I just had the awesome opportunity to participate in a conference call with:
TJ Mannarino, Director of Art & Design for Entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort
Patrick Braillard, Show Director of Entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort
Mike Aiello, Show Director for Universal Orlando Resort
Below is a write up of what was revealed.
FEAR – The Icon to Rule Them All
Fear is exactly what he sounds like (yes, he!) – the thing inside all of us that makes us run away scared. But Fear is manifested as a creature-esque character and is the ruler of all icons. He stands above them and will be very present in this year’s event (marketing, merchandise, houses, scarezones). He ties in all previous years in that one thing has been consistent in this ever changing event – FEAR. We don’t know what he exactly looks like and know little about him, but do not FEAR, for more details will be revealed in the coming weeks. Pay close attention to the Legendary Truth site and its Facebook page. We do know that the lantern is Fear, and Fear is the lantern. I imagine the fiery lantern being something like Fear’s heart that fuels him.
Creation of HHN XX: Twenty Years of FEAR
HHN was stuck between two places: do a reunion year to please fans of the past or make it all original to please fans of the new. So HHN took the best of both worlds and is bringing forth an event that is full of new yet still pays homage to the past. Through a scarezone (HHN: 20 Years of Fear) and a house (Horror Nights: The Hallow’d Past) fans of icons and the past can see some of their favorite characters (body collectors and treaks/foons to name a few.) But on the other hand, the event is all new with original stories, a new icon, new streets, and all new shows. They wanted to take HHN back to where it started – with all new creations and not buying intellectual properties.
Creative wants this year to be the one that paves the bloody road for the future. What is the next franchise house? Could it be Zombiegeddon, Hades, etc.? Could FEAR be the next Jack? And at the same time, we do get to return to ShadyBrook asylum but with a ghostly twist. They described this year as a ‘Thank You’ to Horror Nights fans.
FEAR Inducing Houses
Some new details were given about this year’s houses. There will be a house that is very tongue-in-cheek and has that sadistic horror comedy vibe to it. The house was not identified but they said it’s the one we least expect. Zombiegeddon is a house that will have the audience surprised in the direction that it goes. Could this be the humor house?
My most anticipated house this year is Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate. Creative revealed that this house was created two years ago but shelved because they felt they couldn’t do it right. A good paranormal house has to be unique and utilize new, innovative gags to really make it feel haunted. And they promise, this haunted house will feel haunted! Side note: they mentioned that every year they create roughly sixteen houses and then pick out eight. The others are shelved and may be picked up the following year. This is the case with Legendary Truth.
The best thing I heard in the conference call is this next bit: one of the houses will feature an OPEN FLAME! I love fire and it’s a bold move to put this in a haunted house but I’m stoked that Universal is going out on limb to try new technology. (I imagine this will be featured in Hades: The Gates of Ruin but not completely sure.)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is out and Brian Brushwood is in. I asked about what lead to this decision and was informed that they feel this show didn’t fit in with this year’s event. It could return in future years but for this year, they wanted to bring Brian Brushwood’s new show to the event.
Aiello informed us about this year’s ‘Bill & Ted’ show and while most details were kept under wraps, he did reveal part of this year’s story. Bill and Ted are going to be replaced. Oh no! But keep in mind, this is only in the story of the show, the actual show is going nowhere.