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Unmasking the Horror Tours

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Let's see if I can do this without revealing who I am. Anonymity is important, you see.

I can't go out no more.
There's a man by the door
In a raincoat
Smoking a cigarette.
(Ten points for naming the reference without Google).

AAAANyway. . . Wifey and I did the UTH tour on Sunday. We did the six house tour. That was split as such:
(0a) - Pre Show
(0b) - Scarecrow facade 
1- Hive
2- Blumhouse
["Lunch break"]

3- Dead Waters
4- The Fallen
5- The Shining
6- American Horror Story

Let's one-by-one it, shall we?
(0a) - Pre Show

We got the FFP + Express passes and showed up opening night to watch the gates open, but we had Will Call Kiosk tickets which promptly told us "Go F Yourself" (they phrased it more like "Go wait in line at the other window for hours, you jerk" or something like that). 

We were there at 6. We didn't get into the park until after 8. Total time spent in line: Like a hundred million hours. Total time spent at kiosk? About 4 seconds. 

Then we were in.

Same thing happened here. I got the UTH tickets "will call" and they gave us that same "How about you GFY?" message. 

This time, though, I was smarter! Wiser! Better! And better equipped, too, because I knew that the UTH groups were limited, it was 11:30, and they were waiting on us. So I didn't spend another 35,928 hours in line. We just went right to Blue Man and they knew who we were.

Okay, let me point something out here.... Going in through the Blue Man ... stage? Building? ... whatever - going in through that entrance felt extraordinarily cheap on behalf of Uni. Because all it did was mean that we were never dropped in the park! We couldn't have lunch in the park (more on that later) and we couldn't go wandering the park for the remaining hour-or-whatever it was open after the tour was over.

It was one of just many things we wrote off as cheap. We're used to it by now. We boycotted last year beacuse it was a no-photo policy. It was different this year. Blah blah. Same story as everyone else. They were waiting on us, it seemed, because they knew our names when we got there and were waiting outside for us.

This was literally at like 11:35, and we walked in and sat down, then got going. These tours start PROMPTLY. 

Anybody ever hear that bit Birbiglia does about On Time People? I am one of those people. Wifey ... Not so much. The most beautiful woman in the world, and she still has to spend so much time getting ready to go places.

Still, it's a plus to me that it started promptly when it said it would (....Plus "the tour is at 11:30; check-in starts at 11" so... We were ... late. A lot.). 

ANOTHER plus ... Is that if we would've gotten there later (there were ppl who did), we would've been escorted to wherever we were. Cool.

Everybody else is mentioning names, so I'll mention names. Our tour guide was Kelly, and I <3 Kelly. I'm almost 100% sure that she's had wifey and I in her group before. I am 100% sure she's had me in her group. She didn't recognize us, but I think once the tour started she may have recognized me, since I'm apparently the only other horror fan who takes this tour :)


(0b) - Scarecrow facade 
My picture of this facade is my desktop wallpaper, and is one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken, ever. And I've taken a LOT of pix in my day. I've even sold pix of HHN stuff. In color, b&w, tinted, whatever. I didn't need to run any of the pix of this facade through any kind of anything as far as graphics software goes. Just a straight-up awesome set of pix. Seriously, there are 0 duds in the bunch. I am not an Actual Pro, but I shoot for a 5% ratio - if I take 100 pix and 5 of them are good, I think that was a solid day. Anything above that I think is amazing. 

I've got like 20/20 good shots of the facade to this house. That isn't even just me - the facade is absolutely incredible. 

I like how they planted the corn themselves and - just like the last time they did that - a hurricane came and did ... Nearly no damage.

I also like ... Well, everything about these pics. Even when I put them in black and white. 

For those In-The-Know about image-editing software.... When I look at the levels, these pix have a bell curve. 

This is not at all to do with my "skill" as a photographer. It was just a bright, cool day with direct sunlight and an amazing subject.

That doesn't mean the rest of the pix suck. That just means I'm super happy Kelly let us stop and take pix so I didn't have to go guerilla. 

Side note: One of the reasons I <3 Kelly is that she's super honest. I immediately asked which six houses we were doing, ignored the answer, and asked why we weren't doing the other three.

Those three:

Scarecrow: It's WAY too dark (this is actually my problem with the house, but that's in other posts elsewhere).

Ash vs. Evil Dead: "Nobody watches the show" (this is my favorite house of the year, and I think it might've secretly been Kelly's too, because we watch the show and this is everything we like about Halloween)

Saw: "It would be the same thing over and over" (I totally agree. We only did that house one time, on our penultimate visit. Because what could it be besides people in reverse bear traps and ... pigs...?)

