead of the usual "set scares" that Universal usually does. I think the one time I was scared by Pyramid Head was because I got used to all the monsters standing around, then he just happened to be the ONE time something hit a switch and the strobe lights flashed. That's a bit of an exaggeration... there's more than just one "set scare," but it was all fairly underwhelming so that's just what my memory tells me. It's such a shame because there were a lot of really good looking sets but on the other side, there were a lot of just dark looking rooms and chainlink fences. This was honestly the only maze I was thoroughly DISSAPOINTED by and could not believe how below average it was. I really hope this improves on my second trip.


    Queue/Facade: 5. There is HARDLY a facade other than the sign, some greenery and a car. I don't know, I just think something more creative could've been done.
    Set Design: 7. As said before, lots of good sets and a lot of just "bleh" ones.
    Sound Design: 6. I can barely remember.
    Scareactor Design: 10. Okay, at least this was good. Everyone looked great.
    Scares: 3. Yeah... it was just whatever. I hardly jumped and I was only tense walking through in the beginning and that's because of basic conditioning telling me to feel scared because I'm entering a maze.
    Special Prop/Set: 3. Basic hanging bodies and such.
    Immersion: 6. Some moments I really felt into it (just seldomly) but there was one part that TOTALLY threw me out. As just said prior, the hanging bodies section is in between a chainlink fence area. What a HORRIBLE area to put hanging bodies. Everyone IMMEDIATELY dodged the bodies and walked directly into the fence on accident.
    Fun: 8. Yeah, sure, it was fun, I'll give it that.
    Story: 5. I honestly don't know what was going on, at all, but it seemed fairly basic with just walking through the city, although I'm not exactly sure if that's what was going on.
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 7. I think this is a good property and I think it has potential and I was really rooting for it, but it just all fell apart and nobody really seemed into it (both scareactors and guests walking through), but it's opening night so I'll cut it some slack, plus I think going into the video game world is surely different.
    60 out of 100 'D'


    Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is the Law
    Waited 5 minutes and got in at 7:40 PM. Believe it or not, I only thought of the TCM maze from 07/08 ONCE and that was during the dinner scene. Everything else didn't seem too rehashed. There's some really cool bits in here if you're a fan of the movie and recognizable scenes that'll make you happy. A few many blank walls but it's a house so... I guess I forgive a tad. My one sadness is the girl on the hook wasn't real. I'm sure they could've pulled it off SOME WAY. However, I did get a scare in that room. Anyway, in the beginning, 2 or 3 scares happened behind me but I know people screamed LOUD when they happened. They seemed fairly good too from what I could tell. And lemme say the chainsaw noises were at a great level and are just as good as having the actual chainsaw there. They REALLY startled me when they happened. The guy playing the Hitchhiker did an amazing job. I wonder if he kept at that level all night. I liked when the maze started to head outside, because that seemed different. However, I totally did not see Franklin's death or any scene associated to it. Where the hell was it? Anyway, I love the broom attack. So funny in the movie and funny here. As a fan of the movie, I can say the film was finely represented, but obviously, "Back in Business" from 07/08 is just better however this maze is still pretty strong, it just doesn't have enough new or unique scares.


    Queue/Facade: 8. The opening narration & the lightbulbs both play just before you enter the house. Just what I wanted! However, it should've been the graveyard as the first scene. That would've fit PERFECT. The house looks fine but not having the graveyard first is really a missing opportunity...
    Set Design: 8. A lot of blank walls in the house but the gas station seemed fairly detailed.
    Sound Design: 10. Even though the movie is kinda oddly quiet, this maze seemed to have some really creepy music in it. I'm not entirely sure if it's all from the movie but it did lend itself to make the house have a creepier feel. Also, the chainsaw noises were nice and loud, just as they should be.
    Scareactor Design: 9. They captured the look of Leatherface quite well but something somewhere felt off but I can't remember exactly what right now...
    Scares: 9. I know they were there because I saw them happen after I left the room, but the ones that actually happened to me were great, too. This was actually a much more agressive maze than I thought it'd be.
    Special Prop/Set: 8. The lame hanging girl on the meathook counts. Also, lots of victims being cut into. It all counts. Plus you got the stuff in the gas station cookin' and what not.
    Immersion: 9. There were times where I really felt like I was in the movie. Only time I got thrown genuinely out of the maze for an entire scene was the dining room, because I had a "Back in Business" flashback.
    Fun: 10. Yes, loved going through this maze!
    Story: 10. Easy story to follow. Can't get more simple than that.
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 10. I just loved, loved, loved this maze and I think it'll only get better with time.
    91 out of 100 'A' -


    Jurassic Park In the Dark
    It was ungodly hot so we needed to get a quick fix. We literally walked on and sat in the back. Apparently though, they didn't drain the water a bit or stop all the falling water bits so we got a little more wet then we wished but it was still fine. Major downer: the car didn't fall down the building! Now the bad thing is, the music inside was EAR NUMBINGLY loud. It needs to be turned WAY down. And yeah, still nothing new added to the ride.


    Terror Tram: Invaded by the Walking Dead
    I honestly believe the TT is the centerpiece of HHN Hollywood so it's always important to me that it be GOOD. I loved Bunny Slipper Girl just walking about of the entrance. She ACTUALLY looked like a little kid. Do we need to call CPS? First thing off the bat I noticed while in line though... the commercial had begun. That's all the queue was: a giant commercial for season 3. That REALLY bummed me out. But, if we're not kidding ourselves, this is usual, it's just on years prior, they were more tactful with their promotions. Eventually, I thought it was fine though because I figured, well, if it's the regular Studio Tour being taken over, that's excusable. However, getting onto the tram (which was at 8:25 PM after about a 10 minute walk on... haha), that wasn't really the case. The story kinda just says, "zombies started in Atlanta... now they're here too." Uh... 'k. Boring, but okay. The tour guide didn't even attempt to sell it as anything else. Almost literally, "there's zombies up ahead, now get off." Thankfully, that's the end of the disappointment. LET ME TELL YOU, this is the best TT in 2 years; IT'S BACK. About damn time they got it right after Chucky and Scream. Practically all of Whoville is blocked off, so don't expect to see much of it. Also, there's no "mini maze" in front of Bates Motel. Just a gate there to confine the space, which works fine. The camping ground was good too. There was a zombie just chewing on a body, deep into the scene, and not scaring anybody. It was weird but... cool at the same time, because it just added to the feel of a zombie attack. The hill was the only dud. EVERYTHING ELSE is damn good. But going up the hill (no bushmen this year, just military looking dudes) was almost a bore. Also, the burning shack is gone. There's another little "mini" area of sorts, which is a barn, close by though. This is where I started to think, "agh, this is gonna get kinda repetitive with the maze" and it DOES, BUT, I honestly didn't mind that much. However, I do think, overall, they should've done one or the other instead of both. I love that there's survivors everywhere. Some are killing, some are attacking you, and some are playing out a scene trying to contain the walkers. This is the type of stuff that's been missing from the TT for awhile that I missed. The line for the Bates Motel photo op was long. I like the new route going into the WotW set, although nothing drastic, but it was different enough to say it's different. WotW felt the same as usual, to be honest, haha, just this time it fit into the scheme of things. Got back on the tram, and again, commercialization. So TT is good this year, they just need to work on making the story to it better.


