Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Thursday Evening Trip Report
Published: October 11, 2008 at 8:51 PM
Get the Express Pass!
Even having this killer front of the line advantage still did not permit us to do everything!! Lines on Thursday evening were averaging 1 hour for the houses - I cannot imagine not having Express - especially on a Friday or Saturday night.
There were only two - the park decorations and the constant entry into the houses.
After having visited Six Flags Great America last Sunday where their park was decorated to the hilt at every turn, I was let down by Univeral's decorations. Only the "Scare Zones" were decorated and even then, it didn't even come close to Great America's all encompassing Halloween flair.
And the houses just let people line through without stopping them at the entrance and letting them enter in groups. Entering in groups allows each 'scene' to be reset so that everyone can get a good scare. Of course, the crowds were so intense there's no way they could do separate groups entry without severely impacting wait times.
OMG! I could not believe how intertwined the lines were. You could be in line for one house and pass by long lines for at least two other houses. People kept asking me "what line are you in?" and I would forget what house I was waiting for! Their line system is just incredible! How they keep track I'll never know!
The Scare Zones
For the most part, interesting, but fairly ho hum. The entry "Path of the Wicked" was fun with "flying monkeys" literally gliding above your head on cables. And the Wicked Witch greeted you at the entrance. Fractured Tales was just...interesting. The Skoolhouse was a bit scary with the kids running around in spooky masks and banging against the iron fences. Asylum in Wonderland was creative, but not scary. American Gothic could have been scary with the pumpkin head creatures, but they chose to go after the young girls instead of 2 forty-something men. Streets of Blood was the best with the Body Collectors (who looked exactly like "The Gentlemen" from the Buffy episode "Hush") gliding across the pavement on roller tennis shoes. The guys with chainsaws were fun as well. But, the Scare Zones never really get me.
We only got a chance to see Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure and we missed out on Rocky Horror and Brian Brushwood (which we will make a point to see when we return Sunday evening). Bill & Ted was good, cheesy fun. The McCain/Obama/Clinton impersonations at the beginning were the best. It's a fun, fast paced show skewering everything from Hannah Montana to Predator.
The Houses -
In order of "worst" to "best" - here they are:
#8 Creatures - Hillbillys are not scary! And the supposed AtomiComics "Strange Tales" creatures were few and far between. It had a good set, but you could tell the crowd was not interested as the house had a 5 minute wait time all night and they were begging folks to come in. They grabbed people at the exit to complete a survey. I gave it a 'D.'
#7 Interstellar Terror - I'm never very scared by space horror with the exception of Alien and the chilling Event Horizon. Most of the "monsters" in this house were bloody astronauts. Not really scary at all. Although they had good sets and a few good effects at the end.
#6 Reflections of Fear - Psycho doctors? Kinda scary. But overall, more gross than anything. Barely scared me at all. Funniest scare was the maintenance guy vaccuming up water that had leaked from the roof. Everyone thought he was part of the show!
#5 The Hallow - Your typical horror walk-through. Some good use of strobes and a great final scene with cow skull creatures. Very creative sets but again, not really, really scary.
#4 Scary Tales - This was JT's second favorite but I rated it fourth. It's a great house taking a twisted turn on classic fairy tales. Wait until you see what Alice is doing to the White Rabit! There was an excellent hall of mirrors that scared me so bad I slammed into the adjacent wall after getting spooked and bruised my arm! Watch out for the "bear" in the Goldilocks room! I left JT in the dust after that one!
#3 The Body Collectors - This one was creepy, creepy, creepy! As mentioned earlier, these Body Collectors were exactly like "The Gentlemen" and they were everywhere in the maze. They didn't speak - just appeared out of the shadows in several inconvenient places. The sets were old England "Jack the Ripper" era. They kept playing a swinging blade sound that would make you jump every time! Really, really, really scary. Loved it!
#2 Doomsday - Surprisingly my 2nd favorite and JT's 3rd. I'm usually ho-hum on the post-apocolyptic stuff but they did really good with this house. The guys working it knew how to get you scared. One even whispered "one for me" after scaring me so bad I jumped into the air screaming. The hall with hanging heads was quite fearful. Lots of screams - incredible sets - it's a good one!
#1 Dead Exposure - JT and I agreed that this house was phenomenal! JT was so scared he was actually shaking the whole time as he clawed into my back so he didn't lose me in the dark. There was a great plot (camera pictures turn the population into zombies), a beginning and an end (you seem to end up in the same exact precinct that you entered - but things have changed!) and incredible use of the dark and occassional flashes of light. Those zombies knew how to take advantage of the surprise and both JT and I were yelping throughout, anxious to get out. The "hanging zombie" room was just terrifying. If you can only see one house, don't miss this one!
If you're short on time or don't have Express, make sure you do the top 4 above. Dead Exposure is just not to be missed!
Overall, the houses themselves are what make HHN superior. The sets are amazing and the fact that you can walk through 8 different scary adventures is incredible. Get there right when it opens and hit as much as you can before the crowds pour in. We were able to hit a few rides on the Mummy and MIB, walk through Reflections of Fear and see Bill & Ted without needing our Express Passes, but after that, Express was a lifesaver.
It's an awesome experience and I'm looking forward to returning on Sunday. If you're in the area, don't miss it!