Kelly's awesome, and she was spot-on. I think this group of 6 is the best, though I personally would've liked to have seen Ash vs. Evil Dead (any time I can make it to Jacksonville is a good time), most people have no idea what that house is "about." We've seen the show and even we don't know what it's about exactly. It's all jumbled and out of order and over-the-top and THAT'S HOW IT SHOULD BE. 

Legit actual reason I'm good with skipping Ash: It's relatively lit up anyway. 

Saw, yeah, same stuff over and over. "And in this room someone's in a death trap. And in THIS room someone's in a death trap. And ..." 

Scarecrow, I would've loved to have seen in the light, but it wasn't light apparently, and it really didn't lend itself to a tour because all the rooms were pretty narrow hallways. 

So I'm good with this set. 


1- Hive
We went to Hive. 

There were vampires.

That was as much as I could say before the tour ... On the tour, Kelly explained the actual story behind this house, and (just like every other time, and just like the reason I pay for this tour) ........ There's a legitimate story behind the house and within the house. 

See, all these houses are progressions through time, whether we realize it or not. 

A few years ago (i.e., back when they were using icons still) they'd do slow reveals of all the houses and tell you the whole story.

Go to the halloweenhorrornights.com site right now and find the story of Hive.

I'll wait.


It's "there are vampires." There's actually a better retelling of the story on the Universal page itself. 

We were allowed to take pix, except in certain places where we weren't (wait, isn't that a tautology...?). 

One of the "weren't" rooms was the room with the dead babies. Probably because there were dead babies in the room. 

The other rooms - as will be a common theme here - made no sense. It built to the point of absurdity actually, but we'll get to that. 

Anyway, see, here's the thing ... I was walking through the dark... And I have this camera... Where it shoots out a light to illuminate if you press the button halfway... So I was using that to light my way through, because I'd keep falling behind the group just looking at ALL THE STUFF! SO MUCH STUFF (and we're not even at Dead Waters yet!). 

And sometimes I needed that light to get back ... And sometimes I'd fully depress that button... And sometimes I wasn't supposed to.

I'm not sharing any of those pix with anybody anywhere. THEY ARE ABERRATIONS. 

Anyway, let's see if I can start an Ongoing Statement on the first house.

BEST FACTOID: The KING VAMPIRE was originally designed to look like Jabba The Hutt, all melty and gross, sitting in a throne drinking out of a goblet, pieces of skin falling off him. Like he'd been sitting there for so long he just started falling apart. That didn't happen :)

2- Blumhouse

That was the before-the-tour feeling. Honestly, that's still the feeling. Wifey and I Agree. 

I ramble about most of my problems with this house elsehwere.

As far as the ongoing picture problems... We were allowed to take pix of the facade, pics of the first room (the "SINISTER" hallway and the room with the home movies), then of ... I think just the last room with all the curtains and crap on the walls.... 

But I still don't know why this house is A Thing. Nor do I know why they felt it necessary to put Purge People in three separate places in the park, but don't get me started on that. 

(Seriously, your headline scarezone is just "Other stuff from the park" ? ... AHHH!) 

BEST FACTOID: Basically all of Insidious is based on a movie that isn't out yet. Because I'm 90% sure this is a Troll House. 

["Lunch break"]
We had the option at the beginning of the day to order like ... $38 pretzels. ... 

We had a half hour for lunch.

We were told we could get in and out of Hard Rock if we sat at the bar and told them we had to get out in 20 minutes.

We were flanked by other people on the tour. We all ordered... You know, salads, or whatever.

BEST FACTOID: If you've never been in the Hard Rock Cafe (somehow after 20 years living in Orlando I didn't even realize this was actually a whole separate thing from the performing venue), it's awesome. We plan to return there At Some Point just to look at all the SOW.

They use SIF to describe Stuff In Face in the HHN houses. 

SOW is Stuff On Wall :)

3- Dead Waters
I love this house so much. 

Could've been Ash and this house this year, no SZs or anything, and I would've thought it was pretty good. 

I ... I don't even know what to say about this house. You already know if you've been to the event. On the tour, you get to see JUST HOW MUCH STUFF THERE IS OMG.

I have a Fancy Camera that can take pictures at a pretty good clip, but it needs to pause to write them to the SD card since I'm taking them at Awesome Resolution at Huge Size. 

Yeah, I got stopped about every three feet because of that. 

There were some places we weren't allowed to take pics in, but it didn't matter. They were just as arbitrary as all the others. 

MAN this house was good. 

Anything bad I have to say about it (first thing that comes to mind is that it's too short - a pretty good complaint to have, considering) is in my reviews elsewhere. 

BEST FACTOID: This house is more deserving of life than me. 

4- The Fallen
So it's good vs. evil, right?

I touch this in my review but... Where's ... the.. good? Besides getting brutally murdered?

