*sorry for the cheesy review title
After the shit-show that was annoucement season this year, Halloween Horror Nights 2017 finally arrived and to say the least, it was the first year in my 9 years attending that I wasn’t all that excited. Still having purchased a frequent fear pass, I attended the opening night of the event with one incredibly huge group of friends, which proved to be a bad idea, and hoped for the best.
I arrived at Citywalk at around 1PM and caught with a few friends and bought some merch and then started to lineup around 3. After seeing the complete and utter failure of what was the opening scaremoney on YouTube I decided to skip it and do early entry instead which we did.
Headed to the backlot through the empty scare zones and headed straight into our first maze.
Ash vs Evil Dead
I was really looking forward to this maze...a lot. The facade looked cool in person not bad, but nothing incredibly special either. Walking in I was filming the maze walking at my own pace and after the first room I had realized my group had walked off and I was completely alone in the maze, which proved to be effective if you watch my vlog as the old lady deadite from Ash’s trailer park gave the biggest scare of the night, but nothing more after that. This maze to say the least is a glimmer of what could’ve been. There are so many black walls in here, it might as well just been a blackout maze at fright fest. The scenes that were actually themed were good, I liked the cabin and Ash’s childhood home, the costumes were also pretty good but aside from that everything else was just a disaster. There was a lot they could’ve done with the show but did close to nothing really. The comedy wasn’t there, the scares were dull, minus the old lady deadite, and the black walls just killed it. Really don’t care for this maze, had a lot of potential but fell on it’s face.
Grade (As of opening night): D-
Immediately after we went to the closest maze which was easily my least anticipated after seeing both the previous Saw mazes and not giving a crap about them.
SAW: The Games of Jigsaw
Waiting in line the Saw theme playing over and over gave me goosebumps reminding me of my first year of HHN and got me somewhat excited to actually see the maze. The facade was whatever really nothing memorable. Going into the maze I was a little surprised. There weren’t much black walls as in our previous maze and for the most part all the sets were nicely put together with detail and easter eggs from the films which I liked. But like the previous two mazes, the scares really weren’t there and was mostly a maze to look at and not actually get scared in. A lot of the traps were pretty much the same as in the previous mazes but really appreciate the fact they got rid of all the Saw 2 stuff which I hated. There are a few new traps in here, the pendulum which looked cool, a new twist on the bathroom which I really liked, though feel the bathroom was too small, but what really stole this maze was the scene they used from Jigsaw and how they actually placed you in the trap which was really impressive. I think this maze was a little more intense than the previous two iterations and really wasn’t terrible if you know what you're getting yourself into.
I wasn’t really impressed by our first two mazes but pushed on to the last maze on the backlot.
American Horror Story: Roanoke
Let me start off by saying, I really dislike the Roanoke season, I wished we could’ve just done Asylum or what Orlando did but I was pleasantly surprised by this maze. Starting off with the facade, it looked worse than last year being pretty much the same with a different cardboard cutout on top, but moving inside the maze the actual Roanoke house facade actually looked pretty good. The scares were OK the first pigman, getting me really good, but slowly transitioning into your usual HHN scares with people popping out of windows or easily visible boo-holes. I really enjoyed some of the sets which looked just like in the show, especially the scene with the pigtails moving on the walls. The costumes in here were phenomenal, the butcher looked great, the pigman masks looked outstanding though I must say there were a little too many pigmen in the maze. I wish they would’ve utilized more characters from the show a little more as there is a great catalog of them from that season but oh well. The finally that Murdy was hyping up was kind of underwhelming I liked what they were trying to do, a bit more detail in that room would’ve helped but was ultimately killed by having a pigman pop out right after that as you exit into a long black hallway of nothing. Not bad but not amazing either, a common trend with mazes this year, but easily the best maze in the backlot.
Finishing with these mazes fairly early we went back to the lower lot and did the mummy as some of the people in my group did the shining, I decided to wait until it was dark to do it. Once the clock turned 7PM we went up to the upper lot to get the Terror Tram out of the way before they overcrowded it.
