This past weekend, with The After Dark Podcast Network guys, I was lucky enough to take a quick trip over the pond to Universal Studios Orlando and have my first experience of their version of Halloween Horror Nights.
Here I will go through my top 5 houses, which if I am honest is quite difficult after my top 3. But here we go
5.Yeti-Terror of the yukon
I will be very honest here, I felt on the whole that this year’s original houses struggled to compare to the IP based houses. This really came down to a toss up between Yeti and Us, a film I have never seen but the house was really intriguing. Yeti won out mainly cause of the costumes and scare actors in house. Perfectly design and pretty scary yeti costumes and great actors portraying them. The house itself was a pretty basic design (something that Us was far better at) but you go to HHN for scares and this house definitely gave you that.
4. Stranger things
This was probably the house I was most pumped for, which is probably why it let me down a little. It was billed as a mash up of seasons 2 and 3, which yes it did, but felt more effort was put into the earlier scenes, which focused on season 2. I think the scale of season 3 was so much bigger than season 2 that it was difficult to translate it to a smaller scale at HHN. The scare actors playing the kids were fantastic (big shout outs to those playing season 3 Eleven and Mind Flayer Billy)
While I am a child of the 80’s. Ghostbusters was never the classic film to me that it is to others. That being said it is still a film that I enjoy massively and this house did no disappoint. While not on the scarier side, there were still some great jump scares, particularly from Slimer. But thats not what made this house stand out. The design of the house was spectacular, all the sets you would expect were there, beginning with the library, the fire station etc. The special effects were also superb, something I didn’t see in any of the other houses. And last but not least the actors in the house, I can’t call them scare actors in this case cause thats not they were there for. The interaction with the 4 Ghostbusters as well as Jeanine were off the charts, as well as great performances from Dana and Zuul.
After saying that I felt that this year’s original houses were on the poor side, Graveyard Games was really the exception. With a great storyline, telling the story of some kids breaking into the graves and tombs, before the story takes a more sinister turn. The design of the graveyard was exquisite, the monster design was off the charts and the scares were among the best at the event.
Anyone who knows me, knows I am massive fan of the classic monsters from Universal’s past and this maze was no exception
The redesigned looks of the characters was fantastic, especially Frankenstein’s Monster, a lumbering mass of a beast. Each individual monster has their own area in the house based on the environments from the films, before joining forces in the finale. We get to meet Wolfman, The Phantom, Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Hunchback as well as the Monster and his Bride (the Bride gives some of the best scares). The design could not of turned out better and I really hope this is the final push to make sure the Monsters appear at Universal’s new park, Epic Universe.
Overall a very good event this year, especially on the IPs, but also felt like they do have one eye on next year’s anniversary event, Halloween Horror Nights 30. I will be making the trip back for the event next year, so am excited to see what is to come, with a new showrunner taking charge, as Mike Aiello moves on to work on the new park.