Jump to content

Zombieman's HHN Hollywood 2021 Review - and comparison to Orlando HHN


Recommended Posts

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....







  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Awesome review as usual, ZM! It's funny, but I reacted the same way regarding the printed maps as soon as I walked in.  They are a great resource for recalling the event, especially if you visit only once from out of state. 


I do miss RIP/VIP (like you, the meal is phenomenal).  A few years ago, we opted to skip the RIP tour after dinner and use the unlimited express.  The freedom of hitting the attractions when and where you wanted bypassed the constraints of the tour. We used unlimited express this year and will probably use this admission tier moving forward. 


Good to see the pandemic has not stopped your "haunt travels". 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...