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Tich0las

First Timer's Review 10/21

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After years of waiting, I finally experienced my first HHN! Having read reviews for years, it's my pleasure to post one.

General Overview

My lovely girlfriend and I decided to go on Sunday Oct. 21 in order to avoid crowds. Ha!...looking back on the event, that statement is an oxymoron. Lucky for us, we experienced heavy crowds at the parks the day before and decided to purchase HHN Express. I 100% recommend doing this. We were first in line to get into the event and were redirected towards Hollywood Blvd. due to the already huge Stay and Scream crowds. By the time we swung back around to the sound stages, we were only able to hit Gothic before every house had a 45 minute wait. To summarize this overview: IT WAS PACKED!

Houses

Gothic - - This was clearly the best house. I'm really happy we walked through twice; there's SO much detail! From the facade to the illusion of elevation, there's a lot to take in. The gargoyles did a good job of scaring the crap out of us too.

Dead End - - We hit this during a cast change, so I feel like we didn't get the full effect. It's a shame I couldn't give it another shot. The scareactors we did encounter were well hidden. I have a question, though: what the hell is the conclusion to the house's story? Is it the children took over the house? Ghosts with a spooky tunnel? Our walk through left us with more questions than answers.

Silent Hill - - This house is packed with pros and cons. The former includes a real maze feel and creepy costumes. The latter is a lack of real scares and way too much lighting. I really liked the entrance to the house where the cop popped out to shoot the creature. Thought it was a nice touch.

The Walking Dead - - Everyone seems to hate this one. Personally, I loved every second of it. The zombies-eating-squirting-intestines gag was one of the most grotesque things I saw/felt all night. At the end, about 30 zombies were all lined up trying to grab us. I could tell this doesn't happen all night since they quickly spread out soon after we exited. When I think of TWD, I think of hordes of zombies. The way we experienced the ending made it perfect.

House of Horrors - - This was one hell of a concept, which, I thought, was well executed. There were times I was face to face with a scareactor and had no idea due to their quickness in the dark. Their costumes blended in well with the black and white lighting.

Alice Cooper - - Everyone has said this, and I'll say it too: Turn the music UP! I could barely hear it in most of the scenes. Although I'm not sure it would have made this house any better. There were a couple good scares--mostly at the end--but I felt like this one was thrown together hastily.

Penn & Teller - - Someone described this one to me as a funhouse. I thought of it more like a acid trip gone horribly wrong. Loved the 3-D, scare actor costumes, and buttons. It was nice having some commentary to the house by P&T; it gave a unique feel to the concept.

Streets

I can't help but feel disappointed over my street experience. At first, there were lots of characters roaming near the gates waiting for the crowds to be let in. Then, it became a mission to spot a scareactor in the enormous crowds. There were tons of scareactors, but patrons still vastly outnumbered them.

The theming also seemed lacking. I loved the tombstones on the grave yard props (Jaws, Xena, ect.), but hated the idea the whole park had them. I really think I missed out on not having themed scare zones for my first HHN experience.

On a positive note, the lighting effects were superb. Same with the lagoon show.

Shows

Bill & Ted had me crying from laughter. It also had a few sentimental (to me) parts including tributes to Jaws and MCA. I've never enjoyed an amusement park show so much. The actor playing Lincoln had the best facial expressions. If you get the chance, watch him closely.

20 Penny Circus was definitely questionable. While entertaining, the dialogue sounded like it was written by a horny 8th grader. Didn't quite like this show, but it wasn't that bad either.

Critiques

To conclude, here's a list of things I would change/add.

More haunted houses to handle crowds and/or move back to IOA until construction is finished.

Return to themed scarezones.

Less light in the haunted houses.

More theming/story in the queues.

Treehouse of Horror Simpsons Ride.

More scareactors in the houses.

Edited by Tich0las
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More haunted houses to handle crowds and/or move back to IOA until construction is finished.

Return to themed scarezones.

Less light in the haunted houses.

More theming/story in the queues.

Treehouse of Horror Simpsons Ride.

More scareactors in the houses.

Some answers to these:

1. IOA is pretty much not possible. You've seen how big the crowds can get, and on some peak nights New York (a very large, wide area) has been practically filled with people. One of our actors got punched in the kidney and didn't even know who it was because he got caught in a flood of people. They've extended four nights to peak hours and EP was extended by an hour due to the massive crowds. IOA has small, tight pathways and is set in a circle without a single shortcut across the lagoon. Seuss Landing can't have more than a few robed scareactors at the most (only done one or two years as a minor thing for peak nights), and Harry Potter is completely off limits. They'd also need to close off rides and restaurants for daytime hours in order to fit houses in them.

