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HHN 22: Employee Preview (9/19/2012)

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On the subject of the streets, I do have a different view being a scareactor beating asphalt every night. While this means that I have an obvious bias toward my fellow workers, it also means that I see a hell of a lot more of the street experience than many guests.

Yes, there is an issue with dead space. However, this is the result of low casting numbers rather than the roaming being a horrible idea. Cast A Beasts I believe were down to 14 during EP, and even with the help of the Iniquitus in each zone that's still going to be about 20 to 25 actors per zone. We do our best to cover the ground, but EP was the first time any of them had to cover so much space. They still needed some time to get used to the long distances they'd need to walk instead of just staying in one 20 yard square. And besides, it's a LOT of ground to cover. There's inevitably going to be some issues, though we'll get better as the nights go on.

People have suggested that a solution could be found in fixing hordes to zones, but the math doesn't change. You can lock the Beasts into Hollywood, but you're still going to have about 18 actors total handling that entire zone. You could make the zones smaller, but that would create MORE dead space because now the actors plain aren't allowed to venture too far. The only true solution that doesn't involve the actors just learning their zones better and being more confident and pushing the limits is to get more people. But Fire Crew and ABU need to be available in case people are missing and there's a limited amount of spare costumes, so you can't just throw them all out on the street.

No, it's not perfect. But have patience and wait instead of panicking and talking about how horrible the streets are and how they need to stop the roaming and make the zones smaller. Because the guys who are up top this year aren't as used to the current fanbase as some others, and will be more willing to give in to negative feedback, regardless of whether it was the correct choice.

It's Patrick Braillard's 2nd year.

No, Vulpix is correct. A different person (who wrote the True Grit scene from last year) wrote and directed this year's show. I won't get into it any more than that, but rest assured that many, MANY things have happened with Bill & Ted. None of them good.

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Here's a bit of input from a scareactor's perspective. I noticed people kept to the old rules a lot, that is, they didn't wan't to look like a wuss in front of their friends, so they stayed off the sidewalks and out of the areas that used to be off limits to scareactors, such as the waterfront walkways in CP. Five times during my set did I wander down to that waterfront because they told us they wanted half of us over there, only to find it devoid of all life. The same goes for sting alley. I was so psyched about using sting alley as it's such a great place for scares, but when we went down there.....nobody. As for the sidewalks, there's no point in going up there if no one's using them. Although it did make for some of the best scares of the evening when someone WOULD seek safe passage by running up there, only to lose their mind when I'd step right up after them.

I did not even think about the waterfront parkways. Definitely an area I'll need to check out. For those of us that like the scares, sitting on the sidewalk and watching is going to bring a whole new level of fun to the experience.

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I did not even think about the waterfront parkways. Definitely an area I'll need to check out. For those of us that like the scares, sitting on the sidewalk and watching is going to bring a whole new level of fun to the experience.

Please do..but like I said, if there's no victims, er guests down there, there will likely not be any scareactors. I'd check it periodically to see if anyone had ventured in.....but most of the night it was empty. So we end up with this awkward situation. The guests won't go places where there are no scareactors, and the scareactors won't go places where there are no guests!

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So I posted my thoughts on EP night as a rambling post on Facebook, so the order may be a little all over the place, but basically my thoughts were very similar to Chris'.

