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.
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.
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.Tweet
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