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Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights 22

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Some initial thoughts on tonight's experience, though I'm premise it with this... I give the event the total benefit of the doubt that tonight was done in part to work out the kinks in the event, so not all of what I saw or experience may be the final outcome.


I was able to experience four of the seven houses.


Penn & Teller: Very well-themed house for a sprung tent house, along the same lines as last year's The In-Between. Some great interactive gags as well as some very clever room designs made it a great experience. The 3-D is probably the most under-utilized aspect of the house, with the glasses serving more to disorient you (in some rooms more than others) than to make the walls pop.


House of Horrors: Awesome level of detail despite the black-and-white approach. Similar in concept to HHN 18's Dead Exposure, the lightning serves as strobes to light up the characters faces within the houses. You are walking through classic Universal Horror environments and seeing the characters as they looked in their classic features. Some great scare opportunities and a great throwback for fans of classic Universal Horror.


Alice Cooper: My favorite house so far. I got freaked out within the first room (though I'm always an easy scare) and consistently charged at throughout the house. For a sprung tent house, this one flows insanely well and yet feels like it is as long as a studio house. As a fan of Alice Cooper too, I wasn't disappointed.


Silent Hill: Knowing very little about the franchise besides that there is a character called Pyramidhead, I wasn't sure what to expect of this one. On par with The Wolfman from previous years, the theming is solid, but the scares are heavily timing-based, which made it harder for me to get scared when the major scenes went off for the people a few ahead or behind me. Hoping that my next visit will yield better timing and give an overall better experience, but certainly not a bad house by any means.


I also had the chance to see the first Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure. As always, the returning cast fit back into their roles well, but sadly this year's story is the most disjointed I've ever seen (though several others who I spoke to thought it was one of the best B&T's they'd seen since HHN 16) and the chosen pop culture references are poorly handled more often than not. There's a ton of pre-recorded speech in the show, which always makes the experience feel less authentic. The sets for this year's entry are solid and have some visual gags as always. I'll plan on going back to see if the show improves in the coming weeks, but the first experience wasn't 100% promising... There's definitely some work to be done, as there were whole jokes that went by without an audience response (if you have to ask what the reference is, it probably shouldn't be in the show).


The roaming hordes were hit and miss for me tonight. I know I didn't see all of them during my visit, but I also saw several of them multiple times in the same night. While great at scaring the groups, I think that the hoards aren't large enough to take on the crowds that the event will draw. There are some great hordes that attack in a pack mentality but as soon as they get spread out, their scare becomes far less effective.


I'll be going back for the grand opening on Friday as well as a general guest visit on Saturday, so I'm sure I'll some different or updated thoughts regarding the event once I'm done.


This is probably the most elaborate entrance design since HHN 19.


I couldn't easily explain to you what it is supposed to be, but it looks awesome!


They have posters on the Universal entry arch for each of the four IP-based houses.





This is the very general theme of the event.


Get in my belly!


The set at this year's Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure (taken before the start of the show).


Those new laser emitters installed along the waterfront were likely for the Halloween Horror Nights version of the Universal Cinematic Spectacular.


One of several mini shows, we were able to see the Alice Cooper themed one set to the tune of Welcome to my Nightmare.


The water printers are used in and out of the show.



The fountains are used in the shows as well.


These two scarecrows should look familiar to the HHN aficionados.


If there's one thing there's no shortage of at the event this year, it is fog.


And I mean lots of it.


Some close encounters with the Monsters horde.


Very friendly folks!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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IMO, that was the best Bill and Ted show since 2008. By far.



However, if I had to sum up the rest of the event in one word, it would be "adequate". Nothing special, but not terrible either. I did manage to get in all of the houses tonight.


Funny though, the Alice Cooper maze was our least favorite house. It just seemed confusing and forced; I had no idea what was going on the whole time. I guess Adam and I just have different tastes.... (shocking.)

