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Wesker's Opening Night Review


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Its that time of year again! Where the sun goes down, the fog rolls in and the monsters run amok while the sound of chainsaws and screams echo throughout the night. This is my 13th year attending Halloween Horror Nights (4th year attending Hollywood’s event). Unfortunately, this year took forever with announcements, so the hype for the event was kind of lacking. While I’d love to say the wait was worth it, that is not the case. This year’s event was very mediocre compared to last year, or even the previous 2 years. However, it was opening night, so maybe it was just suffering from performance anxiety. Anyway, “Early Entry” was handled much better for opening night than it was last year, but it still had a few kinks (and annual passholders with HHN tickets still have to wait at the gate like everyone else). As for the event itself, well......



The Shining - (1 time)

I was surprised this maze even happened due to the fact that it is a Stephen King property, but thats another story. I was not really looking forward to it, I find the movie to be incredibly over-rated and rather boring (kinda like Exorcist, although thats actually better). Now last year’s Exorcist maze was actually really amazing and scary, so I had a small shred of hope that this would be a lot better than its source material. For the most part, it was. However, there were a few aspects that fell flat & were very “meh”. I did get some great scares here/there and my favorite scene was probably “The Gold Room”. Some of the effects are cool. The blood-gushing elevator scene was “meh”, which was to be expected. The hedge maze finale turned out fairly decent, but could’ve been a bit longer. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t a complete trainwreck.


AHS: Roanoke - (1 time)

Now I still haven’t seen this season of AHS yet (hurry up netflix!), but that shouldn’t matter despite being based on an IP. It should be able to stand on its own like an “original” non-IP maze. Unfortunately, this maze doesn’t even qualify in the realm of “good”. Maybe it’d be better if I had seen this season of AHS. Although, I had seen 2 out of the 3 seasons featured in last year’s maze and that didn’t make it better, only familiar. This maze was full of blood, pig head dudes, and blair witch stick people. It was underwhelming. The scenic detail was kinda great, but felt very repetitive. It reminded me a lot of 2005’s “Blood Ruins” at HHN Orlando, but with more blood & pig head dudes. I didn’t really care for that house then and I certainly didn’t care for this maze now.


Ash vs Evil Dead - (1 time)

You’d think you can’t go wrong with the Evil Dead franchise for a maze, but unfortunately, it is possible. This was such a disappointing maze with its awkward execution. It had a good scare here/there, but not enough. There was also too much dead space & black walls of doom complete with hangy shit. There was some good scenic detail here/there, but the experience was severely lacking. Orlando’s “Evil Dead” house in 2013 was a lot better. Verdict? Not so “Groovy”...


SAW: The Games of Jigsaw - (1 time)

I was really looking forward to this maze due to the fact that I had seen the “behind the scenes” video of Hollywood’s SAW maze from 2009 on the SAW VI bluray. Plus I was curious to see how this year’s maze compared to Orlando’s 2009 SAW house. Sadly, I was disappointed. It had some interesting elements & detail, but the experience was very underwhelming. I don’t remember if I had even gotten startled or not, it was that forgettable. The scareactor placement was terrible. I expected this to be intense & possibly even scary, instead I was left with a maze of “show scene” traps & not much more.


Insidious: Beyond The Further - (1 time)

I’ve never seen any of the movies, never really had any interest, so its almost like an original non-IP maze for me. I did get to experience the Insidious maze in 2015, so its not completely unfamiliar to me. The scares were hit or miss that year. This year’s maze however, while it does feature monsters from the first three films, it is mostly based around the new upcoming film that was pushed back to January. I was personally hoping this maze would be scrapped for something else, but obviously that didn’t happen. I found the maze to be kinda “meh” for the most part, but it did have some really good scares here/there. And that finale was really great as far as scares go. I still feel like Insidious could’ve easily been part of “Horrors of Blumhouse” instead of being its own maze.


Titans of Terror - (2 times)

I was actually really excited for this maze due to it basically being an “original” concept very similar to Orlando’s 2003 “All Nite Die-In” house (only minus Michael Myers and an event Icon). However, while this had a cool concept, I felt the execution of it was poorly handled. Hell, the first scene is a really large room, which was a bit excessive for not having any scares in it. The transition scenes were similar to last year’s “Freddy vs Jason” maze, which I have no issue with, but the only downside is, they didn’t feel as fluid as last year. Once again, Freddy has some pretty epic scares, however, Jason not so much. And ugh, the Leatherface section was just recycled crap from last year’s TCM maze. It was terrible (especially when they replicated the same crap for the TCM Terror Tram finale section). Having each character split into their own section felt a little awkward for this concept and then the finale featured all 3 slashers for a triple scare. While I liked the triple scare finale, it was very awkward and abrupt.


Horrors of Blumhouse - (2 times)

This was not a maze I was really all that excited for and after having gone through it, I was definitely more underwhelmed than expected. The concept for this maze was good, but like Titans of Terror, it was poorly executed. The Purge section was done pretty well, but not perfect. Happy Death Day was very lazy and “meh”. Sinister was also just as awkward. Now this maze did actually have some good scares, but overall it didn’t work.


TWD Attraction - (2 times)

It is already known how awful this haunted house attraction is, not to mention very generic and lacking in the scare department. The somewhat surprising and disappointing part is that this year they did NOT double the size of the cast for HHN like they did last year. It was literally the exact same experience as it is during the day. Even without the 8-10 extra zombies, they’re still counting this as one of the mazes for this year instead of one of the rides/attractions open during the event.


