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Jill's Review for Sunday, Oct. 21st - A Great First Time!


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Hi everyone! Sorry for the delay getting this review out – I wanted to wait til we got back home (Sacramento) to write it. To set this up properly, it might help to know a little bit about your reviewer. I’m a middle-aged gamer chick, accompanied by my 14 year old daughter (hereafter referred to as “the munchkin”). This was our first time to HHN, and for all intents here, our first time to Universal, period (I had been once, 20 years ago, so absolutely nothing was the same). We’re both huge on horror/ thriller flicks & survival horror games (Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Dead Island, etc., etc.). I’m also a comic book nerd (Walking Dead, Sandman and Deadworld are my favs). So, now that we’re properly introduced, and with my horror geek creds established, on to the review.

We got to Universal at about 4:45, and knowing we’re running later than planned, I spent the $25 and did preferred parking in the Frankenstein lot. We immediately got in line for the metal detectors, and had only 5 or 6 people ahead of us in our lane. While we were waiting they announced that we would have a choice between queuing to be in the front for Opening Scarimonies (to the left), or lining up for early admission (to the right).

It was then announced that those doing early admission would have yet another choice: We could choose to go do the Terror Tram, or head to the lower lot to do Transformers!

So once through the metal detectors, we rushed over to the early admission side and got our FOL lanyards. At this point, there were only about 20 – 30 people already waiting, so we were in good position. So, we waited in the cattle hold for the next hour and a half or so, watching all the people in the VIP waiting area watch us, and scooting forward 5 to 10 yards at a time when they would move the barricades back. The staff in charge of the hold were really nice though and tried to keep us entertained, even fetching a nearby caramel corn vendor for me so I could buy something to eat ^ ^. We had inched up to almost the end of the Clownz zone when it was finally time to let us in. Two park employees had arrived – one with a sign for Terror Tram, the other for Transformers, and we were directed to follow to them to our chosen destination. Us and about only twenty other people chose the lower lot, with the masses choosing to go to the Terror Tram.

Reaching the top of the escalators, two things struck me that made me almost giddy with excitement: 1.) There were only a handful of us headed downstairs, and; 2.) the opening bars to the Silent Hill theme music playing over the loudspeakers.

Opting to go to downstairs first proved an excellent way to go: we were able to hit everything in the lower lot with absolutely no wait time and without using our FOLs before heading upstairs, which allowed us to come back later and enjoy our favs one more time. By the way, DTH, although we stayed more or less to the general plan, we did end up kind of winging it after all ^ ^.

Our evening went as follows (reviews to follow narrative):

  • At the bottom of the escalators, the SH scarezone consisted of Pyramid Head and three nurses. Unfortunately for the scareactors, we didn’t provide the desired response, (fangirl-ing over PH, “OMG, there’s Pyramid Head! We love you!!” and my offering helpful advice to the nurses, “You really need to twitch more”) – so they promptly ignored us. Lol
  • Transformers ride
  • Welcome to Silent Hill – Happy to report that the mailman was waiting alongside the queue line near the entrance and we were able to score the free loot (password of the day: “The Order”). For those who haven’t had the opportunity to see him yet, he’s impossible to miss. The actor wears a full, old school, legit looking mailman costume, complete with hat. The loot was the same as previously mentioned here: a mini poster for the new Silent Hill movie. At the entrance to the maze there was absolutely *no one* in line with us, so being the chickens we are, we waited for more people to show up (which happened to be four very nice guys that let us insert ourselves into the middle of their group! Lol)
  • Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is the Law – No problem with being the only people this time, as there were a couple of folks in front and behind us, but still no wait and went right in.
  • At this point we went into the souvenir shop you pass after exiting Chainsaw and bought a really cool top hat and one of the souvenir soda sippers, which came with a coupon for a free soda refill at any one of the food stands. We were told that we could leave our purchase (the hat) and it will be upstairs at the shop just inside the gates for pickup when we leave, and so we took advantage of that and also added our Silent Hill posters and my leftover popcorn to the bag!
  • Filled up the sipper cup at the food stand by the Mummy
  • Revenge of the Mummy ride
  • Jurassic Park ride – Absolutely *no one* riding this – we went straight onto a boat. Employee working offered the helpful advice that if we didn't want to get wet, to sit in the middle – so we did, and still got (minimally) wet anyway ;p.
  • Headed upstairs – at this point the gates had opened and people began flooding the downstairs area
  • Stopped at a carnival game in The Simpsons area (use the sledgehammer to ring the bell, “guaranteed winner”) and “won” an adorable stuffed animal for each of us (panda for the munchkin, bunny for me – both have skull faces).
  • Small tangent here regarding the stuffed animals: They ended up being a great way to connect with the scareactors and brought some of the most memorable interactions of the night. It seemed that the monsters would focus in on our little stuffed companions, quite often playfully trying to take them from us. Most memorable for me: a zombie on the Terror Tram walk was seemingly obsessed with ruffling my bunny’s ears with his fingers, and a ghoulish little girl in the Toyz scare zone insistently tugged on my bunny while offering her bloodied and mangled baby doll in exchange!
  • Continuing on… Next we headed to Terror Tram – The queue for this was insanely long (2 hours!?), so we used our FOL passes for the first time of the night and flew past the masses, right onto a tram. (FOL – so worth the extra $$!). Took the extra time to get a pic with Norman in front of the Psycho house, but didn't buy the print.
  • Food time! Ate at Flintstones. Turkey leg was decent, but the corn on the cob was kind of soft and mushy. Not recommended. Got a cinnamon roll for dessert at Cinnabun (yum!) Highly recommended!
  • The Simpsons ride
  • Checked out time til next B&T show (phone had died, so no watch, no app! :( Show just started so decided to hit another maze
  • Alice – used FOL, no wait
  • UMR – didn’t need to use FOL, very short wait
  • Stopped so the munchkin could get her face painted
  • La Llarona – used FOL, no wait (reg. line was crazy long)
  • Walking Dead, used FOL, no wait (Extremely long line in the regular queue, of course. Noticed there were videos playing for the queue line but only caught a glimpse as we went in)
  • Downstairs again
  • Used our FOLs for Silent Hill & Texas Chainsaw – no wait (must reiterate, if you can spare the extra $ for FOL passes, do it! They are SO worth it!)
  • B&T last show (this and The Simpsons were the only time we had to stand in line all night :)
  • Picked up our purchase from earlier and bought one of the long-sleeved zombie shirts for the munchkin
  • Left with huge grins on our faces