I don't know. Seeing it behind the scenes was awesome with the lights on and we got some good pics (though we weren't allowed to photograph the facade, like I can't do it event night?) .... But even with the lights on this just felt like muddled violence. 

Still pretty cool as a companion to Dead Waters. Going from a definitely-water-based house to a definitely-fire-based house is awesome, and unlike in some other years, that translated right down to the stuff in the house (this house seriously looks like it's on fire - that's not all lighting ... And vice-versa for water in Dead Waters).

BEST FACTOID: Holy Effing Ess, the end of this house where all Heck breaks loose and people are flying over you and dropping on you and stuff .... IS COMPLICATED. I knew it was complicated from seeing it once in a previous UTH tour, but seeing three of them so close together, WOW. There was SO MUCH RIGGING above us. 

5- The Shining
You can take pix of the facade - including the maze - and you can take pix in the bathroom, but that's it.

I ... Don't know what to say about this house. I think including it in the UTH tour really relies more on the house itself being so well-known and highly-anticipated and awesome. 

I will say one thing ... By this time I think Kelly recognized me, since I was the only one who knew the answers to most of her "Trivia" questions, so by this point I had shut up to see if I was a ridiculous person.

She asked what drink Jack ordered at the bar, pointing out that he's sitting there with a bottle of Jack Daniels, and she waited (she looked at me a few times like HELP) before saying "I mean, I hear it's kind of the opposite, kinda, like to where ... Including this is a joke...Anyway...."







Anyway, the other cool thing in that room (the bar) was an Easter Egg that I don't think anybody not on the UTH tour will see. It's mentioned elsewhere on these forums but ... It is .... Drumroll... A literal Easter Egg :)

It's under one of the glasses. 

And like, then, the rest of the house. It was cool. But I'm a rabid fan of the movie and we'd been through the house a bunch of times, so there's not really much more to say beyond trivia you can definitely find elsewhere (the "twins" aren't identical in the house because they weren't identical in the movie, for instance). 

House is awesome, not taking pix is bogus, but I played along. 

BEST FACTOID: The *FLOORS* dude. THE FLOORS! First, the part toward the beginning where Halloran is on the floor and Jack pops out and drags his foot walking away after the scare... Floor is totally black. 

Okay, that makes sense. But...

In the bar, one of the scareactors is apparently so active ... He wore the pattern off the floor. RIGHT OFF. That's crazy. 

6- American Horror Story

Pix of sign and facade.

Kelly asked the group if anybody had heard of the legend of Cropsey. I didn't say anything. Surely someone else had? There's even a movie about it!


Kelly, if you're out there, I'm sorry to have left you hanging. Of COURSE I've heard of Cropsey. I even grew up in Jersey. 

Anyway this house... I don't know how to write this as a UTH review. Same as the Shining, this seemed like it was more reliant on the popularity of the show/house and not so much on the details. 

Oh, and a lot of the stuff wasn't even from the show, but from the promo materials. Bloody-disgusting recently posted a bunch of high-res images of the AHS promotional materials, and they . . . are . . . awesome. 

Anyhow . . . After the facade . . In what I think may have been Kelly punishing me for not saying Jack's drink order in The Shining, we were allowed to take pix in the room with the Chen puppet, collapsed ceiling, and blood moon, but not of the puppet. 

That's like trying to take a pic of my whole head without getting the nose. Not geometrically possible, and it would just make my head hurt. 

BEST FACTOID: In the baby powder room, she told us about Smell Day, when the woman comes and installs the smell cannisters. She pointed one out. Now I go back over old UTH tours and I see them EVERYWHERE. HOW DO THESE THINGS WORK? Are they always on? They can't be! I guess maybe some of them are just stronger than others? Becuase that room definitely smelled like baby powder. 

They let us out through Blue Men, because they wouldn't want us to spend an hour in the park for free.

In summary, the tour was a lights-on tour of six of the terrifying houses at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights 27 at Universal Studios Orlando. Or whatever. 

And Jack's drink is bourbon. But he's the type of man likes to know who's buying his drinks, so be careful. 

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We did the UTH tour on Sunday, 10/29. It was the first time we ever went. Although it was a slight bummer there were restrictions on what we could take pictures of, I don't feel like it completely destroyed the experience.

Order of houses:

1. Blumhouse

2. Scarecrow

3. The Fallen

4. Dead Waters

5. AHS

6. The Shining


I was pretty happy with the houses that were chosen. I did find it interesting that our guide let us choose between The Hive and Scarecrow. Scarecrow was literally pitch black throughout almost the whole house even though it was during the day and we had to use a flashlight while walking through...it was actually really cool. It felt creepy and it was great.


We started at 11:30, got done around 4:30 or so.

We don't have any other years to compare it to, as it was everyone in my groups first time experiencing it but we all thoroughly enjoyed it!

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