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Halloween Horror Nights Returns to Universal Orlando

first_imgI had not heard much about Dead Waters before attending this year’s event, but once I spoke with the creators; I was told it was A MUST. You first approach a full-size riverboat that is run down and half sunken in the swamps of the bayu. Alligators infest the waters around the boat as lightning crashes in the night sky. Once inside you can really feel the hot muggy swamps the boat has been sitting in all these years. This is the home of the infamous Voodoo Queen. She is all about sacrifices, and you are next on her list. Since this house is a half sunken ship, the floors in areas are sideways and really mess with your equilibrium. This helps push you a tad closer to the creatures that lurk within. The attention to detail was breathtaking in this house and I loved that most of the lighting is just flickering candles. I’d easily put Dead Waters in my top three houses of the event! House Rating: 4½There you have it kiddies! My review of all the houses of fright this year at Halloween Horror Nights 27. Now also keep in mind that the scare zones are themed as well, and one of them is based on one of my favorite horror films of all time. Trick r’ Treat! I’ve always loved what Universal has done with their Central Park area by hanging flicking jack o’lanterns throughout the park’s trees. But to combine this with the music of Douglas Pipes and the iconic characters from the mind of Michael Dougherty was the smartest move the theme park could have ever done. Front porches line the streets as trick or treaters from the film haunt the neighborhood. I know there are four other scare zones (Festival of the Deadliest, INVASION! Altars of Horror and The Purge) But Trick r’ Treat blows them away! The event runs from now until November 4th on select nights and there is a slew of different ticket packages you can choose from. I was invited out to cover this year’s event with a slew of other members of the press as we tackled all nine houses, all five scare zones and checked out the farewell tour of the parks longest running pop culture laugh riot, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. I’ve been going to Halloween Horror Nights since 1991 (back then it was called Fright Nights) when the park had one haunted house and a random mix of monsters in the streets. Since then I have seen the event grow into a completely different monstrous beast. Below I have listed out all nine haunted houses and have graded them by how terrifying they are. Now keep in mind, every attendee’s walkthrough may be different. Sometimes an effect may go off after you have walked by it, or a cast change may happen as you walk through a room. Universal usually stays pretty tight when it comes to these kind of occurrences, but it happens. This is simply my personal take on the haunted houses. But don’t fret! I tagged along with a friend who is terrified of all things spooky, so she was a great fear gauge. I consider myself an expert on all things horror… But I’m pretty sure I screamed like a little baby more times than she did so I still find the event scary as hell! Let’s begin. AMERICAN HORROR STORY: VOLUME 2This is Universal Orlando’s second time using the AHS license. Last years house cumulated specific seasons Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel all under one roof. This year the house includes Asylum, Coven, and Roanoke. The FX series has always been hit or miss for me, but walking through these stories was ultimately terrifying! This was one of the more pleasing adaptations. Tortured witches howled in cages, while men wearing severed pig heads tried to chase us down. While transitioning from one season to the next, Cordelia lunged at me screaming after she had just stabbed her own eyes out with a pair of scissors. This easily gave me the ultimate scare! Universal combined the marketing looks of AHS with an actual event that occurred in the show which made for an ultimately trippy experience of terror. House Rating: 4½  HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE I hope you all are not over SAW yet? After seven films and a new one on the way this October, James Wan’s classic comes to life including traps from each of the film series. I will admit, this was the one I felt I would not care about at all. But it actually was a lot of fun! In the settings that you are provided, SAW looks great! There are interactive elements to this house that I have never seen done before, which proves Universal is always trying to reinvent their frights. There is even a trap from the newest entry in the series at the very end. Definitely keep an eye out for that. Play the game. I promise you won’t be disappointed. House Rating: 3½THE FALLEN Remember when I said earlier there is a severe lack of farmsteads and pumpkin patches in Orlando? Well, this house transports you to a gruesome decaying farm during the great depression era. You walk past dilapidated scarecrows not knowing which ones are props and which one is alive! Once in the farmstead, the second floor has all but collapsed. Maybe this was planned? Or maybe this was left after Hurricane Irma? It was tough to tell the difference. Once through the farm, it looks as if humans and pigs have somehow mended themselves together and they’re not pleased with your arrival. I won’t spoil the last room, but it messes with you as you almost get lost trying to find your way out. House Rating: 4    ASH VS. EVIL DEADEasily one of the BEST shows on television for horror fans has come to life at Universal Orlando. Years ago there was a theater haunted house that took you into different films, and one of those films was The Army of Darkness (specifically the well scene). This was the first time Ash appeared at the event. Now with the help of STARZ Ashy Slashy is back in the same building coincidentally and ready to party! For fans of the series, this house is top notch. You’ll find the book of the dead coming to life and ready to turn you into a Deadite. You’ll also find Ash’s sidekicks Pablo and Kelly ready to fight off the possessed hordes. Make sure to look out for the Eligos. He definitely got me, and I loved every second of it. As I said before, fans of the series will dig this one a lot. But if you have no idea who Ash or what