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I, too, was there tonight... the only houses we missed were the House of Horrors and Dead End... My favorite house BY FAR was Gothic! We actually went through it twice, as it seemed to have the lightest crowd. We didn't really care for Walking Dead... it reminded me of "13" from Howl-O-Scream of years past, which isn't a "bad" thing... it just didn't have the scares for me... could have been a timing thing.. I really enjoyed Penn+Teller, which I didn't think I was going to.. I especially liked the slot machine room! Silent Hill had that very uncomfortable, eerie feel and I liked it.. ambiance alone make it for me... Alice Cooper's house was fine.. we only waited about 20 min for it... if we waited an hour+, I might have been disappointed.. I didn't "not like" it... just ok for me. Roaming hoards of scareactors, while fun, just didn't have the scares for me... good effort, and may have been a timing thing...We left the park about 11p as we were tired. Overall, I thought the event was excellent. Highlight for me being Gothic! Get out there and get scared everybody!

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I always find it interesting that there is such a varied responses to the houses at HHN. It seems like there is a never a clear cut absolute best house, and there are never houses that everyone absolutely hates. Some years my favorite house is among the worst reviewed, and some of the best reviewed houses I tend to think are the worst. I guess it's all just a matter of preference and timing.


Thanks for the early updates guys, can't wait to read some more this weekend but it sounds like the event is on par with previous years. Did anyone catch the Circus magic show? And was the construction at the park an issue?

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Hey, Hilltopper... no, the construction didn't really make the park difficult to traverse.. but what it DID do was make the park seem very divided, with 3 houses nearly on top of each other immediately upon entering (Silent Hill, Gothic, Dead End)... then still relatively close by was the next (Walking Dead)... then there was nothing but construction walls heading past the Jaws graveyard... if your timing was bad, you can get caught up in the cluster of Bill and Ted letting out (ugh, like we did)... right next to Men In Black was the next house (Penn+Teller)... then on the oposite side of the Simpsons, in Kid Zone were the final houses (Horror and Alice Cooper). Most houses were in the same locations as years past, however, without that Jaws queue, things seemed clustered and divided a bit more... Then the water front pathway near Mel's (and former Herc+Xena soundstage) was completely closed off.. it didn't really affect getting around, just more of a complete circuit. Now on a "regular" guest night which are potentially (and often are) packed, it may change that opinion!

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Looks like they did a "dress rehearsal" walkthrough tour for some media outlets last week of Dead End. So, it was full show lighting and sound with some of the scareactors as they walked through. I want post it here for spoilers-sake but if you search YouTube you should be able to easily find the videos.


Looks to be a pretty cool house with some decent scare setups. Also, saw a Silent Hill lights-on tour video. Really amazing set design in the house!

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I was fortunate enough to have been extended and invite to preview night. I, living in south carolina, was never really afforded this luxury so this was a first for me. Went thru 6 1/2 house (fire drilled) and all were well themes, well house of horrors was...I'll wait for tonight to give my opinion. The streets...ash the streets. I thought with no distinct zones it was lack luster. You're roaming as well as the hordes. Its like you are walking next to and passing by them. Someone with a cap load of experience in the horror nights world said something that really made sense, not everyone can experience all the house but everyone can go thru scarezones. Some people love the scarezones and this year that was taken away from them with the same teeming placed around the park.

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Tonight was a really bad night. I am going to hold off on really giving this year's event the full review until after my next visit, but I just thought I'd share with you guys a few of my thoughts on it. First off, I have to say that with no scarezones, no central theme, and no icon to hold it together, this year feels very in-cohesive and the park itself feels like it's not the real thing, not the real Horror Nights experience we have come to love. Some areas of the park, especially around Simpsons feels just empty. I'm hoping the other nights will prove me wrong on my feelings so far as there was one issue with tonight, being that it rained for almost 5 hours straight. None of the hordes even came out until about 9:00 when the rain died down a bit. On the positive side of things, most of the houses are pretty high quality this year. I'm not a fan of Walking Dead or New'kd Vegas, but the others I got to experience tonight(especially Silent Hill) proved quite good.


As I said, I am holding off full judgement of this year's event until I can experience it on a regular day that doesn't have water falling from the sky and flooding the paths. I didn't get to see 20 Penny Circus or Bill and Ted tonight either.

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So tonight Theme Park Review was fortunate enough to participate in the Grand Opening Media Event for Universal Studios Florida's Halloween Horror Nights 22. In typical fashion, the event started out with a delicious spread of themed foods inside of the lobby of the Pantages Theatre. Soon after we had the opportunity to take photos with some of the Walkers from The Walking Dead. And to wrap up the early media festivities was a special appearance by Penn & Teller who raved about their work with the Halloween Horror Nights crew to bring their ideas to life. They stayed to answer some questions, all of which were answered very humorously.


