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Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) - 2012


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For those of you going to HHN soon, would you mind giving me a run down of the merch offerings? I have a friend getting me the pins from USF's HHN and I want to see if USH is offering different pins. This year the Orlando pins just say "Halloween Horror Nights 2012" as opposed to HHN 22 like they've done in previous years (HHN 21, HHN XX, etc). So I was wondering if they're offering more generic merch for both resorts this year. This way I'll know what's there before I go!

 

Thanks! Pictures and/or prices would be nice! Specifically I'm looking for the pin(s) and t-shirts.

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Well, in my previous post, I said that Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a bit of a letdown at preview night- Opening Night it was AMAZING!! Lots of scares, lots of fun. Terror Tram was much improved as well, with the ending scene completed.

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HHN Sold out tonight! My advice for anyone going: Get there early and try to take advantage of the special lower lot entrance. If you are there early enough, they open up a side entrance at the front gate and will direct you down to the lower lot before the rest of the park is fully opened. The security checkpoints usually open around 5:15pm, so get in line for that early too!

 

There was 100 minute waits for both mazes on the lower lot at 10:30pm, so you won't regret having to show up early.

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I went 9/28 and overall had a good time.

 

Scare Zones: The Clownz scare zone was probably my favorite but also the most stale as it is pretty much the same every year. I thought personally that overall the other scare zones weren't as good as last year and I really did not see too much effort being put in to scaring people.

 

Terror Tram: The Walking Dead overlay was ok. Truthfully having people walk really close to Bate's Motel created a huge bottle neck and reduced the amount of scares. Also the zombies were not trying very hard to hide themselves which I guess makes sense because they are zombies but they could have tried a bit harder to seem scary and dangerous. Overall I enjoyed it about the same as last years tram.

 

Mazes: In order of most liked.

 

TCM: This was a huge surprise for me as I have heard semi-negative things from others. This was by far my favorite maze as the detail was very nice and the scare actors were just incredible. This maze was very scary and the timing of the scares was perfect. Would love to see this maze stay another year.

 

La Llarona: La Cazedora de Los Ninos. Overall this was a great maze just like last year. Very scary and great story. Scare actors were doing a great job on this maze and the detail was top notch.

 

The Walking Dead: Dead Inside: For me this maze felt in the middle of the pack with pretty good scares and pretty good detail. There was nothing that really wowed me on this maze but nothing that I could consider a huge negative. I probably would have enjoyed this maze more if I had been watching the show more often.

 

Monster's Remix: I actually had a great time on this maze and the atmosphere was great. Playing dub step and trying to scare people really didn't make sense but overall was just a fun maze for me.

 

Alice Cooper: Welcome to my Nightmare: Not a very scary maze but the 3d effects were cool and was just a fun maze to walk through.

 

Silent Hill: This maze was a total dud for me. Did not understand what was going on and thought the costumes were ridiculous. It's not really fair for me to review this maze as I have not seen Silent HIll or played the video game but based just on how it felt to me this was the worst maze out of the batch this year.

 

Rides:

 

Transformers: This was just an awesome dark ride. It was so in your face and so over the top. Best dark ride in CA. You just have to ride this. No point in going into more detail as this is a ride you need to go on yourself.

 

Mummy: The Ride: Decent as always. Last year there was a really dim light on the entire ride which ruined the feeling of being in total darkness. This year it was pitch black again and just fun as always.

 

Simpsons: Fun simulator. Enjoyed it more than past years for some reason. Just a fun ride to do if you have done everything else.

 

Jurassic Park in the Dark: Always love this attraction for that nice airtime on the drop. Also did not get very wet which was a plus for being late at night.

 

Hope this wasn't too long as I really just wanted to summarize the whole night. Also I apologize now for any spelling and grammar errors. As a final note: Front of the line is one of the best things you can ever buy if you wan't to have a great experience.

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Alice Cooper haunt was a let down, I remember it being pretty good last year. I just don't understand the love for the 3D haunts. I think they are too gimmicky. There was one good scare involving an electrocution chair scene. This is the second time I have seen this scare and it gets me every time. ***Spoiler: The scare involves the tired electrocution chair and a prisoner/unfortunate human, but this time the human is real and usually springs to life and chases people. Very effective, because it looks fake.

