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zombieman

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zombieman last won the day on November 13 2021

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  1. Hi all, I was not planning on going to HHN Hollywood at all this year as there was not anything new except for Hill House and Bride. However, after pining for HHN Orlando from my September trip, I decided to go for it. Hollywood has scheduled their event this year to have no "non peak" nights. Nearly every night has been sold out, and wait times have been 70-100 minutes. So Express is the way to do HHN Hollywood - I know this from experience. By I also know that Express lines at Hollywood are super short and there is not a lot of walking to do a house multiple times. So I looked into Unlimited Express.....until I saw that for about $60 more you can do the RIP, which includes valet parking and the VIP dinner and desserts later in the evening, So I went balls out and opted for the RIP tour. It was a good decision in hindsight. Skip ahead if you want to hear about the houses, but for the moment I will expand on the RIP tour. As in Orlando you wait in the VIP lounge for your tour to start. In Hollywood the lounge is on the second floor as you enter the park, and it has an expansive balcony from which you can watch the scares below. This is a very nice experience. There is free bottled water in the lounge. Take as many as you like, as you normally pay $5 each in the park. You are introduced to your guide. Ours was a talkative, peppy girl whose name I will omit, as she was not geared well toward an HHN tour in my opinion. She saw exactly ZERO of the properties presented at HHN, so she couldn't tell anyone any behind the scenes information. She repeatedly referred to herself as the world's worst tour guide. She was friendly, but seemed to have almost no knowledge of the event. This is not a deal-breaker for me by any means, but to a first timer who just dropped $400 for a tour, it makes Universal look bad. Our tour began at 7:00, and as two of the upper lot houses didn't open until 7:30, we went to Halloween 4, then took the long walk to the lower lot for Exorcist & TCM, then back up to the upper lot for the Walking Dead attraction, and Bride. This was before our dinner break. So let's get to it: Halloween 4: This was A LOT different than the 2018 maze. Keep in mind the venue is the same for both years - Waterworld. The 2018 Facade was larger, and included Penny's Diner, adjacent to the auto garage. The shop was taken away for 2021. The 2018 Auto shop included a full size VW bug. 2021 has no Bug, and a much smaller set. Next is the Diner whose facade is missing in 2021. This set is identical for both years. The Trick or Treat hallway quite a bit different. A real gate was used as a jump scare in 2018 as well as hanging sheets scares. Three scrim gates are used in 2021, essentially turning this into a patented HHN Hollywood Black box strobe scare. Three identical scares, one after another. Blah. Next is the sheriff's house, where in 2018 we find the deputy and Kelly, then enter Jamie's bedroom. The 2021 version is reversed. Things diverge a lot from here: 2018: Back outside and Michael pops out from the forest. Then into the power plant where the engineer is being electrocuted, another cheap black box scare, and exit. 2021: Scene with Jamie holding a knife on the stairs while Loomis points a gun at her and screams "No, No, Noooooo", then a mirror maze with lots of Michaels, and exit. My thoughts: We know that this did NOT start out as Halloween 4, but was intended to be Halloween 3. We all saw the Silver Shamrock signs. Makes me really wonder WHY this ended up as Halloween 4, given how different it was from 2018. I am guessing it's because they had the plans ready to pull from the archive and the venue was the same. If you watch the two years side by side, the twists and turns are identical. It was a decent house, not as good as Orlando's H4 because Orlando didn't have the stupid black hallways and black box scares. My Score: C+ Exorcist: In 2016, Exorcist was in the Mummy queue. Inexplicably, in 2021 they put it in A FREAKING SOUNDSTAGE! They could have put Hill House in a Soundstage and given it an amazing facade, but nooooo. Let's put a maze that takes place in one freaking bedroom over and over in a SOUNDSTAGE. This is the lunacy that runs HHN Hollywood.... There is NO REASON to move Exorcist from where it was located in 2016 - where it had a full facade already. So as expected, the facade is exactly the same both years. Identical entry room. Identical spider crawl room. Identical spider crawl black box scare - I will admit, this one is well done. Identical Regan black box scare. First bedroom scene... 2016: live priest and animated door and picture on wall. 2021: static figure priest and static door and picture on wall Identical next two hallways Identical next black box scare Second bedroom scene... 2016: static priest. 2021: live priest Identical black hallways and next black box scare Third bedroom scene.... identical both years Then things are reordered: 2016: black box scare with priest, then Pazuzu room, then Regan static figure, final black box scare then end 2021: Regan static figure, black box scare, Pazuzu room, then black box scare with priest then end I liked this house in 2016. I hated it in 2021. In 2016 I forgave the black box scares because they made sense for a house that had the same room over and over. But they are a cancer. And HHN Hollywood continues to abuse them. So for that I hate the house. My Score: F Texas Chainsaw Massacre HHN Hollywood, like Orlando, has used this property A LOT. Way too much in my opinion. In Hollywood: 2007, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2017, and now 2021... And to think we all got sick of endless Walking Dead? The 2007 maze was really, really good. In fact, I thought it was way better than Orlando's version in 2007. I feel the 2021 version tries to re-create that 2007 feel, but I did not do a scene by scene comparison, as I am not sure which one they were trying to present. In any event, the 2021 maze was quite good. My Score: B Walking Dead Attraction Our tour guide said it was going to be removed after this HHN, so enjoy it while you can. It was the same as it ever was... Bride of Frankenstein Lives Not comparable to Orlando. Orlando had gobs of detail. Hollywood had lots of detail, but nowhere near as much. Both told