Titans of Terror Tram - Hosted by Chucky
When this was announced I did not care for it, I was scared it was going to suffer the same fate as 2010’s Chucky themed tram and I was right, though I think I hate this tram more. The story of the tram this year was garbage a 10 year old probably came up with which made no sense. Upon arriving to the Grinch sets being encountered by huge chucky dolls with chainsaws which again makes no sense, I get it he did some voodoo crap to posses people but why the hell are they all huge chucky dolls that just look silly. Moving to the bates motel area themed to Friday the 13th, easily the best part of the attraction, it was a little better but there was so much going on it was hard to get into it as the maze hosts kept rushing people along. There were some kills in here which I remember from the 2010 maze which I didn’t mind seeing again. For the most part though, I wish Jason would have been walking around more delivering the scares as oppose the the camp counselors but whatever onto the next section, Texas Chainsaw Massacre part 1. Pretty underwhelming as well and just confusing seeing so many Leatherface scare actors, some in different costumes than others, at the same time. I liked that they incorporated members of the Sawyer clan in here but the whole multiple Leatherface thing just mind-boggles me, and was one of the main concerns I had with this attraction. Next up we have the Nightmare on Elm Street section in War of the Worlds, easily the worst part of the experience, with a whole bunch of different costumed Freddy’s walking around. A lot of the scare actors in this section were really just walking around leasing this whole section to just feel lifeless. Hopefully in the coming weeks these guys get into their groove. Rounding out the experience we get TCM again, we see Leatherface with a real chainsaw which I appreciated and go into a slaughter house which was OK but was just the same thing we’ve seen in previous TCM mazes, even in the Titans of Terror maze this year, someone getting their face cut off, another being sawed in half, same old same old. Back on the tram we get a cringe worthy video of someone trying to act and Chucky threatening to promote his newest film. Complete and utter garbage which returns the Terror Tram to the years of Scream for Your Life after a pretty good tram last year.
Getting off the tram, I was shocked to see how low the wait times were, Insidious dominating with 3 hours followed by Transformers with 2 hours but everything else was under 20 minutes. Staying on the upper lot we headed to The Horrors of Blumhouse.
The Horrors of Blumhouse
I was pretty excited when this maze was announced. I’ve been wanting to see Sinister as a maze for a really long time, and I’ve seen Happy Death Day already so I kind of knew what to expect. Starting this maze in the Universal Plaza with the Purge was a good idea since we’ve seen it multiple times, giving room for the actual indoors maze to focus on the other two properties. The Purge section was basically the gauntlet from last year which was OK, I didn’t care. Moving into the facade right off the bat we get Happy Death Day which was the best part of the maze. I really liked what they did with it and after seeing the Sinister section, wished it was longer. Sinister, why I really cared about this maze was somewhat of a let down, again it was plagued with black walls and a lot more Sinister 2 than Sinister 1 which I didn’t care for. The projector pop-out was my favorite part in here and everything else was just really underwhelming forgettable.
Took a break right after this and went into Titans of Terror after.
Titans of Terror
I love this concept, everything about it was just sounded incredible. Approaching the facade I was really impressed, it looks great with all the Halloween props one would normally buy giving it the real feel of going into a home haunt. Immediately the first room brought a huge smile to my face seeing all the detail and hidden easter eggs but beyond made it feel real, My room is plagued with horror movie poster and HHN memorabilia and whatnot so this personally connected with me. Proceeding into the maze we move into Nightmare on Elm Street, really well done, I particularly really enjoyed seeing the chest burst kill from the 2010 maze again and the way the utilized the Freddy snake this year. Followed by Friday the 13th, this gave off the vibe of the remake more than the original with the guy with the hatchet on his head, which was from the 2010 maze as well and going into Jason’s lair, which was Twisty’s bus from last year I believe. Again really well put together and and this point started giving out a really nostalgic vibe as they were combining scenes from previous mazes, with some new stuff of course. Last and certainly not least we have the Texas Chainsaw Massacre section which felt the most new, taking you into the Muerto County slaughterhouse. I particularly really enjoyed Leatherface cutting open a door and the way they did the face peel this year in here! It was a little light on scares but was incredibly fun. Easily the best maze I had done all night to this point and really to me a reminder of why I love these characters and this event!
