Every year my family (aka my boyfriend, mom, and I) likes to save up and splurge on FOTL or RIP for HHN, and after it's absence we were very excited to hear of it's return. Would we have a special experience specific to RIP? Would we have the blood lounge to visit and relax in throughout the night? Would we leave feeling as though we wasted our money? Who knew? Only time would tell. Apologies in advance for how wordy this will probably get.
Let me start by sharing how disorganized the parking and VIP staff were at the beginning of our journey. We opted for the earliest check-in we could get, which was 5:40PM, and arrived at Uni at 3:45PM to leave us enough time to try Voodoo Donuts and stroll City Walk before checking in. Our first hitch was the parking staff. The lanes were separated by barricades and the signage did not match up with which lanes were being used for which parking section. We went into the lane marked VALET, which was actually being used for Uber/Lyft, so we asked the kid working the lane where to go and he pointed us in the right direction. We looped around and went into the lane he told us to go in....which was still the wrong lane. Third time's a charm! We looped around and went into the pick up/drop off lane which finally gave us access to the valet. It wasn't a huge issue, but it was annoying.
After finally giving the car up and trying a Captain, My Captain at Voodoo, we headed to the main entrance and proceeded to VIP for check-in...and the second hitch. Now this one did not affect us directly, but it's worth noting that it was causing issues for a few other groups. The email sent with your tickets stated that if you did not check in by your check in time you'd forfeit your RIP experience, no exceptions. Well quite a few people with 5 and 5:10 check in times were rolling up at 5:15 or 5:20. The staff accommodated the late arrivals, pushing back check in for other groups and causing people who had been there in time to be late. As I said, we were there 40 minutes early hoping to get in one early entry maze pre-dinner, so this didn't really affect our night beyond that. However, there were many groups outside of the park who were upset that they were being pushed back, and once we made it inside for our buffet there were groups in the dining area who were upset that they had to pound 2 beers and a buffet in 25 minutes because they were pushed back by late arrivals. Hopefully those kinks get worked out....for the price you pay and the changes made to the RIP experience this year, it really sucks to have to be rushed and not be able to enjoy the full experience.
We checked in and were given a dining time of 5:50, leaving us about 20 minutes to get situated before starting our RIP experience. We rode The Simpson's Ride really quick then headed over to Moulin Rouge for dinner. Upon checking in we were given a tour start time of 6:40PM, giving us 50 minutes to enjoy the buffet and our 2 drinks. We were told that this 50 minutes was our only time in the Moulin Rouge and that there was no lounge to return to this year. This was the biggest letdown of RIP for us, as in prior years it was nice to have an air conditioned spot to hide from the crowds in, especially when water and soft drinks were provided. Oh well. The buffet had everything from salads to stews to pastas to tri-tip to warm ooey gooey cookies and fresh made crepes. The food was absolutely delicious, we did not taste one thing and dislike it. The beer selections have improved a bit from the Bud Light days, offering a few different selections like Heineken, Shock Top, and a craft IPA. Soft drinks, a tasty strawberry lemonade, and water bottles were also available. We grabbed a couple of water bottles on our way out for our tour and met up with our guide Alec, a first time RIP guide who claimed we were his first group.
Alec gave us a run-through of what our tour would look like, mapping out our path and saying that we'd have all the haunted experiences done in just about 3 hours. He excitedly led us to opening scaremonies, claiming that we were the lucky tour time that would have prime viewing up front. Little did he know they decided to run the show 10 minutes early that night, so we didn't get to watch it. He was embarrassed and joked that he was off to a bad start. At this point I had a quick minute long chat with Murdy who we ran into outside of Blumhouse, then took off on a whirlwind of mazes in the following order...
THE HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE
It was still light out so this maze was not scary at all. Too much light leak and a bunch of the lights/fog/sound was not on yet. We were underwhelmed by this as a whole, though my boyfriend dug the Purge stuff and my mom and I loved the Sinister bits. This was a good warm-up maze and we decided we wanted to try it again later in the night. The second time we walked through it did not make it any scarier, but The Purge had all of it's effects working and the maze as a whole looked much better without all of the light leaks.
THE WALKING DEAD ATTRACTION
Meh. As a fan of the show it's still really neat to walk around and look at stuff, but as a haunted attraction it does nothing for me. Got yelled at for taking a picture while walking through a second time later in the night.
TITANS OF TERROR
I loved loved loved this maze. To be fair, my favorite franchises are Nightmare and Chainsaw, so that may have swayed my opinion. And it's also worth noting that my mom was wearing a Jason shirt, so we got so much actor interaction in this maze. All the Jason's targeted us so we got good jump scares and the Freddy's targeted her, miming funny things after the scares. There is a gag in here that was recycled from Alien and tweaked to fit the theme and it gave me my best scare of the night. Didn't see it coming at all. While I thought the transition hallways were kind of lame, I left this maze with a huge smile on my face and my heart racing from non-stop scares. Such a blast. We ended our night with this maze, and while NONE of the Jason triggers were working it was still scary and awesome!
Suffered from daylight and lack of energy. I did like the aesthetic of the costumes though. By the end of the night the actors had hit their stride and the zone improved throughout the evening.
