The BLOG FLUME -- Screamin' And Eatin'

Joe Llorens wraps up 'Persister' with some thoughts on his October in Orlando.

Written by Joe Llorens
Published: October 28, 2004 at 1:32 PM

Having just gone through my 6th annual Halloween Horror Nights weekend, here are some notes from it.

  • Come December I will be moving to Orlando from Miami, so pretty much everything’s going to change for me. This is the last year that Horror Nights will be an actual event for me. Think about it; from now on I won’t have to make a choice between going to Horror Nights, Howl O’ Scream, or Mickey’s Not-So-Scary... (Shut up, maybe sometimes I’d like to go see the Mickster in a ghost costume. Stop laughing at me.)

    Anyway, it’s strange. It’s the end of an era. This is a trip that my friends and I look forward to each and every year, and I’ve somewhat been taken out of that mix. I’m still looking forward to next year’s event, but it’ll be in the way a socialite looks forward to hosting their next big party. I don’t know if that analogy makes sense to anyone, but it made sense to me. I’ve also been under heavy medication since Monday.

  • The attention to detail in this year’s Horror Nights was spectacular. The scare zones were put together very well. Our favorite was Field of Screams. I ended up having a nightmare about that hanging pumpkin-headed guy.

  • We talked to a couple of people who were working the event and asked them what they thought about it. Turns out that the night we went (Oct. 23rd) was the busiest night of the month, with more than 50,000 people scurrying around the park. They even had to open up parts of the parks that were supposed to be closed off (including the area around MIB, which meant that the ride was open for business. YES!!) A couple of the female employees we spoke to admitted to liking working the event because of the extra money (one was a server at Finnegan’s), but they also said they were still unnerved by all the costumed people walking around, even though they were officially a part of the “behind the scenes” aspect of the event. The lesson, as always, women are funny. I can’t believe these chicks were actually scared of these people in masks with the fake chainsaws and the cans filled with pennies. It’s not like I was scared. At all.

    (I lost my voice again this year from all the screaming I did while I was up there. I came back home sick as a dog, because I think my immune system told me to go fornicate myself halfway through the night. Jesus, was that scary.)

  • We had people in our group who didn’t get express passes, so they went their separate ways when we got into the park. We were able to finish everything by 12:30 thanks to our passes. Our friends crawled in to the room after 2:30 and told us that they were able to hit 5 out of the 7 houses and even got to go on Revenge of the Mummy. (A ride which boasted a stand-by wait time of 120 minutes one of the times we passed by it.) The lesson, as always, express passes are worth every penny. Those of us who had them were able to enjoy the houses and ambience without having to scurry along to the next house, all the time looking down at our watches, cursing father time. Yes, my friends did get to do plenty without their passes, but you should have seen them when they walked in. We were able to sit down at Finnegan’s and have a terrific meal (I STRONGLY suggest the shepherd’s pie), and I don’t think they got to eat anything at all.

    And how do you follow up on what could easily have been the best Horror Nights you’ve ever been to? You hit the International Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT, of course.

  • Food, food, food. Three of my four favorite things on earth. While I couldn’t possibly get into too much detail about the layout due to the fact that I had my face buried in a different plate every five minutes, I will describe the delicious dishes I devoured. I like alliteration.

  • Greece: Mini Gyro w/ Tzatzizikkizitizitkizazikki: I still don’t know how to spell that Greek dip made of cucumber and yogurt and some other stuff. This could very well be my favorite dip of all time. I’ve eaten at Greek restaurants several times and it has never disappointed. The little pita it was mounted on was somewhat chilled, which was a nice contrast to the heated lamb on top of it. Delicious.
  • Florida: Why they would set up a stand based on Floridian cuisine when the park is located in Florida is beyond me. What a colossal waste of space. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind spending money in that stand. The shrimp salad sandwich was delicious.
  • UK: Fish & Chips. I know; it’s there all the time. It’s just so good, it warrants mentioning.
  • Spain: Paella. The rice was somewhat overcooked, but it still had a nice kick of spice and was flavorful.
  • Germany: Goulash. For some reason I always associated goulash with the Soviet Union. It was a delicious beef stew with pieces of bread soaking inside it. Yummy.
  • China: Dan Dan Noodles & Sa Cha Chicken. The noodles were the only thing we went back to eat twice. Cold noodles with something resembling peanut sauce on them. The chicken came on a skewer and was cooked to perfection.
  • Australia: Aussie Lamb Chop. In my opinion there was too much fat on the chop and not enough meat. Still, it was very tasty.
  • France: Ham & Cheese Crepe. Wow. Melted, cheesy goodness inside a baked crepe.

    But the piece-du-resistance came from the good ol’ U.S. of A. in the form of the Lobster Corn Chowder soup. Simply amazing. They also offered mini crab cakes which were delicious as well, and I fantasized the rest of the day of buying one of each and “accidentally” dropping the crab cake into the soup. Then, seeing as how I had no choice in the matter (wink,wink,nudge,nudge), eating the whole thing up as what could probably become the Greatest Stew Of All Time.

    So that was my overall experience this past weekend for my 6th annual Horror Nights experience. I’m paying the price for it now with my 102 degree fever, but believe me when I say that it was worth it.

    Now if I can only muster the strength to go down to the kitchen and try and make myself some shepherd’s pie, my life would be complete.