    Queue/Facade: 6. On one hand, you have a queue that sets up zero story, but the video on the tram was edited together nicely explaining everything.
    Set Design: 10. Lots of sets or confining the spaces this year, which really helped matters.
    Sound Design: 10. I love the Walking Dead theme. And just random noises of zombies eating people. So great.
    Scareactor Design: 7. EEEEEEK. Forgot about this. Alot of the zombies just have the look of "slap, slap" with a brush of red paint. Not that many detailed looking zombies but in the low light, it's hard to tell. Looking closer though, it's a bit disappointing. Don't let this discourage you on how the walkers look in the actual maze though...
    Scares: 8. I got some good scares on here this year, actually! I mean, it's not a very SCARY experience, but the tension built nicely because it felt like a real invasion at points.
    Special Prop/Set: 10. So many dead bodies littered around and being eaten into with people cut in half and such. Plus some of the new sets. Ya gotta dig it.
    Immersion: 10. Like I said, felt like a real invasion. Forget the tram stuff and just think of the actual route and you're immersed pretty well.
    Fun: 10. Had lots of fun on this TT because I felt invested in the invasion.
    Story: 9. Like I said, forget the commercial stuff. The story is simply "INVASION!" And if you think of it like that, it's good enough.
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 10. I'm just so glad they tried DAMN hard to make TT work this year. I don't know WTF was going on the last two years but it's finally good again and I'm so happy.
    90 out of 100 'A'


    Witches
    I didn't see any witches, per se, however, about 3 or 4 bald guys ran at me from one end of the street all the way to the other end where I was and scared the crap out of me because they were so aggressive. Probably the best SZ this year but I think a bit more could've been done.
    8.8 out of 10. 'B'+


    Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D
    Waited 80 minutes (*) for this sucker and got in at 10:30. The facade is whatever. I love the skeleton though. Entering, right away, it's obvious the 3D is great. I was VERY impressed with how the 3D looked in the maze. There were parts that were blowing my mind (random rockwork looked real, the freakin' bricks). And like a lot of reviews said from preview night, the maze is basically really good to look at but low on scares. The maze just isn't necessarily scary because of its brightness. However, it is fun.


    Queue/Facade: 5. Ehhhhhhhh. Still no music playing on the backside of the building. That REALLY bugs me.
    Set Design: 10. Wow, wow, wow. Not even just the 3D, there's a lot of really cool rooms. I honestly didn't like the Gates of Hell scene. It looked oddly glowy, but there's plenty of stuff in this maze to make up for it, for me.
    Sound Design: 9. Horrorfied rock songs. Actually... most of the songs sounded untampered with, but it all seemed to fit. Also, the sound triggers were really booming and startled me even if I was a room away.
    Scareactor Design: 6. Meh, could be scarier things running around.
    Scares: 7. However, the damn sound triggers, like I said before, would make me jump from an entire room away. That put me on edge a bit, and there were SOME scares and good jump moments (the hoarder room ones are gooooood).
    Special Prop/Set: 10. There's actually a crap load of stuff in this maze that's either a special prop or set piece. Gotta give credit when credit is due!
    Immersion: 10. I actually felt quite into this world as I was going through it. Can't really remember a time where I realized I was a maze until I got out of it, obviously.
    Fun: 10. I enjoyed going through this one and seeing people react to stuff so easily.
    Story: 8. I guess.
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 9. This was pretty much what I thought it'd be. I like WTMN more because that maze was actually darker in tone and had more of a creep factor (even though that maze is hardly scary too). But this maze was just very bright and almost happy.
    84 out of 100 'B'-


    Toyz
    Stopped to eat those tacos from the truck outside of ACGTH. They were quite good. Anyway, we got targeted three times going through. Looking around, I didn't care much about anything though. The scareactors looked great but there's a certain something missing... Should've been just... more. I don't know how to explain it...
    7.8 out of 10 'C'+


    Universal Monster Remix
    I should note,at this time of the night, I looked at the wait board and it said Transformers was 160 minutes. Yes, 2 hours and 40 minutes. Do it EARLY if you have to (lower lot still has short waits for the first hour, including Transformers). Anyway, walk on to this at 10:58. And W...T...F. This was just horrid. I didn't hear a single person scream in that damn thing. This absolutely WEIRD idea was just as poorly executed ALTHOUGH not as poorly executed as it could've been. The first half to the stairs is fairly the same. Then as you get up the stairs, there's more set pieces and stuff. But honestly, that stuff just seems like it should be there already, almost like the raptors added at the end on JP in the Dark. And again... the music... ugh... made everything so UNSCARY. No sense of dread, no build up, no scare worked and just... wow. Just bad. In the Wolfman woods, there was like 4 Wolfman jumping out at once and THAT was cool but everything else... Frankenstein's lab. Just... facepalm. DJ Franky is an actual DJ. I wanted to cry for what Universal has done to their own beloved monsters. Although, I won't lie... I had fun, but only because I was laughing at how stupid it all was. Easily the worst HHN maze I've been through. Unless you like dubstep music, or want to see such an atrocity in person (which counts for something, seriously lol) just skip it I was really hoping I'd be wrong about this one


