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Coast's HHN XXI Review


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I don't even know how to start off writing my thoughts on Halloween Horror Nights XXI. I'm pretty sure the words to describe how blown away I was don't exist.

This is the nation's premiere Halloweene event for a reason. The detail, the energy, the surroundings. I've simply never seen anything like it. Ever. The atmosphere is unmatched by any park event I have attended. It's hard to describe to someone who has never experienced it before.

This will be a spoiler-filled review for those who have not had the chance to experience some aspects of the houses or events and wish to see them in the final nights (which I don't think is really anybody on here).

Winter's Night: The Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetery- I was in love. Love at first sight, as a matter of fact. The second I entered Soundstage 22, I was knocked off my feet by the simply stunning facade. It was beautiful. As the snow fell, I couldn't help but notice that the snow was everywhere: on the bricks, the trees, even on the bench. It's the little details like that that makes not only the whole event but this house special. The teal lanterns had an awesome glow, and there were plenty of them. (21 of them I believe? I think I counted 21...) I wanted to sit and stare at it for the rest of the night. My first time through, I was a sucker for every scare (except the Weeping Angel; it was just too obvious it was an actor) just because of how captivated I was by the detail in the sets. My favorite part of the house had to be the forced perspective room, which also was the best scare in the house. It really looked like the cemetery went on for miles. The surprise in this house was the vine wall. Totally didn't see it coming and when those arms stuck through, they had me jump. I loved the costumes, particularly the girl's costumes (I don't want to say bride, because it's hard to tell if they were brides or not). There is just so much to see. It took me four trips through to see a good 75% of the details in there. I was able to go through this house a total of five times, and I walked out with a big smile on my face every damn time. I loved Winter's Night so much to the point where when I think about how we'll never see it again, I get pretty upset about it. Rating: 10/10, no doubt about it.

The Forsaken- This house really, really, really wanted to be my favorite, but it just couldn't top Winter's Night. Very interesting choice to have the facade at the midway point, but when you do get to it it's a sight to see. That room is my favorite room from the entire event. It felt massive, way bigger than it was. I couldn't tell who was real, who was fake, what moved, what didn't. I really liked the storm effects, I caught myself feeling like I was blowing in the wind. It's a very immersive room. Easily my favorite room of the event this year, as long as Winter's Night facade doesn't count as a room! The chapel scene had a great distraction, set up a good scare. I was a little disappointed though that it seemed like there was only 3 or 4 Forsaken projected and not really an "army", but it did the job and distracted me. The crooked path was a great effect, and even though I knew it was coming after hearing so much about it, I was still disoriented. Had I not compeletely accidentally fallen to the right (or is it the left? can't remember) and not seen that you could walk straight, I would have been disoriented all night and stumbled across like everybody else. The actors in here did a great job too, great energy and more in your face than I expected. Definitely had that "get me out of here, quick!" feeling to the room.

However, what kept this house at #2 for me was that odd part about half way (or three quarters of the way through, can't really remember) where it's just plain walls for a few corners with nothing going on. It felt like it killed the flow of the house. It's comparable to a roller coaster's mid course brakes, where it goes from "OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME!" to slowing down. I think a few of you might agree, but it seems here the majority of you have this house at #1, so we'll see. I gave this house 3 chances, and that part still kinda knocked the house down from a 10 to a 9/9.5. (9.5 for the one really good run through I had where pretty much every scareactor got me) Another little thing I found just a little odd about the house is the lack of Spaniards at the beginning. There was one, maybe two that I saw. I guess it's kinda clear who won that battle, though with the blood in the cells and in the mutiny room that the Forsaken didn't leave many survivors. I hear alot of complaining about the eyes, but I felt like without them the Forsaken wouldn't be the same. That green glow was kick ass! I even found a lot of the actors covering their eyes until it was scare time. Overall, the Forsaken was a very creative house that had very immersive rooms and like Winter's Night, felt so real. rating 9.5 or 9/10.

Nightengales: Blood Prey. Immersion is the name of the game here. The second I walked in, I was thrown in the trenches. I was looking all around me, up down, left, right and there were things to see in all directions. The tank was really, really cool. Just wish it wasnt so on top of you like it was. I did stop looking up, though after a Nightengale caught me looking up at another and got me good. This means that I missed the flying Nightengales that I had heard about. The room with all of the bodies is what I remember the most about this house because it had that really unsettling feeling to it, like death was right in front of you. I had really good timing in this house and got to see pretty much all of the gun effects and got lucky enough to have a group of girls in front of me so I saw probably every scare right in front of me. I wasn't THAT lucky, though as I missed the "rip" scene. Overall, very immersive, yet simple house. Rating: 9/10

Nevermore: The Madness of Poe. Easily the most intense house of the night for me. I like to think that it's tough to get more than a startle (I was startled in every house; got a few "OH SHIT" exclamations too, particularly boo hole in Winter's Night) out of me from a scare, but this house had me screaming. Yes, a 6'1 18 year old male was screaming. I'm specifically talking about the Red Masque of Death room. I have never wanted to GET THE HELL OUT of somewhere so fast. The actor on the balcony (or was it a ballroom-type of dance floor? I know whatever it was, it was elevated) got me right as I walked in pretty good and when I saw the dancers spinning I knew this would be trouble. The dancers would lunge, and at the same time the actor above would lean in. I felt very targeted in this room, probably because of my initial reaction to the first actor right when I walked in. I was screaming profanities, telling the screaming folks in front of me to walk faster... I was a mess. Comparable to the 15 year old girls in the streets when they see chainsaws.The second I got into the next room, I burst into laughter. I absolutely loved it! Yes, I was the creepy kid by himself that was screaming like he was really being killed and then was laughing into tears... I did also enjoy the first real room, which we were given the teaser image for and although I knew it was coming, the axe actor still was a surprise.

