Theme Park of the Day: Knott's Berry Farm

Halloween Update: The best of Central Florida's 2010 Halloween season

October 29, 2010, 9:29 AM · Well it is that time of year all Halloween fans dread. Sunday marks the end of what has been a fantastic 2010 theme park Halloween season for fans. Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and SeaWorld Orlando all end their events on Hallow's Eve (Disney's event runs through Monday). Now that I have had the privilege to see all the Central Florida theme park Halloween events this year at least once it is time to share my favorites. I divided the best of up into different categories: Best Maze/House, Best Scare Zone, Best Show, Best Innovation, Best Overall Event, and Best Tip for Visitors.

Best Maze/House
This year I was stuck between four houses: 'Horror Nights: The Hallow'd Past', 'Hades: The Gates of Ruin', 'Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate', and 'Alone'. Each one had its unique touches and interesting experiences. They ranged from using top-of-the-line technology to being trapped all by yourself with no help. Taking everything into consideration, my choice for best house this year is 'Hades: The Gates of Ruin'. I absolutely loved the huge facade transporting me into Universal's world of mythological creatures.

Best Scare Zone
All of my top contenders for Best Scare Zone came from this years Halloween Horror Nights. Sorry, Howl-O-Scream, but your scare zones just were not close to the experience quality that HHN brought this year. The scare zones in the running were 'HHN: 20 Years of Fear', 'Saws n' Steam', and 'Zombie Gras'. I guess you could say I'm a bit biased towards 'Zombie Gras' because Universal Orlando gave me the privilege to be a zombie for a night. Yes that does influence me a bit because it definitely showed me how well this zone really works, but it is not my top favorite. 'HHN:20 Years of Fear' was the best of the last 20 years, while 'Saws n' Steam' was a new experience. In the end I had to part with 'HHN:20 Years of Fear' and choose the newcomers in 'Saws n' Steam' as my favorite scare zone. I loved how Universal made a use of the alleyway between the arcade and the lagoon. Filled with steam or well fog, this little area makes for a great atmosphere and some nice scares.

Best Show
As most excellent as Howl-O-Scream's 'Blood Relations' and Halloween Horror Nights 'Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure' are I had to go with Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party's 'Happy HalloWishes' fireworks spectacular. There is almost never a show that beats a good Disney fireworks show. This one is no exception. The attention to detail in the timing the fireworks to the music and storyline is always amazing with Disney. The 'Happy HalloWishes' fireworks are fun and something that is definitely worth for every Disney fan and Halloween fan to go and see.

Best Innovation
This was a rather large category, including the introduction of open fire in 'The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes' house, guest activated elements in the 'PsychoScareapy: Echoes of Shadybrook' house, the amazing technological advances in 'Legendary Truth: The Wynadot Estate', and the unique new haunt experience 'Alone'. I easily narrowed these down to two of the most intriguing new innovations. The Legendary Truth house had some really cool new effects tricks that truthfully made a true haunted experience work for the first time, but as amazing as those effects are they just don't take the cream of the crop. My favorite new innovation is Alone. Just the thought of going through a house by myself and getting all sorts of attention I am not used to is intriguing enough. The experience was very entertaining and could truthfully very well scare some guests out of their minds. I had a blast going through this experience and loved every moment of the experience.

Best Overall Event
The two events that came very close to one another for me were Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Halloween Horror Nights. I had a blast going through the Magic Kingdom and being able to be a kid again (well, then again, everyone is always a kid at Disney) and going through Trick-or-Treating. The shows were excellent and the atmosphere was charged with fun. And of course it was cool seeing so many people dressed up in diverse costumes and walking through the park.

Yet this year was one of the best years I had seen at HHN and hopefully is a good sign of things to come. For me although Disney was fun, my favorite for Best Overall Event was Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights. The attention to detail at Universal always amazes me and this year does not lack. There weren't any bad houses at all, some great scare zones, and two shows (three if you count both of Brian Brushwood's shows separately) that were all good. Overall, I enjoyed myself most at Halloween Horror Nights, but an honorable mention goes to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for providing me with the second-best experience this year.

Best Tip for Visitors
Now, when Robert asked me to come up with a Best Tip for Visitors, I had some trouble at first thinking about this one. But it was fairly simple for both Disney, Universal and Busch Gardens: Go to the shows first and do the houses or trick or treating later as the lines for both die down as the night gets later.

A congrats to all the Central Florida Halloween events for a fantastic 2010 season.

You can be a part of the final leg of this years Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando by joining in on the live web stream tonight (Friday) between 10pm and 11pm ET. To watch the live stream go here.

Replies (7)

October 29, 2010 at 10:49 AM · Hmmmmm I have to disagree on some points. (Ohhh it's time for a THROWDOWN Bobby Flay style!!!!!)

Best Scare Zone-- Although I loved walking through the Saws n Steam alley... that was pretty much the only scary part of HHN's scare zones. True the quality will forever be better than HOS's scare zones; but I HATE HATE HATE HATE how it's so easy to take pictures with the scare actors in HHN's scare zones. That made HOS's scare zones better for me.

Best Tip for Visitors-- (for HHN and HOS) No... definitely get to the park EARLY and do the HOUSES first. Then do the shows in the middle and catch dinner and relax. Then finish off the houses at the very end. Remember, the lines are short at the very beginning AND end. Things don't get popping until a full hour into the event, which leaves enough time for early birds to march through at least three houses.

October 29, 2010 at 11:18 AM · True agreed that it's easy to take pics with scareactors but that's their choice if they want to take pics or not. And good point on the houses early at HHN but over at HOS you can get the dinner show with blood relations and then get a couple hours worth of express afterwards so that's what I was thinking of. How did you like the rest of both events Pyra?
October 29, 2010 at 1:26 PM · I wanted to jump in to thank Domenik for stepping up and covering Halloween on the east coast for us this year. Thank you, Domenik, and well done!
October 29, 2010 at 1:49 PM · Oh yea I forgot, I bow down to you Domenik for covering the events as well. You were my muse this month.

And I never had to spend extra for ANY of the events despite lines soaring from between 1 hour - 2!!! Yet I got to watch all the shows, visit all scare zones and got to see almost all the houses at both events despite massive crowds. (Heh heh, I did the whole come early and stay-til-the-last-minute strategy)

I meant that I hated the camera-happy scare actors at HHN because it kinda ruined the scares when you saw them posing with a tourist just a moment earlier.

Other than that-- I had an awesome time!!!! I seriously believe that what you put in is what you get out... and I put my half-drunk, scared with fun self in there-- and had a blast

October 29, 2010 at 2:29 PM · Here's a little treat. Two icons have a fan favorite competition in last nights VIP Lounge. Jack vs. The Usher. Watch it!
October 31, 2010 at 7:46 PM · Thank you, Domenik! You covered the Halloween events to perfection and I read every newsletter. Thanks for the coverage!
November 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM · If you can't make to Central FL for Halloween, check out the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in NYC. Wild and crazy times. I finally had the chance to participate this year(one less thing to do on my bucket list), it was great even though very cold.

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