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The "Official" Annual Discussion On The Fate Of HHN

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So they were not tied to the icon really. So all she was, was a face on billboards and a house. I am the oppsite, I much prefer the houses and remember them very well and do not care about an icon. I remember all the details that went into Gothic two years ago, Scary Tales in 2008, and so on. Everyone is different, but I can easily see why they don't worry about it any more. The IPs are what brings in the money so they are the icons.

It wasn't so much that she tied into each scare zone as much as she had a fully realized backstory and interactive elements to her story leading up to and during the even that I think a lot of people miss. Having an icon usually gets equated to having more content for die hard fans to seek out and delve deeper into the event itself. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't all the houses and scarezones tie into Mary's fear treatments? I'm pretty sure her story was what tied the even together. I'm also not saying I'm pro or con Icon I'm just saying I think there's merit to both sides of the argument.

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American Gothic, Asylum In Wonderland, Fractured Tales, The Path Of The Wicked, The Skoolhouse, Streets of Blood/Streets of London

Just reading this has brought back so many wonderful memories!! The year I moved to Florida and my first HHN! That is still my favorite year.

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The thing I miss about the icon years is how they set the stage for the event. I remember my first years in Florida, driving to work and hearing the Caretaker and Director's radio commercials come on. Sometimes I'd have to turn the volume down because the sound effects they used were just so...visceral. I was too much of a wuss back then to go, but the way those commercial painted a picture of what was to be experienced at the event did begin my fascination. It wasn't until 2007 when I finally went and fell in love with the immersive environments and attention to detail, and now I kick myself for missing all those previous years.

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Wow, that original design for Bloody Mary suuuuuuuuuuuure looks right out of an Evil Dead movie! And looks like a dude too.

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These are just my opinions but...

I really like having an icon. Something cool for the mech to have on it and for advertising. Now is having an icon the be all end all for the event? NO. Will it keep me from attending? HELL NO.

I also LOVE scare zones. The past couple years without them did kind of bum me out. IMO the hordes fell flat and while TWD scenes last year werent as exciting as scare zones they were still cool. Am I excited about SZ's coming back. HELL YES! Scare zones at this point are nostalgic. They really set the tone of the streets and really make me think of HHN.

But the houses.... the houses are the meat and taters of the event. Out of the last 2 years with TWD pretty much taking over, and with SO many people bitching about the event, we have had some seriously sick houses. Lets take a look...

Gothic: that was such a cool idea with an amazing execution!

Dead End: if you didnt feel like you were in an actual haunted house you werent paying attention.

House of Horrors: classic monsters in the dead exposure style was fantastic!

AWIL: possibly the sickest house ever. Those puppets were terrifying and the whole house captured the essence of that movie perfectly.

CitW: a complete assault on your senses from start to finish!

Evil Dead: SICK!!!!

Urban Legends : La Llorona: creeptastic, great facade.

These have been some of the coolest houses we've seen.... IP's and originals. For me this is why I'm going. Could it be better with a cool icon and overarching SZ's sure... but the houses are whats the most important to me anyway.

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BTW, "dark days oh hhn" ....REALLY??? Aren't we being just a tad melodramatic here? Just saying.

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BTW, "dark days oh hhn" ....REALLY??? Aren't we being just a tad melodramatic here? Just saying.

I really dont think so, it feels like they are being less and less creative every year... yes the IPs are fun if your a fan of said IP if not then you really wouldn't enjoy yourself... My dad is a huge AWIL fan, he loved the house, me eh, the movie was alright and I also feel the house was just alright... I love CITW and SAW guess what are two of my favorite houses of all time. Im not against the use of IPs and I'm sure like Kim said that it stems from a boss's input more than a loss of creativity but I honestly believe that there has been a significant drop off on the creative side of things, it feels as if Original content is being put aside for things that pop out on facebook, bad marketing scheme? no... bad business decisions? i guess not doesnt seem like their losing money... will it cause me to not attend of course not im a true HHN fan, does that mean I cant say what I feel the event should be doing? I think I have every right but then again most people seem to disagree with what I'm saying anyways so whatever.