You may respond by suggesting a return to 2004 with a two-park event, but 2004 had its own problems. IOA had relatively little of the event, with most of the houses being in Universal-side soundstages and attraction queues, and there was a ton of walking and long routes due to the sheer size of the property. The Boneyard has been replaced by a concert stage and there are parking lots and construction projects in the space between the parks. Hell, there's barely enough room for the soundstage queues.

An 8th house just plain wasn't going to happen this year, and the event did suffer for it. But it was unavoidable, and IOA or a two-park event would multiply every single problem.

2. The lack of themed scarezones was due to the construction projects and the parade. The parade was a big hindrance, as any street props along the parade route needed to be simple affairs (preferably one piece) that could be hauled in and out very quickly with forklifts. The SS44 and Amity construction both removed viable scarezones, and the bright lights from the SS44 site's 24/7 construction schedule leaks into other areas of the park and will outright blind you if you're walking toward Hollywood through the lower Central Park paths. Roaming hordes was really the only way to handle the problems presented.

3. I've been through every house starting in 2006, and the darkness is at the proper levels for safe passage. I've made the mistake of going through some houses in the daylight hours without letting my eyes adjust, and I tend to run into people or hurt myself on props. The darkness is not meant to hide actors, as they already have booholes and detailed environments to allow for the surprise. Making the houses generally darker would mostly just make them unsafer.

4. Not always possible due to the cost of making queue videos, though we would enjoy it. While some people have complained about HHN seeming to be on a restrictive budget, they actually hired many more street performers this year (even before the extra ~80 added recently) and a lot of money gets put into the houses. Working in the film and TV industry, I can assure you that making queue videos is not as much of a cheap throw-it-together thing as it may seem sometimes. Theming also isn't really possible in most of the lines due to the way the queues are set up. Even at Howl-O-Scream, which has special themed signs and dresses up the exteriors of their buildings to act as facades, they only had two houses with ANY sort of theming in the queue; one had a single prop bus, and the other went inside the former Akbar Adventure Tours queue and they merely plastered posters and severed limbs on the walls.

5. More difficult to do than you think. It would require, at the very least, creating a new video that perfectly matches the existing movements of the ride vehicle. Otherwise, it will require a full new set of motions programmed in and synched to the video. The change would only be worthwhile if it actually helped the event profit through its existence alone.

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There actually is a very rich back story to Dead End and i feel it was a real crime that it wasn't given to us more openly.

The general Gist is this:

An old house on a hill in Carey Ohio sits abandoned for a very long time. Nothing particularly odd happened here except that the previous tennants were corpse photgraphers and I believe a funeral home (wish I had listened more closely).

However, the house is creepy and stories from the local children have been fabricated, made into legend, adn have been circulating for years. All the creepy negative horror/ghost stories actually will the ghosts into being. Every ghost in the house is part of a ghost story that some child fabricated and, the general populace now believes. Its based on the Aparition move and the actual studies that were done where a group of people created a ghost from pur imagination and actually got respoonses from the ghost.

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Some answers to these:

1. IOA is pretty much not possible. You've seen how big the crowds can get, and on some peak nights New York (a very large, wide area) has been practically filled with people. One of our actors got punched in the kidney and didn't even know who it was because he got caught in a flood of people. They've extended four nights to peak hours and EP was extended by an hour due to the massive crowds. IOA has small, tight pathways and is set in a circle without a single shortcut across the lagoon. Seuss Landing can't have more than a few robed scareactors at the most (only done one or two years as a minor thing for peak nights), and Harry Potter is completely off limits. They'd also need to close off rides and restaurants for daytime hours in order to fit houses in them.

You may respond by suggesting a return to 2004 with a two-park event, but 2004 had its own problems. IOA had relatively little of the event, with most of the houses being in Universal-side soundstages and attraction queues, and there was a ton of walking and long routes due to the sheer size of the property. The Boneyard has been replaced by a concert stage and there are parking lots and construction projects in the space between the parks. Hell, there's barely enough room for the soundstage queues.

An 8th house just plain wasn't going to happen this year, and the event did suffer for it. But it was unavoidable, and IOA or a two-park event would multiply every single problem.

2. The lack of themed scarezones was due to the construction projects and the parade. The parade was a big hindrance, as any street props along the parade route needed to be simple affairs (preferably one piece) that could be hauled in and out very quickly with forklifts. The SS44 and Amity construction both removed viable scarezones, and the bright lights from the SS44 site's 24/7 construction schedule leaks into other areas of the park and will outright blind you if you're walking toward Hollywood through the lower Central Park paths. Roaming hordes was really the only way to handle the problems presented.

