This was my third year attending Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando and it was another great year.
This time we opted for the Rush of Fear pass where you can attend any or the permitted nights within the first few weeks of the event. This is cost effective option for locals or those wanting to attend multiple nights. The down side? The weather in September is not as forgiving and going multiple nights will impact your wallet.
The IP houses this year where intriguing and some of the best so far. So, what's the verdict? What were my favorite houses and scarezones for HHN 26?
1. American Horror Story - Any fan of the show is going to love this house. The attention to detail, props and casting are fantastic. Though we really didn't get any scares in this house, it was a frenzy of all of the favorite scenes from Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel. Rumor has it that next year they will do the remaining three seasons and my fingers are already crossed. Everything I was hoping for in this house, with the exception of Mon Petite in a jar, was there. The music and the likeness of the characters wraps it all up with a bow. This was my number one for this year and judging by the wait times it seems to be an overall favorite.
2. Krampus - Another well done IP house. They did a great job making you feel like it is Christmas. The set was cold, snowy and the smells even change several times through the house. Though Krampus won't be who you're running from this time, the house is full of great details and scares. 3. Tomb of the Ancients - This house was intense and I loved it. Part of the fun with original houses is that they can try out new things and include what they want with these house. Tomb was full of new techniques, like the rune stone room, different pathways and sliding scare slots that are like little doors in the walls that can be pulled down by the scare actor. I liked the Egyptian influence and the dogheaded god. It was great! 4. Ghost Town - Another great original. I liked the characters and guns in this one. The brothel was hoot. Completely fun and enjoyed the whole house.
5. Halloween - I really didn't expect to like this house as much as I did. It is full of scareactors, pretty lengthy and a good deal of time was put into the set. Had a lot of fun in this house too.
6. The Exorcist - From when they made the announcement for this house, I've been trying to figure out how they were going to pull this one off without making it a bunch of rooms with beds and Regan's but that is seemingly what it was. Being long time fan, seeing the facade and a real live Reagan talk shit to me and reach for me from her bed was pretty cool. The hallway scene with the cemetery was an excellent effect however Karras' window leap was lost in translation and the spiderwalk was lame. 7. The Walking Dead - Think of this one as all of your favorite scenes and rooms from years past. Decent amount of scares but I feel like it was a lot of recycled items.
8. Lunatics Playground - This was mostly a recycled Asylum in Wonderland but you're adding Chance. 3d is fun but I wasn't wow'ed.
9. Texas Chainsaw Massacre - I was least excited for this one from the beginning and rightfully so. Look closely! This house was just a revamped version of the insidious house with a bunch of leatherfaces. Not a fan.
SCAREZONES 1. Deadman's Wharf - The costume idea for this one was great. Simple but delightfully frightful. 2. Vamp 1955 - Very cute and the scareactors in this zone were up for some quirky conversation and photos. 3. Banshee Forest - Cool fantasy like creatures lurking about for mostly photos... Little scares. 4. Survive or Die - Pretty much Mad Max, which I love, but very little scares or much action. 5. Chance - The actress who plays chance is pretty fun but didn't love the rest. 6. Random cheerleaders and chainsaw men? Kind of done with Chainsaws.
Bill and Ted? Good but last year seemed to have actually laugh out loud jokes. Academy of Villains? The shadow play scene was awesome and I can appreciate the old timey silent footage style but I am not into dance troops.
What did I like this year? We were able to use the entrance for those staying onsite because my cousins were staying on property. That shaved off a good amount of time and it seemed like they started allowing us into the park before the main gate. What didn't I like? There are no more opportunities to purchase higher quality alcohol at the pop up bars so prepare for expensive garbage drinks. The merchandise offerings were still sub par and there is a huge cash cow waiting to be tapped into there. Another year I walked out without buying merch. It was a common theme around the event that people working inside of the houses were shouting to keep up with the people in front and to go faster. I do not run through like a scared teen, pushing my way out and/or grabbing onto the person in front of me. I like to admire the detail, watch the scareactors play their part and enjoy being scared. I do not pay and wait in lines to run through.
Had a great time and can't believe all the clues, speculating, and planning is done for this year. Can't wait for 27!
- xoxo, Pretty Scary