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A Wednesday Review


MacReady
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Hello everyone, I just wanted to write up a review on my recent experience to Halloween Horror Nights. I attended the event on Wednesday October 7th with my wife, we both had express passes along with our regular admission and we also stayed at a Universal Resort (Cabana Bay). I have always loved horror movies since I was a kid, and have been attending this event since I was a child. I hope you found my review helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

 

We boarded the shuttle at the Cabana Resort around 5:30pm and arrived at City Walk at around 5:50pm, while we were on the shuttle we over heard one of the other hotel guests say that the park was already open for the event. We quickly ran from the shuttle drop off point to the entrance of the event. As we began to cross the tiny bridge to the entrance of Universal I noticed that the lines were tiny. I booked the on site resort to take advantage of the special resort entrance, but it was pointless, the lines were just so small and everyone was allowed to use any entrance. It took us about 10 minutes to enter the park completely, that is from the security checkpoint all the way up to the ticketing check point. We entered the park at about 6:15pm

I am a night person, I enjoy the event at night, I understand that daylight will not effect the houses overall vibe, but I still hate daylight. So I looked down at the event map and decided to knock out the houses that I thought would be the worst first. I located The Purge house and made my way towards it. We walked through the Icons and Evil Roots scare zones, but in the daylight they were just ineffective, so I will not count this walk through as my review portion. When we reached the Purge it was a 5 minute wait time for stand by and no wait at all for Express Pass, we used our Express Pass anyways. 

HH The Purge (Wait time 0 minutes for Express Pass 5 Minutes for Stand By)

The entrance to the was okay, nothing spectacular. The house itself was just awful, the environment wasn't very scary/creepy. I cant recall any sets that stood out to me or remember any memorable scares that got me or my wife. I'm not sure if I just experienced a bad cast or what happened, but the actors even appeared to be depressed in this house. Overall Rating 1/10

After the Purge, we made our way over to the Walking Dead

HH AMC the Walking Dead: the Living and the Dead (Wait time 5 minutes EP, 20 minutes SB)

The exterior to this house was okay. They had two burnt looking zombies lurching around, one actor played the zombie part pretty well, while the other was walking around like more of a slasher killer type. The zombies looked strange, not a very good job on the make up. I didn't have high expectations for this house, so I wasn't to let down when it was bad. Compared to previous years the Walking Dead, this maze was really short. No real scares other then some water hitting my wife during the Terminus scene. I don't think I saw one living person in this maze, maybe because it was still early in the evening? I don't know, but this house was lacking in creativity for the sets, the water scene was just awful, the revolving door scene felt like it was out of place. I did like the part with the truck at the end. No scares for my wife or I, other than water hitting us during the terminus scene. Overall Rating 2/10

So after finishing these two houses, I told my wife that the worst was over, and now it was time to enjoy the event. The sun was gone and darkness began to cover the park. I was starting to get pumped up. We crossed the bridge over to where Amity Island use to be and checked out the New Harry Potter stuff. We walked through the All Nite Die In, but as it was not dark yet, I will not count this walk through as the official review segment. We did get some awesome pictures with Jason though, he really enjoyed our Camp Crystal Lake Counselor T-Shirts. We passed through the scare zone after a photo op and made our way to Run.

HH Run: Blood Sweat and Fears (Wait time 0 min EP, 30 min SB)

They had some sort of graphic displayed on a wall for the wait line, I'm not sure if a video was playing, as we had zero wait time for this house with express pass. The entrance to this house was pretty cool. I liked the remote sentry guns outside, and I could feel the running man vibe as I entered the house. I was a little let down by the maze though, my pump that I had going before I entered, slowly diminished as we made our way through it. The sets were okay, but I swear I barely saw any actors. The Japanese set had an okay graphic playing on a wall, and I did encounter two scare actors in silly looking costumes. The Canadian room was pretty neat, and I did encounter some actors inside, we also ran into some in the electric room, but other than that I can't really remember running into any other actors. The intensity was lacking in this house, and no music or special effects could save it. I wish they would of expanded on the 80s vibe and gone with a more American Gladiators death arena, than representing all the countries, I feel that this really hurt the house. Overall Rating 4/10

Darkness was upon us! The most exciting about Run was the exit, once we left the house I could see that the night had finally settled in and the park was at its best. We were able to make a pass through the All Nite Die-In at the perfect time.