    Queue/Facade: 1. Nothin' but a little banner and nothing to signify really that this is a... monster party of sorts.
    Set Design: 6. Automatic 5 for it being the HoH but only a tad bit of some of the sets were reworked a bit.
    Sound Design: 7. *chuckles* Sure.
    Scareactor Design: 6. The new monsters looked funky to me. When the regular monsters popped out, things felt normal again.
    Scares: 2. 2 points for the Wolfmen.
    Special Prop/Set: 8. Okay, there was lots of new props added in here... but nothing significant to change the feel of the maze. Like I said, they all seemed like they should be there regularly. Why isn't this open during regular hours again?
    Immersion: 0. Buahahaha. C'mon.
    Fun: 5. Sure. Sure.
    Story: 0. SO WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE?
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 2. New props gets a point. And 1 point out of pity.
    37 out of 10 'F'-


    The Walking Dead: Dead Inside
    Waited 80 minutes (**) and went through at 12:30. Right off the bat, this maze got intense. There's a lot of bare walls but not even 1/10 into the maze, I didn't even care. This felt REAL. This felt INTENSE. This was an action, thriller, horror film and I had to escape. But the deeper you go in, you realize THERE IS NO ESCAPE. What a damn good maze and definitely the best this year. Firstly, I loved walking through a lot of the recognizable scenes (I totally don't remember seeing the store from episode 2 though... hm). Not only that, the scares in this one are just AMAZING. Obviously, there's a lot going on in this maze and a lot to be distracted by. One second you're looking at a tank and the next, someone's about to bite into your freakin' face. There's so many iconic scenes in this maze, I'd literally have to go scene by scene, but you don't want that. Let's just say, there's no weak points in this maze (okay, let's just not count the random dark room). This is probably the most epic in scope of an HHN maze since... sheesh, ever. It travels a lot of ground, experiences a lot of moments and has so many monsters inside, you don't know where to turn. I'm not saying it's the best maze ever, that'd be a long shot, but the pure excitement and adrenaline that ran through me while in this maze is something that's hard to come by. It's not the average, slow and creepy maze. You walk in and it's just GO, GO, GO! Scare after scare after scare. Job damn well done. Magic was created in there tonight.


    Queue/Facade: 10. MASSIVE. I've never seen a maze facade that big.
    Set Design: 9. Some blank spots but I can totally forgive that.
    Sound Design: 10. THE WALKING DEAD THEME! AAAAH!! So perfect.
    Scareactor Design: 10. Now THESE zombies looked freakin awesome and real. That's what I'm talkin' bout!
    Scares: 10. 10. 10. 10. Scare in every damn corner.
    Special Prop/Set: 10. One word: Tank. There's so much more, too.
    Immersion: 10. I felt like I was freakin' IN IT, man.
    Fun: 10. Oh God, yes.
    Story: 10. Who cares. GO GO GO! But seriously... like the Terror Tram. "Invasion... now go."
    Personal Bias Bonus Points: 10. I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. To the point where it's unexplainable in a review. I get jazzed up just thinking about it.
    99 out of 100 'A'+


