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Zombieman's 9/30 review

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So is everyone ready for one of Zombieman's patented insanely long reviews? If not, go grab a sandwich and a soda, because this is gonna take a while.

My visit was on Friday the 30th. I went as part of a Theme Park Review event, of which there were about 40 attendees. On that same night, the Mice Chat group also went, with about the same number attending. The cost of the event was $95, which included a FOTL pass, a meet and greet with John Murdy, and dinner. There were no other perks. No behind the scenes tour and no ERT. A FOTL entry for that night cost $69, so the dinner was essentially $26.

The dinner was at the Hard Rock, and we got a choice of two different burgers, or a salad or mac & cheese. I got the Mac & Cheese and was thoroughly unimpressed. This place is hardly worth the price. Dessert was a stale slice of German chocolate cake. Yuck.

John Murdy stopped by to spend time with us for the Meet & Greet. I know that John makes himself available quite a bit during the event, and it's not uncommon to get a chance to meet him, but this was a nice thing.

Things I learned from John:

* He LOVES the chance to tweet with the patrons and he thinks that if Uni management got wind of his tweets, he'd be silenced immediately (so if we suddenly stop hearing from him, you know what happened). I tend to strongly agree with this. Just follow HHN Orlando, and you will see the most corporate tweets you have ever read. They are downright boring. Not that John tweets anything improper; it's simply so non-corporate. I mean, Battleship Tweet? Really? And all those "How to get a start in the Haunt Business".

* He believes he could have Freddy and Jason every year for the next 10 years and attendance would only grow. I'm not buying that one personally. I think that's selling yourself short. (And I know I wouldn't attend.)

* The blogger in the Terror Tram video was specifically poking fun at us (mainly people like DTH and myself), who are always the loudest objectors to repeats and "sticking a 'Z' at the end of something and calling it 'all new'". When he told me this, I practically pissed myself laughing.

* He went on and on about his admiration for Alice Cooper. I spent a good 10 minutes talking with him about the concerts and songs. He said that he believes the maze will go a long way in creating new fans. I tend to agree.

* He said that the La Llorona scarezone sucked last year (his words), and that he believes this years maze is one of the best they have ever produced. He said that 60% of HHN customers grew up with the La Llorona story in one form or another. Even for So Cal, I think that's a very high number.

Knowing that I was facing horrific lines in the event, I ran over to the ticket booths to see if I could upgrade to the RIP pass. FOTL was already sold out, but RIP was still available. So I paid a full $100 for the upgrade. My figuring was - I'd much rather take the event at a slower pace and see everything as many times as I wanted, rather than run around commando for an hour and then use the FOTL. As it turns out, I (the person who blasted the hefty price) think the RIP is not that bad of a deal. So let me get this out of the way before I review the event....

RIP Review (is it worth it?)

So many of you guys know that I go all over the US to attend these events. When I go, I ALWAYS go the VIP route if one is available. The reason is that my schedule doesn't permit me time to stand around in 2 hours waits. Since I'm a local, I rarely go VIP locally. But having seen how slammed HHN Hollywood gets all year long, I said "why not do it?". Yeah, it's expensive, but you do get a lot of tangible perks that make up much of the difference.

Let's look at them one by one:

Security - there is a complete bypass of the security line for VIP. You easily avoid 10-20 minutes of lines. Value: $0

Parking - RIP includes free parking. If you go alone (like me) that's a substantial savings of $15 right there. If you go 4 people to a car, everyone gets the parking, but the value is clearly diminished. Value: Up to $15

Merchandise - This one is a BIGGIE. Most of the fans but merchandise. A LOT of it. This year, if you add up the shirts, hoodie, pin, glasses, and mug, you're looking at about $175 before tax. That's not even including the Ghostface action figure... The RIP pass gets you 25% off all purchases. So for me, it was a savings of over $30. YMMV. Value: Up to $45

