I agree on some points.
I miss Michael Roddy, too. He gave us unforgettable icons, music that created a scary atmosphere at HHN, and memorable facades. I also think he was responsible for revealing the backstories to the fans to keep us excited. And of course he gave us Terra Cruentas. He didn't so much leave as he was forced to leave, though.
While the party atmosphere may be Mike's doing (and I don't like it anymore than you do), I don't think he is to blame for the IP overload or repeated themes. I think that is the bean counters at Comcast. They decided it made no financial sense that expensive IP contracts were used at one park and not both. The two parks had to "synergize". Today there is more overlap than ever. Hollywood had been rehashing IP endless times - without lessening crowds - so why not have Orlando do it? Multi-year contracts let you amortize the cost. So why not sign a five year deal with AMC for TWD?
Comcast owned 51% of Universal as of 2011. They owned 100% of Universal as of March 2013. I remember warning that 2012 was a turning point - out of nowhere both coasts had three overlapping IP houses for no apparent reason (unlike in 2007 when they shared overarching themes). And ever since, it's been shared IP after shared IP.
I totally agree on the scarezones. They have become mostly photo ops with no scare attempts anymore. We usually get one really beautiful zone in San Francisco area that's neat to look at, but nothing happens. Un-credited clown zone every year in Springfield is just a lazy thing to do. However, I do love the mini-shows they do. I'm thinking back to the Shadybrook zone, specifically. Personally, I'd give up all scarezones for a 10th house (original of course).
I had the same feeling about Murdy's lack of originality, but he did give us El Cucuy and La Llorona - two very good originals in Hollywood. Even Clownz was far from a generic clown theme. However, that was only three original houses across ten years. Could he churn out 6 fresh good ideas per year? That remains to be seen, and I'm sure he will never attempt that.
And I disagree about the facades. I don't know what happened with Hive. Was a Conjuring facade in place and then torn down? Was it pending build when the theme changed and the budget for the facade was used to retheme the house? I'm betting the latter. But the facades for Ash and the other originals are great - no denying that. I mean - Dead waters... There have been a lot of great facades since Roddy.
While I think the originals lately have been hyper-detailed, some of my favorite originals were from the Roddy days - I miss the comedy houses like Leave it to Cleaver, Zombiegeddon, Home for the Holidays, and man - H.R. Bloodngutz. It's only the originals that give me any reason to fly from L.A. every year; otherwise, Hollywood and Orlando are interchangeable if all they do is IP. As I mentioned in my review, this year was saved by originals.
To me at least, it's obvious how much the team loves the originals. They have been putting so much effort into them in the past few years, and it shows. Four top notch originals this year. Halfway feels like we're back in 2011.