Review Time!! The mazes, from favorite to least favorite:

  1. Texas Chainsaw –The superior maze by far, even with the foul smell. Lol The scareactors were energetic and even managed to infuse some personality into their characters, especially Pa at the dinner party and the remorseful Leatherface. One of the best scares of the night came when the “face peeler” Leatherface seemed to think my munchkin’s face would suit him nicely and blocked her path for a minute, not allowing her an escape. Well done! Score: A+

  2. Terror Tram, Invaded by the Walking Dead – Really enjoyed the interactions with the monsters, and it was fun trying to spot them before they spotted us. Score: A

  3. Welcome to Silent Hill – Mainly because we’re already big SH fans, this one ranked high on the list. It’s also because we’re big fans that it didn’t rank higher: Atmosphere-wise it was a solid maze, although it lacked the fog and/or falling ash. And we couldn’t help comparing the actors to their characters in the games: Pyramid Head just moved too fast, and wasn’t quite as beefy as we’d expect him to be, and the nurses need some serious training in proper twitching. >.< Grade: B+

  4. Universal Monsters Remix – Not really scary, but for us first-timers, it was a lot of fun! The scareactors were really enthusiastic and due to the lower volume of people, we got a lot of really good interaction. Grade: B+

  5. The Walking Dead, Dead Inside – Great job reproducing the sets from the show, but perhaps due to the sheer volume of people passing through, it seemed that we kept catching the scareactors as they were resetting (going back into their hiding places) for the next scare. Grade: B

  6. Alice Cooper Goes to Hell: 3D – Neat! The visuals were eye candy, and the maze altogether was a lot of fun, but not really scary. At all. Grade: B –

  7. La Llorona – Biggest disappointment of the night for me. I had heard so many great things about this maze, so perhaps my expectations were too high. Once again, the conga line effect kind of destroyed the illusion, I think (caught more re-sets than scares). But because the line moved at a snail’s crawl through the maze, I did have the opportunity to take time to admire the sets, and some were amazing, especially the wake at the beginning and with the water feature. The looping soundtrack of children crying was more grating than scary. Grade: C

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure – Loved, loved, loved this show. Had great seats (3rd row, dead center in VIP seating section), enjoyed the laughs and the eye candy. Grade: A+

Summary: We had a great time, and thanks to having the FOLs and early admission, were able to hit everything at a super comfortable pace, taking time to shop, eat, etc. without rushing to get it all in. Definitely coming back next year, and I’m planning on springing for the VIPs for an even more leisurely, horrifying experience!

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I was worried the zombies had eaten you! But good to see you're back.

Glad you had a good trip. Sounds like you had a LOT of fun. It also sounds like it was crazy packed and that you did the best you could with it.

Too bad about Walking Dead and La Llorona with catching the "tail end" of scares and all. That's ALWAYS a bummer and it happens at least in one maze every trip. Just unavoidable, which is why Universal needs to have roaming actors scare the ones who missed the big scare. It's better than "oh well, you missed an entire scare."

Now welcome to the club; in no time, you'll be more and more obsessed with what's to come in upcoming years!

I'm just sad that now I have to wait a whole year! :(

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