Food - ANOTHER BIGGIE. With this perk, you gain access to the Vampire Lounge (the courtyard where Chucky's Insult Emporium used to be). They actually did a very impressive job in here. When you enter, the sounds and screams from outside are completely gone. Instead, you hear live harpsichord being played. Your entertainment is in the form of the Rat Lady, who is wheeled in a couple of times an hour. Fans of HHN Orlando know the Rat Lady well. She is in a glass coffin with about 2 dozen large rats. There is a bar set up where you get all the free bottled water and canned sodas you want. In addition, you can get up to 2 alcoholic drinks (wine/beer). Each time you get one, they mark your wristband. Even if you got your beers, you can still get unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. One serving of beer is a full bottle. Although they advertise "finger foods", you get so much more. There a buffet spread that has better food than you'll find outside the Lounge. Yeah, they have chicken fingers, but also higher end snacks that range from hummus, tapenade, and REALLY good sandwiches (turkey, tuna, roast beef, and ham). Overall, the food surpassed my expectations. I thought it would be really junky stuff, but I ended up visiting all evening and never had to pay for a meal. After midnight, the food changes to dessert, and let me tell you, the spread is incredible. This is not Jello and pudding... It is very high end petit fours. The kind that cost $2 each in the stores. There must have been a dozen different kinds, each with different things inside. Chocolate truffle, cakes, fruits - you name it. The only thing missing was milk to wash it down. Consider what you pay for meal and snacks at the event. Value: Up to $30, easy. I put the value this high because it's a buffet. Come back as much as you want - and you will.

"VIP Experience" - The what? Yeah, that's what I wondered. When you check in for your VIP pass, you get signed up for a backstage tour that lasts about 45 minutes. The tour is optional. For the tour, your group of about 25 is taken out of the park via an exit next to Waterworld. Waiting just outside the berm is a private tour tram. This tram is just one car long (trams are usually 4 cars). And this tram is also the handicapped tram (seats on only half of it. The result is that you are not packed in like sardines. Turns out this is a VIP Terror Tram experience. Having not taken the real Terror Tram this year, I cannot comment as to how the VIP one differs from the normal one. For the first 15 minutes of this tram, I was confused. We traveled in the backlot next to many soundstages, and instead of the normal spiel, we heard ghost stories of how the different places in Hollywood were haunted. It was a bit spooky, but at the same time, it was cheesy. The guide never played it for comedy, and that was good. We then were taken to Kong 3D for the normal show. I don't know if the TT includes Kong or not (didn't see it mentioned in any reviews). It would be nice to think that Kong was an exclusive for VIPs. After Kong, we headed to the Streets. This is where my pulse began to quicken. Could it actually be that they resurrected the great little shows of gore they had back in 1992? Could it be??? Nope. We went to the Old Mexico street where the guide told us the story of La Llorona. I was totally expecting a scare from somewhere from her, but it never happened. Instead, we got the Flash Flood at night. At this point, I was getting a bit upset. I'm wasting precious maze time for this?? Then things took a turn for the GREAT. When we got to the Western streets, the tram stopped, and we were told that this is where we get out and hoof it. WHAT!?! The streets were pitch black. As we exited the tram, we were each handed a flashlight and told we could go wherever we wanted. Then the tram left. Yup! You know all those facades on Western street? Some are practical sets, meaning they have stuff inside them. And many of these were open for our perusal. As we ventured into these pitch black buildings, the tour guide was around, but purposely made himself distant from us, so we felt like we were on our own. He would continue to tell us of accidents and hauntings in the areas we were walking, and the point was to let our minds do the scaring for us. Did someone think they saw something in at window up there? Did someone hear something? In actuality, they had no scareactors there, and no effects that took place. Anything that "happened" was in your own mind. But when you're walking in a pitch black room with only a crappy flashlight (at a haunt event), you're always expecting something to happen, and you're jumpy as hell. Did anything happen to me? I'm-not-sure. While walking in a set used for a saloon, I saw a little alcove in the far corner. I walked over to it alone (it was a good 20 feet from the group) and in this little alcove was just a pile of hardware (huge nuts, bolts, things like that). I reached toward them to see if they appeared to be what I thought they were - and I heard a very faint hiss just as I touched them. It SOUNDED like it was a compressed air scare that we are so familiar with, only like it almost had no air behind it. It was the haunt patron in me that made me jump at this sound. I'm CERTAIN it was not an effect they had set up. Hell, it could have been the hydraulic brakes of a distant tram. What I'm saying is that whatever coincidence it was was perfectly timed to when I was reaching out to an object. After 15 minutes of walking around, we turned a corner and there was our tram. We boarded it and were taken to the regular Terror Tram drop-off. So, what value would you give this? If HHN sold some "mystery Tram Tour" during HHN for $10, would you do it? How about $20? Maybe you'll read this and give it $0 value because nothing happened. I'm telling you that I cannot describe the tension that was built up in me waiting for something to happen. That "nothing" did happen - is that a letdown? Had they had a Ll Lorona character out there in Old Mexico streets, would you say "they had like a couple of scareactors, and it was kinda neat". I have to give HHN BIG props for this VIP experience, even though "nothing happened". Value: $??