 SZ All Nite Die-In-Double Feature

I am a huge horror movie buff, I love the classics and modern day horror movies, so this scare zone was a treat for me. It was littered with horror movie icons, the Universal Classic icons were done in a black and white makeup that just worked perfectly. Your more more modern day horror movie icons were also present in large numbers and they clashed together perfectly. The actors were alive and really into character, not a ton of scares, but the ambiance and the costumes totally made up for the lack of scares. Awesome scare zone, especially for a classic horror fan, I loved the projector in the background playing the movie clips. Overall Rating 8/10

After walking through the Scare Zone we made our way towards the body collectors, but not before passing through the main scare zone for the event

SZ Psychoscareapy - Unleashed

I love the story for this scare zone. The inmates of the Shadybrook Asylum have escaped and stumbled upon a block party. Really neat scare zone, the story, the music, the decorations, and the actors all combine together to make one excellent Halloween scare zone. While this was promised to be "the goriest" scare zone ever, I felt that I was let down in that department. I didn't really notice any cases of extreme gore, but the actors sold it to me. Some were being very comedic, walking around with a severed hand and using it as a cell phone and other were being downright creepy, like a girl walking around with a doll tightly held up to a creepy children's Halloween cat mask. An asylum van, police cruiser, three mini stage shows, and a burning gazebo, quickly gave away the story as to what occurred in this zone. We walked through this zone several times and even sat down to enjoy some Ben and Jerrys while watching everything that was going on. We did notice a ton of scares occurring, my wife being victim to a few, they were just picking on her, but what got me was the actors dedication to their assigned roles. Whether it was mimicking laughs, asking for cigarettes, whispering odd things into someones ear, carving something other than a pumpkin, or asking for help, the actors remained dedicated and sold it. I really enjoyed this scare zone when the Witch Doctor song was playing.  Overall Rating 10/10

We passed through the scare zone the first time as we made our way towards Freddy vs Jason

HH Freddy vs Jason (Wait time 15 min EP, 90 min SB)

Great house, awesome scenes, great energy, and the perfect length. I enjoyed the inside of the cabin scene at the very start of the maze. It was properly place at the start to immerse oneself into the maze and created the illusion that you really were walking through a maze being terrorized by Jason. We were scared a few times in the maze, the Jasons were especially going after us because of our Camp counselor shirts, I can still recall a scene with a Jason standing in a poor lit area pointing his machete at us as we walked by and imitating a slit throat. I wish we could of had a better Freddy vs Jason fight scene, that's my only real complain and its a minimal one. Overall Rating 7/10

Merchandise, Merchandise, Merchandising!

After we finished this house the time was around 8:00 pm. We had plenty of time to kill and had had finished a good portion of the houses, leaving the best for last. So we decided to stop on over at the Horror Nights Merchandise store located right by Twister. Awesome store, plenty of neat merchandise, it also had some props used from the previous years, so plenty of eye candy. I ended up purchasing a pack of Horror Night Poker cards, a shot glass, and T-Shirt. All priced within reason when compared to the Walt Disney world Halloween event that just price gauges every item. They had all kinds of creative horror nights theme merchandise for sale, I especially enjoyed the Halloween masks. This store did appear to be the main store for horror nights merchandise, meaning it was all consolidated into this one store, where as other stores or vending carts just had some select items, I could be incorrect, but it appeared that way. Definitely a cool store, and great prices on the merchandise. Overall Rating 10/10

We still had plenty of time to kill so we decided to head on over to my favorite spot, the Monster Cafe, while this is not an exclusive Horror Nights restaurant, I do have a tradition of visiting this place every time to grab a bite to eat. I will quickly  go over it. 