3. I've been through every house starting in 2006, and the darkness is at the proper levels for safe passage. I've made the mistake of going through some houses in the daylight hours without letting my eyes adjust, and I tend to run into people or hurt myself on props. The darkness is not meant to hide actors, as they already have booholes and detailed environments to allow for the surprise. Making the houses generally darker would mostly just make them unsafer.

4. Not always possible due to the cost of making queue videos, though we would enjoy it. While some people have complained about HHN seeming to be on a restrictive budget, they actually hired many more street performers this year (even before the extra ~80 added recently) and a lot of money gets put into the houses. Working in the film and TV industry, I can assure you that making queue videos is not as much of a cheap throw-it-together thing as it may seem sometimes. Theming also isn't really possible in most of the lines due to the way the queues are set up. Even at Howl-O-Scream, which has special themed signs and dresses up the exteriors of their buildings to act as facades, they only had two houses with ANY sort of theming in the queue; one had a single prop bus, and the other went inside the former Akbar Adventure Tours queue and they merely plastered posters and severed limbs on the walls.

5. More difficult to do than you think. It would require, at the very least, creating a new video that perfectly matches the existing movements of the ride vehicle. Otherwise, it will require a full new set of motions programmed in and synched to the video. The change would only be worthwhile if it actually helped the event profit through its existence alone.

In response to your responses...

1. I had no idea Harry Potter was off limits for HHN. What a shame! I always thought Death Eaters would make for a fun scare zone/house. Same with Azkaban. I wonder how they're going to handle HHN when London opens.

2. Maybe we'll see a return to scarezones once Transformers is open. I really hope hordes are not a consistent part of the event from now on. It hasn't worked at any haunt I've visited.

3. I only had Howl O Scream Williamsburg to compare to. Their houses are much, much darker. While it cloaks some detail, it really adds to the scares and disorientation within the houses. The additional lighting threw me off inside HHN's houses.

4. While I realize every haunt has a budget, I can't help but feel cheated by the lack of detail within the queue. I'm not referring to queue videos; there could be banners, posters, props, audio, lighting, art work, riddles...anything to add to the house's story while waiting in line. This was the contributing factor as to why I didn't understand Dead End's story.

Again, compared to HoS VA, four of their six houses had exterior queue theming. Deadline had a video, Fear Fair had banners, Bitten had props and 13 had posters describing the superstitions you were bound to encounter. HoS VA has a much smaller budget than HHN and they were able to contribute something unique to the wait experience. HHN only had two queue videos.

5. The Simpsons idea was wishful thinking. Although, Treehouse of Horror could be the comedy house next year. ;)

Edited by Tich0las

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putting anything in the queue lines would be a waste of props and budget. If they did that they would cut somewhere else.

Edited by Mr. Black

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In response to your responses...

1. I had no idea Harry Potter was off limits for HHN. What a shame! I always thought Death Eaters would make for a fun scare zone/house. Same with Azkaban. I wonder how they're going to handle HHN when London opens.

3. I only had Howl O Scream Williamsburg to compare to. Their houses are much, much darker. While it cloaks some detail, it really adds to the scares and disorientation within the houses. The additional lighting threw me off inside HHN's houses.

1. I agree that HP has some great characters and locations that could be perfectly used for HHN.

3. HOS in Tampa is the same way with the light levels. there's some rooms that are WAY to dark to see any actor or detail. I think it hinders the house more than helps it.

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Harry Potter movies are pretty dark, they deal with a lot of horror elements. Even the ride here is dark, pretty dark actually, Yet not being able to use it for HHN is kinda weird.

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Harry Potter movies are pretty dark, they deal with a lot of horror elements. Even the ride here is dark, pretty dark actually, Yet not being able to use it for HHN is kinda weird.

having something themed in the HP world would mean tampering with the environment there already, and i think J.K. Rowling would rather everyone experience the land the way it was meant to be built, and not be covered in decorations for HHN.

not to mention, it's already a pain in the ass to walk over there. imagine set pieces in the narrow walkways. that'd be worse than putting some in the Amity/London road right now :P.

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I will say that Harry Potter has actually been considered, and a certain person is very much supportive of the IP being used due to the inherent darkness of the universe. Warner Brothers is the one who put the kibosh on it.

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How is Islands of Adventure off the table? There are more rides and attractions than USF which would have helped with capacity. All you have to do is keep the scare actors to stay out of HP and Suess Landing, they're going to have to open the Gringott's Ride for HHN guests anyway when it opens at USF. Cutting out those two lands might have created less dead zones than what we saw with the roaming hoards in USF.

IOA has enough restaurants that closing Thunder Falls wouldn't make a difference for day guests and would have worked fine for House of Horrors.

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