the identical story. In fact, Hollywood's facade is a storybook you walk through and is told in chapters. I would say that this makes Hollywood's story easier to follow. Not to mention that Hollywood avoids its terrible black hallways simply by add chapter murals. Orlando avoids black hallways because Orlando knows how to create a haunted attraction without resorting to black hallway transitions. My absolute BEST run of any house at HHN Hollywood was this one at 1:59AM. I was the last person through and was really the ONLY customer in the house at that time. Every single scareactor gave it their best and it was SPECTACULAR. For HHN Hollywood, this was exceptional. But not nearly as good as Orlando. My Score: A- Next was the VIP dinner I've done this before, and know it is easily worth $30 per person. It is a small buffet but the food is outstanding. Carved beef, ahi poke, a kick ass risotto, salmon, braised beef burgundy, roast chicken, flatbread pizza, and so much more. This layout is primarily done for visiting VIPs of the film community. The previous time I did it, the cast of Walking Dead was there in line with lil old me, chatting it up. I was there for the HHN RIP tour and they were taking in the event as VIPs. As part of the "RIP Experience" there is a photo op in the lounge where you sit on a couch and Michael Myers menaces you. Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge The RIP tour gets a small private tram. Two nice things about this private tram: They have a big chest of cold bottled water. After the Terror Tram, they drop you off at the last two mazes. Everyone else who does the Terror Tram has to make a LONG walk to Pandora's Box and Hill House. The RIP tour people only need to make the long walk back to the main park. Terror Tram was.....Terror Tram. Same as it ever was. Of course, there is no longer a Whoville. They tore it down and put up a parking lot (seriously, they did). Two more photo ops for RIP: Norman Bates - which is optional for everyone else. Mandatory for us for some reason... Secondly, during the WOTW scene, RIP veer off from the plane to the house facades where they get a picture being purged by scareactors. My Score: D (waste of time) Haunting of Hill House Orlando got the Parade Building. Hollywood got a tent. Hollywood has no facade whatsoever (thanks, Exorcist...) Instead, Hollywood takes you directly into very tall hallways. Not sure how Hollywood managed such tall sets throughout. Quite impressive for a tent. No black hallways, and very few black box scares. They put effort into this one, and it showed. It had high detail - close to Orlando (if Orlando didn't have that amazing facade). Orlando is still overall a far better house. My Score: B+ Pandora's Box Pretty much identical to 2019. Same location. To me this was the standout house. It was original, and that is always a positive. It was a Chroma Depth house - which would be a huge negative - but it was NOT a 3D house - which is a positive. But for me, it was the actors. They were ON FIRE every time I went through. They made the house come alive. My Score: A (primarily due to the cast) One more important thing: The last time I did an RIP tour was around 2012. Back then, your RIP lanyard could be used as an Express Pass (back then it was called Gate A). It let you into the Gate A group as many times you liked. At some point, Gate A became Express. Now, Express at HHN Hollywood has always been better than Express at HHN Orlando. They sell a crapload of these in Orlando, and instead of a 100 minute wait Express is maybe a 10-15 minute wait. A lot of times this is because in Orlando the Express line merges with the standby line and there is a FORCED wait as a result. In Hollywood Express has never been oversold, and Express is nearly a walk-on for houses. But at some point in time RIP did something wonderful. You see, Universal created an RIP queue for their houses - separate from Express. And where possible, they locate the RIP queue next to the house EXIT. This means in Hollywood, you can often exit a house and GO RIGHT BACK IN. If you are using Express, you need to do a relatively short walk to the Express queue. This RIP thing is impossible in Orlando, where it can take a HALF MILE WALK to go from the Express queue entrance to the house and back. Bride in Orlando is the worst offender this year. So after my guided RIP tour ended with Pandora's box, it was 11PM. Park closed in 3 hours. I was able to do Pandora and Hill House (which were side by side) 3 more times each in 30 minutes. 6 house runs in 30 minutes. Imagine it! Then I had a super long walk back to the park proper. Really interesting, as it is a walk back to the end of Potter. Such an unusual path. Went to lower lot and did Exorcist and TCM 3 more times each in an hour. These had a bit longer of a walk to repeat. RIP having the same trek as Express. Went back to the Lounge to enjoy some drinks and desserts for half an hour Then did Bride and Halloween 3 more times each in 45 minutes. Ended the night with one last run through Bride. If I had it to do over again, I would still do VIP, BUT I would have dumped the tour guide and gone to the dinner on my own time and had longer to use the RIP lanyard at my leisure. The guided tour offered nothing new - because of the poor guide. The photo ops were so-so. And I would have probably skipped Terror Tram. If you think about it, the guided tour burned 3 hours to do the houses and the Terror Tram. Plus a 4th hour for dinner. That's a lot of time. The tour did not include Jabbowockeez, which turned out to be a big plus, because they suck. The guide said as much - which I got a kick out of, but that's a huge no-no for a guide to say. BAD NEWS FOR COLLECTORS: Hollywood did the unthinkable this year - they got rid of printed HHN park maps. The app is now your only source of a map. This is heresy, and must not continue. Even if I need to buy one for $2 in the Universal Store, there should be a printed park map. Orlando, you are on notice! Oh, forgot to mention scarezones. Because aside from the Brides zone, the zones were a massive meh. As they always are in Hollywood. In the past I would purchase the Frequent Fear pass for Hollywood and after a couple of visits would regret it. Lines too long. Not worth the wait. But instead spending the money (and a bit more) on a single RIP is the way to do it. Well, lets be honest - spending a LOT of money to travel across the country to the REAL HHN is the way to do it....