Overall, this house was very intense for me, thanks to it being very dark. I did, though feel "lost" in the scenes. It probably has to do with the fact that I have only read two Poe stories, but I think the fact that it was so dark that I couldn't see the details didn't help at all. 8.5/10

H.R. BloodenGutz: Holidays of Horror: I really enjoyed this house, I laughed my way through! The rooms were really nicely done, I loved the scents! I know for a fact I remember there being a scent in the Thanksgiving room, but for some reason I remember there being a gunpowder-ish scent in the Fourth of July room. Can somebody confirm or deny that? The segways between holidays were very simple, yet effective. I wished we would have seen HR in one of them, at least, but they were small so I don't think it could have worked anyway. Lincoln was the star of the house, he got me good my first time! Caught me looking at his very gory victim on the couch. I saw the bomb scare twice, and it was really cool, reminded me of an old school dark ride gag! The scares though, did wear off after the first go around. Only one part kinda had me scared all three times through and that was in the Valentine's Day room, where the fishing line hangs down and tickles you. I have a fear of spiders and creepy crawlies, so that had me freaked a little bit. Overall, the tamest of the houses, but I really did enjoy it! I LOVED the concept and the story and it had a kick ass facade! 8.5/10 from me!

I did not get to see Saws N' Steam, In Between, or The Thing. The lines by the time I got to them were all at 75-100 minutes and I was forced to pass on them, I'll be honest, those three were the bottom three on my "Must See List". It also didn't help that I did Winter's Night five times and the Forsaken four times. Do I regret not seeing the three houses I missed? Yes, somewhat. Do I regret going through Winter's Night as many times as I did? Not for a second.


Grown Evil: My favorite zone this year. The lighting was perfect, and it had that eerie, spooky feeling to it. This cast gave me the only scarezone scare I had, and that's thanks to great teamwork!

7: This was a close 2nd for me, it was really well done! The actors had great energy and the chicks were hot! I had "Beautiful People" stuck in my head all night!

Acid Assault: The projections really were jaw-dropping. I hope we see more use of projections in the future. The acid rain falling was a nice touch as well.

Nightmaze: I didn't get it. I just walked in, picked the path on the right hand side and went through without any gate changes... I don't think I gave it a fair chance, to be honest but I never went back to it.

Your Luck Has Run Out: Again, a very nicely done scarezone that had a really good distraction tactic and I could see it would get alot of people, especially the men being lured in by the Lady Lucks up top.

Canyon of Dark Souls: Should be Canyon of Dark "I Can't see Three Feet in Front of Me" Souls. Loved the claustrophobic feel and the fog. Some say too much fog, but I think it was perfect. I got to see a great moment early in the night when a wheelchair guest came through and the actors crowded him and took turns popping in his face, which he loved! I was laughing just as much as he was! Funny moment to see, great to see the actors having fun!

Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure: EXCELLENT! I loved this show last year and really liked it again this year! The new writer did a GREAT job with his one line jokes and the preshow video was hilarious, almost the highlight of the show (which went to Osama and Conan). The dancing parts felt slow though, this year, particularly the first one. Flashmob idea was cool, just the dancing felt slow and dragged out. Overall, very good this year and I'd say dancing was worse than last year, but the jokes were better. The crowd lead by Bill & Ted singing "Kickstart my Heart" was a great way to end the 20th year! Not everyday you get a Smurfette in a 69! Rating 8/10.

I could not have asked for a better two nights at a better event. Congratulations to the Universal creative team, actors, event staff, and to anyone who helped play a role in Halloween Horror Nights XXI on a phenomenal year. It's the best event in the world for a reason!

I'll leave this review the same way you leave Bill & Ted: The show goes on.

Edited by Coast
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Wow...I can't believe you skipped, what I think are, the two houses that have the best run for House of the Year in Saws n' Steam and The In-Between (at least I hear that come from a lot of people, but I tend to disagree). 5 times in Winters Night?! I liked that house, but every time I've been through since the 1st time its lost a lot...Forsaken is one of my faves. That one for me has just gotten better and better. But how could you miss Saws n' Steam?!?!?!

Edited by Harry Warden
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Wow...I can't believe you skipped, what I think are, the two houses that have the best run for House of the Year in Saws n' Steam and The In-Between (at least I hear that come from a lot of people, but I tend to disagree). 5 times in Winters Night?! I liked that house, but every time I've been through since the 1st time its lost a lot...Forsaken is one of my faves. That one for me has just gotten better and better. But how could you miss Saws n' Steam?!?!?!

To be honest, the only house I regret missing is in fact Saws n' Steam. Just hearing the saws and screams from outside made me want to get in line, but with waits at 75-100 minutes, I just for whatever reason skipped it. The only mistake I think I made both nights was in fact skipping Saws now that I hear how awesome the cast was.

As for Winter's Night, I can't put my finger on exactly why I loved it so much. Anytime somebody has asked me why it was my favorite, I tell them "I don't really know". It was just a great house to experience, and one I took pleasure in repeating.

Edited by Coast
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Great review, i love people like you who tend to love EVERY single detail about HHN, bad or good.

Cuz im just like that. Even though HHN tends to have good and bad shit here and there, i still never downgrade it.

I'm glad you loved Winter's night. It felt so good in there(Escaping Florida's damn heat) the scares were intense, and the Boo-Hole gets me everytime XD

Sucks you miss S&S though, that was House of the year (In my Opinion)

and Grown Evil / 7 / Acid Assault were so legit :3

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