Universal Studios Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA
This past past Wednesday I was able to attend the preview night for Halloween Horror Nights 23 at Universal Orlando. I will share my general thoughts and feelings on all eight houses and Bill and Ted.
The scarezones through the park are all themed to AMC's The Walking Dead this year. During last year's event there was a Walking Dead house and scarezone that didn't quite live up to my expectations (or the expectations of many others I spoke with). This year it seems there was a great deal more effort put in to referencing the TV show and its characters and settings which I greatly appreciated. You can walk through the farm and its walker filled barn, the survivors camp, Atlanta, and other scenes from the show.
Here are the houses ranked in best to worst order (IMHO):
American Werewolf in London - This house walks through the classic 1981 film from beginning to end. The sets are incredible and truly make you feel like you're walking into the movie. What is even more impressive than the sets are the Werewolf puppets that attack you throughout and the transformation scene where you can see a man transform into a werewolf. Easily my favorite house of the night.
Cabin in the Woods - I loved the movie so I had very high expectations for this house. Thankfully it did not disappoint. In this house we are working for an organization responsible for sacrificing people to ancient gods. If these sacrifices don't happen, the ancient gods destroy the earth. Things aren't going as planned, so our job is to repair the surveillance equipment and get things back on track. We walk through the arena, then move on into the facility itself where we encounter many of the terrifying creatures featured in the movie. Once again, the level of detail is amazing. If you were a fan of the movie chances are you'll like this house.
Walking Dead: No Safe Haven - Last year's Walking Dead house was... not that great. It was probably the most anticipated house and it simply did not live up to expectations. This year there is still a lot of hype, but at least the house comes close to living up to it. As I mentioned earlier this year more elements from the show, including characters and scenes, are referenced. That is very much seen in the house which takes you through Woodbury and the prison. This house and Cabin in the Woods are both extremely close and essentially tied for second best for me at this point.
Afterlife: Death's Vengeance - The 3-D house. One of three original, non-intellectual properties, at this years event. A very haunting look into the afterlife of a serial killer who is tormented by his 20+ victims after being put to death in the electric chair. Definitely a very creepy and disorienting house.
Evil Deal - This house takes us through the 2013 film in grisly and gory detail. A strong house with some good scares.
HAVOC: Derailed - We're stepping aboard a military transport train packed with genetically modified super soldiers. Then something goes terribly wrong and the train derails. This house is a sequel to 2010's HAVOC house. This house is the least visually impressive so the pressure is on the scarectors to make it worthwhile. Thankfully there are some good scares and I think with time this house will come together nicely.
La Llorona - Universal Hollywood has featured this story the past couple events, now it makes its way to Orlando. There is a great deal of potential here and it is a visually impressive house, unfortunately it seems to fall short for me and I left expecting more.
Resident Evil - First issue, I've never been a fan of the game, so much like Silent Hill last year some of the finer details and nods to the game are lost on me. Second issue, some elements such as a scene which mimics the game being paused by having a room with no motion and a big "PAUSED" sign is a kinda neat original idea but at the same time wastes potential room that could have been used in creating more scares. Final issue, in an event packed to the gills with zombies, walkers, deadites, and other forms of walking, flesh eating, dead people; the zombie's from Resident Evil come up the weakest as far as "scariness" goes. Perhaps this house gets better with time and before opening night (tonight - the 20th) more elements are finished/added, but as of now the general consensus is this is the weakest of all the houses.
This year's event also features two shows, Bill and Ted and the return of Rocky Horror. I didn't see Rocky Horror so I can't comment on that, but Bill and Ted was... Bill and Ted. It wasn't great, it wasn't bad, it was better than last year. It had the same elements you come to expect from the show, humor poking fun at celebrities and pop culture from the past year, and hot women (or men, depending on your preference) dancing to hit music from the past year. Not bad, had a few laughs, good times in general.
During preview night none of the normal park attractions are open so we didn't experience them. However, the rides that will be open during the event include MIB, Rockit, Mummy, Despicable Me, Simpsons, Kang and Kodos Galactic Spin, and probably most notably Transformers. With eight houses, a solid amount of scarezones, and the still newish Transformers being open hopefully the crowds won't be too out of control...
All in all, had a great time and look forward to this years event. Hopefully I'll be able to make it out a few more times in the next month.Last edited by Capitalize, Friday, September 20, 2013 12:41 PM
Thanks for the report. As a major Walking Dead fan, I appreciated those descriptions. I know you said you skipped/didn't do Rocky Horror, but I'd love to know more about that. RHPS was a major part of my life back in the early 80's
Thanks for the quick review. My wife and I will be there Saturday night, then the following Thurs, Fri, Sat. Can't wait!
Nice trip report - enjoyed it very much. I'm a big fan of The Walking Dead, and can't wait for the series to start up again in a few weeks. I'm glad to hear that Universal has done a good job with its tribute to the show. Now if only they'd let you bring your own crossbow into the maze.
What?! The whole trip report is invalidated! ;-)
JK. Great trip report. I hope to be able to visit HHN some year. It sounds great!Last edited by tambo, Tuesday, September 24, 2013 3:13 PM
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