Titans of Terror Tram: Hosted By Chucky - (2 times)

I was pretty excited for the Terror Tram this year because it was such an easy, recyled theme that has been done before in 2007, 2008, & 2010. However, it is also the Terror Tram, so I knew to keep my expectations pretty low. For the most part, I wasn’t totally disappointed, but I still felt like the effort wasn’t made due to the easy hype brought by Chucky, Freddy, Jason, & Leatherface. For one, Chucky was highly underused for being the “host” of this year’s Terror Tram. His giant sized “Good Guy Doll” chainsaw brigade minions looked ridiculous. It was very poorly executed. Now I was already expecting the “Bates Motel” set to be used for Jason/F13, so I liked that they had a banner saying “Crystal Lake Motel”. Unfortunately, this section of the Terror Tram falls flat too. It makes no sense and has unnecessary “show scene” deaths that are more “gross out factor” & boring than they are fear-inducing. There are aslo a bunch of random bloody “Crystal Lake Campers” running around in “fear”. You really don’t feel immersed into the realm of F13. Then you’ve got the entrance into the War of the Worlds set dressed up with a TCM theme. It is fairly decent & features the whole Sawyer clan (yay recycled costumes/characters from last year’s TCM maze). Unfortunately, they have like 3 Leatherface’s within arms reach of each other. Again, another section that was very lazily handled. The War of the Worlds set itself was home to Freddy Krueger. Now with this character, it is acceptable to have multiples of him, especially when they’re all in different outfits for the most part. Sadly, I did not see an “Elm Street” sign. The Freddy scareactors are quite good, but the casting was terrible. They should all be the same somewhat short height, unforunately, they failed in this department. And despite there being multiple Freddys, the character was definitely underused. Lastly, the finale is TCM themed because sure why not. Once again, recycle city for TCM and just really damn lazy. There isn’t even a chainsaw brigade to pass through to get to the trams. I didn’t hate the Terror Tram, but it was just so underwhelmingly lazy.




An entrance scarezone needs to set the mood of the event and get guests hyped up for what they’re about to experience that night. This scarezone does the exact opposite. Its practically non-existant. There are 2 go-go dancers at the park entrance, but none further back into the park. The cast of scareactors is too small for the area, but then again, the street itself is too small for a park entrance. The lack of themeing for this scarezone is very disappointing. Their excuse? The construction of A.S.S. (Animation Studio Store) & Shrek 4D’s conversion into “Dreamworks Animation Theatre”. This excuse is also the reason their is no flame tower this year either. Its surprising how “meh” the area is without it, especially when it has been an iconic feature for the entrance scarezone since 2009’s “Welcome to Hell”. The ONLY themeing that is found in this scarezone are 6 slightly “gory” dioramas (that have to get wheeled out into the scarezone every night), a “Happy Halloween” billboard, a projection lighting logo that says “Hell-O-Ween” and some randomly placed fog machines. This scarezone is a very big disappointment in every way between the scareactor costumes and lack of themeing. Its trying to emulate the essence of the “Trick R Treat” film, but also be an original scarezone. It fails. Epically.


Toxic Tunnel

The only scenic this “scarezone” had was a banner above the entrance leading to the Metro Sets Backlot. There wasn’t even one on the entrance on your way back to the Lower Lot. Inside the tunnel itself was just randomized strobing LED lighting. Unfortunately, this is exactly how the “Purge Tunnel” was last year. I never made it back through here later on when the scareactors were out, but I doubt they would’ve improved the experience.


Urban Inferno

This scarezone was given an unnecessary longer layout than the normal straight path as years past. It also had a lot more scenic detail. It looked great, but felt like a huge cluster-fuck conga line as far as the layout goes. I saw it before the scareactors were in it, so I can only imagine how much more of a headache it will be with scareactors & crowds of people. Its honestly, less of a scarezone as it is more of a “themed detour” to get to the 3 mazes located on the backlot. There are a lot of props from past events and they actually work well with eachother. It didn’t feel lazy. I almost feel like they should’ve just made this an outdoor maze like last year’s “The Purge: Gauntlet of Fear”.



Unlike last year, where they claimed the show was “ALL NEW” but wasn’t, they surprisingly created a new show for the event this year. Unfortunately it wasn’t “horror” themed in any capacity & it did recycle two songs/routines from the past 2 years. However, this year’s show was a sci-fi space theme & it was actually very enjoyable. They could probably amp it up a bit & tweak a few things here/there. Sure it still isn’t “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” or “Academy of Villains”, but it is actually worth watching this year. I was pleasantly surprised.



While I found this year’s event to be completely underwhelming and lazy, especially compared to the past 3 years, I did have fun for the most part. I know that even the worst years of HHN can turn out to be enjoyable by the end of the run even if it stumbled through its first week or two. The annoying part is, a lot of the issues with the mazes (and Terror Tram) are actually very simple fixes that could’ve and should’ve been addressed before construction began. The design execution felt very phoned in. I know this event can do better, it has done better. Even the scarezone issues are easy fixes. Its sad that parks with less budget/resources put more visible effort into their events than a movie studio theme park’s event. This year isn’t completely god-awful, but it certainly is the least impressive that I’ve experienced on this coast. I feel that the event needs a new creative team that isn’t afraid to push the limits, raise the budget, and not just rely on “fan favorites” or whats “popular”. Of course the higher-ups also need to grow a pair so we can have entertainment like “Bill & Ted”, “Slaughterworld”, & “Chucky’s Insult Emporium” again. As far as opening night’s first impression goes, I was left with “something to be desired”...

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