  2. This is in regard to a L.A. based haunt. "Delusion" has been my #1 destination since it began. Calling Delusion a Haunt is like referring to The Palm as a quick-service dining option. Delusion made its glorious return after having a mini event in 2019 and no event at all in 2020. As most other years, this takes place in a house - this year in a historic landmark The Phillips Mansion, in Pomona. If you look at the area in Google Maps, it looks totally out of place - a grassy area with two houses located smack dab in a huge industrial zone. That is because the mansion IS totally out of place. It was built in 1875 has a really cool history behind it. It was RELOCATED to its current location in 1940. It was owned by Louis and Esther Phillips (remember those names....because this is fascinating). Louis was at one point the richest man in L.A. County. As I mentioned, the location contains two homes. The Phillips Mansion has been restored (for the most part) to its 1875 grandeur, and prior to the pandemic, had public tours. It is now used primarily for private events (like Delusion). The OTHER house is the Courier house. And folks, this place looks like a haunted house from the outside - looks like it is being held up only by termite nests and prayers. Yet the inside is not nearly as ruinous. There is actually a third structure on the grounds - an old restored barn. Delusion uses ALL THREE of these locations for its event. Instead of a queue, you purchase a showtime (show lasts between 60 and 75 minutes), and during that time you are free to roam around the lower floor of the main Phillips Mansion, as well as its CELLAR. In the three large rooms available to you, you will be entertained by some roaming actors, and see LOTS of props from past Delusions that unfold the story you are about to encounter. What is so interesting here is that the furniture you encounter - cabinets, dressers, music boxes, are mostly what you would find in the tour of the Philips Mansion. You are welcome to OPEN THEM, and take out and handle anything inside! Imagine that! Going to a haunt and being able to HANDLE PROPS! Mind you, these are all outside of the show. In most cases "diary letters" and timed recordings show and tell you what you need to know. If you pay for the "VIP" experience, you get to go upstairs to the second floor where even more rooms can be explored, including an uber-cool 10 minute self-guided experience that is essentially a "mini-Delusion" in itself. You can do it as often as you like, and each time it is likely to be slightly different. The plot of Reaper's Remorse is fairly simple. This is a spoiler heavy plot, but I don't expect anyone reading an Orlando-centric are likely to be going, and next year the plot would be different. Remember how I mentioned that in real life, Louis and Esther Phillips owned the Mansion? What makes this so fascinating is that Reaper's Remorse maintains a small degree of real life events and heavily inserts a fictional story on it. I imagine that this is what would happen if Delusion were able to access the Winchester house for an event. We have seen movies made about the house depicting Sarah Winchester in a fictional story. Well, Delusion takes it a step further with Esther. In Reaper's Remorse, Esther Phillips turned the mansion into that she called a "half-way house", taking in guests and boarders who are down on their luck. She wanted to help them. But once these people overcame their difficulties and wanted to leave or have relationships with each other, well, that's when the difficulty began. Because, you see, Esther was a bit of a collector, and she collected things that she loved. Those were many of the items you got to examine and hold before the show. And Esther really loved these kids.... The Mansion had a strong "Hill House", and formed an evil bond with Esther. If someone were to die on property, their soul is bound to an object owned by that person, and they are forced to relive their final day again and again. But Ester's reward for trapping that soul was that they never left her; they remained in her collection forever. Recently Esther has come into possession of a wildly powerful object - a statue that she cannot control by herself. The object has filled her with the remorse of having killed the people whose souls are trapped in her objects. You have been invited to her party as she wants to share with you this latest item. The show begins still in the Phillips Mansion, where Ester greets your party and offer a toast to you. After you finish your drink, she proceeds to show you this latest object. As she tell you about it, she begins to zone out and the room begins to distort and decay before your very eyes. It is the statue doing its thing... Esther snaps out of a bit and her demeanor changes. She apologizes to everyone. She couldn't help it. She invited you here with the best of intentions, but she needs someone to help her. She needs you to use the idol to free the captured souls your encounter. She would do the task herself but she fears the statue and knows she couldn't bring herself to say goodbye to any piece of her collection. Her remorse is catching up with her but you see, she knew if he asked you directly you would refuse. ....which is why she had to poison you. But don't worry, because the poison is slow acting, and once you complete your task within the hour, she will give you the antidote. And so Esther ask us to choose the most trustworthy among us to carry a satchel containing the statue during our journey. She summons the groundskeeper to take us to the main house... And that is just the first few minutes of the story. We exit the house and march along the grounds led by the dim lantern of the groundskeeper. We head to a graveyard, where the most AMAZING special effects and stunts occur, and then into the Courier House where the bulk of the event takes place. You have no time to catch your breath during the show. The events occur bang-bang-BANG! You may be split from your group to do individualized tasks. I was split off twice. There is a LOT of participation. You find yourself upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, in the attic, in hidden rooms, criss-crossing the same path as you did 10 minutes ago. Once your mission is finally done, you head to the barn to meet Esther and receive your antidote. This version of Delusion is my #2 favorite of all time. The show is amazing. The acting is amazing. By the end you are repeating over and over "HOLY CRAP!" and trying to catch your breath. Delusion has never received a low rating by anyone. Ever. If one was written I have yet to read it. I've been to so many of these types of things, and Delusion sets the bar higher every year. Note to you in other states: This year, Delusion has officially partnered with ThirteenthFloor Entertainment Group. This is a haunt conglomerate that owns many of the haunts I have visited over the years: 13th Floor Haunted House (across several states) L.A. Haunted Hayride House of Torment Nashville Nightmare Terror on the Fox and others A lot of those haunts started out as independent. I was concerned when Delusion joined it, because too often they get diluted when a bigger entity controls the dollars. Also, Delusion is NOTHING like any of those haunts. Delusion is not a haunt. It is a show, and none of those are shows. So when this year felt like Delusion - and Delusion on a massive budget for that matter - I was overjoyed. Jon Braver has been trying to find new locations for Delusion, expanding out of state. Let's all hope that ThirteenthFloor allows this to happen...
  3. The icon was referenced in a room, but correct no Mary Agana... Would have been nice to at lease see a door with her name on it.