Pace - Like DTH, I hate the new FOTL pass, mainly because they took away from us the unlimited house entries. I hate, hate, HATE that. It was never causing standby lines to get backed up (Gate A lines were only a few people long during HHN). The "unlimited" perk of RIP is CLEARLY a money grab, but nevertheless, the luxury of not having to run run around HHN like a maniac before the general public fills up the park is very valuable. How valuable is up to the reader. Value: $??

So let's add the value up even BEFORE I get to the "unlimited entry" perk. In my opinion, you get up to $90 of tangible value from the add on. It may only be $40 in your case. So the question is - if the "unlimited entry" perk worth the extra $10-$60 on top of a FOTL pass? I get this because the RIP is about $100 more than FOTL.

Had the FOTL add-on been available on Friday, 9/30, it would have cost upwards of $45. That's $45 to get into everything once (rides, too). Since most HHN fans don't go for the rides, let's just look at the cost per house. That would be $45/7 (6 houses + Terror Tram). That's about $6.25 per house for the privilege of skipping the lines. Now, let's be serious - HoH shouldn't be counted as an HHN house - ever. So let's make the REAL cost be $45/6 = $7.25 per house entry. That's what people pay for the FOTL perk. When you look at it as a per-house-entry basis, it looks REALLY expensive - and it is. I mean, can you imagine reaching into your pocket and pulling out $7 AFTER you paid to get in the gate, just to go in a house you went in last year?? So let's look at the RIP as an add on to FOTL. We need to get $10-$60 value out of it. So let's take a worst case scenario - assume you only got $40 tangible value form the RIP add-on. So it cost you $45 (for the FOTL add-on) + $60 for the "unlimited perk", for a total of $105. That's a lot. But let's say you got to go through each of the non-HoH houses 4 times each, plus Terror Tram twice. That's (4*5)+2= 22 entries, or $105/22 = $4.75 per use at a house. That's still a lot, but "sounds" like a better value. Again, I'm not the one shelling out money for your ticket. But I did get to do everything I wanted when I wanted and as many times as I wanted.

Yeah, yeah, I know that's what we got to do last year with a FOTL pass, and I'm still just as pissed about that as you are. I'm not trying to make excuses for HHN, but I am saying that the RIP should not be looked at solely as what the FOTL used to be.

Whoa! That's a lot of yakking by me and still no review of the event....

I'll post that next.

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Wow, did he really mention HNN and name drop us specifically? buahahahaha

The VIP tour sounds okay. I don't think I'd ever spend that much money on it. As you said, value is different to others but the buffet does sound cool. If it were me and my friends, knowing us, during the Western Street part, we probably would've started playing flash light tag or something.

Can't wait to hear your actual review on the mazes!

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Okay, so let's get to the event:

To sum it up early, I would call 2011 one of the best years of HHN Hollywood ever. There are some glaring weaknesses, and I am giving John Murdy a LOT of slack this year. I have brutalized him in the past.

So allow me to get the worst out of the way first (they should come as no surprise):

Wolfman - I have a new #1 request for Universal: Either shut down HoH for HHN and put the employees in better locations, or run HoH during HHN exactly the same way it is during the day. Just STOP wasting budget trying to put an overlay on the thing. It doesn't work. HoH is what it is, and it's best at being a classic Universal Monsters maze. Rating: D

Terror Tram - Never cared for Ghostface as a villain. Maybe it's all the Scary Movie films that make you not take him seriously. He's not everyone's cup of tea. That being said, I don't care whose name is slapped on the Terror Tram. If the tour is not updated, it's just gonna keep getting more and more stale. The little Terror Tram films have always been good; I never have a complaint about them. But let's face it - the Terror Tram has been the exact same experience since 2007. Whether it's Jack, Freddy, Chucky, or Ghostface, we have chainsaws in Whoville, Slashers at Bates, growls in the uphill walk, and zombies in WotW. It-never-changes. 2006 was a completely different experience - and far better than anything since. It did not feel like there were more scareactors than ever before this year. 2006 still feels like the most. To me, Terror Tram is the best rebuttal to John Murdy's belief that all he needs is Freddy and Jason. The night I went, the lines for TT were among the shortest all night long. And all I heard all the way through was how it wasn't any different than before. And don't get me started on the frickin' shaker cans again. They are for scareactors that don't know how to scare. Period. Rating: D+

Okay, that's the worst of it. The rest of the event is Universal at its best. So here they are, saving the best for last:

I don't want to give away too much so I will try to keep my reviews void of a good deal of detail.