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It seems to me that the loss of the Icon and the disappearance of an overall theme seem to coincide with Comcast buying out NBC Universal in late 2009-early 2010. I wonder if that had anything to do with it. New executives can mean taking fewer creative chances with unique ideas and instead investing the budget into sure things such as easily marketed popular IPs.

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To be serious, I have no idea what the reason is for the icon and theme declination and it could be various reasons. Still, whether it is because of new executives or because of a slowly dying creativity bank (I hope it's the former and not the latter). Logically it's probably A&D trying out new ideas. Either way, everyone has their own opinions and feelings about this other than my own and I acknowledge that.

Also think about this. Themes are difficult to pull off; make a couple of mistakes and the theme is half-ass, and we all know that they don't do half ass things, especially on purpose. Unfortunately themes are limited and therefore repeated. Take Jurassic Park and Frankenstein for instance. Different plots but same theme (don't play God). Themes also restrict the event, since the housesand sometimes the scare zones are restricted to comply with the theme such as 2008 with tales and fables and 2009 with movies. How can they give us a wide variety with such a restriction. Believe me, I love themes and icons, but even I understand this unfortunate fact. We can't have it all in one year ya know.

Don't worry my fellow fans of horror! Be optimistic and not as negative and morbid as A&D's horrific creations! Remember both A&D and HHN is like a human being, growing with both the past present and future generations. Like us, it learns from mistakes and good ideas. Don't lose your cool if it makes a mistake one year because it's sure to fix it the next. Like a person waiting for dessert or a person waiting for the skin flick on Cinemax, you just have to be patient, and soon you'll have what you wantmaybe

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Beware what you wish for. If some are crying over no icon or overarching theme, just imagine if they drop it to 4 houses, you know, like awesome Singapore lol. :)

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Beware what you wish for. If some are crying over no icon or overarching theme, just imagine if they drop it to 4 houses, you know, like awesome Singapore lol. :)

I think Singapore has 4 houses due to a smaller budget and having a park smaller than Universal Studios Hollywood. ;)

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It's still 4 houses. :)

Considering what they're given it's pretty amazing. I'd say it's worth the trip to those who have the money. It'll be interesting to see how the event holds up in a few years...

(anyways back to Orlando)

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Yep and one at Fright nights that I waited 2 hours to get into... Still was awesome.

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Personally I love having the icons and I miss them, but they didn't have much of an impact on the event itself really (to me at least), but what they did was help make these months leading up to the event much more exciting and fun, back then these summer months were a very exciting time just as fun if not better than the event itself. That shows in a few ways, like the backstory that was revealed through the interactive and detailed websites, and the advertising such as the radio, and tv ads. Frankly those have all been very boring and downright terrible in the last few years since we haven't had an icon, since 2012 really was the first year all that stuff was so bad to me. The marketing without an icon is so boring and lifeless, it makes the time before the event nowhere near as exciting even if the event itself is still great.

Edited by ScottEdmondson41

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I wonder how much Potter has messed with the reveals and/or build up for this year? I can only imagine DA has taken up a ton of time and resources.

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Eh it's a paradigm shift. They are more forcused on what draws people all year round.

Next year there are at least 3 more new things to focus on so I don't see them focusing on HHN again.

I guess we'll see being the 25th anniversary maybe it will be more like the good ole days but I doubt it.

HHN is a niche following in the off season and it doesn't draw a crowd until the event. The GP don't care about backstories, icons, websites, or any of the things we practically demand. They just show up. So from a marketing standpoint, what is the point of giving the diehards what they want? sure they whine and complain but they still go. Even if they didn't... would take a while to hurt the bottom line. All they have to do is bring money making IPS in.

However, once all the construction stops, they've bled all the good IPS to death, and IF attendance starts to lag then that is the only way I see them changing the current business model.

Sure A&D throws us a few bones... But they aren't in control and they get limited as to what they can do. I mean the Horror unearthed stuff was not funded or sanctioned by Universal proper until A&D proved it would be successful. So yeah they care as we are their "Number 1 fans" but at the same time they have to obey.