As for the event itself, here's a rundown based on our experiences...




Gothic: Definitely the standout house of the night. I haven't seen a house this detailed, technical and well-executed since the Dead Silence house ran back in 2007. Clever effects are used in the places you'd never expect them to be, which allows for the scares to take you even more by surprise as they happen.


Dead End: The second of the three original houses of the event, this one has some clever scares and some new effects as well. This one definitely builds off of the success found in the Legendary Truth house from two years ago.


Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare: My second favorite house of the night (and of the event overall), the house features Cooper's awesome music as a background for the twisted visuals and scares that take place inside. Especially strong are the costumes and the set design that allows for scares to take place in more random locations.


Penn & Teller's New'kd Las Vegas: The 3-D house of the year. It isn't as scary as The Inbetween was last year, but this house has some insanely clever gags including a three-breasted woman and radioactive lobsters. Fans of the more recently-traditioned "interactive buttons" added to the houses will find one room in particular that raises the bar by allowing several fantastic effects to be controlled by the guest, to be used on the guests in the other room. There's also one scene that while it borrows the same concept as was used in The Inbetween last year, it executes the visual overload significantly more. Let's just say that if you like Christmas lights, you'll be in heaven.


Silent Hill: My least favorite house of the event, primarily because it so heavily relies on timing. Impressive sets (including falling 'ash') help to envelop you in the world of Silent Hill, but the scares were hit and miss based on where you were when they happened.


The Walking Dead: Fans of the show will likely appreciate the house more than the rest. On par with previous efforts like Zombiegeddon, there's no shortage of detail to take in here, and there are plenty of good scare spots. As an outside to the world of the Walking Dead though, it was a little difficult to feel as drawn into the story.


Universal's House of Horrors: Borrowing a page from the Dead Exposure house of Halloween Horror Nights 18, this new house mixes the principle of strobe-based scares with the appeal of the classic Universal monsters as they were seen in their respective films. The Wolfman, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, the Creature from the Black Lagoon and Frankenstein were all represented in the house and the scares came with them. Clever effects and visual distractors help to make the scare even easier in here, so you're bound to freak out at least once in the visit.




Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure: While I didn't love the show on Wednesday when I saw it during the Team Member preview, I am happy to report that since that time the show has received minor tooling that has seemingly turned the whole thing around. While still not the best show we've seen from Bill & Ted, it is at least on par with last year's show (and many I spoke to thought it was better).


20 Penny Circus: This one was a surprise for me as I expected it to be very simple and use many tricks I've seen before. And while this is all true, the delivery was wholly entertaining and worthwhile to stay and see. This troupe knows how to take tricks that everyone has seen before and add some theatricality to it. The show won't be popular for everyone, but it may be the strongest "second act show" the event has seen since the Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute was run.




Well the funny thing is... There are none. This year Halloween Horror Nights has thrown out the traditional scare zones in favor of several sets of roaming hordes of characters unleashed upon the park. And while at times the idea works, it stumbles more often than not due to the small number of those in each horde, as well as the true lack of "roaming" going on. While not defined publicly several sections of the park are essentially the hangout locations of the hordes as they move around. The New York area between Twister and Revenge of the Mummy, the space nearest Fievel's Playland and over by Men in Black are three locations constantly filled with these hordes. They are effective in scaring but there could arguably be more, as much of the park looks empty thanks to the lack of scare actors.


Let's take a look at the photos!


Note: All photos of the inside of the houses/mazes at Halloween Horror Nights 22 were taken by Universal Studios' marketing team.


And we're back for the Grand Opening of Halloween Horror Nights 22!


Welcome to Fabulous Las VegAdam!


We started off with a spread of finger foods for the evening.


There were some pretty funny buffet decorations!


You bred raptors?!?!


So much good stuff!


Some of the members of the roaming hordes were present for the meal as well...


And it looks like they were hungry for Renee!


Look out!


Enter Darkness into this world!


Next up was a photograph with the Walkers from The Walking Dead.


Renee's been a pretty popular menu item this evening!


Next up was a surprise appearance by Penn & Teller!


Afterwards Penn quickly shuffled away, but not before a photo for some fans.


Teller gave a silent welcome to the followers of Theme Park Review!