Hostel - My least favorite of the new mazes (and that was a surprise to me). Loved the facade, and loved the idea of the girls out front (I got my Elite Hunting card; did you?) I found this maze to be TOO much like Saw. I support this with three pieces of evidence:

* Same location and layout (hard to hold that against them)

* They used the exact same "pig squeal" sounds when a scareactor popped out

* They replaced the pig heads with armor helmets. Didn't only one one or two characters in either movie wear those things? You'd think it was the trademark of the Hostel franchise. Waaaaaay overused. I counted about 8.

To me, the hallmark of Hostel is senseless torture. But we don't get to see too many scenes from the movies. And when we DO see them, we see the result of the torture - not the torture taking place. I would have liked to see that. Something tells me that this maze will be repeated next year, and it will have different torture scenes. Rating: B-

Thing - I don't know why people knock the facade. I think it is very well executed and is frankly, massive. As for the maze, as many people have said, they really need to do something with the first two mini-rooms. While they seem to be mostly there to keep the cold inside the maze, there should still be something on the walls to set the mood for what we will experience. Clearly, the bulk of the budget here went into the puppet pieces. They are very impressive, and there must have been many copies made to last the whole event. I still don't know if all of the Things had actors behind them. There were a large variety of them, and the scares were nicely timed. What was missing was a storyline. This is supposed to be a prequel to the classic movie, but the trailers look like they are a remake. Many of us know what the story is, and I guess some of us have a good idea what we will see in the movie based on what we saw in the maze. Use of video was well done with the baby Things. One thing I didn't get from the house - we saw the lab animal room, but where were the Things based on them supposed to be? Rating: B

House of 1000 Corpses - I don't like repeats, but if they had to repeat something from last year, I'm glad it was HOTC. Unchanged in the slightest, it still packs a great punch. Rating: B+ (not an A only because it's a repeat)

Before I get to the last two houses, I'd like to take a few minutes and make a formal apology to John Murdy. For real. And no - it's not that I met him at the Meet & Greet and now I'm all starstruck. I still hate the last few years of repeat mazes, and think it's criminal to call something "all new" when it's not. But John proved this year that he can design a non-movie house with the best of them. In fact, I think John could go over to the Orlando design team and put out some majorly kick-ass original ideas (maybe even come up with the next Jack). I TRULY hope we see more original content from him in the future, because, frankly, this is where he excels. I still don't know how he kept from speaking up when we were taunting him with a lack of original content.

Seriously, John, I was one of your biggest critics, but this year's original mazes turned me around 180 degrees. Keep this up, and people from Orlando will be flying out here year after year.

La Llorona - If someone told me in 2006 that HHN would host a maze based on Mexican folklore - and that I would call it an instant classic - I would have asked them what they were smoking. This maze went beyond my wildest expectations (and my expectations were very low for this one). It simply blew me away. It was as beautiful as some of the best HHN Orlando houses. It could EASILY be lifted from its present location and dropped into Orlando and they would love it. No - I'll go one step farther. The Orlando people would have loved this as much as they loved The Catacombs last year. From the very facade, it FEELS like a massive slice of the budget went into this maze. Oh, and what a nightmare-inducing ending! If my kids saw that, they wouldn't sleep in their beds for a year. Rating: VERY solid A

Welcome to My Nightmare - First off, I'll admit it - I'm an Alice Cooper fanboy. Totally, utterly, and unapologetically. I am trying my hardest to remove that from my review. I went through La Llorona first, and left it thinking "that was the best thing I've seen in years from this place. There's no way they can top this." I was wrong, because WTMN tops La Llorona. This house was every bit as opposite as what I was expecting. When John Murdy would tweet pictures of the "scary spider" and talk about the big snake being brought in, my mind was filled with cheesy images and old WWF logos from 2000 (and DTH's constant mentioning of it sounding hokey didn't help, either). Frankly, I was really worried about what would be presented. The use of Alice's music in this house was exceptionally done. It was clearly in the background - not the foreground - and used to set the stage for the current room. You don't even have to be familiar with the music to "get it". The Alice references were abundant, yet should still make sense to those who don't know him. What made this house so great (and it has nothing to do with Alice) was the way it flowed from creepy to disturbing to horrific to disgusting. It just got better as it went along, building up the scares as it went. To me, that is what a classic haunted house should do. You enter cautiously and exit running. La Llorona was all about the beautiful detail, and it excelled there. Even taking Alice out of the picture, this maze had all the essentials - presented in the right order - with the scares growing in intensity as you went through. Everything just clicked perfectly. Rating: A+

Now from the fanboy perspective, things I especially loved about WTMN:

* The "Furnier Reality" sign out in front with Alice's high school picture on it (and the "ask for Vince"). I need to tweet Murdy to find out if "Realty" was purposely misspelled.