The upside is more money, better IPS, better houses, and a better event overall. The downside is less cool stuff for the obsessed.

If you go back to the first years for example. 1 or 2 houses, !8 little shows, we parked right in front of the arches, and I swear the parking attentdants did their own makeup, it has a lot of nostalgic value for me but I would be joking myself if I told you the houses (and streets later) had cohesive stories, good special effects, great scare actors, etc. things have progressed 1000 fold since then. It went from a rink dink (but ambitious) mom and pop-like event who relied heavily on my old bosses book "How to Operate a Financially Successful Haunted House" to a multimillion dollar enterprise that has amazing sets, scareactors, technology, etc. So i enjoy the event regardless. Even the "meh" houses are better constructed, better staffed, and have better stories than almost all the houses up to '95ish.

Check out this sweet makeup from '91 or '92 lol what are they... 12?!? I'm so using this for tomorrow's TBT :P

xm5s8h.jpg

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Those might have been contestants in the costume contests they had those years. You remember that right, Jeramy? After all, you entered the thing yourself!!!

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Those might have been contestants in the costume contests they had those years. You remember that right, Jeramy? After all, you entered the thing yourself!!!

Very possibly Doc! Would explain how young they look but it was also a different event then too. Of course I remember! But it wasn't me. We did the makeup for my younger brother (werewolf victim)... I have that pic somewhere too... I was waiting in line for DOT over 2 hours and then we moved to robosaurs so i didn't see the parade of contestants. He got locked in a SS for the entire time and did not to even go to the event.

I have some pics of some equally bad makeup for scare actors I know are official (they had the curse of the white face and black eye makeup). Now the hero makeups were good if not dated. The photo ops with the classic monsters.

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Maybe I'm sad about the lackluster websites and the inclusion of a majority of IPs because I have been hitting HHN since 2002. I have fond memories of 2004 and 2005 because of the cohesive backstories and immersive interaction between patron and event. Since then though, things have steadily declined to the point that the website is just to get tickets and information and there is no story to why HHN is happening or any intrigue. Maybe I want to feel like a cog in a greater machine or that I'm there to do more than shuffle through a queue to see props and scareactors. I understand NBC/Universal is in this for the money, but like their TV lineup, things need to get back into line so people will enjoy the product more. As much as I like TWD as a show, the invasion of HHN has been more of an annoyance than anything else. Queue lines that can go upwards of 180 mins and last year an entire park full of walkers in poorly done masks/makeup, disappointing to say the least.

I will say I am excited for this year's event. I'm a fan of clowns, dolls and the Halloween series. I'm also interested in seeing if TWD reverts back to 2012 form and is a load of garbage or follows last year and improves by leaps and bounds.

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Jeramy nailed it.

HHN started because Universal was in massive trouble when it first opened and needed something to compete with Disney. A Halloween event provided that, and when it proved to be one of the most profitable things it had going (including allowing Universal to start beating MGM during the month of October) they expanded. During the recession, when theme park expansions state-wide slowed, HHN helped Universal keep their head above water. The event's success is, basically, why Universal survived.

But here's the catch, the way Universal is exploding with new seemingly longer last franchise attractions, a lag in attendance at HHN would be a death knell. Almost all of their big money additions over the last few years are attractions with legs that can stand on their own as massive draws. Harry Potter will be a Star Wars-like forever franchise, the Mummy and Kong are recognizable after nearly a century, Transformers have been marketable for a couple of decades now, and the Simpsons simply refuse to die. They're the type of attractions that can keep the park open until nine o'clock during the off season. If attendance at HHN falls drastically enough to readjust course away from franchises, whose to say they'll bother keeping HHN at all? Families have a lot of disposable income.