  4. Hello everyone! I visited HHN for 4 nights - 9/15, 9/16, 9/17, and 9/19, and took the Unmasking tour of 9 houses. Here are my thoughts. NOTE: I have not been to HHN Hollywood yet. So, let me preface this by saying that 2021 was a JOYOUS return after the hell that was 2020. I went to the event not expecting it to be 100% "back to normal". And to be perfectly frank, the entire event WAS "back to normal" with the exception of the lack of Stuff In Face in the houses, the vinyl in the houses, and masked scareactors. The reality is that 85%+ of the patrons are not masked. Many Universal employees are also not masked. The reality is that conga lines are exactly the same as previous years. Seriously - zero difference. The reality is that the shows are packed shoulder to shoulder. If that bothers you, don't even think of attending. It did not bother me. It has to be talked about, so let me give my 2 cents about the vinyl in the houses. Overall, it REALLY takes away from the houses. It just sucks. First of all, given that no one is masked and there are conga lines, it is pointless. Aside form that, it is impossible to keep clean, so every day it gets scuffed, warped, and less transparent. At some point it will look more like a scrim. And this was very early in the event. It also points out scares - so much so that A&D actually installed vinyl in areas where there is NO scareactor just to throw you off. Clever right? Well, maybe not. Because all of the CLEAN vinyl has no scareactors.... And here is 2 more cents regarding masks. They are not helping the houses much either. Sure, maybe seeing Bride wearing a mask when she is doing "surgery" makes sense. But seeing icons masked? Doesn't help. It is what it is. I am just pointing out that it detracts from the experience. So with that out of the way, how was the event for good 'ol Zombieman? Let's start with the important stuff: FOOD Such a wonderful offering this year! They knocked it out of the park. Went four times and there was so much I didn't even get to try everything I wanted to try. There were hits and misses, but the great themed ideas were just fantastic. What I really appreciate is that they didn't just slap a Horror Nights name on every item. They added a twist to the dish in many cases. The two signature drinks were both quite good, with the Poison Tea party being my favorite. I gotta say, though, that if there was any alcohol in them this year it was by accident. Seriously, these were .01 proof.... The donut sliders were ok. I expected the donuts to be hot and fresh but they had been sitting around all day. The meat and bacon jam were to die for. Impossible to eat without doing so in layers. Would have been FAR better had they sliced one donut and served patty between. Skip the bloody ribs. Not very tender and super sloppy to eat in the dark. Brisket grilled cheese - YAS! 1000x YAS! Aepas (in San Francisco area) are good, but my, god, they are sloooooow. They prepare them one at a time. Meaning even if you order 3 they put one cornmeal cake in a giant oven, wait till its heated, then put the next one one. It is not possible to do this less efficiently. So expect a 30 min wait for your food. No other booth was like this. I saw this happening every night. Merchandise Holy crap, there was a ton of merch. More than ever before. What was especially different this year was that they went the route that Knotts did a couple of years ago, in that much of the merch featured the work of local artists. What Knotts actually did was ask their A&D members, makeup team members, and costume team members to each do one piece of artwork for the event and they sold them in a gallery similar to the tribute store. I get a lot of that vibe here. As an HHN collector, this dilutes the hell out of collectability, as there are no real standout items that represent the year anymore. What is nice is that the Scarezones and some original houses get their chance to shine in terms of merch. ONE BIG COMPLAINT - CHUCKY? Why the hell is Chucky so prominently displayed? Other than Merch, he had ZERO appearance in the event. I am guessing we were supposed to get a Chucky house but got TCM instead (I'll mention why later). But it clearly seems as though Chucky was to be here but was pulled at some point. In any event he does NOT belong on a piece of merch that features original icons. Period. Scarezones I did not get much from the Zones this year. Everything is a photo op these days. It was nice to see Terra Cruentas, but it got the smallest zone. As usual - beautiful zone. Would have much preferred a Terra Cruentas house.... I didn't think it was possible for New York to have a worse zone than Zombieland, but Seek & Destroy managed to be much worse. Just yuck. CryptTV was a bit of a sleeper, and delivered more than I was expecting. Still unfortunately a photo op. The best was Eddie's Revenge, but not as good as the Chucky zone from the past. Shows Marathon of Mayhem was ok. It had far too much to live up to from the 2019 show. That show was perfect. In every way. This year's show was what I think most of us thought 2019 would end up being when it was announced. I watched the 2019 show every night I went. I've watched it on Youtube many times since. I watched this year's lagoon show one time. And that was enough... Not bad, just not great. Nightmare Fuel was very good. I would prefer a Bill & Ted show or an AoV show over this, but it is 1000x better than a Jabbawockeez crapfest. I liked how it incorporated magic, and the fact that it was a flesh-fest didn't hurt. I only saw it once, but would watch it again on Youtube. Express and queues: The Express lines moved pretty well. They were selling "until 10PM" and "until midnight" passes every night. So they were keeping Express lines full. In the last hour of the event, many houses were walk on even for non-express. Best time to visit the SoundStage houses are in last hour. Same with Shrek queue. As in past years, Beetlejuice and Hill House is a full HALF MILE walk each - from the black and white marquee at the queue entrance to the house and back to the sign (and that is if you are using Express). These are by far the longest walks you will endure. Tents are about a third of a mile walk each. Soundstages about the same. Shortest is Scarey and Legendary Truth. Doing all 10 houses one time each (Express) circling the park was on average between 4 and 4.5 miles for me. The 6 house UTH tour is about a 2.5 mile walk - DO THIS TOUR The 3 house UTH tour is about a 1.25 mile walk - DO THIS TOUR I say this every single year: Oh how I would love it if they coupled pairs of houses back to back..... Online games: Universal did something this year they have not done before - they make the games playable outside of the event. You can play the trivia game. You can visit the behind the scenes info. You can even play Jack's Scattered Past remotely......sort of. The Scattered Past game is interesting in that it is a scavenger hunt. In New York and in Hollywood you will find QR codes in the windows of some of the facades (about 5 in each area). The game has you going from QR code to QR code, scanning along the way. Some of these are easy. Some are not. At all. One problem is the weather. If it is rainy or particularly muggy (hello, Florida), the window will be so full of condensation it will be hard to scan the code. Also, the game must be played a couple of hours before closing as shades are drawn in some of the locations (Pizza and Pasta, for one). More frustratingly, the order of the clues changes every day (hence the name Scattered Past). So if you cannot complete the game in one day, you cannot come back and pick up where you left off. I believe there are THREE games, with one unlocking the next. And once again, you don't have to play the game DURING HHN. You can play it in the park during the day. ...and maybe even remotely: When I was there I searched all the windows in the daytime and took pictures of the QR codes I found. I haven't tried yet, but I THINK I can play the game now that I am home. I just need to have my iPad take a picture of my phone... Houses: Let me first say that this year, the Unmasking Tour helps GREATLY. The house backstories are complex this year. As last time, there is a 3 house tour and 6 house tour. These do not overlap. Go to both and you will tour all houses except Beetlejuice. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing these tours. For the best experience, do all the houses before the tour and then redo them after the tour. I went through all the houses before the tour and felt aside from Wicked Growth, ALL of them were so-so. Not very good at all. My grades below are AFTER the tour. Trust me - the tour gives you a much better appreciation for what is going on. I went to the event with the following anticipation list: Anticipation of the houses going in Welcome to Scarey Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth Tooth Fairy Puppet Theatre HHN Icons Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin Bride of Frankenstein Haunting of Hill House The ordering of the first 8 is pretty irrelevant, as I had high anticipation for all of them. 9. Beetlejuice - I went in with low expectations 10. Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Going in, I could not care less about this house How the houses ended up ranking Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin - BY A LONGSHOT HHN Icons Tooth Fairy Bride of Frankenstein Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth Puppet Theatre Haunting of Hill House Beetlejuice Welcome to Scarey Texas Chainsaw Massacre Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin (A++) For the past few years there has been one standout house each year.....and then all the rest 2017: Scarecrow 2018: Poltergeist 2019: Graveyard Games This year it was Wicked Growth. Interestingly, none of these was very high on my list going in, and as I exited each one, I was applauding how fantastic they were. Wicked Growth managed to tell a cohesive story (as did the others), and it builds as you go through (as did the others). Holy crap, does it build to a crescendo. Pay close attention to the music and chants, as you do the last third. Listen to it build to the very end. Amazing use of sound. Wicked Growth feels like the best parts from The Hallow, Scarecrow, Gothic, and Graveyard Games all in one house. And there are two scares that are incredibly effective. I was told by our Unmasking guide that they are actually very old scares, but I have not seen either in the 17 years I have been going. Based on the response, I suspect we will see them in future years. One is very near the beginning and one is near the "lake" (which in itself is another very good effect). So after Wicked Growth, there is....the rest. A couple of the rest were particularly disappointing. But the other 7 were good to very good. But aside from Wicked Growth, none was anything I would make a huge effort to see again. HHN Icons (A-) This house shares something in common with three houses this year - it is a house where each room is an abrupt change (as in Slaughter Sinema). Slaughter Sinema "worked" because each scene was clearly introduced with a movie poster. This house doesn't do it as nicely. You enter the realm of each of the main icons, and there is some sort of very minor cue that is supposed to clue you in. Sometimes audio. Sometimes video. It is nice to see all of the icons you love. There IS an entire room that is an allusion to Bloody Mary, though we never see her. It was nice to learn something entirely new about the Storyteller! And boy was she hiding something - and might be expanded upon in years to come. Point is, this house was not a one and done. It nicely left the door open for another chapter. By the way, that Storyteller thing is explained in the Unmasking tour; it will otherwise be quite confusing to you in the house. And the final scene with the throne is a wonderful kiss goodbye. In my runs I got Lady Luck, Director, Usher, and Jack. Tooth Fairy (A-) Very cool house. Very good story. They took an entirely different path than Knotts. Super gory house. Probably the most gory of all of them. Sets were beautiful. Once again, the Unmasking tour took this to a new level. Bride of Frankenstein (B+) This house takes an IP and presents it in an original manner - THIS is the way IP should be done. It is very clear from the first scene as to what is going on. But from there it is confusing unless you take the tour. Why are there vampires? Why are they fighting? Why can the bride talk? Why does she want the Monster alive? All answered in the tour. It really helps the house. Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth (B+) A person could do two dozen runs and still not catch much of the detail in this house. There is simply too much to take in. And it is a confusing house whether you have no idea what LT is or whether you think you know everything about LT. To me, the most confusing thing is trying to understand the premise of the house itself. We knew Boris Schuster as a private detective who created Legendary Truth. Yet as we walk into this house we are introduced to a new character in present day who we have never met. He has come upon old files that Schuster kept and is trying to unravel the mystery. Then out of nowhere we are told that Schuster is also an author of true crime fiction. Hold on - we just uncover that NOW? They guy had a bunch of books published - under his real name - and no one on the planet knew that until now? And if Boris created Legendary Truth, why would his files be locked away outside of the LT offices? Okay. It's a haunted house. Let's put that stuff aside. Every room of the house takes place in a unique setting - a scene from each of Boris' books - with books representing the Legions of Horror. Trust me - this is not a spoiler. You could read the entire backstory and still not understand what is going on.... This house REQUIRES revisiting. It makes you want to go back and understand more. This house is by far the BEST use of the Shrek queue. It truly felt like a Soundstage house. Puppet Theatre (B) Another beautiful house. Story is quite clear. One thing the Tour does is explain what the heck the last thing you see in the house (overhead) is. Honestly, I think they could have done so much more with this.... It's just there. It needs to do something. The house tries to straddle the line between comedy and horror, and I feel the comedy is out of place. For instance toward the very end there is a little dancing puppet that is there for comedic purposes. Sorry, but this doesn't belong here. It is inconsistent with what you have seen so far and throws you out of the story. Haunting of Hill House (B) I always felt that this IP would make a fantastic house, as the house in the series is a character in itself. And much of the series feels like a haunted house walkthru. The difficulty is that the series is not easy to follow or explain. It jumps in time. It tells many, many stories. So to someone not familiar with the series, the house will be plenty scary but some sets will not make sense. Those familiar with the story will be very happy. HHN Hollywood did an IP haunted house (Crimson Peak) and it paled in comparison to this. Beetlejuice (C) Yup. It was Beetlejuice. Yup. Ghostbusters was Ghostbusters. But Poltergeist was the GOAT. Three great whales for the A&D team. They took one in a unique direction and it was amaze-balls. The other two were just another IP house. Hoping that Jaws gets some original love... Welcome to Scarey (D-) Damn, what an utter disappointment. They chose to make this house be a "best of". That was a critical fail. What they did was essentially turn Carey into an IP, and then cut and pasted scenes from houses based in that IP. WTF? And of course there was NO ATTEMPT to make the scenes flow. To those unfamiliar with Carey, it must have felt like any carnival haunted house. WHAT THEY SHOULD HAVE DONE: Carey is an original concept. So EXPAND on the original concept! Tell us the story BEHIND Carey. Tell us what sinister force is lurking behind all the madness in Carey. Hint at what is to come. What a wasted opportunity. Sorry, but this was unbelievably bad.... The only reason this doesn't get an F is that there was an even worse house.... Texas Chainsaw Massacre (F) This house consists of two characters - Leatherface and Choptop. You now know everything you need to know about the house. There is no story. No retelling of any one of the movies. Grandpa is a static figure. Multiple Leatherfaces are in the same room toward the end. Highlight: Gasoline pump from Jaws in the facade. Think about that. THAT was the highlight. I wasn't expecting any new story to be told, but everything presented had been presented BETTER in previous versions. Which turned the house into a big fat negative. This house felt like it was thrown together at the last second. Something tells me Chucky was planned here and was taken out at the last second and replaced with this hot mess. It just feels to me that they reinstalled Carnival Graveyard which was in this same venue, put a TCM overlay on it, and called it a house. Not even the Unmasking Tour helped this house.... This and Scarey were the pits. I am well aware that this house was at the top of many lists. I do not get it. Perhaps there was alcohol in the specialty drinks after all... OVERALL I would put this year in the 60th percentile of the 15 HHN Orlando events I have attended. So glad it is back.