* The way they isolated the music to the room you were in. There was ZERO bleedthru.

* The Alice masks. When I saw the concept art, it didn't look like Alice to me. But the final product was stunning. Great job. Even if you don't know who Alice is, they look creepy enough. 'Cause let's face it, he's looking more and more like Mr. Six with long hair every year (that may have got me kicked out of the A.C. fanboy club).

* Nurse Rozetta. Enough said.

* The scareactor making out with the corpse in the "I Love the Dead" room

* The way the heads go from fresh to decaying in the Executioner room (follow the progression)

* The Snake and the Spider - FAR from cheesy.

* The references to Alice's characters on the refrigeration doors before the autopsy room (Dwight Fry, Stoopid, Cold Ethyl, etc)

* The running theme of spiders culminating with the human trophy from the "Along Came a Spider" album. That was grotesquely wonderful.

Other things at HHN:

Escalator - I really liked the addition of Alice, but on the night I went there was something wrong with the volume. BETWEEN escalators, the sound was nice and loud, but ON the escalators it was so low as to not hear anything. The lowest escalator sound was fine, though. What was really good (but not heard) was Alice coming on between songs, doing his "Nights With Alice Cooper". You probably don't know it, but Alice has been doing a NIGHTLY radio show since 2004, along with recording albums and touring 90+ days a year. The show is mainly him spinning his favorite songs by other bands, but also includes interviews with other rockers and Alice's take on news of the day (mostly rock oriented). If you want to get a feel of what the show is like, you can download the podcast on iTunes. Each one is about a 7 minute "best of" segment. The guy is really witty and is a fun listen. So that's what's behind the escalator this year.

Scarezones - Not much to say here. I'm not a scarezone kinda guy. Orlando has a ton more room and they always do very impressive stuff. Hollywood has New York and that's pretty much it. The other zones are as big as the smallest zone in Orlando. Not a hell of a lot they can do. But I will say that Orlando is doing some cutting edge stuff with projections this year (like what Disney is doing, only with horror). If a California scare park adopted these, it would be a game-changer. The question is: will it be Knotts or HHN who takes the plunge first? If you want to see what I'm talking about look for Youtube videos of Acid Assault over at HHN Orlando. Prepare to be amazed.

Bill & Ted - I have read again and again that this year's show hardly contains B&T. Honestly, I don't know if those reviews are for the Orlando show or Hollywood. I didn't pay attention because they have always been identical (even the year when Orlando's Michael Roddy appeared in the Hollywood version on a video segment). This year's Hollywood show had B&T throughout it, no less than prior years. It will be interesting to see if it's different in Orlando next week. There was one overt callout of Knotts this year. I wonder if Orlando's will call out Busch Gardens. The show itself was OK. Better than some years and not as good as others. I've seen B&T and Knotts blatantly copy each other in past years - this year's treatment of Rebecca Black was a carbon copy. And there is NO WAY IN HELL they came up with this one in parallel (not that they used her, but that she couldn't be killed). The copying is in full force in one direction or another.

Rides - nothing to mention.

Food - Wouldn't know, since I got to enjoy the Vampire Lounge :)

Trevler - I don't know how he recognized me with my hoodie on, but out of the fog he called me by my real name. I would have stopped to chat, but he never drops character. One of these years I'm gonna lose a ton of weight and he'll never recognize me. That'll teach him.

Crowd control - Gotta mention this. It was 9/30 and even this early the place was PACKED. This was the typical wait times I saw all night:

Alice - 75 minutes

Hostel - 70 minutes

Thing - 60 minutes

HoTC - 60 minutes

La Llorona - 60 minutes

Terror Tram - 30 minutes

HoH - Who cares?

Now, on the lower lot, it was a madhouse. The area where Alice entered was the same place where JP and Alice exited. Congestion was a big problem. The Alice queue can handle about 60 minutes, tops. Beyond that, the queue reaches the JP entrance. Do help things, they started giving out "Return time" passes that were good for times when the lines started dying down. They were essentially fastpasses. This did not make for a happy time for FOTL people...

I know the topic has been mentioned here before, but I don't know how the lower lot can handle the arrival of Transformers. Next year is going to be interesting... The lower lot can only handle so many people. Safety codes will prevail.

