Halloween Horror Nights 2010 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, marked a new milestone for Universal Studios. This was the 20th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights, in which “Fear, Himself” was celebrated. Of course, they brought back many of the horror icons of the past to help “Fear” scare guests. As I did last year, I will give you the official description of the haunted houses, scare zones, and shows from the event guide (e.g.), and then give my opinion of them. Hopefully you will get a feel for the event, and this encourages you to take a trip to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida, one day.
Horror Nights: The Hallow’D Past- “Travel into a nightmarish realm where Horror Nights isn’t just an event, but a reality” (e.g.). This house was dedicated to past Halloween horror nights, as it included some of the horror icons from years’ past. Basically, you were walking through a prop house, and got to see some props used in other horror night events. The props made a great distraction, as you fixed your attention on them, the horror icons would jump out from around the corner and scare you. The Usher got me good in this one, as he jumped out at me with his flashlight.
Catacombs: Black Death Rising- “During the plague, the infected were quarantined and trapped beneath the city. Now almost 500 years later, the dead are seeking vengeance” (e.g.). This was one of the darkest of the houses because it recreates going underground into a catacomb dig site. There were a lot of creatures lurking around in this house, but it was probably my least favorite.
Havoc: Dogs of War- “Shadow Creek’s super soldier program is a success, but the side effects have turned these “Dogs of War” into raging killing machines” (e.g.). One of the coolest things about this house was the huge gun they have by the entrance that made an extremely loud sound, as it pretended to fire. I didn’t find the house too scary, but I did like how several soldiers had shaved heads with barcodes tattooed on them. Every year they seem to incorporate a soldier themed house, or scare zone. I think they make better scare zones than houses.
The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes- “This burned out shell of an orphanage contains the souls of the forgotten and the lost, who all scream one name: Cindy” (e.g.). During our tour, our guide pointed out that this house was made completely out of burnt wood. That is pretty neat, and shows you the great lengths they go to in order to make the houses genuine. The house had to be burnt, as that was part of the continuing story of one of their characters named Cindy. If you weren’t paying attention, she would sneak up on you.
Zombiegeddon- “Six months after the zombie outbreak, independent training consultants promise the best zombie survival training money can buy…more or less…” (e.g.). I was very happy that zombies made their presence known at this year’s event with a house, and a scare zone. The house was full of zombies, which didn’t really scare you, but were awesome to look at. One of the best parts of the house took place right after entering it. There was a consultant, with a clipboard in his hand, and a zombie on a long chain next to him. Every once in a while the zombie would spring out at people. The consultant would pull him back, and say, “you can’t eat him, you don’t know where he’s been.” I got a good laugh out of that.
Hades: The Gates of Ruin- “Make your way into the Underworld and come face to face with the most terrifying creatures of myth and legend” (e.g.). When I saw that there was a house based on a Greek God I wondered, “what in the hell does that have to do with Halloween?” I had my doubts, but the house wasn’t that bad. It had some interesting creatures popping out, including Medusa herself. What I liked most was the hanging heads, and dead bodies around the house.
Psychoscareapy: Echoes of Shadybrook- “Fifteen years after they closed its doors, Shadybrook’s halls are still inhabited by the souls of the criminally insane” (e.g.). There were a couple of good things about this house, but probably the best scare was a series of hands gripping onto window bars. As you moved through the hallway, you didn’t know which hands were real, and which were fake. To top it off, there were openings in the window for the real person to reach through.
Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate- “Using a machine that gathers ghosts, the Spirit Seekers are about to get more than they bargain for” (e.g.). This house had something I had never seen before. Actually, I missed it the first time I went through the house, and just caught a glimpse of it the second time. Not too far into the house, there was a glass bottom floor, where if you are lucky, you could see a ghost sliding back and forth. I will have more on that on my Behind the Scenes Look at HHN’s.
As far as the houses, I had my doubts based on the descriptions given by the event guide, but they actually weren’t too bad. I can’t say any of them really scared me, but I was surprised a few times. The most impressive thing about the houses is the details, and scare-characters. In the dark, everything looks so real, and the characters are dedicated to trying to scare you. It is even more impressive when you get a behind the scenes look.
HHN: 20 Years of Fear- “The lantern casts its light on some of the most frightening characters of Halloween Horror Nights past!” (e.g.). This zone was really a set up for the Fear Revealed Zone. It has some props from past HHN’s, and some creatures walking by. It also included the ever to popular guys with chainsaws. You can’t go wrong sneaking up on people with a loud saw!
Fear Revealed- “Empowered by 20 years of Chaos, Death, Sacrifice, Legend, and Vengeance, FEAR emerges to reign supreme” (e.g.). “Fear” was the star of this zone, as he was a guy on stilts walking around. Every once in while, fire would go off on the top of two giant X’s they had symbolizing the 20th year, and he would stand underneath it giving a frightful speech. The horror icons of the past such as, The Director, Jack, and The Caretaker were walking around scaring guests, and taking pictures. I like how they bring back some of the icons each year.