Food is Good

The monster cafe is for the Universal monster movie buff, but not so much for the hungry person. The food is terrible at best, and some of the pizza looks worse off than Freddy Krugers face. My wife and I decided to split the double cheese burger, a very small side of chili cheese fries, and the pumpkin beer. The food was a little pricey, but what do you expect. The burger actually wasn't to bad, nothing out of this world, but edible. The pumpkin beer was fantastic, I found out that Universal has a private brewer that actually makes the beer, I found this out from the awesome bartender at Moes. If you like pumpkin beer check it out, the Monster Cafe is also decorated to replicate scenes from famous classic Universal Monster movies, for example they have a Creature from the Black Lagoon section and a Frankenstein's laboratory section. Check it out if your a horror movie buff and want to catch a nice buzz of some delicious pumpkin beer. The chocolate chip cookies are also pretty good

So after stuffing our faces and catching a nice buzz, it was time for the main event. We were going visit our most anticipated houses. We made our way towards Body Collectors

Body Collectors: Recollections (Wait time 5 min EP, 30 min SB)

This house nailed it, do not miss it. Awesome set scenes with such precision to small details its amazing. You could spend forever in this house just examining everyone of the sets. Some really neat gore special effects and great looking costumes. A few jump scares got us and the length was perfect. I've been trying to avoid spoilers throughout this review, so I will remain quiet, but check out this house, you will not regret it. Overall Rating 8/10

After Body Collectors we were re-energized and ready for more. We jumped into the line for an American Werewolf in London

HH American Werewolf in London (Wait time 10 min EP, 70 min SB)

Please understand that this is my first time visiting this house, I wasn't able to attend it in the previous year it was available. Please do not hate on my rating because it was a house that was done before, this was fresh to me. Now that I have all that out of the way, AWESOME HOUSE BRO!!!!!! I love this movie and it covered everything! Costumes were amazing, the subway scene was creepy, the animatronics were so cool, and we were both scared plenty of times. This house just had everything I wanted. I can't really make a complaint about it other than the ushers inside, but I will cover that at the end of this review. This is another you just shouldn't miss if you have never check it out before. Overall Rating 10/10

American Werewolf was so great, other than a bad experience with an usher, we loved the house. We made our way towards 25 years of Monsters and Mayhem, my most anticipated house for the night, but not before walking by the Scary Tales scare zone

SZ Scary Tales: Screampunk

Okay scare zone, not really full of many scares, but some cool costumes. They had some sort of mechanical contraption in the center that had some humans caught up in the cogs, it looked really cool. The Tin Man and the the suit or armor character were really working their butts off to scare some people. The suit of armor guy got my wife by quickly shifting the banner he was holding in front of her. Overall Rating 6/10

After passing through Screampunk we made our way towards the anniversary house

HH 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem (Wait time 15 min EP, 80 min SB)

Some great sets incorporated into this house. I loved all the costumes, the entrance, the scenes were all very well decorated, my only complaint involves the Foresaken stage. Couldn't they have picked a better scene from that house? We went through this house twice and not once was an actor in that area. I was also hoping the Nightengales house would of had a scene that was reminiscent of being inside the trench. It was kind of an outside scene and the lighting was just terrible, I couldn't really see much. The HR Bloodngutz portion also appeared to be really short and quickly assembled. I was hoping for something a little neater with those three segments I mentioned. Other then that, it was a cool house, I like how Jack would pop out every now and then. Not a bad house, I liked it, and I got a few scares out of it. Overall Rating 9/10

After the anniversary house we decided to make our way towards Wonderland 3d, but not before visiting the backside of the Psychotherapy scare zone. We hung out around the police car and checked out some of the smaller alleys that actually had some actors in them hiding. They scared us a few times and we had some laughs. We continued to make our way towards Wonderland, but I wasn't feeling that excited. Usually the 3d houses are average.