Affect of FOTL & RIP on lines - This one could be a topic of its own. I've continuously mentioned that in past years, FOTL had ZERO effect on standby lines. I said this because there was NEVER a line in the Gate A queue. By definition - if there is no line in Gate A queue, then standby is never being held back by FOTL users. In Orlando, their equivalent of Gate A can have a 30 minute wait. That's a 30 minute VIP LINE! Imagine how that affects standby! Clearly, if Hollywood's Gate A lines got to be even 10 minutes long, it would greatly affect standby. This never happened in prior years, even though the FOTL pass was good for unlimited entries back then. So with FOTL going the single-use this year, did that mean that they were going to FLOOD the event with FOTL passes and turn it into Orlando?

It didn't seem to be the case, in my opinion. On the 30th, FOTL was sold out before the park opened. I have no idea if they sold more add ons later in the night. There was a LOT more FOTLs than previous years though. Even so, there was never a line at Gate A due to a backup. Gate A processing still took too long because they used a mechanical punch to log you into a house. In prior years they used a scanner and it was quick. The punch method is SLOW. The Alice Gate A was not a walk-on because as I mentioned, they handed out a lot of Return Time tickets, and those people filled up the Gate A line. That had a big impact on the standby. There was also a LOT of confusion with standby guests thinking the Gate A line was the normal queue. Employees simply were not making it clear.

As a RIP holder, I got a lanyard with all the dates listed at the bottom and the current date with a punch through it. Simply waving this lanyard at the Gate A entrance gets you through. That is, after you wait for them to punch all the FOTL passes in front of you.

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Wow, did he really mention HNN and name drop us specifically? buahahahaha

No. I was at the table with Robb Alvey and I showed Murdy my tweet of me guessing that Steven was code for Alice Cooper waaaay back in May. Robb asked me what my Twitter name was, and I said that I wouldn't say because I have been VERY critical of all the repeats. John briefly gave me the stink-eye, and brought up the blogger. I think it was clear he was referring to DTH and myself. I think we both had posts critical of adding a "Z" to everything and calling it new.

If it was your job to go to one of those Meet & Greets and you found yourself face to face with someone who basically said publicly that you don't know how to do your job, would you be able to keep from calling the guy an asshole? Well, I can report that John was able to keep from saying that. (But he did say YOU were an asshole, DTH.) Just kidding.

By the way, I STILL don't know if Kong was included in the TT. Was it???

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I'm glad you enjoyed this year Zombieman and I agree with everything you said! I'm very interested in hearing your HHN Orlando and Hollywood comparison review when you go over to the other coast.

The sad thing is, management will always want House of Horrors to be counted as a haunted house. They could find a new venue and "replace" the HoH overlay, but they want to advertise "MORE MAZES THAN EVER!" to attract the crowd. If they insist on keeping House of Horrors as one of the houses, at least be creative with it.

Oh BTW, to answer your question zombieman, KK3D was NOT included with the Terror Tram.

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I'm glad you enjoyed this year Zombieman and I agree with everything you said! I'm very interested in hearing your HHN Orlando and Hollywood comparison review when you go over to the other coast.

The sad thing is, management will always want House of Horrors to be counted as a haunted house. They could find a new venue and "replace" the HoH overlay, but they want to advertise "MORE MAZES THAN EVER!" to attract the crowd. If they insist on keeping House of Horrors as one of the houses, at least be creative with it.

I have zero problem with them counting it as a HHN attraction (although this year it was hardly mentioned). But let it stand as it is. Don't waste money trying to plus it.

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what a great review zombieman. A few comments i felt rather disturbing during your meet and greet. murdy said he could do jason and freddy for the next 10 years and attract crowds ? lol lets hope he's joking because i find that highly foolish to say. No hard feelings to murdy. The VIP experience seems rather cool. The VIP lounge sounds even more intresting. Now if they would just add a few scareactors down there on the streets than i would find this fully worth the money. otherwise i couldnt see myself spending that much on a experience. Also i agree with you on the HoH. Its gotten to the point of either you put some REAL LONG time and EFFORT in this overlay to make it a considerable maze or just leave it the same. I hope they can find the effort to put some hard work into this overlay to make it something new otherwise its no different than what they do to the TT.

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Still funny haha and actually, I wasn't that critical of the "z"s or repeats. I actually thought the 'z's were funny because we all joked about it months earlier and then laughed about it actually happening but I'm sure I did join in on the joking around of how ridiculous of a concept that is. And being a guy who started off with Knotts, repeats don't bug me as much as you other guys who go ballistic about it lol sure '10 seemed like repeat overload but I feel the quality of the event spoke for itself and I quickly shut my mouf haha (that's for me personally though as I know you disliked '10).

