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Opening night reports from Halloween events

By Robert Niles
Published: September 25, 2009 at 3:51 PM
Tonight's the opening night for several theme park Halloween events around the country, including the big one, Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights.

Theme Park Insider reader Dominik Jost gave you a sneak peek at HHN 19 yesterday, with his report from the event's employee preview night.

Ms. Vayne and her models
Busch Gardens Tampa Howl-O-Scream hostess Ms. Vayne and her models. Photo courtesy Busch Gardens.

If you'll be at HHN this weekend, or Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt, or Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream, or Disneyland's HalloweenTime, please let us know how it went, in the comments.

(I'll be at Disneyland early next week, filing a photo gallery and review of the new features for TPI then.)

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on September 25, 2009 at 5:59 PM
I am off to Worlds of Fun's Halloween Haunt right now...will let you know with a quick post how it fares this year when I get back!
From James Rao on September 25, 2009 at 8:53 PM
Update: it was like being at a dress rehearsal. Most everything was in place, but the performance was not quite as polished as the audience would like it to be. Still, had fun, and the stage is set for even more scares in the weekends ahead.
From Nick Markham on September 26, 2009 at 5:09 AM
I will be going to my home park halloween event, Frightmare at Lagoon, today, though I am not sure anyone on here would care much for a smaller park. That is why I will take pictures and post a report tomorrow to show you the park that should make it on the park list! :D
From Gareth H on September 26, 2009 at 9:36 AM
HHN Quick Visit last night report.

First off, buy your tickets online or over the phone and colect from the automated machines.
The lines to buy tickets were about an hour long, and this was an off peak night.

So on to the quick report.
Park was packed at 8pm, first and only house I attempted last night was the Wolfman House.
All I can really say is that it was decorated well. Good themeing and will be popular for a film that has yet to be released. The Hollywood stage had a screen with clips from the film showing (This was the queue), so it helped people understand it a little.
The line was advertised at 45 minutes and it took just about that.

Every other house had queues ranging from 45 to 90, too long for me to attempt on a walk about night.

Only 3 rides were open, RRR wasn't one of them, although that was running, one car at a time, with no lights at all.
The open rides were Revenge of the Mummy, 20 mins, Simpsons, 10, and Men In Black, 15.

Bill & Ted was "Excellent", better than last year, but still think there was room for much improvement.

Lots of great spoofing, and glad to see Bruno was included this year (Was disappointed Borat wasn't included 2 years ago).
Think the Billy Mays addition was funny, maybe a bit edgy, but thats B&T for you.

Michael Jackson was a welcome addition.

Overall, Bill & Ted was as expected. Fast paced, funny, sexy and current.


The scare Zones left a little to be desired. Hopefully these will get a little better as the event progresses.

One thing I can't understand though, is why Scareactors will pick on, Harass if you prefer, certain people, then seem surprised when they get pushed away by a scared, nay, terrified guest, then immediately jump out of charactor to tell them that they can't do that as its against the rules.

I witnessed just that last night, and while I understand that you can't touch a scareactor, there should be ENFORCED rules that a scareactor CANNOT harass one person throughout a scare zone. Scaring someone, yes, but to the extent that this person is cornered and has no option but to push thier way out?? Stupidity!!

After my false accusation last year I think there needs to be a greater "Handler" concentration to keep an eye on the safety of the guests, as well as the scareactors.

Shia LaBeouf-Holes!!