TITANS OF TERROR TRAM
Still not scary at all, but I enjoyed the kill scenes. This too suffered from daylight, but it was cool to walk it without a sea of people surrounding you. I felt like it was shorter this year in terms of design and scare opportunities. Chucky does nothing for me. Still really cool to walk along Bates Motel, that will never get old for me. We resolved to try it again in the dark and get our annual pic with Norman.
I've never seen The Shining in it's entirety, only in bits and pieces here and there. It never excited me and begged me to watch it thoroughly. I read the book but even that never really got me going. I've always been impartial when it came to this property. All of that could have very well contributed to the fact that this maze did absolutely nothing for me. I understand it's hard to execute, but the elevator scene was underwhelming. The actress in the bathroom scene was on point though, she was devoted and quite frankly the only energy in this maze worth noting. The masks were odd to me, often times not fitting the actors well. My favorite part was the air conditioning in the snowy hedge maze. My mom and boyfriend, who have both seen the movie in full and actually kind of like it, were both bored by this maze. He gave points for Murdy not shying away from it, but was not impressed. We did not repeat this maze later in the evening for fear of wasting time.
INSIDIOUS: BEYOND THE FURTHER
This was the maze I was most excited for as I am a fan of the films and I've loved both mazes from prior years. They were scary and fun and made me uncomfortable, basically everything I desire in a maze. This one was SUCH a letdown. This is the Twitter house this year and by the time we got to it (about 8:20PM) Tucker and Specs were out of business cards for the night. This maze felt like one long black hallway with a few red doors once in a while. One actor got me really good while I was preoccupied with Duck Boy, and I did like ending hallway, but if you miss the scares the end will be lame. The pacing in this maze was off and most of the talent was lazy. How is staring at me and thrusting your crotch scary? We also did not repeat this one.
At this point our tour guide gave us a 15 minute break to use the restroom or shop or whatever. We used this time to sit down for a second and talk to the tour guide we barely heard a word from. In prior years the tour seemed very exclusive. You got up close and personal with your guide and they had a whole experience and spiel prepared for you. Alec was wonderful and friendly, but you could tell they sent him out there with no script, no "fun facts" or stories to go with the attractions we were visiting. This year's RIP was lackluster in comparison to prior years. 4 people decided to drop out of the tour at this point and we continued towards Toxic Tunnel. I walked at the front of the group chatting with Alec about supposed hauntings at the studio and the drama that caused them to lose the rights to The Conjuring.
This scarezone is a waste of talent. The actors were on their game but the atmosphere does nothing to get you in fear mode.
Yes yes yes yes YAAAASSSS. Uni needs to keep heading in this direction because it is definitely right. There was a lull with the ghillie people walkway, but the décor and music and actors worked so well in this zone. We all loved it and walked through it again after our tour to check it out even closer.
ASH VS EVIL DEAD
We all had a total blast in this maze. Could they have done more with it? Totally. But it was so B-movie and so Bruce Campbell. It had elements of humor in it that were done so well, unlike the atrocity that was This Is The End. The Ash actors had their bits down pat and it felt like you were in the show. We did this maze twice, and while the first time was better, we enjoyed it both times because we got different Ash sayings and gags.
SAW: THE GAMES OF JIGSAW
This maze was not scary at all, but we all were enticed by it's design. There were 3 scares I can remember seeing throughout both times we did it, and I almost feel like that's all there is. But the design of this maze is gorgeous. The lighting was great, all of the traps looked exquisite, and most of the victims were believable. The stench had apparently faded because we only noticed a slight smell in the bathroom scene. We went through this again just to look at everything closer. Such a piece of art, truly. Just not scary at all.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE
I liked this season of AHS, I thought it was fun and different, so I enjoyed walking through this and re-living some of the moments from the show. Much like Saw, the set pieces in this maze were beautifully designed and executed, but it just was not scary. More scares in here than Saw, but nothing that really got any of us.
At this point in our evening our tour guide parted ways with us and we were left with 4.5 hours to go crazy and have fun. We took another stroll through Urban Inferno, Ash, and Saw then made our way back to the Lower lot where we rode Transformers and The Mummy then stopped for an ice cream cone. We passed on Jurassic Park and we passed on giving Insidious and The Shining another go. We made our way back to Terror Tram which was WAY more crowded the second time around. It looked much better at night and we had fun watching people run away from actors, but it still wasn't scary to us. We hit one more round of Blumhouse and The Walking Dead before finishing our night with Titans of Terror.
Our final hitch of the evening came when we returned to valet. We were one of two groups at the station when we got there, yet proceeded to watch dozens of groups come and go as we waited almost a half an hour. Staff and management apologized repeatedly but offered no explanation. There was no damage and the mileage hadn't changed, so our assumption was that they mismarked the space they left my car in so they couldn't find my car. First world problems, I know, but when it's 2am and you're beat the wait totally sucks.
If you're reading this sentence you've made it through a wordy babbling of my very fun night. The final verdict was that RIP has taken a bit of a nose-dive when it comes to special services, but we still felt the price was worth it to have unlimited FOTL. If you're doing RIP get there early and make the most of your dining time and avoid being rushed. The event was underwhelming in a lot of ways, and some elements felt like afterthoughts. But life is what you make it, and we made it fun!