  • Readers' Opinions

    From steve lee on October 29, 2004 at 8:51 AM
    One of the fellas working Captain America's Diner told us that they actually ran out of room in the parking garage on that Saturday night. I don't know what the capacity is of that garage (I know it's more than 50), but that's quite a lot of spaces. Then again, by the very nature of how traffic in that garage is routed, it's entirely possible that there were plenty of empty spaces in the lower levels, but no way to send single cars at a time to fill the empties.

    Or, the guy could have been full of it.

    From Ray Schroeder on October 29, 2004 at 10:18 AM
    I did the Disney Not-So-Scary-Halloween Party this year. The place was packed. The best part was that I got so much candy, I don't have to buy any to give out come Halloween.
    You didn't mention all the free booze you can consume at EPCOT's Food & Wine Fest. I went to 2 wine tastings, and 2 beer tastings. All free. The one at England, you get 4 full bottles to sample. The trick is to sit at a table for 2 so there is more beer to drink. At the Austrailia pavilion, you pay $6 for a walkabout. You go to the 5 wine producing regions and sample thie wines. If you get a friendly CM pouring, you can drink a whole lot. If you play your cards right, you can hop from one tasting to another all day. And it's all free.
    From J. Dana on October 29, 2004 at 11:33 AM
    I, too, did Halloween Horror nights AND Epcot's Food and Wine Festival (all while painting my house and traveling back to California). And I, too, got sick with a high fever. But it was a great weekend! Regarding HHN, the return of the Parade of the Dead is great! Although seemingly very much shorter than before. The cornfield scene was very well-done. The Vampyre haunted house was perhaps one of the best they've ever done, with the flying vampires overhead. But the Bill & Ted show was VERY sub-par. Not even close to the level that it usually is. They had all these villains plus the presidential candidates and the Queer Eye guys, and a big dance sequence (with some S&M by Nicole and Paris thrown in). Didn't make any sense and didn't really have much humor. This year, they just set up a plot, then just forgot about it while they did a dance. The dance was good (same dance, different year). I was EXCEEDINGLY disappointed with the Bill&Ted show. It seems the writers/planners just wanted to be raunchy in place of humor this year. Usually I'll see the show twice. This year, once was twice too much.

    Epcot was a nice respite. Lots of great food, good drink. The French creme brulee (sp?) put me in heaven. Fireworks were good. I miss the Tapestry of Nations parade...hopefully Epcot will eventually ad another big pageant/parade--maybe for whatever comes after the 50th birthday of Disneyland.

    I guess getting a high-fever means that a HHN/F&W weekend is a good investment.

    From Dave Bradley on October 29, 2004 at 9:13 PM
    I have to say that I was impressed with Halloween Horror Nights 14. So impressed, that for the first time, we bought the Frequent Fear Pass. If you are an Orlando resident it is well worth the money.

    Someone mentioned the Express Pass for HHN. This is highly recommended! We bought them every night we were there, even the non-peak nights. It does make your night more enjoyable. The only line we had to wait in with the express passes happened to be the Mummy ride.

    Did anyone notice the gigantic banner on the entrance to Mythos? Just so happens to mention Theme Park Insider, and the fact that there were voted best Themes restaurant Two years in a row but THIS VERY WEBSITE! We took a photo, but it did not turn out.

    Bill and Ted: Well I agree that this show has taken a fall from the previous years. The whole BILL and TED experience should be replaced, in my personal opinion. You can only use the Michael Jackson skit so many times.

    We also did Mickey’s Not So Scary. I was impressed with the fact that they gave you a free photograph with your visit! (Universal wanted $12.95) Kodak sent us our picture in the mail, and it turned out wonderful!

    Since I have not seen much commenting this event, I would like to take a moment to tell you about it.

    We arrived at 4:30pm and purchased our tickets to the night’s event. Pleasantly the ticket person took the time to explain to me all about the event and what to expect. The event did not start till 7pm, but we would be allowed to go ahead into the park and enjoy ourselves until 6pm where we must head over to TommorrowLand. They placed a special wrist band on us, so we were designated for the night time event. All of TommorrowLand was open to guests until they reopened the park for the party!

    Kids big and small were able to go around the Magic Kingdom and trick or treat at all of the booths set up! Even mom and dad can be part of the fun! Everyone was friendly, and they gave out A LOT of candy. I normally do not eat candy, but I did have some this night, and paid for it the next day with a candy hangover! (Bud-at-boom!)

    All of the rides and shows inside the Magic Kingdom were open! The night we went was crowded, but we never waited in a line. Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain alike, had no wait times. I guess this would be due to the amount of small children that were in attendance. I should mention that you ARE allowed to wear your costume here, as long as it is not obscene.

    Annual pass holders had to pay for this event as well, there were no freebies, but the price was reduced. We paid 35.00 per person to gain entry. However, we did everything that Disneyworld had to offer, minus the shows. Ok, I take that back we did see once show, the philharmagic show!

    I will be traveling to A.K. and Epcot this weekend. I hope that the FREE drinks are still available. Anything you can get free at the parks, get it!

    From steve lee on October 30, 2004 at 6:24 AM
    Dave, the Beverly at Ice Station Cool is always free. Drink as much as you can (I max out at two shots, followed by hacking/laughing)
    From Ben Mills on November 1, 2004 at 2:30 PM
    I dunno Steve, Beverley is so popular, they've usualy run out. Must be because it tastes sooooo good.

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