Zombie Gras- “This Mardi Gras parade has gone severely off course and the undead walk among us” (e.g.). This was actually a fun scare zone because it is a mix of the party atmosphere of Mardi Gras with the scare of zombies. Some of the zombies were walking around with brains in their hands, while others were dancing and having a good time. When was the last time you got to party with zombies?
Saws N’ Steam- “In a world powered by steam, the oceans have evaporated… leaving your body as an untapped source of fuel” (e.g.). There wasn’t much to this zone except for a lot of guys with chainsaws. You know what, that is all you need sometimes!
The Coven- “Beware the Cult of the Raven! Enter this witches realm at your peril, as unbelievers will be condemned to death” (e.g.). What would Halloween be without some witches? This zone had a mix of good-looking witches, and the typical evil-looking witches. Apparently, that was part of the witches plan to lure you into the zone, and scare you. Look at the pretty one while the evil one sneaks up on you for the scare. That wasn’t a bad plan.
Esqueleto Muerte- “Revel in the seductive taunts of Death as you wind through a glowing skeletal nightmare!” (e.g.). Every scare zone should have something scary in it, but I didn’t find it in this one. This zone was more about using that glow in the dark effect on skeletons. This was a good zone to bring your little kids to if the other zones scared them. They tried to scare you, but I wasn’t feeling it.
Shows and other events:
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure- “Party on as those two most excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture” (e.g). As I mentioned in my post on last year’s event, this is a must see show at HHN’s. It may sound dumb, but when you see the line for this show, you will know it is the place to be. However, every few years they put on a show that disappoints, and this was that year. It was nowhere near as funny as last year’s show. All they did was point out that there have been a lot of bad movies this year, and that was it. Even the music selection was weaker than usual.
Brian Brushwood: Menace and Malice- “Experience two realms of bizarre magic by one of the country’s most outrageous illusionists” (e.g.). Sorry guys, I’m not a big fan of magic shows so I didn’t see this show. It replaced “The Rocky Horror Show Tribute” they have done the last couple of years, so I know that disappointed some people.
VIP Lounge: This year they included a special VIP lounge, where for a fee, you could go in, and take a break from the action. Inside, there were a bunch of props from previous HHN’s, and some movies. It made a great place to get pictures of some cool stuff. If you wanted you could stand outside, and watch other guests get scared in the Fear Revealed Scare Zone. At one point, a couple of characters walked through there, and interacted with guests. I thought that was exactly what that area needed to make it just right.
I had some concerns going into HHN’s because of the lack of familiarity with the themes for the houses, but I still had a great time. I got to go in 5 of the 8 houses twice, which was great because each time was a new experience. As with last year, I probably liked 6 out of the 8 houses. While they probably scared me more last year, they still had some cool new tricks that scared many other guests, and I give them credit for trying some original ideas. I am somewhat disappointed with the scare zones overall. I don’t know what it is, but I want more from them. If this was your first year seeing the Bill and Ted’s show and you didn’t like it, please give it another chance if you go in the future. It’s hard to create a great show every year. I am already looking forward to next year’s event, and I encourage you to go if you have never been before. HHN’s is one of the best Halloween events around!
I got to go on a behind the scenes tour in 3 of the houses, and I will be writing a separate post on that. Please check it out, because I will be taking a closer look at some of the things they do to scare us. There will be pictures, and videos to come as well.
I have to take a minute to answer a question I get all the time about the event, and give you some tips for surviving HHN’s. If you have any other questions about the event, please feel free to ask.
Can I take my kids to this event? This is always a hard question to answer because I don’t know your kids. It really depends on what you think they can handle. If they are easily scared by horror movies, then this event may be too much for them. I have seen adults freak out at some of the things going on, so your kids could be freaked out too. I would say they should at least be a teenager, but again it really depends. On our tour, there was a father, and his two young sons. One of them was probably around 10 years old, and the other was probably around 13 years old. The father was a regular to the event and wasn’t bothered by the scares, but I can’t say the same for the boys. You could tell certain things scared them, but I give them credit for hanging in there for the whole tour.
Once again my number one tip is to go on the RIP tour. Yes, it is expensive, but this is the only way to guarantee that you will see all the houses, and scare zones. That is, unless you are planning on going multiple times. I have never gone during a weekday, so that might also allow you to see everything, but I don’t know. The RIP tour is not only great because it guarantees you get to see everything, but the tour guide will give you a lot of the back-story to the houses, which makes them more interesting when you go in them. If you don’t go on the tour, then at least get an Express Pass, because trust me when I say, “the lines are long!”
Here is another piece of free advice. Universal Studios closes the park generally for about an hour and a half before reopening for HHN’s. If you go to the park for the day, see if they have a deal to stay in the park while they are closed. This way you don’t waste time leaving the park, and reentering with the crowd. I did that this year, and they opened a house early for those that were waiting inside. By doing this, you get ahead start on the crowd waiting outside. Also, move from house to house as quickly as possible because the lines will get long in a hurry. There will be plenty of time for scare zones, drinking, and eating later on. I knocked off 3 houses in an hour and a half before the tour started, so it can be done.