After this maze, is when I really regretted having such a large group as everyone just really scrammed in all different directions. I decided to see if anyone was still around the area and just stood around and took some pictures of Hell-o-Ween.
I love the fact that this year at HALLOWEEN Horror Nights we were finally getting something Halloween themed but honestly I didn’t really know how important the flame cannons were until now. This zone was DEAD, the energy from previous years was gone, very few props in this area to immerse you. The characters look cool but there is not enough of them. This zone greatly needs the flame cannons which I understand cannot be done due to the construction but something needs to be sorted out. Moving extending the actual zone up to Potter since they do it for the opening scaremoney anyway and adding a lot more scare actors.
Walked into The Walking Dead Attraction after finding a couple of friends which was pretty much the daytime attraction, nothing new like last year.
The rest of my group was in the lower lot so we went to meet up with them to finish up the mazes.
Easily my most anticipated maze this year, and it did not disappoint. From the facade hearing the theme song, and the narration, which was Murdy by the way, I was ready for this maze. It hits all the scenes from the film in great detail, of course not as big as it is in the film but still looking pretty good. The Jack Torrance masks looked great, the gold room was cool, the here’s Johnny scene was phenomenal. I really liked what they did with the typewriter scene as well, a really creative interpretation of Jack’s madness in my opinion. Overall everything was pretty good in here, a few black walls but I didn’t mind them since there were some good scares in there.
Insidious: Beyond the Further
This maze had the longest wait time all night, not surprisingly, but I was still looking forward to it as I was a huge fan of 2015’s maze and it was supposed to be new for the most part being based on the 4th film. Going in everything felt very different, not much like any of the two previous Insidious mazes which I liked. The sets in here were pretty good, when they weren’t black walls (but it makes sense since it’s the further though), I liked how the previous three films were used very much to a minimum so it didn’t feel like a repeat at all. The main issue I have with this maze is the lack of scares. 2015’s Insidious maze was one of the scariest mazes of all time and while I feel 2013’s maze is greatly overrated, the scares were still more intense than they were in this maze. It’s not terrible but still think it’s my least favorite of the Insidious mazes.
We were pretty much finished at this point so instead of watching the Jabbawockeez which I chose to skip, I decided to walk back to the backlot to check out the last two scare zones which I did not get to see with scare actors earlier.
Horrible, awful, atrocious. I liked the theming when this was around and has something totally different in mind. I thought this of being a really dark scare zone with maybe some thick fog as if you were actually in a tunnel but it’s the same annoying strobe lights and dubstep crap as last year. I get it Murdy wants to shoehorn Figure into the event somehow but this was just way out of place. The costumes, from what I could make out from the lighting, looked generic and unimpressive. Overall just a fail which we unfortunately have to go through in order to get to the backlot.
Much larger than anything we’ve ever had in the backlot, this zone was fantastic. A lot more like the Purge gauntlet and surprisingly not as overcrowded as I expected. Walking through the daytime and seeing the props I was really excited to see this zone, a lot of reused stuff from Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and previous scare zones but I didn’t mind as it made sense. This zone is really intense and gritty at night. The scare actors do a great job of catching you off guard. I loved the way the integrated victims crawling around crying for help as the demons terrorized them! So dark and gritty and unlike anything we’ve seen at a Horror Nights zone. Easily the best scare zone at the event this year!
So overall, 2017 is no 2016. It definitely is not a horrible year, there are worst years I can think of *cough cough 2014 cough*, but it definitely is not one of the best or memorable years of the event. To me two mazes really stand out, ToT & The Shining, and everything is just OK, minus AVED which is garbage. I have a frequent fear pass so I will be returning to the event and hopefully even if it’s just small changes, I hope some are made. I won’t be giving the event a grade as a whole as I have still not seen the Jabbawockeez *sigh* and while I don’t want to, I definitely will.
Anyway thanks for reading and if you want to check out my experience I’ll link my vlog here.