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Hostel - My least favorite of the new mazes (and that was a surprise to me). Loved the facade, and loved the idea of the girls out front (I got my Elite Hunting card; did you?) I found this maze to be TOO much like Saw. I support this with three pieces of evidence:

* Same location and layout (hard to hold that against them)

* They used the exact same "pig squeal" sounds when a scareactor popped out

* They replaced the pig heads with armor helmets. Didn't only one one or two characters in either movie wear those things? You'd think it was the trademark of the Hostel franchise. Waaaaaay overused. I counted about 8.

To me, the hallmark of Hostel is senseless torture. But we don't get to see too many scenes from the movies. And when we DO see them, we see the result of the torture - not the torture taking place. I would have liked to see that. Something tells me that this maze will be repeated next year, and it will have different torture scenes. Rating: B-

The Elite Hunting cards are a great little touch. And I agree that it was very much like Saw even though all the evidence of the maze art before tried to disprove that. It was like Diet Saw or Saw Zero Calories. And yes, the helmet was actually used less than that. The helmet is worn by the hero character in the first one as he's trying to escape. Nobody attacks anyone while wearing one of those helmets. Doesn't bug me too much as it's still within the Hostel universe but seriously, it was overkill with those and they should've tried to think of something else, ANYTHING, even if it was original. And I sure as hell hope this doesn't repeat next year with "added torture scenes." They did enough and it's time to move on from that. 3 years of people in devices in that location is enough. However, I didn't notice the pig squeal that you speak of...

Thing - I don't know why people knock the facade. I think it is very well executed and is frankly, massive. As for the maze, as many people have said, they really need to do something with the first two mini-rooms. While they seem to be mostly there to keep the cold inside the maze, there should still be something on the walls to set the mood for what we will experience. Clearly, the bulk of the budget here went into the puppet pieces. They are very impressive, and there must have been many copies made to last the whole event. I still don't know if all of the Things had actors behind them. There were a large variety of them, and the scares were nicely timed. What was missing was a storyline. This is supposed to be a prequel to the classic movie, but the trailers look like they are a remake. Many of us know what the story is, and I guess some of us have a good idea what we will see in the movie based on what we saw in the maze. Use of video was well done with the baby Things. One thing I didn't get from the house - we saw the lab animal room, but where were the Things based on them supposed to be? Rating: B

Who said anything negative about the facade? I know I dislike the trash bag material hanging from the side not being covered up but alot of people feel this is one of the best facades. And as far as I know, all the puppets had actors who controlled them in some form. Only one I don't know about is the Thing on the table that opens up and reveals a body inside it's chest. And I agree about the storyline... I wasn't sure what was going on in the maze other than what I knew from the movies.

La Llorona - ... From the very facade, it FEELS like a massive slice of the budget went into this maze. Oh, and what a nightmare-inducing ending! If my kids saw that, they wouldn't sleep in their beds for a year. Rating: VERY solid A

I wonder why they put so much budget into this maze. Definitely not complaining but I'm just curious. And yes, probably my favorite last room of any HHNH maze!

Welcome to My Nightmare - First off, I'll admit it - I'm an Alice Cooper fanboy. Totally, utterly, and unapologetically. I am trying my hardest to remove that from my review. I went through La Llorona first, and left it thinking "that was the best thing I've seen in years from this place. There's no way they can top this." I was wrong, because WTMN tops La Llorona. This house was every bit as opposite as what I was expecting. When John Murdy would tweet pictures of the "scary spider" and talk about the big snake being brought in, my mind was filled with cheesy images and old WWF logos from 2000 (and DTH's constant mentioning of it sounding hokey didn't help, either). Frankly, I was really worried about what would be presented....... What made this house so great (and it has nothing to do with Alice) was the way it flowed from creepy to disturbing to horrific to disgusting. It just got better as it went along, building up the scares as it went. To me, that is what a classic haunted house should do. You enter cautiously and exit running. La Llorona was all about the beautiful detail, and it excelled there. Even taking Alice out of the picture, this maze had all the essentials - presented in the right order - with the scares growing in intensity as you went through. Everything just clicked perfectly. Rating: A+

I too apologize to John but this time for talking about how hokey this was gonna be. It wasn't as dark as I thought it was gonna be but it definitely wasn't hokey. The overall theme and sets though reminded me of a great Knotts maze. However, I feel the opposite about the flow of the maze. I truly didn't find any part of the first half of the maze to be even slightly scary or creepy. I was rather bored and I felt all my concerns were true until about half way through. I need a maze to hit hard from the moment I walk in, but appropriately so. However, I cut this maze some slack on "not being scary enough in the first half" because it's nightmare themed, which means it's supposed to progressively get scarier as it goes along. I just think they could've made the entire maze as hard hitting as the second half though and if it did, this easily could've trumped Hostel in my eyes.