  5. Were houses open during Employee Preview night or was it just zones?
  6. I cannot believe it all starts in just a few hours.
  7. HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 30 (2021)  If you are going to HHN this year and know the nights you are visiting, then make a post with those dates as well as any of the letters from the Key below that apply to you. Please try to post only if you are mostly certain you will be attending that night. If you need to make an update to add or remove nights, please make a new post! I do not get alerted when you edit an existing post. When you want to make changes, make a new post so I see it. I will attempt to update at least once per week. Official Dates for HHN 30 - more nights than ever! 42 nights over 9 weeks!! September: 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30 October: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Key S = Stay and Scream (Annual Pass or Parks during the day) E = Express Pass D = Legal Drinking age If you are doing a RIP, UTH tour or Scareactor Dining, feel free to include the date/time/guide info in your post I can't make a new post without it merging, so here is the format your post should be in. Doesn't have to be exact, just make sure I can understand it. Here is an example of what to post so that I can fill in the info: 9/16: Zombieman (+0): S/D/E + UTH (AM/PM) This means: Zombieman will attend 9/16 He will be attending himself (+0) He is using Stay and Scream, is of drinking age, and is using an Express pass He is doing the 6 house UTH tour that day Pass upgrade options - Universal has historically allowed Frequent Fear tickets to be upgraded with the following rules: Upgrade must physically take place at Guest Services (not ticket booths or over the phone or online). You must show your old ticket; do NOT throw it away! Upgrade not allowed once current pass has expired (i.e. must upgrade Rush of Fear before final night of Rush of Fear). Upgrade cost will be the delta of existing ticket and new ticket. If you had Express add on on original ticket, upgrade MUST include Express. If you did NOT have Express on original ticket, upgrade can include Express, but upgrade cost will obviously be higher. Upgrade options are based on how current ticket has been used Example 1: Rush of Fear was used on Friday 9/20. Cannot Upgrade to Frequent Fear, because 9/20 was not a date available to that tier. Example 2: Rush of Fear was used on Saturday 9/21. Can only upgrade to Ultimate Frequent Fear, as 9/21 was not available to any other tier. In 2018 and before HHN started, Universal announced that tickets could ONLY be upgraded to Ultimate Fear. Clearly they did not stick to that rule, or made exceptions under special circumstances. It always pays to call Guest Services and politely ask. How I upgraded my Rush of Fear pass in 2018: I had returned from my mid September trip to HHN. I called Guest Services from California on the last day of the Rush of Fear. I told them I would book another package for an HHN trip late October if they would let me upgrade my ROF+Express pass. They made a special order # via email for me to do this. This order number was crucial. I showed the email to the employee at Guest Services, and he instantly understood what was going on. Had I not had that order number, I would be SOL. I The only downside was that because I went one Saturday with my ROF+Express, I had to upgrade to the Ultimate+Express. It was a $300 upgrade. I did not have to pay in advance, and paid at Guest Services in late October, referencing the order. I was very nervous, because I flew across the country with only my old, expired Rush of Fear ticket. Upgrade at Guest Services took about 5 min. They did not charge me tax on the upgrade, and gave me a few daytime paper Express passes because I came so far! The line at Guest Services on an HHN night is easily 90 min; go very early in the day. I am not even going to attempt a crowd calendar estimate. 2021 is going to be a huge wildcard. Rush of Fear nights are in Green - 16 event nights ($130 / $400 with Express). Currently you get $20 off these prices when you buy online Frequent Fear nights are in Purple - 26 event nights ($160 / $460 with Express). Currently you get $20 off these prices when you buy online Frequent Fear Plus nights are in Red - 35 event nights ($190 / $530 with Express). Currently you get $20 off these prices when you buy online Ultimate Frequent Fear nights are in Yellow - 42 event nights ($305 / $750 with Express - includes free parking after 5 pm all nights). Use Express 5 nights and it pays for itself. Currently you get $20 off these prices when you buy online WEEK 1 Friday, September 3rd (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Nightcrawler (+0) (message if interested in meeting) Saturday, September 4th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Nightcrawler (+0) (message if interested in meeting) WEEK 2 Thursday, September 9th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, September 10th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, September 11th (Rush of Fear, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, September 12th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) WEEK 3 Wednesday, September 15th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Zombieman (+0) S/D/E Thursday, September 16th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Zombieman (+0) S/D/E + UTH (AM/PM) Friday, September 17th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Zombieman (+0) S/D/E Saturday, September 18th (Rush of Fear, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Zombieman (+0) S/D/E + UTH (AM) Sunday, September 19th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) - Zombieman (+0) S/D/E WEEK 4 Wednesday, September 22nd (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Thursday, September 23rd (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, September 24th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, September 25th (Rush of Fear, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, September 26th (Rush of Fear, Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) WEEK 5 Wednesday, September 29th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Thursday, September 30th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, October 1st (Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, October 2nd (Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, October 3rd (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) WEEK 6 Wednesday, October 6th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Thursday, October 7th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, October 8th (Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, October 9th (Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, October 10th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) WEEK 7 Wednesday, October 13th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Thursday, October 14th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, October 15th (Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, October 16th (Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, October 17th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) WEEK 8 Wednesday, October 20th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Thursday, October 21st (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, October 22nd (Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, October 23rd (Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, October 24th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) WEEK 9 Tuesday, October 26th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Wednesday, October 27th (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Thursday, October 28st (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Friday, October 29th (Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Saturday, October 30th (Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear) Sunday, October 31st (Frequent Fear, Frequent Fear Plus, Ultimate Frequent Fear)
  8. Hi everyone, seems like it's been forever. This may have been asked and answered: The HHN Orlando site is showing ELEVEN house slots. What's up with that?
  9. In my opinion, Hollywood has suffered from a "use it to death" mentality. There was a period where they had a hallways in every-single-house where they had hanging bodies, body parts, body bags, pigs, heads, etc. Then there was a period where they had in every-single-house a picture frame that would have a drop slam. Then they had the static prop (zombies, a car, vampires, etc) on a moving rail that they used everywhere. In one TWD house they used two of them in the same hallway. Now its the black hallways in every-single-house I imagine there is some budget aspect behind the scenes - buy 10 of them and it's cheaper. But these folks just have no concept of overusing an idea until it's no longer effective. Orlando just doesn't suffer from this at all. Some may say "Puppets" as of late, and I might agree with that. But if an effect is used in different ways and different circumstances, it continues to be unique. Even Murdy in his own tweets acknowledges the disgust with the black walls, yet they refuse to do anything but install more. As long as people go to HHN Hollywood in droves, it won't change. And here's the punchline worthy of the year 2020 - when HHN does eventually happen again, it will most likely have most scares behind plexiglass. Guess what overused scare Hollywood has that is already set up for adding a sheet of Plexi? So expect to see the black hallway strobe box for many years to come.