 

Terror Tram is always a joke and too crowded, but as an entertainment professional, I must say that it is amazing to be able to get close and walk through some of the backlot sets, like War of the Worlds, Pshyco and The Grinch who Stole Christmas.

 

La Llarona: was excellent this year and a lot better than last year. The scares still need to be fleshed out in this haunt, but I give props to Universal for having an original story.

 

Monster Remix was a big surprise this year and I enjoyed it more so than in years past. For those that don't know, Monster Remix utilizes the year-round haunt venue at Universal, but this year they turned the entire thing into a nightclub with intelligent lighting and even a DJ in the main room.

 

Silent Hill was the biggest disappointment of the houses this year. They had so much to work off of concerning the video game and the movie. I think they really dropped the ball on this one. I wish they would have utilized the nurses more, because that was the only scary thing in the house and movie.

 

Texas Chainsaw was probably the scariest haunt I've seen at Universal and I have gone for the past 4 years now. With that statement, I will say that it completely depends on how many people you are walking through with (and this goes for any haunt). During this haunt my group and I were the only ones in the house and got every scare directed at us. Usually, Universal and several other haunts have stacking or as others like to call the congo line. If you experience this, the scares up ahead are usually spoiled because of how slow you are moving.

 

With that said, Universal is king of setting the scene with their realistic sets, costumes and makeup. They do a great job of distracting you in a room and scaring you from a different angle. It's all about the surprise and these guys ace this area every year. Another thing that they continually utilize is scareactors on stilts. These guys/gals actually run and jump at you when you least expect it. Very effective.

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So my partner surprised me with HHN VIP tickets for later this month, and I'm really excited about going. I was just wondering, from anyone else who has done the VIP, what to expect of the guided backlot tour? It's the only aspect of the HHN VIP experience I haven't been able to find any info on.

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Went to HHN last night and it was great!!

 

Texas Chainsaw was probably the best maze there this year! The sets were great looking as always and the talent really on their game scaring the hell out of people.

 

Silent Hill was cool although I haven't played the games or scene the movies so I was a little lost on what was going on the maze was still really cool and had some great scares.

 

Walking Dead was great, we waited about an hour and a half and it was well worth it! The entrance to the maze was incredible, lots of detail and there was a subtle creepiness with all the "bodies" that were laid out in front of the maze. The talent was awesome, they were really energetic and were some of the best zombies I've ever seen at a Halloween event.

 

Terror Tram like it has been for the last couple years was just ok. It's always really cool to be able to walk through the sets on the backlot but for the last couple years it's really just been the same recycled thing over and over. Still a fun attraction but I'd love to see them add some variety to it.

 

Alice Cooper had some really cool looking sets and probably the best 3D I've ever seen in a maze.

 

Bill and Ted was good this year, it was funny as always and the effects were amazing! Seriously one of the best theme park shows ever!

 

In my opinion USH puts on the best Halloween event around and if you've never been your missing out!

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So my partner surprised me with HHN VIP tickets for later this month, and I'm really excited about going. I was just wondering, from anyone else who has done the VIP, what to expect of the guided backlot tour? It's the only aspect of the HHN VIP experience I haven't been able to find any info on.

 

It can change from night to night based on productions, but the gist of it is that you still hit the key areas: metro set sets, western street, court of miracles with some fake ghost stories thrown in to make it fit HHN.

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You also get to do king kong 3d which I don't think they do during horror nights otherwise. Be prepared to have a great time because I did the vip the other day and it was awesome. Being able to skip the lines was great and a real time saver and the private lounge was great to be able to relax in and take a break. It was some of the best money I have spent in a theme park ever.

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HHN Sold out tonight! My advice for anyone going: Get there early and try to take advantage of the special lower lot entrance. If you are there early enough, they open up a side entrance at the front gate and will direct you down to the lower lot before the rest of the park is fully opened. The security checkpoints usually open around 5:15pm, so get in line for that early too!

 

I am going to the event tonight and am super excited and I'm going to be getting there pretty early with a group.

 

Do you know what time they open this side entrance to get to the lower lot? It sounds like they let you in earlier than the main entrance, is that true? I REALLY wanna try this out to save some time as I'm guessing it's going to be packed tonight. I also want to make sure I'm in the right spot, so I'm guessing the side entrance leads you over the bridge that crosses with the entrance to the hotel parking. Just want to make sure.

 

I am also interested to know if the Frankenstein parking lot is closest to the park entrance? I paid $20 for premier parking and want to park as close to the entrance as possible. I am guessing using the Hotel parking is not an option.

 

Thank you so much for this insight and thank you in advance for your response!

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^Frankenstein is closest. I believe that counts as preferred parking, and is more expensive during HHN.

 

Early entrance usually begins around 5:45 at the front gate. You'll be taken straight to the lower lot around 6:30.

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^Front of the line passes and the VIP tour are both already sold out tonight according to the website. As are online sales. Which means get there early if you don't have a ticket, since I doubt there will be too many available at the ticket booths!

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Got in the park right at 7, showed up a little too late to get in the side entrance. Even though it was busy which we knew it would be going in, everything was great. Group thought it was the best Haunt event they had ever been to. Definitely better than Knott's. We got scared TONS by monsters in the mazes and in the streets. VERY VERY FUN!

 

Suggested plan of attack if you get there at 7pm: Do the 3 mazes on the upper lot (and skip the Techno one), head down to the lower lot, do the mazes down there. Hit up the rides on the lower lot. Come back up to the upper lot and do the techno one (the line never got over 30 minutes for it the entire night) then spend time sitting in lines the rest of the night on rides or going on mazes again.

 

Waited in a 100 minute line for a maze, and while it moves, it really kinda kills the mood.

 

Super packed but Universal is great with crowd control. Next year it looks like we're gonna cough up the cash and do the VIP experience, as waiting in such long lines wears on you. I would recommend this event to anyone looking to get in the Halloween mood! And go on Transformers! Amazing ride!

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^I disagree. I would definitely do the lower lot first even if you arrive at 7pm.

 

My suggestion: GET THERE EARLY! The early entry for the lower lot runs from about 5:15-6:00, and that will save you a TON of time. You can have both mazes and any ride you want done by 7pm when the park officially opens. Then head straight for Walking Dead. Then do La Llorona & Alice Cooper. Then see Bill & Teds. Then Terror Tram (closes @ 11:45 on Fri/Sat). Then finish with Monsters Remix. You can be done with everything by midnight on Fri/Sat.

 

The caveat is that on Thursday and Sunday the Terror Tram closes at 9:30. So you REALLY need to get there early and do that first if you are planning on going one of those days. The early entry also works for Terror Tram, so you can do Terror Tram and then the lower lot on those days.

 

Also, if you ware thinking about going...buy your tickets online ASAP. Chances are all the remaining nights will sell out.

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Theme Park Review was once again invited by Universal Studios Hollywood to attend what is arguably the most popular Halloween event in Southern California. Overall, I found the event to be just as enjoyable as in past years. My brother Frank and I attended the event on Thursday the 18th, and were surprised to see that the event was sold out the night before. As this event continues to grow in popularity, it seems that more nights are selling out. When we arrived at the parking lot at 6:30 there were signs informing people that the event was sold out and no tickets were available for purchase. We saw several cars turn around and drive away surprised that it sold out. Better than finding out when you get to the gate!

 

It is highly recommended that you arrive to the event as early as you can to allow time to park, get through security and get into the park. (See Joey’s earlier post about an earlier entry time at the Lower Lot.) We were pleasantly surprised by the ease of the security check and entry process this year! We picked up our tickets and Gate A passes at Will Call and entered the park right at 7pm. We HIGHLY RECOMMEND that anyone going to the event purchase a Gate A pass! It makes me sad to say, but the reality is that it’s almost impossible to see all the event offerings if you don’t have a Gate A pass. So buy a Gate A pass; it’s worth it!!!! Gate A, Gate A, Gate A! Moving on…

 

We first visited Universal Monster Remix. I am not a fan of whatever this dubstep music stuff is in the real world. However, I really enjoyed it in the maze! I found it to be unique and I enjoyed that it gave the maze a different vibe from years past. The main chamber also featured what appeared to be a live DJ mixing; a nice investment if it was real.

 

Alice Cooper goes to Hell was enjoyable. It’s nice to have only the one 3-D maze, compared to Knott’s which uses the 3-D effect in several mazes each year. Although I found the talent to be lacking, the set pieces and several large rooms provided enough eye candy to make it enjoyable. I will mention that the two stilt performers we saw in the maze were incredible. They chose frozen positions that seemed impossible for humans to pose in, then would wait until guests were almost past them before jumping out at them. We were very impressed!

 

We then watched the first performance of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. This show is one of the reasons that I attend the event year after year. I enjoy the comedic aspect of the show, but equally love seeing the talent of the performers, and watching them put all their energy into their performance. I was excited to see positive reviews of the show from other TPR members early in the run of the event, so my expectations were high. We were NOT disappointed! The writers did a great job incorporating bits of this years’ pop culture, and the cast was simply incredible. We ended up seeing the show for again later in the night and enjoyed it just as much.

 

Next was the Terror Tram. Because we attended on a Thursday, the line for the tour was scheduled to close at 9:30. With plenty of signage provided around the park, we fell they did a great job of making sure that anyone who wanted to do the Terror Tram was able to do so. I feel that the Terror Tram is lacking in two major areas. First, is the bottleneck issue that occurs between Whoville and the Bates Motel. It took us seven full minutes to walk a total of 50 feet, leaving it difficult for us to fully enjoy the rest of the tour. The second issue is the visible lack of motivation from some of the talent. Many of the scare actors who were given specific actions or interactions did a great job. Some of the Walking Dead zombies also did a great job setting the scene. However, there were several zombies who didn’t seem to care. Even though they were interacting with the guests, they were not appropriate interactions. One of the zombies by the Bates Motel was walking through the crowd and touching the sides and back of the head of several female guests. Totally not acceptable… Another zombie was trying to actually take my camera out of my hands. It wasn’t until I said, “Thank you Mr. Zombie, if you could please not touch my personal belongs, that would be great…”, that he finally let go and moved on. Guest can’t touch the actors, and they shouldn’t be touching the guests either. It blurs the line between “fun scared” and “real scared”. /END RANT Despite those issues, I love having the opportunity to walk next to some of the most famous structures in the world!

 

We then visited the lower lot, and went through Silent Hill. It was great having that Gate A pass, as we were able to skip the 45 minute wait. Although it wasn’t our favorite maze of the night, we still found it to be a solid maze, having several icons moments that were very well executed. It also boasted some unique talent hides.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre was next, and was my personal favorite of the evening. The talent had the highest energy compared to the other mazes, and the theme seems to translate very well from the screen to a maze.

 

The Walking Dead was my second favorite maze of the night, again featuring some very memorable recreations throughout the maze. We appreciated the lack of guests backing up through the maze, which is sometimes an issue for other mazes.

 

Lastly, we visited La Llorona. Last year I seemed to be in the minority of people who enjoyed this maze. I liked it again this year, if not a bit more. I feel that some of the more iconic moments were better executed compared to last year. The floating La Llorona in the dead floating children scene was very crisp, and the growing La Lloronas toward the end of the maze seemed to be better featured. This was my personal 3rd place maze.

 

The walk-around areas seemed more subdued this year. We didn’t see the area around Silent Hill; where was it? Although the Clowns area has the most eye candy with the height of the cargo containers and the flame boxes, the talent have a small area to work in, and feels like more of a photo op area than a scare zone. Toyz did have a large variety of characters which we found entertaining, but the Witches area was nothing but understated the 3 times we walked through.

Despite the criticism of a few key areas, we find this event to be the best SoCal has to offer. I find it okay to be nit-picky about their product because if these issues were fine-tuned, I would have to return to the event multiple times each season! So to recap: Get a Gate A pass if you want to see all the event has to offer, see Bill and Ted’s, and appreciate the rich theming in the mazes that only Universal Studios Hollywood can offer!

 

We would like to give a huge “thank you” to Universal Studios Hollywood and Trana from Publicity for taking care of us year after year. YOU ROCK Trana! Halloween Horror Nights runs through the end of the month. Be sure to buy your tickets as soon as possible before your date sells out!

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Welcome back to another year at Halloween Horror Nights!

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There is no other way to experience the event than with a Gate A pass or the VIP tour.

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Yep, another sold out night!