HH Asylum in Wonderland 3D (Wait time 0 min EP, 15 Min SB)

Woah! The entrance to the house totally caught me by surprise. I used to love reading those old school horror comics and I was totally digging the cover art. From that point on the house was great. It was my wifes favorite, not mine, but I really liked it. They had some pretty neat effects going on with the font in certain paragraphs on the wall. Only certain key letters would have the 3d effect, while the others remained plain. The scenes were the usual for a 3d house, neon colors, strings, strobe lights, and weird costumes, but they worked rather well for this house. They scared my wife pretty good and got a few jump scares on me, probably because I was busy looking around at the scenery. Cool house, I know that most 3d houses are a let down, but check this one out. Overall Rating: 8/10

So we were down to one house and it was about 11:00pm. We decided to walk back around to the icons scare zone to check out, watch a little bit of the carnage show, and then make our way towards Insidious. 

SZ Icons-HHN

Okay scare zone, nothing real crazy. They had a few actors walking around on the ground, like the crypt keeper!, but most of them were on these stages setup throughout the path. The story teller was especially creepy b/c I swear she was looking right at me and following me with her eyes as we walked by. The usher and director were really into character and I like to see that. The caretaker had a small stage show, but we arrived right as it was ending. It wasn't a terrible scare zone, but I wish more actors would of been on the ground to provide scares. Overall Rating 5/10

We noticed a big crowd in-front of the Carnage Returns stage and decided to check it out for a little

The Carnage Returns

Jack and his gf acting like the Joker and Harley, with some musical numbers, nothing that held our attention. After two or three minutes we decided to keep moving. Overall Rating: N/A 

We noticed the massive crowd at the stage show and saw little presence inside the Evil Roots scare zone, now was the perfect time to check it out. So we made our way towards the fog

SZ Evil's Roots

I love Halloween, its my favorite holiday, and the entire month of October is my favorite month of the year. This scare zone area always get me, because it looks like someone pooped Halloween all over the place. All the jack o lanterns sprung around the trees and the zone give it the ultimate Halloween setting. Not to mention all the fog machines creating a creepy lighting environment for the zone. They had a really cool sacrificial type of Halloween thing going on to the lake side of the scare zone, while I was taking some pictures of it an actor got me pretty good. The energy was perfect in this zone and I always love to hear plenty of people screaming. My wife and I got scared a few times, and tiny scare actors really got her good. I always give a scare zone in his area a high rating just b/c of the ambiance and Halloween factor. Overall Rating 9/10

So before checking out Insidious we decided to head on over to Moes and have some drinks. The bartender was great and very informative on how the different drinks were brewed especially for Universal. We hung out in here for 20 minutes and caught a nice buzz. We left Moes and headed on over to Insidious

INSIDIOUS (Wait time 20 min EP, 90 min SB)

Not a bad house, this one probably got my wife and I the most with scares. The actors were very well hidden and knew what time was perfect to pop out. The entrance was pretty cool, it was a replica of the house from the movie and inside the scenes matched up nicely with the movie. I don't really have any complaints about this house, it was creepy, the costumes were accurate, and it was very well done. Overall Rating 8/10

So this is the last house for my review, we ended up staying in the park until closing and walked the scare zones a few times, we also checked out a few of the rides. We ended up doing the anniversary house again because I couldn't recall seeing the Nightengales scene in our first walk through. Now let me list my biggest gripe about the event.

The ushers inside the house were extra aggressive this year. I tend to walk slower in the houses because I want to look around and feel immersed in the story. I like to be scared and enjoy the rush of having an actor get the best of me. We had an usher yell at us a few times to hurry up and it was quite annoying. Some of the times we barely even had a gap in-between us and the party in-front of us. I mean we payed pretty good money to enjoy these houses and waited quite some time to enter them, then the park wants to rush us through them. It's not very fair to the customer. I made a complaint with the survey takers at the exit, but I doubt Universal will do anything about it. It really bothered me though, and I know I will still attend next year, but if they become even more aggressive, I foresee myself visiting another attraction for my scares in the future, or perhaps paying for one of the behind the scenes tours. 
 