From Rod Whitenack on September 26, 2009 at 6:02 PM
I doubt I'll ever go to Universal's Halloween Nights again, even though I was truely impressed with the detail and haunted houses. It's just too crowded and the lines are just too long. When an event like this doesn't get started until after dark, there just aren't enough hours in the evening to enjoy yourself. It takes time just to walk from place to place, and when I was there, the lines where anywhere from 2 to 3 hours per house. It's frustrating. There's so much to see and do, but you can't do it. Time is just too much an enemy. You walk into the park, get in line, wait 2 to 3 hours and come out tired already and with only a few hours left before closing time. You won't even see most of the cool stuff bulit for the event.
From 173.169.46.162 on September 26, 2009 at 7:30 PM
I went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney World's Magic Kingdom last night and had a wonderful time. All the attractions had very reasonable wait times (only waited between 5min to 15min max.) Got to the park at about 5pm and they were letting guests into the event even though it technically starts at 7pm. I was able to ride practically all the good rides before 8pm. The parade was cool, especially the floats dedicated to Pirates of the Caribbean(Captain Jack Sparrow ROCKS!) and the 2 floats for the Haunted Mansion. Also loved getting candy at the numerous trick-or-treat locations and the lighting/fog effects for the Haunted Mansion attraction were great. Very nice set up and reasonably priced. I definetly want to come back to this halloween party next year.
From Jason Jackson on September 26, 2009 at 9:47 PM
I visited BGW's HOS on Friday night as there was rain predicted, but it held off. The park was beautiful. Many of the scare zones have moved around a bit so it was good to see something different in some places. Got to go through a couple of mazes including the Cave of Darkness which was Corkscrew Hill. Very nice and a few scary moments. The train is just transportation this year, but it was a nice respite. Didn't get to see any shows, but hope to do that on the next run through.
From 70.126.172.133 on September 26, 2009 at 9:48 PM
went to HOS in tampa last night. was very good. the two show were grest get to them early they fill up very fast. also get there when it opens everything start at 7:30 and we got thru about 5 houses before everything to realy busy. The longest line was about 15-20 min.
From Frank Forrester on September 26, 2009 at 10:22 PM
Went to HOS at BGW tonight and they had 6 haunted mazes. Cavern of Darkness which is in Corkscrew Hill is probably the best one. Catacombs which is at the Royal Palace Theatre wasn't that great. The design was good as they made it look like you were going thru catacombs, but there was not enough scare actors in the maze. Bitten and the Hunted were okay with The Hunted being slightly better then Bitten, but that isn't saying much as the ones they had in this area last year were a lot better. Cursed was where they had Wicked Woods last year and was actually the second best maze and I liked it better then Wicked Woods. Revenge of Pompeii was about the same as what it has been the last few years, but that isn't bad. The scare zones weren't that scary.

Monster Stomp Revamp is just as good as last year. The show is basically the same as last year except that they did change a couple of scenes from last year. The biggest improvement was at Das Festhaus. Frankenrock is a lot better then the show Festhaus Frightnight which they had the last few years . The show makes up some for there being no Rockin' Eve show this year. Hopefully they will bring back Rockin' Eve next year.

Two new things they added this year are two HOS tours. The first is the Goblins and Ghouls Fear Tour in which they take you to the front of the line to all six Haunted Houses and select shows. The cost for the this tour is $49.95. The other tour is called the Night of the Dead Fear Tour. This tour gives you behind the scenes looks at the costumes, make-up and special effects for HOS. You also get VIP access to all the Haunted Houses and select shows. This tour costs $99.95 and is limited to only 20 people. You can check out BGW's website for more info on the tours.

From colleen f on September 27, 2009 at 6:37 AM
DH, myself, and a friend did Howl-O-Scream last night. It was fun, but super busy. We only got through about 5 houses.


Scare zones - We walked through all the scare zones. Most of the actors were still getting comfortable in their roles and weren't that scary. The banshees were just silly. I do appreciate that, unlike at HNN, if you're carrying an alcoholic drink they pretty much leave you alone.

Ded House- Very funny, but college girls aren't scary. I liked this house a lot though - there was a lot of attention to detail and gallows humor. I appreciate gallows humor.

Nightshade Toy - Somewhat scary, but mostly just strange.The tunnel at the end throws off your sense f balance. The chainsaw people at the end were neat. It needs more scary actors in the beginning.

Death Row- My favorite house by far. Nice use of lighting, sound, and special effects. I saw more people freak out here than in any other house. Make sure to pay attention to the ceiling in the inmate quarters.

Reconstruction - My 2nd favorite house - lots of gory and weirdness. I'm still not sure why there was a dance party in the middle, but whatever. Are ther multiple exits? My party and I assumed so, but we weren't certain.

Taste of Blood - Much better this year than it was 2 years ago. More vampires, including the event icon, Ms.Vayne.

From Domenik Jost on September 27, 2009 at 2:03 PM
Sorry to hear that you only got through 1 house Gareth.
I managed to get through all but the Spawning again last night, that is after the rain cleared out the lines. As far as crowds go, yes last night was quite busy. For those wanting to visit, historically the week of Halloween and on Halloween have ironically been the slowest weeks for Halloween Horror Nights. I can't promise you it will be like this again this year. It seems the event has already had a huge response as far as crowds which usually don't turn up for the first weekend.