    Bill and Ted
    The early reviews for this were a bit exaggerated. IT IS a good show though, but not PERFECT. We caught the 1:35 AM show that so happened to start at 1:50 AM really (***). There's still SO MUCH to be tweaked out. Blocking was a bit sloppy, dialogue was fudged occasionally, tech cues almost went horribly awry and some jokes just didn't land. Although, I can't imagine a lot changing with this show. But let's get to the main thing here: it's apparent the writers either 1) read our reviews or 2) know what's wrong with their show. A few things happened here that we've been BEGGING for: to tie the show more into the movies, to make the show more Halloween oriented (opening number), and to have actual rock music in the damn show. All three of these things happened! The rock music is 80s style and is actually the finale, themed to Rock of Ages (which bombed, so uh...??? haha). My only MAJOR gripe is the pop music finale. Most of the songs feel either too early this year or just flat out SUCK. There's a problem when One Direction and Carly Rae Jepsen come on and they're NOT being killed, instead being taken seriously as actual hits. UGH. Anyway... so many great bits in the show this year. This probably is the second best year. I still say 08 is the best but this comes damn close. The Hunger Games is perfect and lends itself to many great moments. They actually use the screens above to enhance and tell a lot of story elements, also. And the pyro... they damn near blow the house down. My crowd wasn't super into it, sadly, but the performers gave a helluva show. Can't wait to see this much more smoothed out later in the run.
    9.7 out of 10 'A'


    Line/Show Control
    As you might have noticed, there's been a few of ***** in the review. This is where I'll address why... line and show control were absolutely HORRIBLE tonight. Seriously, I hate bringing this up because I know they're busting their ***** but it MUST be said. The La Llorona line I was in literally should've been a walk on but stretched to 10 minutes for no good reason. Silent Hill, UMR, JP and TCM went smoothly though. Everything else was just a PAIN for everyone around me who kept wondering why we were stopping for long stretches of time. I'm a very patient person but I was tested tonight with how ridiculous things became in these lines.
    * Alice Cooper Goes to Hell. Electronic wait board said 40 minutes. We get there and the manual wait board says 60 minutes. No big deal. However, the line is actually 80 minutes. The first initial switchbacks moved slow but were fine. Once we got toward the front, we saw the problem: film crews stopping in front of the facade and just taking freakin' pictures and video, not letting anyone go. I think a full 10 minutes went by where we didn't move because of that nonsense. Then there were just random stretches where no one would go through. Must've been celebs closing the place down or I don't freakin' know what, but the usual line should have not taken that long.
    ** Walking Dead, same issue, only worse. Electronic wait board said 30. Manual wait board said 30. The line even LOOKS short. Yet it moves... unbearably... slow. 80 minute wait. Expecting 30 minutes but waiting almost triple that is just maddening. Again, we get closer to the front, and things just stop for long stretches at a time. I came last year to opening night and this never happened. We were going to hit the 12:20 Bill and Ted. Got in line at 11:10 thinking we'd have quite a lot of time to spare. Turns out, we miss the show by 10 minutes and now have an entire hour to spare just waiting for the 1:35 show... which leads me to...
    *** That Bill and Ted show didn't even let people IN until 1:35. The pre-show "Fail" video, which has absolutely NOTHING to do with ANYTHING, started at 1:45 and lastedd for 5 minutes. Meaning, our show ran an entire 15 minutes late!
    This was just the most sloppily handled line and show control night I've ever experienced at Universal. Usually they are on top of things so well, but I finally witnessed what other people complained about. Even though I did get through ALL the mazes, I can totally see how one might make a slight detour for 10 minutes and then miss 2 or 3 mazes because Universal isn't putting up the right wait times or line control doesn't know what the hell they're doing. This even happened at Transformers earlier in the day, before HHN even started. The single rider line, which was at the second step and is usually a 5-10 minute wait from there, took 40 minutes because instead of picking out people from single rider whenever there was 2 empty seats, they'd go into the regular line screaming for "PARTY OF TWO?!" Seriously?!!?!?! But it's okay, set backs are expected, I'm just so glad we got through everything but the right damn times on the board would've really eased everything. Going into an 80 minute line, expecting it to be 80 minutes, standing for 80 minutes and then going in after 80 minutes is much better than going into a 15 minute looking line, expecting it to be shorter, standing for 25 minutes realizing it might actually be 50 minutes, then realizing it's going to be even longer, and going in after 80 minutes. That messes with people psychologically!!! Anyway... enough of the complain corner.