Once done with the media happenings, we were split up into our RIP Tour groups and sent off into the park. Our evening started with two houses and a visit to the 20 Penny Circus.


The show was surprisingly enjoyable thanks to the charismatic cast and their ability to get the audience involved.


If this is capturing time stand still, this might be the exact moment where he realizes that jumping up and down on glass isn't a good idea.


But having someone stand on your face against said glass... That's a much better idea!


The old nail-in-the-nose trick!


She helped to retrieve it.


The volunteer next pulled a quarter out of the other cast member's nose.


Yep, this was a thing.


And the grand finale... And escape duel!


The set for this year's Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure is meant to portray the San Dimas High School where the duo continues to go to class.


At several times during the evening there are themed mini-shows on the Cinematic Spectacular lagoon. This one featured The Psycho, but the other one I saw earlier this week was based around Alice Cooper.


The Walking Dead's theming seeped out into the streets of San Francisco in front of Disaster.


One of the roaming hordes is an all-female troupe of chainsaw wielding convicts. One came up to me and asked, "What are you looking at Four Eyes? Do you want me to make 'em Eight Eyes?"


The graveyard has taken over the park.


Last year there was Night Maze... This year, we present Night Crane!


The sets for the studio houses always impress and the entrance for Dead End is no exception.


Gothic is so heavily detailed, it earned its place as my favorite house of the night!


And as detailed as it is, there are certainly no shortages on great scares within this house!


The unmistakeable silhouette of Nosferatu is a great little detail from inside Universal's House of Horrors.


Silent Hill has some very odd residents.


Dare you step inside?


When it came to designing The Walking Dead: Dead Inside, they clearly worked on authenticity to the show.


Penn & Teller New'kd Las Vegas has a very strange cast of characters (including two surprise guests that will visit the house at random times throughout the Halloween season).


You could be lucky and get the chance to see the two in person at some point this October!


Despite the lessened number of scare actors, those present have some impressive costumes!


The Alice Cooper house is so incredible!


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Sounds like they have a good set of houses this year. Not sure how the roaming monster thing is going to work for them. I remember liking it at BGT's event, but I think for this to be successful you need a large number of groups that don't stick to anyone one area. Perhaps they'll add to the number of monster groups as they make adjustments to the event.



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I was there on the rainy opening Friday night as well and I really feel like I have to give it another try on a non-rainy night because the experience with the scareactors in the streets just wasn't possible and that is a huge part of what they are selling this year.


We managed to hit 4 houses -

Universal's House of Horrors: By far this felt the weakest. 0 scares, cheesy rubber looking masks and really almost no strobe effects or gimmicks. I went into it expecting the blinding strobe experience that they have used in the past to disorient you and I was quite disappointed that it really wasn't that bad or disorienting. I do like the rerouting of the queue down the long back road but I was surprised that there was no decoration on the building at all - was that on purpose?


Alice Cooper: Not as horrible as I thought! Really not familiar with his music and didn't quite understand why the show scenes were set up the way they were, but it really had some great visuals and some good staging for a tent house. Hardly any scares but I really want to see it again.


The Walking Dead: I think a combo of not being familiar with the show and going through during a set change gave us a really poor experience. This is my huge problem with licensed houses, if you are not familiar with the property it ends up being a waste. And while I realize the show is very popular, I am sure at least a 1/3 of the people going through have never seen it. By making assumptions that people know it you are automatically alienating 1/3 of your guests. Not smart.


Dead End: Just great - really impressive sets, staging, effects and some good scares. This is what Universal is best at - awesome soundstage houses with unique and creative stories.


Bill and Ted - Surprisingly not bad! I want to see it again, but I felt it was probably the best one out of the last 4 years or so. Admittedly the last 4 years have been pretty bad, but this took the general story and turned it around just enough to make it feel fresh. The only WTF moment was the decidedly non-sexy opening dance number which usually is all about the skin.

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Just got back from the event, this is Friday Night. It seams the Universal, at least for tonight, ditched the roaming hoards. Each group of guels stayed in the same area the ENTIRE night.


Also, event twst awesome. Did Gothic: AWESOME, Walking Dead: Okay, Penn and Teller: Loved the 3D effect, did it twice. House of Horrors, gave me a few startles. Mostly with the lighting, where one second you wouldn't see anyone, and the next second someone is in your face. xD xD Bill and Ted made me laugh.


