Now that I have given you an overview of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 2010 in Orlando, Florida, I want to take you behind the scenes. This year I went on a behind the scenes tour of Halloween Horror Nights called “Unmasking the Horror.” I had some doubts about how interesting this would be because I wasn’t sure how much they would be willing to reveal. Well, for someone who has been attending this event for several years now, it turned out to be a terrific experience. I have added some videos, which I encourage you to check out because they will add some perspective to what I am talking about.
The tour started off in a private room, where two guides went over the history of Halloween Horror Nights. They went through the years almost one by one giving us information about each year’s theme. Also, they explained how some of their horror icons were born, and how some other characters that were supposed to be icons never were for one reason or another. Take Cindy Caine for example. This character was a little girl, who is the daughter of The Caretaker (one of their other horror icons) that had her face burned in a fire. She was supposed to be an icon one year and wreck havoc on guests, but because of a recent string of child abductions at the time, they decided not to make her the focus of the event. This year she had a house dedicated to her storyline, which was The Orfanage.
Another story they told us was how the events of 9/11 changed how they went about HHN’s that year. It was originally supposed to be their bloodiest year yet, as they were going to go all with the blood, and scares. Then 9/11 happened, and they had to decide if they were even going to hold the event. After a great debate, they decided to proceed with the event, but would get rid of all the blood. Instead, they toned down the event with green slim in the houses. It maybe interesting to note that they plan their HHN’s event at least a year in advance. While HHN’s 2010 is taking place, they are already working on HHN’s 2011, and maybe even 2012. There are eight people who are responsible for the designs, and themes of the events.
After revisiting the HHN’s of the past, our guides took us to get a behind the scenes look at three of this year’s houses. The group separated, as each guide took about 12 guests into different houses. My group’s guide took us into the Hades house first. This house is based on the Greek God Hades. Before we got to the front of the house, we went into a sound stage where the house was located. In this case, there were actually two houses located in one sound stage, which I thought was pretty amazing.
After a brief description of the house, we started to make our way through it, as the guide explained many of the techniques they used in order to scare you. In the “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Hades House #1” video, the first thing you will see is an AAT device (Actor Activated Trigger), which the actor uses to scare the guests. It could set off sounds, lights, or some trick to get your attention as the actor jumps out for the scare. As you will see from some of the videos, each house has a series of twists and turns that lead into 3 or 4 main rooms, where there is something extra scary going on based on the theme of the house. In the same video, you see the first main room of this house, which is a room where bodies are being prepared to be eaten later on. This was a great up close look at the hanging heads, body parts, and a body on the table that had been carved up. Of course, this was scarier in the dark, and when there was a character working on the body. Also, as I mentioned in my look at HHN’s, Medusa made an appearance in this house, and in the video titled “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Hades House #2,” you get an explanation of how she scares guests.
The next house we went into was Psychoscareapy, which was home to the souls of the criminally insane. If you notice in the videos and pictures, they do a marvelous job with the entrances to the houses. It sets the tone for the house, as you brace yourself for what lies inside. This house had one of my favorite scares of all the houses. You would come into a tight hallway where there were bars with a series of hands gripping them. In the dark, it was hard to tell which hands were real, so as you walked through, all the sudden a hand would reach out at you. Also, the actors could bang on the window, and even reach through holes in them. In the video “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Psychoscareapy #1, you can even catch a quick glance at some fake arms the actors could use to scare you.
The other cool scare in this house was a fake guy on a chair getting electrocuted. In the video, the guide pretty much explains what happens. As guests walk by, they see the guy sitting there, and there may or may not be a nurse walking around in the room. Either by control of the nurse, or automatically, the chair will start vibrating, and the guy starts acting like he is being shocked. I was surprised that this was actually a fake guy. In the dark, it looked extremely real, as if there was an actual actor in the chair. I got to see this house twice, and saw this scene with, and without the nurse. The nurse was a good distraction before the guy got shocked.
The final house we went into was Legendary Truth. The theme here was a ghost team called the Ghost Seekers (like the Ghost Hunters), where called upon to investigate the possibility of paranormal activity in this bed and breakfast. Almost immediately when you enter this house, there was a scare that was very easy to miss. As you came around the corner, there was a glass bottom floor. If you weren’t looking down, you may have missed an actor dressed as a ghost sliding back and forth. They were able to do this scare in a way that is similar to a mechanic sliding under a car. On the outside of the house, an actor would lie down on a rolling platform, and slide under the house. Then they would push themselves back and forth under your feet. The guide told us they built the house higher at the front just for the purpose of setting up this scare. I missed it the first time, and just caught a glimpse of it the second time. If you weren’t looking down, which usually the really scared people do, I don’t know how you would know it was there. You can see this in the video titled “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Legendary Truth #2.”
The main rooms in this house were awesome. After you got past the ghost on the floor, there was a living room with a fireplace. This was meant to distract you from these three pictures on the wall that you couldn’t see until these retina burning strobe lights went off. The picture was of the demon from the exorcist. As the guide mentioned, the image is supposed to be burned into your eyes so that you still see it for about a minute after the lights go off. Well, she wasn’t lying because that happened to me. I was confused in the house when I kept seeing it. It did take a minute or two to get that picture out of my mind (thought I was going nuts for a minute). You can see this in the video titled “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Legendary Truth House #4.
Also in this video, you got to see another room where a girl was on top of a bed. As you passed by, she would hit here AAT device, and lights would start flashing around the bed. In the corners of the room, the dresser drawers would open a close. This was a good ghost like effect for the house. It may not seem like a lot, but when you are walking through and people are screaming, it brings out the chaos in this room. Also, if you check out this video and the one that follows, take a close look at the pictures. You can notice the faces change as the camera moves.
Halloween Horror Nights is a great experience. It is a lot of fun, especially for us horror fans. After going on this behind the scenes tour, I have a greater respect for how much work they put into scaring guests. There is tremendous effort put into every detail, from developing the themes and icons, all the way to the props, and scares. Even if it doesn’t scare you, all that work pays off because it will probably scare the person behind you.
Please check out: Halloween Horror Night's 2010 Pictures and VideosAlso, my post on HHN’s 2010: Halloween Horror Nights 2010
Remaining Behind the Scenes Videos Below: