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Halloween Horror Nights: Reflections of Fear

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Does anyone know if they are doing a character show this year? i.e. Jack and the Carnival of Carnage or The Terra Queen and the Sacrificial Chamber? Great report by the way


No. They sacrificed a show this year for the sake of scarezones. Bloody Mary can only be seen at the entrance and in Reflections of Fear.

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So I went the first regular night and I thought I would post my thoughts. As a bit of backround - I have been to almost every HHN since the first and almost always go a few times a year. Also - as everyone will tell you.. BUY THE EXPRESS PASS! Unless you have the luxury of going as many times as you want with the frequent fear pass, you need to get the express pass to see everything. Otherwise it just won't be possible.


Overall - Kinda a weak year, which makes me a bit sad. It seemed someone said "WE NEED MORE OF EVERYTHING!", but just like wal-mart... more is not always better.


Bill and Ted - I look forward to this every year and I always try to find the good in it. Some years the comedy is weak, but the dance numbers are great. Other years it has lots of fun characters and one liners but a horribly weak story. Unfortunatly this year suffered from the "MORE" attitude. It seemed as if they tried to stuff as many characters as possible into the show, but not much thought went into anything else. It looked like they wanted a huge hellboy tie in (even for some bizarre reason changing the title of the show), but only had him in for 2 short scenes. It was interesting to hear that most others shared my opinion as I was leaving.


Brian Brushwood - Wow! What a fun, 30 minute magic show. A pleasant surprise that was the perfect pace and attitude for HHN. Don't miss it and its short length make it easy to fit in between other things.



Scare Zones - Atmospherically it seemed as if a lot of money w scaresly as put into the props and sets, but they were all rather scaresly populated. It does not do much good to have more scare zones if there are few scareactors to scare. The best for scares was American Gothic which had an odd civil war theme but a small area to fit the scares into. The skoolhouse was beautiful with all the pumpkins but wide open so hardly any scares to be had.


Houses in order from best to worse - I didn't get a chance to do Body Collectors or Interstellar terror yet.


Scary Tales - This was built in a new building behind barney (much like the small building that was built for HHN in ioa). It had the right mix of parody, scares and beautiful sets to keep me interested.


Creatures! - All houses should really be in soundstages... there is just so much more you can do. Fun sets but some cheesy plastic creatures. A few good scares.


The Hallow - Had an old time Halloween and gothic feel that was very dark. Unfortunatly was in one of the tents behind BTTF so it was very short and limited in what they could do.


Dead Exposure - Glow in the dark zombies? Really? Kind of fun though with the blacklight strobes and a few gags/scares I don't want to give away. Also located in a tent so way to short.


Reflections of Fear - Why wont they learn and stop putting houses in the Jaws queue - they are consistently the worst houses around. Not even remotely scary with way to much noise and light leak even after dark. Really didn't even bother to try and tell the bloody mary story.


Doomsday - "Based on the Hit Universal Studios move" Oh .. wait... you didn't hear about it either? It felt like the cobbled together alll the sets and characters they had left over and pretended it had something to do with a movie that no one had seen. LAME.


Even though it was a bit of a mediocre year - it is still the best halloween event out there and I cant wait to go back again!

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Just the houses for now....


Scary Tales -- This house pretty much met my expectations and came away as my favorite of the night. Very imaginative design in both the sets & costumes and good scare tactics. Kudos on the bear. Unfortunately, it was the first house I went through and seemed a little dark, possibly because my eyes couldn't adjust. Hopefully I'll be able to see more of the detail next time.


Design: A+

Scares: A


Overall: A+



The Hallow -- This was probably my biggest surprise of the night. Nice set design and very surprising length for a "tent" house. Could easily pass as a soundstage house. They used some interesting concepts here. Look for a cameo from Bloody Mary. Again, things were a little dark, but I liked what I saw. I think the cast could be more aggressive though. And the facade needs to be fixed... already. Drunks versus styrofoam -- the drunks always win.


Design: A

Scares: B


Overall: A-



Reflections of Fear -- Pretty big letdown.... sort of. I really wanted to like this house, with Bloody Mary being an intriguing character and all, but the Jaws queue does her no justice, just as I thought. It's too damn short. And while I can see where they were going with the concept, I would have much preferred a house where Mary is stalking you personally rather than acting out her experiments on patients. You feel like a spectator in this house, like you're not part of the experience yourself. It has a lot in common with last year's houses, trying too hard to be cinematic and losing it's interactive aspect in the process.


Design: D+

Scares: D


Overall: D



Doomsday -- I refuse to watch the film. I could tell it's crap, and pretty much everyone who has seen it thinks it's crap. So with that said, I probably missed out on the meaning of a few details. No matter, the house itself is still decent. Unfortunately, it reminded me of every other house that's been in this location. If you've seen one, you've basically seen them all. Loud grungy gorefest. Not a waste of time, but very forgettable. Especially when all eight houses are fighting for space in your head at the end of the night. But I will say, those are some big-ass chainsaws...


Design: C

Scares: B-


Overall: C+



Creatures! -- I went into this house expecting to hate the inate cheesiness of it, but to my surprise, that didn't play much of a role at all. In fact, I only saw two of the dumb looking cyclops creatures, only one of which was actually moving. In retrospect, this really hurts the house's theme, but I didn't really care at the time. This house is mostly drunken redneck fun with some Thing-ish design elements thrown in. It has good length and some fun scare tactics.


Design: A

Scares: A


Overall: A



Body Collectors -- Ahh, the return of the much-touted Collectors... I'm not gonna lie, I think the original BC is the most overrated house ever and I wasn't a huge fan of the concept. This version is an improvement, but still critically flawed. You see, I enjoyed the setting. I enjoyed the scare tactics. I did NOT enjoy all the dead space. Seriously, what the hell? Why am I going through so many empty hallways? It makes the house feel a lot shorter than it should. Besides that major gripe, it's a well-themed, eerie house with an amazing facade. I liked that the Collectors were more aggressive this time, actually coming at you instead of just shoving body parts in your face as if they expect some sign of approval. I got several good startles in here. Unfortunately, it looks as if the full potential of this concept will go unrealized due to poor planning.


Design: C+

Scares: A


Overall: B



Interstellar Terror -- This house is... strange. It has a few interesting scenes, but at the same time, it felt unfinished for some reason. Much of it lacks polish in the design department, especially for a soundstage house. Scares were minimal. I found it disappointing overall. Besides specific scenes that had creative effects or highly visual props, the rest of it is a blur.


Design: C

Scares: D+


Overall: C-



Dead Exposure -- This is the "Let's try something new" house of HHN 18. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what to think of it, although it wasn't a massive failure by any means. The set design is very simplistic, mostly black with white highlighting and nearly constant use of black lighting. I liked that it tried to tell a story, even if I couldn't actually tell where I was supposed to be most of the time. Despite the low visibilty, there's still ample opportunity for scares here. The costumes are a little kooky though. Looked more like skeletons than zombies. I still enjoyed it.


Design: B-

Scares: B+


Overalll: B

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So I went this past Sunday and found it pretty fun, though that has more to do with the people I was with than the park itself.


One thing I noticed this year, that I don't remember at all from years past, is that they are selling one time use express passes in front of certain lines. When we were getting some drinks over by Reflections of Fear, they were offering one-time use express passes for $10 just for that one haunted house.


Also, again, I don't remember if this happened before since I never actually asked, but the price of Express Passes on Saturday dropped to $25 if you bought it after 10 PM.

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couple of questions here...


I will be at universal/IOA on thursday october 17th.


Are halloween horror nights only on weekends? I will be there on a thursday so i'm hoping i can check everything out.


Unfortunately, i will have to leave the park at about 7:30 to pick my girlfriend up from the airport. what are some must see attractions/houses, and when do all of the haunted houses start opening up?



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Event starts at 06:30pm. If you're in the park, the stay and scream area starts at 5pm. They let people go to the first house at 6pm. You could probably do 4 houses in an hour if you're there at the start. The walk through the queues is very long.


To anyone else going, get the express passes at all cost. Yes, they cost more than your entrance ticket, but it's worth it. Believe it or not, things are actually backwards this year. The houses in the back of the park have the longer waits. The sound stage houses have short waits, probably because the queues are so long.


My page is now ready.




This would be the picture of the night.



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I went tonight. Went into Scary Tales III, Creatures, and Doomsday.


Scary Tales III was the best in my opinion. Doomsday was lame because it was still light outside. I'll probably be going again in a few weeks to finish up the houses and see the shows.


I also ran into Erik Johnson (Good to see you again Erik) while in line. He was waiting for another house.

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Overall I thought it was a good solid year. It certainly was much better than last year's. I was happy to see the return of a lot more scare zones and original themed mazes. Scary Tales was my favorite this year while Doomsday was my least favorite. Bill and Ted was as fun as always and if you happen to like Rocky Horror, you will enjoy the live show.

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For me I always prefer an immersive experience rather than a scary experience. Well, I really should say that I never seem to get scared much at HHN. I do get startled by people jumping out etc, but never scared. I thought this year was way more immersive in terms of actors, maze details, and the simple fact that there were scare zones when compared to last year. I was very disappointed with last year's event myself (except for the Dead Silence and Christmas houses). I thought this year was overall very solid. While it was not my favorite HHN ever, I did enjoy myself more than the last 2 events.

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I'm a solid fan of Jack, so I was a little sad to see him not here this year (with last year's event being my first), but I was definitely surprised at how much I've enjoyed the event this year.


While certain houses aren't as good as I would have hoped, others surpassed my expectations (especially Doomsday). The scarezones were especially impressive this year, and in my opinion, better than those of the previous year. Bill and Ted's was as good as last year's show. Brian Brushwood was actually a huge disappointment for me, considering how little content there was to the show.


I'll be putting up a full trip report later this month, but I can say that I have enjoyed the event so far, as much if not more than last year.

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This was my first Halloween event at any park, and while I am difficult to "scare", it was still fun. The shows are good though, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them bring Rocky Horror back next year.


A few pictures from HHN, Rocky Horror, Bill & Ted, and a few night shots.


Mummy at night


MIB at night


Long exposure


Simpsons at night


Twister pre-show with lights on


Twister's queue with the lights on





Pumpkins don't grow on trees


OMG! Could these be supports for the new coaster?



They never said anything about this being a "family friendly" event


"Iron Man"


Bill and Ted





I'll make you a man


If you haven't lost your Rocky Horror virginity, this could be your opportunity



It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness takes its toll.


Hey Janet, you beat the other girls to the bride's bouquet.

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I just went on Friday night and we did all of the houses within a 2 hour and 15 minutes period. We went in and made a right and worked our way around and did all the houses with no wait longer than 20 minutes. We went right when it opened, later at night, some houses reached 60 minutes but a few remained at 30 minutes or less throughout the night.


Did some houses twice but had to wait up to 40 minutes but afterwards, we spent most of the night checking out the scare zones and hanging out.


Overall, my opinion was that it was ok. I thought everything we did (all the houses, all the scare zones, and the Bill and Ted show) was ok. Not too great, but not too bad. However, we had a great time and really enjoyed it.

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I have to say the last time I was impressed by this event was back in HHN 7. That was the only truly terrifying year for me. Of course one has to take my age into consideration at the time (I was 10) but nonetheless, if my memory serves me, the scare-actors were more enthusiastic than any other HHN event that I've been to and the overall presentation was tops compared to other years.


Since 2004 it seems that Universal is more interested in making a quick buck than putting on a good show. They pack the park(s) to the limit and sell as much booze around every corner at all times of the night (if they were at all concerned about having customers to return in the following years they could at least have ths smarts to stop the selling of alcohol at least three hours before the park closes) making you (the hard paying customer) squeeze through a sea of rowdy drunks whilst avoiding puddles of puke that never seem to be cleaned up by the park janitors. All the while dealing with 2 to 3 hour wait times for medicore scare mazes.


This is the reason I stopped going on fridays and saturdays.


Sundays nights (and week nights) seem to conjure up less people, diminishing the ridiculously long lines, crowds and puke puddles.

Unfortuntly it does nothing to the unmotivated scare-actors and lousy ideas/production values that go into making the houses and the scare zones.

You would think with the amount of cash Universal makes on these things every year that we would finally see an HHN event where ALL the houses and scare zones are top notch material.


While last year was kinda of a rarity, all the houses ranged from above average to excellent, this year was no exception to the HHN rule of the past 7 years, quantity over quality.


Let's start with the houses...


CREATURES: Pure uninspired fluff. just a bunch of people dressed up as hillbillies jumpin' out of corners and not doing much else. You would think with a title like CREATURES that we'd actually get to see something that resembled a creature!!!!

There is one at the very end but I wouldn't have noticed it if I didn't squint my eyes at what looked to be like a pile of garbage bags.





An "Alien" (the movie) rip off without the alien. Like "Creatures" a bunch of deformed humans are stalking you around a Nostromo like ship.

The design of the house wouldn't be awful if it hadn't looked like they took pieces of THE THING (a much better sci-fi house) house, from last year, to make it.

Just another rush job.





BODY COLLECTORS: Now this is more like it!!!

Wonderful atmosphere, great production design (the London alley ways being the most effective) and actual scary figures after you.

The most memorable part is a theatre full of these collectors watching an autopsy being conducted on a live victim! I was even treated to one Collector slashing the throat of a hooker.


GRADE: A+ (Best in show)



DOOMSDAY: Had to sacrifice this house so I could see the much talked about BLOODY MARY house and DEAD EXPOSURE. I was one of the 9 people in the states that actually saw the film on its release. It's an obvious rip off of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and MAD MAX but it was fun.



REFLECTIONS OF FEAR: Not horrible but a huge let-down.

I only spotted MARY once and the house seems totally void of any mirrors. I would have thought this house would concern itself with mirrors and lots of them. We just get another variation of a mad scientist conducting horrible experiments on his or her patients.

You would think the title house would get better treatment.






DEAD EXPOSURE: Most likely the cheapest looking house in the whole event. They just seemed to put up paper mache zombies in empty rooms and couple them with scare actors so you wouldn't know which is which.

What makes this dubious premise work is that it's pitch black except for the occasionally camera flash that lets you see your surroundings.

A creative idea that I'd like to see improved in the years to come (making it longer would help).




THE HALLOW: A solid affair. The best bit being where you are forced to walk through a hallway with dangling severed heads. Can't recall much else but I recall a lot of scare-actors in corny looking goat masks. I also recall coming out liking it.




SCARY TALES: Production values were on par with BODY COLLECTORS but the scare-actors were totally not into it. It also seemed that there were a lot of rooms/halls with nothing in it. There was one memorable setting that has you rummaging through rapunzel and Alice (what does ALICE's ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND have to do with BROTHERS GRIMM exactly?) ripping out the insides of the white rabbit (or the Marsh Hare). What was most interesting however, was the presence of a few mirror gimicks. WHY oh WHY did this house and NOT "Reflections of Fear" have mirror scares?





I'll be back with my review of the scare zones if I feel up to it.

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The only two that stood out for me was The scare zones surrounding the BODY COLLECTORS entrance and the SKOOLHOUSE.


The scare zone for BODY COLLECTORS was well placed in the creepiest part of the the studios and even though it is a relatively small section the scare actors were in good form.


The SKOOLHOUSE had a very nice looking pumpkin patch as well as a creepy looking School House. The scare actors' costumes for this segment weren't exactly scary but well suited for this section.



Evry other scare zone was mediocre at best.


ASYLUM IN WONDERLAND was so brightly lit that nothing could possibly jump out and scare you.


AMERICAN GOTHIC was a neat concept but was cheaply put together as was FRAGMENTED TALES which gets an award for WORST COSTUMES ever.

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I went on the 18th (my first time ever going to HHN) and I highly regret not getting an express pass. I arrived at 7:20 and had to leave at 11:40. Within that time period I was only able to do three haunted houses: Scary Tales, The Hallow and Creatures!


I was however, abe to walk through all the scare zones.

My favorites:

1: SchoolHouse: I just love how creepy the scare actors are without having to be monsters. I was even greeted by a boy with a dead bunny who posed for several pictures with me

2: Ayslum in Wonderland: I am a big wonderland fan, so I naturally loved this part. However, I didn't find it that scary because no one could jump out at me due to all the bright lights.