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^ The ops seem to be a central theme for this year regarding their over aggressiveness.  I understand they're trying to help speed up wait times, but it's making zero impact.  It's a battle they won't win.  And as you mentioned, it's extremely annoying for them to keep waving you along especially when you have zero gap and there's only one direction to go.  At that point they're taking away from the ambiance of the house.  They ruin any chance for a visceral experience.  At worst, they should only direct flow when it's a noticeable gap.  At best, they should be cloaked and stand in a corner.  That reminds me, they also seem to be choosing key areas to camp out at which disrupt and block scares and effects.

Great review.

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I forgot if it was the tour guide or our guest guide whom I forget who it was (I was tired I apologize but he did seem to know his stuff and would go and work the puppets and other props such as showed us the scrim effect in M&M and that one particular scene in bodycollectors.) 

He really displayed his feelings towards the ops and mentioned how in one house they just loooooved to stand right in front of this particular art design in asylum instead of standing off to the side of it thus ruining the intended effect of the room. You'd think by now those who spent all of this time and effort to create these sets and effects would tell those who run the house that it's not OK to ruin the effects like that and suggest better places to stand...like..idk.. in the empty area beside the effect and not in the middle of it?

As someone who is familiar with being pushed for counts and capacity and being disciplined when those counts are not met I understand them. They are just doing their job. If they didn't keep the lines moving the wait would be longer and thus more complaints that way. However the experience would hopefully be more better as it would be more immersive just making it slightly more justifiable. But is a simple change of no house ops yelling at you really worth a longer wait? Is that enough to make it better? Who knows. In an ideal world ops should probably only get involved if someone is deliberately not moving, or moving extremely slow or can't figure out which way to move or if they do something they aren't supposed to in the house. 

If anyone goes back perhaps try to find one of the survey people and make it a point to bring the issue up and if they get enough complaints they may try to come up with a solution in the future years. 

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I forgot if it was the tour guide or our guest guide whom I forget who it was (I was tired I apologize but he did seem to know his stuff and would go and work the puppets and other props such as showed us the scrim effect in M&M and that one particular scene in bodycollectors.) 

He really displayed his feelings towards the ops and mentioned how in one house they just loooooved to stand right in front of this particular art design in asylum instead of standing off to the side of it thus ruining the intended effect of the room. You'd think by now those who spent all of this time and effort to create these sets and effects would tell those who run the house that it's not OK to ruin the effects like that and suggest better places to stand...like..idk.. in the empty area beside the effect and not in the middle of it?

As someone who is familiar with being pushed for counts and capacity and being disciplined when those counts are not met I understand them. They are just doing their job. If they didn't keep the lines moving the wait would be longer and thus more complaints that way. However the experience would hopefully be more better as it would be more immersive just making it slightly more justifiable. But is a simple change of no house ops yelling at you really worth a longer wait? Is that enough to make it better? Who knows. In an ideal world ops should probably only get involved if someone is deliberately not moving, or moving extremely slow or can't figure out which way to move or if they do something they aren't supposed to in the house. 

If anyone goes back perhaps try to find one of the survey people and make it a point to bring the issue up and if they get enough complaints they may try to come up with a solution in the future years. 

It would require a great majority of us complaining to get something done. Unfortunately, I believe most customers don't mind being rushed along as they are more interested in the scare, versus checking out the set design. Most people also appear to enjoy the "nut to butt" style line in the house. It makes it less scary for them, whereas we enjoy the open area and element of surprise. I'm glad to hear, well not glad to hear, but its good to know that everyone else also noticed the extra aggressiveness with the ushers this year. I have been attending horror nights for quite some time, and this has never been an issue for me, hopefully it won't happen again next year. 

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