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We can always count on the friendly main gate employees!

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“Hey Robb, we miss you sugar pie!”

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First maze of the night.

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Um, hello bonus inside the maze go-go dancer!

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Live DJ mixing in the main chamber! (We think.)

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The Toys scare zone on London Street.

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Yay for 3-D!

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The 3-D glasses were handed out for free for both the Gate A and regular guests this year.

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Yes please!

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We know him!

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Really nice open space gave us more to “take in”. Very nice!

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The Witches scare zone.

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Wait times at 9:05pm.

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Line for the Terror Tram. But we had our Gate A pass! (Are you sick of the Gate A mentions yet? Good.)

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The good ol’ chainsaw gang.

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So here is the bottleneck we referred to earlier…

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We loved that you could leave the normal route and get your picture taken in front of the Psyhco House. The guests loved it too!

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Approaching the War of the World set.

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Silent Hill was in the Mummy extended cue area, and cues in a different area than in past years. You enter by the Jurassic Park splash down.

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45 minute wait.

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Why thank you!

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He’s a dude.

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She’s a dude.

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Loved this ground position!

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Which is cooler, the fact that we found Joey or this poster?

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A common sight.

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That’s us!

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My favorite!

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Next up, in the old western arena.

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Outside the maze.

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This looks familiar!

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I am such a fan of these live ground scares!

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Back at the front of the park, the Klownz area is bustling.

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We LOVED that the park adds these HHN specific trash cans for the talent to beat up. There is nothing quite like the sound of banging metal.

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Our last maze of the night!

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Rich theming that only Universal can provide.

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Creepy!

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This effect worked way better for us than it did last year.

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Same here.

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We love Bill and Ted’s!

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Another packed house for this performance.

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This year’s show prominently spoofed The Hunger Games. We very much enjoyed it!

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“Everyone do the District salute!”

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May the odds be NEVER in your favor!

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Bill and Ted! The tributes of District 69!

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You can always count on some great guest appearances! Like Fozzy Bear?

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And the creeper from Family Guy!

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..and this girl.

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Lincoln is introduced to the current U.S. President. Upon meeting Obama, Lincoln simply says “Your welcome.” This was the audiences favorite moment of the show.

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Romney brought the Book of Mormon Elders with him.

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Fight, fight, fight!

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Ted and Phelps…

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Merida and Katniss…

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And SIRI!!!!!!!

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Hey Adam, this is what SIRI really looks like. Sorry that you now know she is out of your league…

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And the show finishes up with them putting blue bananas in each other’s mouths.

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And then it really ends with a random dance number! Yay!

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And thus ends another great Halloween Horror Nights!

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Thank you again to USH and Trana for inviting us. We look forward to next year!

Edited by robbalvey
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Went last night, and I've got to say the VIP offering was much improved.

 

While there was no Rat Lady (at least I didn't see her) or scary keyboard dude at the VIP lounge - the food was much better, it was an actual dinner.

 

The tour was also improved, in a nutshell, you do King Kong 3D and then get told scary stories and walk around Jaws lake (different to where they went last year), then you're dropped off at the beginning of the Terror Tram.

 

Throughput at Gate A has greatly improved because Front of Line people have barcodes instead of punch cards - which slowed things down last year. VIP's get the usual lanyard, but also a wristband with a barcode.

 

The mazes were good, though I didn't think Silent Hill came close to the Hostel or Saw that previously occupied that area on my previous years visits. Walking Dead had great energy, and the worst I noticed the line was 160 minutes, you could watch a few episodes of the show on a tablet while queueing. Dubstep was a surprise, the music reminded a lot of the soundtracks of a lot of old Dario Argento horror films, just with scratchy records added - definitely the best overlay of the House of Horrors I've seen. Alice Cooper had great colour and variation, La Llorona was changed up nicely and Texas Chainsaw Massacre worked well and had some very good rooms. Bill and Ted focused a bit more on comedy than musical numbers this year, and it wasn't bad.

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Maze wait times are an imperfect science, as you can never predict how people will react to the scares. 160 minutes posted is the absolute worst case scenario---actual wait times are most likely much lower.

 

Though I agree that I hope the event keeps growing and more mazes are added!

Edited by Jew
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