  • Firstly, I was super-pissed that security informed me while we were waiting for entry that my camera bag was too big to take into the event. Anyone that's seen my bag knows it's reasonable for the stuff I carry, and it's small enough for the ride lockers etc. The outside-staff security stood their ground when I challenged about coming into the park during the day and doing stay-and-scream, and seemed set on being as rude and unreasonable as possible. "You're not coming in here with that," was the phrase of the night. This continued for about 5 mins before they offered, "You want me to get Universal over here to tell you you can't come in?" I said yes please and was met by a Richard from UO security, who took 1 second to look the bag up and down and say "Yeah, that's fine." Problem solved, but a sour start to the event for sure and another bad sign that communication is severly lacking.
  • The event opened later than we were told, and we ran to get to the front of the Alice Cooper house. We stood there for what felt like 20 minutes because the queue lines weren't finished. It took a couple hours into the event before all the houses' wait time signs were working. Everyone seemed really unprepared to open the park up to guests.
  • The crowds... oh God... the CROWDS... I saw several factors that contributed to this, but if the EP is any indication of the crowds during the event, this year's going to be the biggest clusterf*** I can remember since '07 with the New Line big 3. Also, it's disappointing that employees and drunk assholes who punch and try and scare the scareactors aren't mutually exclusive...
  • Due to crowds I only saw two houses and one show, so I have yet to see Bill and Ted still... They'd locked out the queue for the 10:30 show when we got there at 9:45, and had a standby queue growing for the 11:45 show... f*** that noise.
  • 20 Penny Circus has potential, but at the showing I saw the guest interaction needed a little tightening up. I'm putting that down to a similar thing I've heard about Bill and Ted previews, that the employees who attend these things just aren't as into the shows as the fans/general public are. The tricks are cool and I love the make-up, I know I can get some great photos of 20 Penny Circus. And the final trick is awesome!
  • Speaking of, Tara (Prisoners) did awesome on her sets, bouncing from guest to guest like a sexy orange pinball. And James (Zombies) was having great scares for his first time on the streets. Andrew (Traditionals) really got into his role as well. I was recognized by a lot of people on the streets this year but I was trying to enjoy the event as a guest so apologies if you wanted a photo, I will be looking to do that this weekend.
  • The whole street experience is a great concept, and at times it works really well. But it is a hassle not ever knowing where my friends are on set, since they roam in different areas every time. Also means there's no "7" like last year, ie: that scarezone where you can just sit and watch your favorite actors do their job all night if you want to. Of course, staying in one spot you'll see everything come to YOU, so swings and roundabouts really.
  • The traffic on the streets was unmanageable. The construction at Amity and, more importantly, Soundstage 44 means that the entire park has just one route, which is used by everyone... no more cutting across to San Fran from Mel's, or walking to Central Park via Shrek Alley to avoid Hollywood. Not only is it so busy, now everything is so FAR. To the point where, with the lines the way they were for everything, I found myself questioning every decision to move to a new area because of the sheer effort involved to get anywhere. On peak nights, it's going to get UGLY out there, and it desperately needs rethinking and where possible opening up to alleviate the bottlenecks.
  • Alice Cooper house was okay, better the second time as we could see more stuff. Felt like the music could be louder considering it's based on his songs; I had to strain to hear what each one was at times, when really I should be almost deafened like at a rock concert.
  • House Of Horrors was a surprise, the build-up of it being a Dead Exposure house had my expectations set low, however I feel it really worked. The costumes were a bit patchy at times but the set design was cool, it actually gave the house the look of a graphic novel like Sin City rather than a 1920's horror film. I liked how we had to duck down at one point, a possible test of guest reaction to an extreme house next year?
  • Overall I loved the costumes I saw, and the photographer in me is going to have a great time seeing everything at the event. And I've heard great things about the rest of the houses, and Bill and Ted this year. However, if the event is as crowded (on streets and in house queues) as last night, and nothing is done to open up more space (I understand rides were not open but Jaws is gone and that was a massive crowd-eater, so the effect will still be felt with other attractions open), it's going to leave me feeling really disappointed with the event this year. And I feel bad for anyone who's only going one night, especially a Saturday - you have NO chance.

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Seems like your guys Preview night is much more crowded than ours. :o I thought preview night was the least busiest day for HHN?

No, preview night is usually one of the busiest. You've got Universal employees, third party employees, friends and family members...it's a shit ton of people...LOL

Also the lines for the bars were horrible. In KZ there is a bar across from a food tent and the lines were crossing each other, it was difficult to get through it all. The bar line outside P&T/AC exit was across the walk way too. At one point the line in front of Silent HIll/Monsters (bar) was going across the road and there was a fight. They really need to get the lines in control...add ropes or something like the regualr stands have, or it will be a nightmare.

The lines for the bars were EASY 6 people across and 10 people deep. The line for the bar in front of Silent Hill/Monsters Cafe was a MAJOR clusterfuck, you couldn't tell where one line started or the other ended...trying to just walk through it was a challenge.

I have no problem people expressing their opinion of the preview. I just don't thinks it's fair to base a whole event on the performance of a preview that for years is never at %100, meant to test out the event for tweets to perform, and is not officially not a event night. If you have issues with the preview by all means let us know but wait until the event opens before making a opinion on the whole event.

I don't think any of us are basing the entire events success on employee preview. What you also have to remember is preview is usually a week out before opening night, so sure, tweaking things is easy. Preview this year was one day removed from opening night, you'd think with the two dates being so close many issues would've been ironed out already.

I'm not by ANY MEANS saying the event is going to suck completely based on my experiences at EP. I hope that everyone who goes has an amazing time. However, our night at preview was easily the worst of the past 5 years.

And you also have to remember that many of us have been attending this event for decades, going numerous nights each year. We have seen how great preview can be, so to see it as the all out clusterfuck it was Wednesday night definitely made me wonder how the remainder of the event will run.

Everyone need not take our mere opinions so seriously. Hell what WE all might think are horrendous lines, you all might find bearable. What we consider lackluster streets, you all might find absolutely amazing. It's all about perspective.

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