  10. Hollywood has soundstages, as it is an operating movie studio. And I'm not talking about wrestling events. In the pre-2006 days they used these, and the results were very good. They have done a couple of houses in a backlot SS, and this has been very disappointing. They had the opportunity to do AWIL in a soundstage, but they chose to put AVP in it instead. Creative decision, but AWIL suffered greatly, being put in the smaller JP queue. So what else did Hollywood choose to put in the backlot SS? Black freaking Sabbath. A 3D house that could have gone anywhere. What a waste. Stranger Things also got to be in a different soundstage, and of course it looked incredible as it was a headliner property.
  11. Hollywood's quality did not begin to fall off a cliff until around 2013/2014 when they decided that every house needed to be filled with black hallways with a boo-hole strobe at the end. Chucky in Hollywood was just an overlay in their year-round maze, so it is not a fair comparison in terms of quality. That maze always had a Chucky room in it, and for the overlay they simply added more of him. Chucky in Orlando was unique in that it although it was an IP house, it was a comedy house and told an original story. However, it was still a funhouse theme at its core, and Orlando has never put very much detail into funhouse themed houses. So in my opinion, it was on the low end of the Orlando scale in terms of theme. Saw ran three years in Hollywood (2009/2010, and 2017), and two years in Orlando (2009 and 2017). There were also TWO Saw-based houses in 2008 at Fright Dome in Las Vegas. IMHO, the best Saw house ever was at Sinister Pointe in Brea, CA in 2008, which included actual TRAPS that you had to participate in. In terms of quality, both Hollywood and Orlando did an equally good job in those first years. They each presented their favorite traps, with some overlap. Orlando and Hollywood design teams work separately - moreso back then. The general consensus was that the 2017 house at each event was unnecessary and did not live up to whatever small amount of hype there was. Although recent, their detail was forgettable. Back in the day, it was always a tossup as to which coast would do a better job with their IP. These were my past feelings as to who did a better job for the FIRST appearance. In terms of detail, Hollywood has been an equal to Orlando in the distant past. And back in the days when they used Soundstages, they were outstanding. But since relying on adding black hallways to stretch budget to add more houses, Hollywood has gone down the toilet, to the point where Knotts consistently beats them in detail. Hollywood CAN still do an outstanding detailed house, if it is something that really interests Murdy. The good old days of Hollywood: TCM: Hollywood (detail) F13: Orlando (detail) NOES: Orlando (detail) Saw: Both were quite good Halloween: Hollywood HOTC: Hollywood did a fantastic job in 2010, but in 2019 Orlando won. Alice Cooper: Hollywood , by far. I don't think Orlando team wanted to do it at all. Thing: Orlando (Detail, final monster) Wolfman: Orlando (Orlando detail was outstanding, Hollywood was an overlay) La Llorona: Hollywood (far better detail) TWD: Orlando (does anyone really remember one year form another?) Silent Hill: Orlando (far better detail) Evil Dead: Hollywood Insidious: Hollywood (the only house where black hallways helped) Chucky: Orlando (Not a fair comparison. Hollywood was an overlay) The decline of Hollywood: AWIL: Orlando by a thousand miles Dracula Untold: Orlando made the film look interesting FDTD: Both were quite good AVP: Orlando by a mile. Told their own story. Queen at end was fantastic. Halloween II: Hollywood , for its original ending. Neither were very detailed. AHS: Orlando , for their Season 1-3 house. Amazing. FvJ: Orlando (Unique ending, detail) Exorcist: Hollywood (Story, scares). Orlando for detail. Krampus: Hollywood (Detail) Hollywood in the crapper: Shining: Orlando , by a big margin (unique telling of story, detail) Ash Vs Evil Dead: Orlando (Hollywood was just a bunch of black hallways) Blumhouse: Both were atrocious, but Hollywood did Sinister 2 fair justice Trick R Treat: Orlando (Detail) Stranger Things: Orlando Purge: Both were not very good Poltergeist: Orlando (GOAT for me along with Graveyard Games. IP presented from a completely unique perspective). Hollywood missed the boat. Halloween IV: Both were not very good Ghostbusters: Orlando (Detail) Us: Both were not very good KKFOS: Orlando . (Klownzilla) Universal Monsters: Hollywood did an A+ job. Orlando's Frankenstein vs Wolfman was also quite good. Detail on both were great. It was the only Hollywood house in recent history that did not have any black hallways. Hollywood could return to greatness if they treated every house like they treated this one.
  12. Thanks for that link! I had not seen a raw track like that before. I very well might be able to piece this together
  13. Ah, I didn't realize he pieced the whole thing together. Was hoping he was sampling from some already available techno version... Unfortunately there is not enough in the show for me to pull 2 minutes of content. I have decided to piece together one of these two for my show. If I manage to get a decent light show sequence, I'll post it. Takes many days to do even 30 seconds of sequencing... Thank you for the link, though! I remember listening to that, but forgot how he made it.