Would I spend another 41$ to see the event again this year? No. While I was amazed by the set detail, and the awesomeness of Bill and Ted, I personally think this year was a let down compared to yesteryear.

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Just got done with day 2 of HHN. We'll be going a third time tomorrow night.


Thursday - Did all 7 houses once, Pen & Teller twice, plus Bill & Teds.

Friday - Did all 7 houses once and 20 Penny Circus


Overall Thoughts:

The lack of scarezones has really impacted the overall atmosphere of the events. The roaming hoards were too spread out and I did not like the fact that there was not much stationary sets in the streets. Gothic and Dead End are on another level compared to the rest of the houses - both were spectacular. It looks like the best order to get everything in is to do Gothic and Silent Hill first, then do Dead End because it has been opening later at 6:30PM. Then head straight to Walking Dead as this line has been getting really long as the house in Disaster queue always does. Penn & Teller, Alice Cooper, and House of Horrors all have the shortest lines so do them last.


House By House Review:

1. Gothic 5/5

Hands down one of the best houses in terms of scenery ever. The facade is absolutely incredible and pretty much every scene inside is incredibly detailed and well done. They also brought back one of my favorite effects ever where it appears you are walking on a bridge over a room below you. They also have several scare actors on ropes hanging above the maze (reminiscent of the scare zone they had at the front of the park a while back where they would jump over the crowds walking next to Shrek). Overall my favorite house.


2. Dead End 5/5

This was the best house for scares. The scareactors in here seemed to have all of the scares nailed down really well and were doing a great job. The theming in this house is pretty amazing as well but its hard to rank it above Gothic just because Gothic was just THAT GOOD. As I said before, this one has been opening later at 6:30PM and the line really got long later into the night.


3. Silent Hill 3/5

I was really disappointed with this house. Having seen the movie, I had really high expectations but for whatever reason it just did not work. As soon as you enter the soundstage the maze starts and you are walking up the street that leads to Silent Hill from the movie. The falling ash was very cool and the details were great I just felt that there were not enough scareactors inside. The pyramid head was also really disappointing, there is two spots where he can come out and he walks back and forth to both of them so it is really hit or miss. Huge disappointment for me.


4. Penn and Teller, Newkd Vegas 2/5

I generally don't like the 3D houses but being from Vegas this one was better than some of the others they have done in the last few years. At the end of the day there is just only so much they can do with the 3D houses and they will never be in the same category as some of other houses. **Note - I saw a kid crabcrawling in one of the rooms after falling over from being drunk - only reason I did not give it 1/5.


5. Alice Cooper 3/5

I don't think this theme worked as well as Universal was hoping for. The house is super loud and too dark I thought. There is also one section where you have to do this awkward duck/squatting motion because the ceiling is low. I kept missing one of the scares during this part because I was trying to avoid hitting my head instead of looking to the sides where the scareactors were. There is a couple of repetitive scenes with Alice shooting an iv into a patient that were almost identical.


6. House of Horrors 3/5

They did something completely different with the queue for this house and the Parade building this year. You walk all the way down behind the Parade building and actually enter it from the rear instead of the front of the building as usual. There is a couple of really cool rooms in this house especially Frankenstein but overall I was not that impressed.


7. Walking Dead 3/5

As a fan of the show, I was disappointed with this house as well. They did a great job of recreating some of the best scenes from the show (Hospital, Department Store, Dale's RV), however, the last 1/4 of the maze is basically all outside and it is awful. There is one section with a fence where you can literally see the regular Disaster Queue even when it is dark out. The first time we did the house it was still light out and it was literally like taking a lights on tour at the end. Definitely try to wait until it is dark to do this one. This house also had the longest line of the night.




Bill & Teds

Really disappointed with this year's show. It was absolutely awful. The basic theme is that Bill and Ted are competing against each other in an election and they try to get all of the other characters to vote for them. The crowd barely got into the show as much as they have in years past. Bonus points for them including Open Gangham Style in the show though!


20 Penny Circus

The show was pretty short but entertaining. They take 8 volunteers at the start of the show (4 men, 4 women) and it was very interactive. They did a lot of old tricks that I've seen many times but there was some really funny parts. The Naked Mentalist was great.

Edited by Ron Toomer
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