    Outro
    I say this is a REALLY good year. Better than last year, definitely. I say it's on par with 09 (perfectly tied with it, actually). BUT nothing compares to the epicness of 08 or the super intense mazes of 10. This year has one AMAZING maze, finally a GREAT TT again, a genius Bill and Ted, a worthy repeat and plenty more. This is definitely not a year to miss!


    Extra Slices of Meat
    - I realize my Alice Cooper review is REALLY short haha but there really isn't much to say other than "good 3D, low on scares"
    - There is a new secret scarezone after 12 AM. In front of the Animal Actors stage, all the survivors from the TT come out and terrorize people with their chainsaws.
    - Surprisingly the line never got longer than 20 minutes for UMR, even right when the park opened. I'm glad it was a walk on when I went because I'd be rather peeved waiting for that piece of crap. Should've just left the HoH alone and spent that budget on TCM or something for better sets.
    - Ran into absolutely ZERO squirt-with-water scenes, although I do know of someone who ran into ONE somewhere in TCM.
    - Silent Hill is oddly familiar to the NOES maze from 10 with the classroom sets...
    - Do not believe the wait times listed. Enter them at your own risk. They are fudging up all over in that area this year.
    - I'd recommend either La Llorona or Alice Cooper first before running to the lower lot (again, this is if you get to the park ON TIME). Alice Cooper had the slowest and longest length of a line.
    - For the lower lot, go to Silent Hill first. It's directly to the left of the escalators once you get off. The maze's exit leads directly to the entrance of Transformers. Then head back up the street, up and over the stairs and back down to TCM. You then exit near the bathrooms on the lower lot which will put you right back in the middle of the lower lot in front of the Mummy. This way, if you're there early enough, you could do both those rides at those times as you pass them if you so choose, though I wouldn't recommend waiting longer than 20 minutes for Transformers or 5-10 minutes for Mummy. Jurassic Park was a walk on for the entire first 2 hours of the night so do that at your own risk.
    - Once again, the Terror Tram skips the Mummy tunnel.
    - There are no extra scares in the Psycho house photo op, so you're not missing anything.
    - To cut shopping time out of your night, arrive to City Walk early enough to visit the Studio Store (or whatever it's called). It has all the same merch from inside the park. You can then place all your bags back in your car so you don't have to carry them around all night.
    - Bill and Ted is about 50 - 60 minutes this year, so keep that in mind when planning. I think this is the longest its ever been. But it's really good, so don't miss it!
    - Went back and analyzed footage of La Llorona last year. I'd say this year's version is 50% different and a bit better in terms of what's expected from a Universal maze (again, even though last year's was the best maze of 11). However, I got scared a few times less this year but the timing wasn't perfect, but I imagine if the magic happened and the stars aligned perfectly like the first 2 times I went last year, this would easily be the scarier and all around better maze. It all depends on my next go through...

    Years (from top to bottom): 08, 10, 09/12, 11, 07
    Terror Trams: 08, 09, 12, 07, 11, 10
    Mazes: Walking Dead, TCM, La Llorona, ACGTH, Silent Hill, UMR
    Bill and Teds: 08, 12, 07, 11, 10, 09

    GO, GO, GO!!!! :-D

    I apologize for any incoherentness... I'm running on fumes...
    Last edited by dth316; 09-23-2012 at 04:24 AM.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    I heard the mailman at silent hill was only giving out a few things every now and then with the password because too many people were saying it.
    Disneyland and Haunted Mansion fan boy!

    Universal Studios Hollywood Employee

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    cant wait, thanks for this great review!!