Escalator - I really liked the addition of Alice, but on the night I went there was something wrong with the volume. BETWEEN escalators, the sound was nice and loud, but ON the escalators it was so low as to not hear anything. The lowest escalator sound was fine, though. What was really good (but not heard) was Alice coming on between songs, doing his "Nights With Alice Cooper".

Sorry you didn't get to hear the escalator music good enough. Mine was perfect all the way down UNTIL the in between areas where you couldn't hear anything from either escalator. Sounds like we got an opposite experience!

Now, on the lower lot, it was a madhouse. The area where Alice entered was the same place where JP and Alice exited. Congestion was a big problem. The Alice queue can handle about 60 minutes, tops. Beyond that, the queue reaches the JP entrance. Do help things, they started giving out "Return time" passes that were good for times when the lines started dying down. They were essentially fastpasses. This did not make for a happy time for FOTL people...

I actually didn't know about the "return time" passes. Sounds like they knew this was going to be a problem from the get go or they learned from opening weekend. I figured there would be plenty of space up those stairs and what not. And couldn't they easily stretch the line back towards the JP drop and back and forth off to the side of the escalator?

I know the topic has been mentioned here before, but I don't know how the lower lot can handle the arrival of Transformers. Next year is going to be interesting... The lower lot can only handle so many people. Safety codes will prevail.

My guess is early arrival guests can ride. Surely that would be a good incentive to arrive early and would get a good percentage of people through (maybe about 10%?). Give out "ride time" passes, much like the "pre-ordered" fastpasses Disney is doing? I don't know, it's going to be absolute madness if they sit back and do NOTHING.

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Great review buddy! I was there on Friday as well! Too bad I didn't run into you (but I was waiting in the regular lines :P ). A couple thoughts:

-I think you're love of WTMN is a bit skewed by how big a fan of Alice's you are. I mean, I enjoyed it but I think you're overselling it here. But that's ok. The Halloween maze from 09 is my all time favorite from Hollywood and do you think that's because Carpenter's Halloween is one of my favorite movies? Of course! You can't help but be affected by your personal preferences.

-Agreed on La Llorona. Beautiful, scary, and brilliant! Loved it!

-I understand your feelings on HoH. I agree, but I am still ok with it being open during HHN. It's something fun to do in the middle of the night when the rest of the lines are stupid long. And I think the Wolfman theme was the best yet. He just felt like he fit in there.

-Murdy's comments on Freddy and Jason are depressing and terrifying. God, I hope he doesn't get any bright ideas.

Oh and I didn't buy FOTL or RIP but we got everything done: 6 mazes, TT, Bill and Ted, some rides, food and still left by 1am. So it still can be done. It's not as nice as doing things as many times as you want but it's still doable if you don't want to spend the money.

On to Orlando!!! Cannot wait! :D

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Creeper make sure to do a hollywood and orlando comparison thread to know how were matching up with our older siblings and enjoy yourself !! :D

I respect murdy as a person but criticism is needed not quit sure of why you apologized. Without it we probably would have a return of freddy and jason. You spoke your mind and there nothing wrong with that. Lol and i think i got a different experience from you and dth on the escalators. I heard everything from start to finish and quit frankly alice coopers voice was annoying :P

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Creeper make sure to do a hollywood and orlando comparison thread to know how were matching up with our older siblings and enjoy yourself !! :D

Will do! I'll be in Orlando Halloween weekend so I'll have to do a post-game comparison. Maybe it'll help with the annual depression I experience the first week of November ;)

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I will be flying to Orlando in exactly 33 hours and 52 minutes. I'll be hitting HHN 3 times and HoS 1 time, and will give my usual insanely long review and comparison.

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thanks guys i know our HHN has come a LONG way and has grown tremendously so im anxious to see how we face off against are older siblings currently. I know we wont be fully up to speed with them yet but i just want to know eachs pros and cons and also things that one park has that triumphs over the other.

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I will be flying to Orlando in exactly 33 hours and 52 minutes. I'll be hitting HHN 3 times and HoS 1 time, and will give my usual insanely long review and comparison.

Argh!!! So jealous! I won't be going until 10/27 and it's killing me!!! Have an awesome time and I'll look forward to comparing notes at the end of the season :D

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Zombieman, Thanks for the review....last month, I had debated on FOTL or VIP for my trip out to HHN. Decided to try VIP for the first time, read your review just prior to going, and was "giddy with excitement" up to and through the event!!

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