This will sound blasphemous, but from a marketing perspective try to understand. Early to mid-aughts, HHN sold out damn near every weekend. Later on (2008-2011) they didn't sell out. Part of that is because it went back to the Studios, but that's not okay from a business perspective. You want to sell out every night. So, they brought in the biggest horror franchise going right now and they saw a surge in attendance. More importantly, they saw a surge in NEW attendance. People who had never attended before. The only business efficient thing to do in that case is bring it back, which they did. And they had sell-out nights again.

The franchises work. What the fans called creatively deficient got Universal the only thing that TRULY matters: a sell out night.

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I get what you are saying man. I mean I think most of us want the HHN "sweet spot" where everything falls into line perfectly.

But push comes to shove, I want the event to be awesome. The pre stuff gets me hyped but ultimately means little when I get to the event. Don't get me wrong, I want it. I just want the amazing physical event more.

I'm exctied as well! From what I've seen and heard it's amazing. It's grittier, bloodier, and more intense in a lot of ways. There are some new implementations (and some old) that I think people will really dig. I know I do.

I figure I could whine about the things I don't like or look forward to what I do like and I really have a lot to look forward to.

Legacy, I shudder to think that but I see the point. I honestly don't think it will ever go under but it all depends on what the future holds. You are right, it is not the cash cow keeping them afloat during the weak season anymore.

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Jeramy nailed it.

HHN started because Universal was in massive trouble when it first opened and needed something to compete with Disney. A Halloween event provided that, and when it proved to be one of the most profitable things it had going (including allowing Universal to start beating MGM during the month of October) they expanded. During the recession, when theme park expansions state-wide slowed, HHN helped Universal keep their head above water. The event's success is, basically, why Universal survived.

But here's the catch, the way Universal is exploding with new seemingly longer last franchise attractions, a lag in attendance at HHN would be a death knell. Almost all of their big money additions over the last few years are attractions with legs that can stand on their own as massive draws. Harry Potter will be a Star Wars-like forever franchise, the Mummy and Kong are recognizable after nearly a century, Transformers have been marketable for a couple of decades now, and the Simpsons simply refuse to die. They're the type of attractions that can keep the park open until nine o'clock during the off season. If attendance at HHN falls drastically enough to readjust course away from franchises, whose to say they'll bother keeping HHN at all? Families have a lot of disposable income.

This will sound blasphemous, but from a marketing perspective try to understand. Early to mid-aughts, HHN sold out damn near every weekend. Later on (2008-2011) they didn't sell out. Part of that is because it went back to the Studios, but that's not okay from a business perspective. You want to sell out every night. So, they brought in the biggest horror franchise going right now and they saw a surge in attendance. More importantly, they saw a surge in NEW attendance. People who had never attended before. The only business efficient thing to do in that case is bring it back, which they did. And they had sell-out nights again.

The franchises work. What the fans called creatively deficient got Universal the only thing that TRULY matters: a sell out night.

I understand your entire argument here, but I disagree that there is ever a chance that HHN will cease to exist. Halloween is now an 8 BILLION dollar industry, so regardless of what all the other attractions are at Universal, they'd be stupid not to be involved in a money-maker like that. Do they have "die-hard" fans who always want more? Of course - here we all are. However, there are many, many more Halloween fans out there who are always looking for "the best event", and Universal already has that nailed down, IMO. Why would they bother to open another arm of this in Singapore if the direction was headed down? If they keep doing what they are doing - making AMAZING experiences for those of us who love haunts, Halloween and all that is scary, they will continue to make good money.

From my own personal experience, they make 3x more from me than they did when I first started traveling to this event 10 years ago. This year, because of AWIL in Hollywood, they will make 4x more off of me and my group. How many more like me are there? Plenty.. Also, I am a walking billboard for them ALL THE TIME. I tell everyone from friends and family to people I've just met about this event and bring across that this is my favorite thing each year for a reason. The more the word spreads, the more people come.

I have no doubt that they will continue to have a healthy, profitable bottom line for HHN as long as they don't let it go to shit - and by that I mean in quality.. I don't know that IP vs original matters in that equation. Balance is always good though, and I think that's what they have going for them.

Besides, just about every major park has a "haunt" now.. you'd be setting yourself up by NOT having one.

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