Southern California theme park fans enjoyed a rare "attraction" last night and this morning — rain.
A substantial rainstorm blew through the area Friday night, arriving several hours earlier and with more intensity than forecast. That caught many fans off-guard, especially at Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights, which was forced to close most of its mazes in the downpour.
And that, in turn, frustrated thousands of fans who found themselves with little to do in what Universal bills as a "rain or shine" event.
Rain shutting down Halloween Horror nights @UniStudios People demanding refunds as this has truly turned into a night of horror. @barstoolsports @FranktheTankpod @RadiospazC @NjTank99 @latimes @ladailynews @cbs2kcal9brk @YahooNews pic.twitter.com/WIpNoaMelm— Abe Miranda (@p1nkybrain) October 13, 2018
The rain led Universal to close all of the mazes on the backlot, as well as the Universal Monsters maze in Universal Plaza, and the Terror Tram. The Jabbawockeez show went on, and "normal" attractions such as Transformers and The Simpsons Ride remained open. But the only truly weatherproof mazes at Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights are the year-round Walking Dead Attraction and Stranger Things, which is the only USH maze built inside a soundstage. That leaves the event susceptible to weather delays and closings, despite Universal's insistence that the event will run rain or shine.
After all, if the event is on, but almost none of its signature attractions are available, is the event really still "on" then?
That was the debate that raged throughout the evening, as thousands of fans queued for refunds, which some reported they could not get. (Whether that was due to Universal's refusal or fans simply giving up because the line was too long isn't clear to me. If you were there last night, please share your experience with us in the comments.)
October is the tail end of the summer dry season in California, so rain washing out a Halloween Horror Nights evening California is rare, though not unprecedented. But, clearly, many fans left last night's event not just disappointed by bad luck with weather but downright angry with what they got for their money, which isn't a good customer relations outcome for any theme park.
Update: Some Universal team members have reached out to me privately (i.e. not with authorization from Universal), to say that guest relations and call center personnel can and have offered one-night return tickets to those affected, but not refunds. And there's chatter that Universal Studios Hollywood might extend Halloween Horror Nights by one evening, to Sunday, November 4, to accommodate make-up dates. Stay tuned.
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