  14. Went with my daughter last night - some REALLY GOOD stuff! SUMMARY: If you love Stranger Things, you are going to LOVE this. If you have little to no experience with ST, you will still really enjoy the first half, but the last half will be very confusing. I have to give huge props to the development team for the handling of this event. What could have been a logistical nightmare turned out to be an extremely well organized, well paced event. The background theme of the event is that you are invited to a class reunion of Hawkins High alumni, taking place at the Starcourt Mall. Leading up to the event, you will receive emails asking for you to enter your school profile, and urging you to dress in your 80's best for the occasion. The reason behind this will add to your experience while you wait for your timeslot (and may even win you prizes!). When they scan your entrance ticket, they might use your profile information to call out PA announcements to you personally. Very cool idea! Time slots - this was really weird. We had a timeslot for 8:45pm. We arrived at 7:15, and had no problem. We were wondering how cars that were too early or too late would be turned around. Didn't happen. So timeslots seem to be unenforced. And when they finally scan your ticket, there is really no opportunity to turn someone away anyhow. The arrival is smooth as silk - you are funneled into two one of two lanes, and directed to VIP or regular entrance. Phone is scanned. And then you queue up. Queue - This is also interesting, as once you are in the queue, timeslots mean NOTHING. They don't direct you to a holding area based on timeslot. Once your ticket is scanned, it's a waiting game with equality to all. So there is a very short single file queue and then they direct you to one of about 10 single file final queues (maybe a dozen cars per final queue). Here, you wait outside the Starcourt Mall, with the class reunion festivities hosted by science teacher Mr. Clark. This, in my opinion was the best part of the whole experience. That's not to put down the rest of the show. Think of it as how we all thought of Marathon of Mayhem as being among the best of 2019 HHN. The time flies by here, with Mr. Clark presenting some really fun in-car games, while small parts of the experience are revealed. They stuck to the 80's theme tightly. When they saw people taking pictures on their phones, actors referred to them as "Polaroids". I'd say about 30% of the customers tried to dress for the occasion. Some of the more fun games you will play are: Glove Box Bingo Twister Best Dressed What freaking good ideas for a safe yet socially distanced experience! You will also see most of the cast roaming about and interacting with cars. You can order food while in the queue as well. You order online (super smooth) and can pay using the CC you used to pay for your ticket. The food is delivered with a couple of minutes. I had the soft pretzels and they were excellent. The hot food was properly hot and the cold food was properly cold. The food is EXPENSIVE, but I didn't mind supporting this event as so many are hurting during this time. I should note that all of the sound is broadcast to your car over unused FM stations, this is both in the queue as well as in the experience. Wait time - We waited about 25 minutes in the queue. none of the activities repeated in that time. It seems as if there are 30 minutes of planned activities, and the queue holds 30 minutes of capacity. Again - this was so well executed. So we got into the experience at about 1 hour ahead of our timeslot. Experience - Once inside, the experience does last about one full hour. It is divided into three acts. Acts 1 and 2 are inside the parking structure, while Act 3 is on the roof. Act 1 is FANTASTIC! The cast is great, the acting is great, the interaction with every single car is great. The car arrangement is GREAT. Everyone has a great view. Because the "stage area" is so large with card surrounding it, there are multiple casts acting out the exact same dialog in synchronization. This is really weird, yet compelling. Act 2 takes place in the Upside Down. Entering the portal and finding yourself in the Upside Down is a "Whoa!" moment. And then all the action comes to a complete stop. It is nothing more than parking and watching scenes from the show on screens. No surprises. No advancing the story. Just watching 15 minutes of "best of" clips of all 3 seasons.... It is a massive winding single-file conga line of cars, with projection screens at intervals on one side. It takes forever to squish cars into the area, then all lights need to be turned off, which also takes forever. Then if you are lucky, you might be able to actually see a screen (we were at an extreme angle so only saw blurs). Act 2 SUCKS, and detracted from the show. It would be a better experience without this at all. Act 3 is a combination of live actors and screens. You are surrounded on 3 sides by screens. The stage is HUGE and once again there are multiple sets of actors on all 3 sides, sometimes doing the same scene in sync. Other times one giant performance. There are stunts. If you know the show, you will love it. If you don't you will be very confused, yet impressed. Characters also roam around the cars. The downside to Act 3 is that you are essentially in a parking lot on a roof. Although the action is well above your head, an SUV or truck directly in front of you will obstruct your view. This happened to us. There are no spoilers for Season 4 given in the event. Exit - On the way out, everyone is diverted to a parking space and asked if they want to buy merch. Really expensive merch (like $30 for a hat). If you don't want to buy, you can leave. There is also a "photo op" which seems to be just a big Stranger Things logo that you can use as a backdrop for a selfie (not allowed to leave your car). Grades: Pre-show (queue): A+ Act 1: A Act 2: D Act 3: B What about VIP? VIP is a massive upcharge per person. We did not do the VIP, but from what I understand it includes snacks and drinks, I think a T-shirt, priority entrance, and a "car wash" experience that is really a photo op. If the VIP people had less of a wait I think they missed out, because the queue was so much fun. Were there scares? None whatsoever. This was not intended to be a Halloween event, and it will continue well into 2021 unless California institutes Lockdown 9.0... Is it suited for kids? There are a lot of S-bombs dropped, and in the queue some women in practically painted-on jazzercise outfits. Otherwise, it's great for kids. How well did they nail the cast? PERFECTLY! The facemasks helped greatly, though. It was cool that the facemasks were made the same material as the costumes, so they blended in well. How was social distancing? Worked very well. If your window is rolled down, you MUST be wearing your mask. Actors wore masks unless they were on stage. It felt very safe. How was the voice acting? The pre show was pretty much live. There were some Mike/Elle parts that were lip synced. Acts 1 & 3 were entirely lip synced, as there were multiple sets of casts. Act 2 had no voice actors. Most of the character voices were spot on. But whoever voiced Dustin was really mis-cast; didn't sound anything like him and no lisp. Was anyone missing from the experience? Of note, Nancy, Joyce and Bob were completely missing. That's strange, as characters as obscure as Eleven's mom were present. Hopper was only briefly present in Act 3. Were there Demigorgons? Yup Any other monsters? Nope How big was the cast? I estimate: Pre-show/Queue: 12+ Act 1: 24+ Act 2: 3 Act 3: 24+ And who knows if there was an A/B cast. Also, for all I know there may have been duplicate stages that I did not see. Recommended? Definitely! Tickets are available for March 2021 timeframe. I remember turning to my daughter as were leaving Act I that if the experience ended right then, I would think it was worth the money. Act 2 threatened to reverse that thought, but Act 3 made up for it. Just keep in mind that if you never watched ST, anything after the pre-show will be utterly confusing. Don't even try to make sense of it.
  15. Unless there is a contractual stipulation for any of the IP, I have no doubt these will be back next year. No way will Universal blow money on a teardown and rebuild just to keep things fresh, nor would I want them to. At this point I don't care if they present these same houses for 2021 and 2022 if it would help them recover from the shutdowns. I wonder more than a little bit if there was a contractual obligation that required them to present Beetlejuice in some way at the event, and the one day house was a way to fulfill it. But the better part of me believes they did it out of appreciation for the fans.
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