3: Streets of Blood: Here I had several scare actors breathing down my neck. Very creepy

4: The Path of the Wicked: I felt there wasn't enough scare actors in that section but then again it was a very small scarezone

5: Fractured tales: The scareactors were more weird than scary

6: American Gothic: It felt like it was a last minute thought to me. Like "oops we need another scarezone. Quick! Put something together" I did however, love the "tree" scareactor



As for the haunted houses I visited....

I really loved Scary Tales. My heart didn't stop racing til about 30 minutes after I got out of it.


The Hallow I can barely remember, though I do recall getting the daylight scared out of me at the very very end.


Creatures I did right before I left and while I really wanted to check out the plot of the house, I was way too jumpy. The beginning was a little slow but got me some good laughs from the drunken redneck lady dancing in the corner.


I even got to fit in going on The Mummy and Disaster. I kind of wish they'd place surprise scareactors in the mummy's queue. That would have been awesome.



And... Rocky Horror Picture Show... Only got to see a little past the timewarp (all due to my time limitations). It was really amazing though.



I really look forward to next year!

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My reviews...


Dead Exposure: LOVED it. I loved seeing something different. I thought the strobe effects were annoying, but awesome. And even if the physical sets might have been "cheaper", the effect is awesome. The scareactors were doing a great job timing their movements to the strobes. This one was my favorite.


The Hallow: My second favorite. Great sets and the scare actors were into it. Agree with the previous poster about the hanging heads. That has to be the most disturbing set I have seen in a Halloween maze. Loved it!


Reflections of Fear: Just didn't get it. Scare actors weren't into it. Didn't see any sets that blew me away. The claustrophobia effects were nice, but annoying and pointless.


Doomsday: Another one I didn't get. The makeup on the scareactors was all really cheap, and they weren't impressive at all. The ending had to be one of the most WTF scenes ever...didn't make any sense.


Creatures: Great sets (even if they all felt like they were left over from Texas Chainsaw), really nice facade...no scares! All talent acting like hillbillies or just playing victims. Yawn.


Interstellar Terror: Loved the sets, but again the actors were all about being victims and not doing any scaring! Yawn. This maze had my favorite effect with the whole tremors thing.


Scare Zones...


In general, I didn't like how the scarezones all seemed to be concentrated towards one area. The themeing and actors never really extended through all the way through any of the zones. And they were all way too small.


Asylum in Wonderland: WAY too bright for scares. But the scareactors were having fun. The caterpillar guy wasn't funny.


Fractured Tales: Didn't see any scares. Just saw great costumes from fairy tales and actors posing for pictures.


Path of the Wicked: Stupid at opening when it is still bright out, much better at night. Small area and there wasn't enough actors there. But the flying monkeys, witch on the tower, and stilt dude were cool.


The Skoolhouse: easily my favorite. The "bloody mary.." effect was awesome. Very creepy walking through central park with all the pumpkins. Too bad I didn't see any scareactors in the park section. They were all at the front by the school house. Cheap costumes, but it works for the theme.


Streets of Blood: No themeing...good scareactors.


I don't even bother calling the zombies in front of MiB and the chainsaw guys in San Fran scare zones. Such a waste that the entire back side of the park had no scare zones!!!




Only bothered with Bill and Teds. Loved it this year. Left in the middle of all the dancing finale, since that is just boring to me (I know...I'm from California...I don't get the tradition...and saw it later that night at Hollywoods HHN anyways). But the 'action' part was great! Last year I thought Hollywoods turned out better, but this year I give the edge to Florida's.

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Doomsday: Another one I didn't get. The makeup on the scareactors was all really cheap, and they weren't impressive at all. The ending had to be one of the most WTF scenes ever...didn't make any sense.



The last bit ties into a big scene in the movie, where the leader of the cannibal cult is whipping his followers into a frenzy before they deep fry some poor guy. Too bad it ended up being just some skinny dude on a stage and one guy with a chainsaw at HHN.


It was the weakest house of the night.

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