Hey folks, I believe this is my first post haha..I attended HHN's for the 7th year now and wanted to share some of my thoughts on this year. HHN 22 - Growing Pains Disclaimer: I just want to warn you before you continue that I tend to write long winded reviews...I will try to keep it tight and not babel, but no guarantees. Houses: (In order of visit) Alice Cooper:: We were let in a bit early due to us having an annual pass and we headed straight for the first house we could get to. The regular day park music was still in full swing and yet everything was closed up (restaurants and all). It was a very strange experience to say the least and I will probably never do the early access every again for this very reason (I know I’m picky, but I like my atmosphere.)...So yes the house, it was, well terrible. I didn’t really receive any scares and really didn’t understand the house as far as how it related to Mr. Cooper. There were a few nice tries, but everything just felt very blah. This was the first house of the season house and honestly it would have been easy to scare me, but none of the scareactors went after me. Rating: 5/10 House of Horrors:: I was pumped for this house and was really ready for it to scare me to the level Dead Exposure did. I guess I was expecting too much from a house that got the short end of the chainsaw. This house was pretty awful and was a disgrace to the Universal brand and Universal Monsters...I understand that this house was built last minute yadda yadda...my answer is if you aren’t going to do it right you might as well not do it. Rating: 4/10 Penn & Teller:: After looking for food and the only option being Lays and Turkey Legs we decided to go through Penn and Teller’s house. I personally loved the house will all of my heart. If any house was more deserving of being the featured IP of the year it was this house. The sets were clever and the scares were fun, it wasn’t scary but then again was it really supposed to be terrifying? I really enjoyed this one! Rating: 9/10 Silent Hill:: Well, well, well, Universal is finally tackling one of my favorite video games. I was super excited for this house and could not wait to go in it. The house was a little different than I had envisioned personally, but it was nowhere near bad. Pyramid Head was awesome (even though he should have been featured more) and he was certainly menacing coming down that circular hallway they had him in. The only thing I would have changed about the house..well the two only things I would have changed is 1) Make the house tighter...yes I realize ADA requirements state clearly eight feet across for wall..that is not what I am talking about. There were some BOE spots in this house that really hurt it...by BOE I mean Big Open and Empty. 2) I would have liked the house to reflect the games a lot more than they did..honestly it should have been a walk through of all the game’s best moments..in an 8 or 9 scene house it is perfectly realistic to be able to have a best of house...let’s just clear something up..the 1st movie is awful and the 2nd movie is even worse..DO NOT base a ‘game’ house on a lack-luster movie. This needs to happen again but in a way that reflects the game...btw I would have killed for a Silent Hill scare zone. 7/10 Gothic:: I knew this house’s sets were going to pull at my inner ghoul’s heart strings and it certainly did..in a year of growing pains and sell outs I believe this shining jewel like the glowing of a distant lighthouse reminded us that A&D are still around and the spirit of HHN is still alive and well..The house was great and had some great scares. Need I say more, the first house that actually delivered was a story driven and organic concept..shocker 9/10 Dead End:: Beautiful entrance and beautiful design throughout. A true ghost house that left you wanting to visit again. I received some good scares and while I would not put it up there with Gothic I would say that it was much better than Legendary Truth a few years back. 8/10 Walking Dead:: Ok I realize I am a huge fan of the Walking Dead and was so excited for the house. The house delivered for the Walking Dead fan in me! The representation of the scenes in the show were done really well and this became on of the few houses that I was completely gitty in trying to find all of the Easter eggs from the show. The Halloween Horror Nights fan inside of me was also pleased by the scares. Timing scares were there but not to the point where you could potentially miss every scare in the house (which I will address in my year analysis). I didn’t receive as many as I thought I was going to but I still got some good scares. I really enjoyed this one. 8.5/10 Streets: I’m convinced of this particular statement. Howl-O-Scream does roaming hordes like nobody’s business..Halloween Horror NIghts does scare zones like nobody’s business. When the two have ever attempted the other it has failed (with the exception of some great zones at HOS). The streets were not awful, but they were certainly not good. The poor actors had to traverse Construction Studios back and forth while simultaneously trying to still scare people. It must have been awful to be a street performer this year. I liked the originality and trying something new, but zones need to return. 6/10 HHN 22 Analysis: I choose not to simply review this year, yes I reviewed the houses and streets but the event itself I believe requires a bit of a thinking party as to why it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. First of all let’s dissect what made the lead up to the event not so great. I believe the website acts as an informative piece of information as well as a tension builder for the year. I have heard many that think that if every year was like Bloody Mary’s year we would get bored of the same old thing. I wholeheartedly and respectfully disagree. It is very rare that you can find a true horror themed anything to be invested in. The climactic “what will happen next” questions that were raised the year of Bloody Mary (and the other icons) really built up to a climax as you walked up to the entrance of the arches. I realize things like a backstory and marketing take time, but if they wish to continue to have the #1 event in the nation then they must consider things like story. I have said this multiple times and will continue to say it...scary houses do not make Halloween Horror Nights what it is, just as much as for the day product rides do not make Universal what it is. There is a transformation into another realm and a backstory/theme that flows through the event that truly gets patrons invested into the year. That is why HHN has tons of fan sites and events like Knott’s Scary Farm do not. Howl-O-Scream has started to edge HHN on scares and are now starting to even edge them on story, detail, and theme. A second thing that killed the lead up to the event was the marketing. I do believe that in the business world it is always important to market the biggest thing you have, there is a reason why Spiderman and Potter are in every Universal commercial. I do feel like HHN though has the luxury of being slightly more edgy and unpredictable with their marketing. What I mean is the simple fact that droves of patrons are going to attend the event regardless..you may as well create something that is remembered. I strictly remember the Albert Caine (Caretaker) billboards creeping me out when I was little. Honestly there is nothing scary about Alice Cooper's face or a zombie that appears to be half smiling. I would have really liked to see a marketing scheme that showed three gravestones coming from the ground with the IP titles on them while the Iniquitis loomed over them..what a killer marketing piece. Let’s analyze the year itself for a moment and better yet what happened with the park. I have never been one to complain about a construction project in the Studios or Islands. I love the fact that the Studios is expanding and renewing, but with every growth comes growing pains. I believe the lackluster HHN this year was one of those pains. Mardi Gras will probably suffer some this year as well as Christmas. The all over zombie theme seemed pretty exciting I thought, while somewhat repetitive..it would have tied the year together a bit more I think. Honestly though the nail in the coffin this year was the lack of character to the year and by that I mean the lack of scare zones and atmosphere. This really hurt the event and really made the event feel like Universal at night. That is not what the event has set out to do and is not what the event should do, we need to reach higher than that and make the park feel like it has undergone a creepy transition. That seeing a scare zone in the distance and preparing yourself to walk through while simultaneously getting nervous/excited with every step is what I miss. Yes the scare zones are attractions and yes that is ok...also yes, the scare everywhere concept can work, but it needs to be done more strategically than it was this year. So there you have it my analysis of Halloween Horror Nights 22 and all that went into it. Keep in mind lastly that this year did not suffer because of laziness and or apathy. There was some hard work that went into creating this year (or rather saving it). However there were some questionable choices made by some higher ups that resulted in a disconnected feeling. That has to be the thing that hurt this year the most, the feeling of disconnect. So HHN fans keep looking forward to the event and keep supporting it. When the park has undergone it’s transition to the #1 park in Orlando again the event will return...I know I will be waiting outside the gates of HHN to enter with the same excitement I have every year. Just as a friend can disappoint you sometimes you are always willing to pick up where you left off. Oh and thank you if you read this whole thing.