Evil Dead is, this will be the most confusing and probably unscary house of them all. House Rating: 3½ SAW: THE GAMES OF JIGSAW Of all the haunted houses universal has the privilege of licensing. This is the one that fans have been wanting for years. Just imagine walking down the halls of the overlook hotel. Well, we finally get our chance. But this house wasn’t one that could be pulled off easily. It is based on the Stanley Kubrick film so elements from the film had to be near exact. From the twin sisters stalking the halls, to the iconic Room 237; it’s all here and made to mess with you! Let’s also not forget the elevator full of blood. Yes, it happens and it is spectacular! There is also a fun element to the overlook hotel’s ballroom I will not give away that you just have to see! All the Jack’s here wear iconic Jack Nicholson forehead and hair pieces that really give them the deranged look as opposed to just some guy in a brown jacket. This was the cream of the crop for me and a must for any fans attending the event this year. House Rating: 5 DEAD WATER In this house, you are caught in the crossfire of an eternal war between the light and the dark. This is the vampire-haunted house, and I’m not talking about the seductive kind. These are disgustingly disfigured Nosferatu looking creatures of the night who have taken up shop in what looks to be a demonic church. As you walk past the hot coals and bodies stabbed through with pikes, you’ll witness horrors beyond your wildest dreams. Misdirection is key in this house and that is what these beasts want. Since this house is inside a soundstage, the creatures of the night fly! From overhead, to right in your face. This is easily one of the coolest effects at the event and the house itself comes together great. Beyond that, the house did feel a bit short as the soundstage shares itself with another house. House rating: 3THE SHINING From the production company that brought you Sinister, Insidious and The Purge films, Universal combines these three franchises into one pretty interesting house. This one sadly fell a tad flat for me. The outside facade captures the iconic Blumhouse opening logo perfectly, which makes your mind race with anticipation for what is to come. But this house was not very large. Especially when trying to cram all three films together. Just as you are getting into one setting, you are then thrust into another. The Purge is also a scare zone this year which makes you feel like this mediocre film series is being crammed down your throat at the event. This part of the house should have been replaced with a different Blumhouse film with a completely different style compared to the other two. My vote would have been for Lords of Salem or The House That Dreaded Sundown. Get Out would have also been great, but I’m sure that would have been too much of a hot-button topic for Universal to work with. House Rating: 2 SCARECROW: THE REAPING In sunny Orlando Florida, it can be quite difficult trying to capture that special Halloween feeling. The fall weather does not peak its head out until mid-November (if lucky), and there is a severe lack of pumpkin patch hayrides. Luckily for “The City Beautiful,” it is the theme park capital of America, and we do Halloween a bit differently here. We embrace the frightening side of All Hallows ‘Eve with a special event called Halloween Horror Nights! Chainsaws, werewolves, specters and all the horrors that accompany my favorite time of the year are all brought to life by the film studio that started it all back in the early 1920’s; Universal Studios. When it comes to scaring the tighty whities off you, the art & design team at Universal Orlando Resorts are the professionals. This is the event’s twenty-seventh year in a row throwing the ultimate Halloween party for horror fans! With each passing year, the-the park annually outdoes itself by breaking out all the best tricks & treats in their arsenal. For this year’s event, a handful of major properties from film and television were acquired that instantly transport you into your darkest fears. Along with our favorite horror franchises, Universal also cooks up their own original stories brought to life in some of the most breathtaking haunted houses you have ever seen. The streets are filled with maniacs & madmen stationed deep within their own specific zones ready to attack without second thought. Truly nowhere is safe from frights once you enter through the iconic Universal archway. Last but not least, this was the final year for Bill & Ted’s Halloween Adventure. This is a show full of comedy that spoofs on the current years “pop culture hits.” The live show takes place in the Fear Factor venue where the show has access to an enormous lighting rig, pyrotechnics and the most uncomfortable benches you could ever imagine sitting on. As cute and hilarious as Bill & Ted are, they are a bit outdated for today’s youth (come on man, where’s my third installment guys!?) There are jokes every year that cater to the locals that poke fun at Disney and the surrounding area. But for folks out of town, these are all a bit too niche for America’s number one haunt destination. With this being the last year for the show, folks are already predicting what is next. This is the End took over the B&T show in Hollywood which tried out the same pop culture gags. I guess only time will tell for now.Sadly, the second show Academy of Villains: Afterlife was not up and running on media night. Though honestly, I was completely alright with that seeing as how it’s right next to Trick r’ Treat, and it helped me suspend my disbelief for just a little bit longer in this years number one scare zone.All in all, Halloween Horror Nights 27 was an absolute treat this year, and our R.I.P. tour guides were some of the best I’ve ever worked with. You can absolutely see the love and hard labor that the entertainment department puts into this event all year long, and it passes with orange and black colors! I want to thank Universal Orlando again for having us for this event, and I look forward to the horrors that await next year. I’ve already heard the wheels are in motion after all.Make sure to check out the tv spot directed by Eli Roth below. Happy Halloween thrill seekers! All photos via halloweenhorrornights.com Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more