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Opening Night Review)

    Thanks for the very detailed review! I'm going to HHN for the first time ever this weekend and this helps my planning a lot.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Opening Night Review)

    Great informative review, thank you! I've only been to Universal's Halloween once, and I believe it was the first, back in late 80's/early 90's. All I remember were Knotts-esque fog/monsters/mazes, and a free Penn & Teller show ; this was before they became really popular via TV & Vegas, & the show was hilarious (& gory). My brother saw them recently in Vegas, & was thoroughly dissapointed in the high price & lesser quality of this later show.
    The main reason I wanted to reply was to suggest this: It seems I've read/heard from many that you must upgrade your ticket to the "front-of-the-line" one for this event, in order to avoid horribly long lines (sometimes 2hrs+!). I'd love to visit this year (I hate that I missed last year, could've paired it w/ Rob Zombie@ Universal Ampitheater-big fan of RZ!), but I'm factoring in the f-o-t-l pass into my budgetting.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    I always wish I could've seen the older HHN events but I didn't even know they did this kind of thing until 2006 and I didn't even bother to go that year. What sucked me in was Freddy, Jason and Leatherface being in one park, plus the large amount of reviews I read from the previous year saying the quality of the sets was unmatchable.

    As for the FOTL thing, as you can see, I did everything (sans rides) in one night quite easily. It just takes some rushing, focus and planning (and most of all, getting there EARLY). If it weren't opening night and if media wasn't stopping up the lines all the time, I'm sure I could've done the rides too. If you're plan is to do the rides too, I suggest getting the FOTL pass but if you're content with just the mazes, the B&T show, the Terror Tram and maybe one ride, I think you're safe with general admission. It also depends on if you go on a weekday or a weekend, as weekdays are generally less crowded and much easier to navigate the park at a steadier pace.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    We always get Front of the Line passes because we do not like to rush thru an event. We were there before opening and didn't even need to use our passes at first hitting both Silent Hill and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However as the evening wore on the lines became long and our Front of Line passes came in handy. Loved Bill and Ted's this year which actually beat out Knott's The Hanging (saw that on Saturday and hated it).

    I do agree with line control. Saturday at Knott's all the regular maze lines yes lines still flowed and even holding people back for a minute or two so there wouldn't be a backup conga line like Universal. My one biggest pet peeve I had about Horror Nights was there would be such a backup in the mazes and I'd be standing in the same spot for way too long not moving forward hence bringing me out of the maze. This ruins the whole immersing oneself in a maze.

    Preview night I hated hated Silent Hill and Texas Chainsaw Masacre but on opening night both of those mazes really jumped to my favorite well Texas Chainsaw did. I nearly had a panic attack my first time thru. (did this maze 3 times over). I loved La Llorona eespecially after the church scene. Still gives me chills and I can still see the scareactor staring at me thru the little dolls.

    I loved loved Terror Tram this year as well. Definitely a must do when it's super dark outside. You never knew if you'd be walking into a regular park guest or an actual "walker".

    Usually Universal every year beats out Knott's in my opinion but for some reason this year I'm leaning towards Knott's. Maybe between the new variety of mazes they offer, all the rides open, more than one show the park just doesn't feel as crowded as Universal does. Plus those Front of the Line passes for one pass both myself and my husband can go to Knott's and the boo-fet dinner. We used to do Universal multiple times every year. However not this year. We are doing only one more night where we are doing three at Knott's.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    I'll be attending Knotts this week (I think Thursday, possibly Friday, definitely not Saturday) and I'll be giving another one of my very lengthy reviews. Everyone's been telling me it's the better Haunt in So Cal this year but so far, I'm just not buying it. We shall see...

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    I was able to get one of the mini posters from the mailman on Saturday night just by saying the code word. Then again we hit up Silent Hill first thing and were the first into the maze as well wO I don't feel that he was reluctant to hand out the prizes.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    I understand the dislike for UMR. I love HoH normally and I am a huge Universal Monsters fan as well. Personally I really liked it, as did the group I was with. It was just plain fun. We got a couple good scares in the Psycho scene along with a few other ones. Overall it should have been more like HoH or more "true" to the original characters/sets but nonetheless I had a blast. And that is coming from someone who isn't a huge dubstep or techno fan.

    I would say that if you enjoy the classic characters (there were some other really cool characters thrown in as well) you should not miss this one.

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    Re: HHN '12: Invaded by DTH316 (Very Lengthy Opening Night Review)

    I must say, you give the best report from top to bottom that I've seen. Thank you, THANK YOU!

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