I did finally get to go through the Saw and Dracula houses.
Saw to me was a great looking house, but the scareactors did not have their groove going last night. Rating it with a 3.5 of 5 so far.
Dracula was a very nicely detailed house. From the entrance facade to the interesting rooms. The house is 80% brides and I honestly only saw 2 Draculas in there. They all made for some great scares for the group in front of me and I well got to laugh my head off. Rating 4 of 5.

I find it funny to hear your scareactor story Gareth. I have witnessed this in the past and at one point enough is enough, you have to let people get through or they will just hold up crowds watching. And the scareactors who said "It's against the rules to push them, well it's also against the rules for them to go out of character." If they have a problem there is a supervisor standing in or near each scarezone that you as a guest can report something too or the scareactors can report something to. I personally think though the scareactors that push people into corners created the situation by their own fault and should not be surprised when they get pushed.

Oh and note to Robert: My name is spelled with an e. Domenik :) not Dominik :P

From 75.250.131.172 on September 27, 2009 at 3:47 PM
Went to HOS Tampa last night, pretty crowded and very hot. The Caberet Magic Show was good and so was the opening Vampire show at the entrance. Went to all the houses with the Front Line Access Pass. Our favorite was DED Pledge House it's not the scariest but the best themed. HOS is always a fun time but doesn't compare to HHN. I feel like the DED House was the closest to something HHN would do. If you need somewhere to eat before going to the park try out Tia's Tex Mex just down the street from the Busch turn. Really good food!
From Pyra Dong on September 27, 2009 at 9:38 PM
I went to Busch Garden Tampa's Howl-O-Scream event as well-- but my experience was much smaller due to time restrictions.
For my detailed journey to the two Howl-O-Scream shows (and one scare zone) you can read at http://wwwpyrawww.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/my-early-halloween-doomed-hos-preview/
The lines to the haunted houses were VERY long... but I noticed that each was moving pretty fast. There were crowds as well, but it wasn't overwhelmingly crowded.
Out of the 7 haunted houses, five of them are repeats from last year and there were two new ones.
I was able to go through one scare zone (Carnival de Muerto) and most of the actors weren't loud or jumpy. Instead, they did the whole stalk and stare thing to intimidate guests.
As for the new HOS show, magician Jason Byrne performed his tricks wonderfully, but the tricks itself weren't very amusing... at least to me. Fiends-- a repeat show from the past years-- was entertaining, probably because of the sexy nurses dancing around. The show is a song and dance performance featuring the typical Halloween characters.
Another new HOS feature is Club EnVy, a dance club with pounding music and drink specials. I didn't see a reason for this with so many DJ booths scattered throughout the park.
I want to go back! And this time I want to experience everything (even if I already saw most of it last year) HOS has never failed me yet.
From 71.50.112.201 on September 28, 2009 at 12:15 AM
Just got back from HHN in Orlando and was quite disappointed. For all the hype in advertisements this just did not do anything for us. We went to all the attractions and was most disappointed in the Saw maze. The Bill and Ted show was the best part of the entire event. All the mazes were pretty much the same. Surprisingly we all found Busch Gardens event up in Virginia way better and more screams for the money.
From 69.78.129.22 on September 28, 2009 at 6:40 AM
You all must be doing something wrong. Did hhn friday night. Amazed. All eight houses and bill and ted done plus mummy and mib. Hos saturday did fright feast. Was able to eat see a show and do all seven houses and scare zones in an hour and a half. Fright feast is worth the twenty bucks. Did both sides of Gwazi dueling montu and left the park by eleven. Hhn was crowded but we did it all. I think i will write a survival guide on how to get through it quicker.
From 69.122.222.53 on September 28, 2009 at 9:56 PM
Just got back from cedar point with my wife for our 1 year anniversary. I have not seen the Halloween attractions from years past but I will be first to tell you we drove 9 hours in each direction and it was well worth it. 4 haunted houses, 5 walkthroughs. the best haunted house was happy jacks toy factory, very well themed, for ex: 1000 barbie dolls drilled on the wall naked, a stuffed animal room where they pop up from inside the dolls and tons of other scares I would not give away. The best attraction in my opinion was the terror island walkthrough, this walkthrough allows you to go onto millenium island and walk around the fog as pirates jump out and scare you. Great fun!

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