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Warner Bros Movie World Fright Nights

Haunt season is here, and over the next few weeks I'm planning to hit up a few different haunt events in the region. Rather than creating a whole pile of trip reports I thought I'd just roll them all into one, starting with my local-ish park - Movie World!

 

2016 is the tenth year of Fright Nights, and it remains the only serious haunt event at any Australian theme park. This year the park is presenting four mazes, all based on familiar IPs. Two of the mazes (From Dusk till Dawn and The Conjuring 2) are brand new, while two are "encores" from last year (Friday the 13th and Wyrmwood). Bearing in mind that Movie World is a regional park (with a regional park budget), the overall quality is pretty solid. In particular, the scare actors are a step up from previous years, and definitely seem to enjoy their roles.

 

My group opted to try the Ultimate Terror Tour for the second year, which offered an exclusive haunt experience in addition to the regular buffet/front-of-line perks. This tour had been the highlight of last year's event, culminating in a freaky ride on the Looney Tunes carousel, like something right out of a horror movie. While it's great to see the park trying different things, this year's offering wasn't quite as enthralling. The concept is solid enough - guided tour of a museum filled with paranormal objects, then (of course) it all goes horribly wrong. But it was let down a little in the execution, mainly that the buildup was a little too long, then all of the "gags" seemed to go off at once, so it was easy to miss a lot of the action.

 

Some random observations before the photos:

- the new Doomsday ride and Villians area is open, and looks fantastic. Hooray for new rides!

- Arkham Asylum now has VR (yes, they put it on an SLC!). I was skeptical but this actually works pretty well. The VR film is solid and ties in nicely to the overall theme.

- the new coaster remains under construction out the front, but it's all footers and dirt at this stage. Mack are building something big, hard to tell much apart from that right now.

- From Dusk till Dawn was my pick of the mazes on offer this year. It's based on the TV series, and made good use of some large showpiece rooms to tell the story. The actors in this one were having plenty of fun, which always makes a difference.

- the scare zones seem to have mostly disappeared, apart from one or two small areas. I'm told this was because guests didn't like being scared outside of the mazes, so the park has opted for entertainment instead.

- last year I thought a few of the mazes were overly similar, which isn't the case with the current selection. All the same, I'd love to see them try a quirky/gross-out maze next year, something a bit different to the usual jump scares.

 

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It's been five years since the park has had a brand new ride, so let's take a look at Doomsday first.

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Flat ride enthusiasts will recognise this as an Intamin Twin Suspended Hammer.

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Doomsday is fun enough, and looks much more extreme than it rides. It's essentially an open-air Kamikaze, without your head smacking against the roof during inversions.

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Movie World has been lacking any kind of large flat ride, and on that basis Doomsday is a solid addition. While the capacity is good, at the moment it's running in "new ride mode", so cycle times are somewhat erratic.

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The area around Doomsday is themed as "DC Supervillians Unleashed" aka the land of photo ops. There are a handful of interactive elements, most of which are activated by a wristband. I guess it's cheaper than one of those Harry Potter wands...

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There's a pressure pad nearby that will set off Killer Croc's geyser, drenching the unsuspecting innocent.

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What's a rogues gallery without Poison Ivy?

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Bizarro!

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OK, on to Fright Nights. Once the park closed the Ultimate Terror Tour guests are escorted to a VIP lounge.

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This tour is definitely popular, I'd estimate 150-200 guests had opted in.

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Behind this facade lies drinks and canapes!

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The entertainment inside was a little grim. Good head of hair for a skeleton, though.

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Special haunted chicken skewers to start the night.

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I'll have my meat right off the bone, please.

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Post-finger food we headed out into the stunt arena to meet the Fright Nights cast.

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In the dark mazes it's easy to miss how great some of the makeup and prosthetics are.

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He kept mentioning something about wanting to be taken back to the home...

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Hello there! She can scare me any day of the week.

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This is... Jason? I don't even watch horror films...

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We were funneled into Main Street for the opening show.

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Zombie strippers!

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Time to check out the mazes. Fright Nights is quite popular this year! And the red and yellow things at the front of that photo... some people had come dressed as ketchup and mustard. Oh yeah.

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"Apparitions" is a tiny scare zone squeezed in behind Scooby coaster. Honestly I'm not sure what the point of this is, apart from trying to create a bottleneck.

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The whole "zone" seems to consist of one girl in a police car yelling at people. Swing and a miss.

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In past years the park has been able to use some of the studio sound stages next door for mazes, but with Thor 3 occupying the entire lot, that wasn't possible this year. So instead they've built a pair of sheds as permanent maze housing and storage.

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From Dusk Till Dawn was my personal highlight of the evening. I'm not really into horror films and go into these events with zero knowledge of the IPs on offer. This maze presented the story really well, and actually made me want to go and check out the series.

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Rules are rules, so it's a conga line through the maze. The sets in this one were very well done. Who doesn't love a good strip club haunt scene?

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This one also featured a "bonus room" for Terror Tour participants. You get to squirt people with water. It's a cheap trick, but that doesn't mean it's not fun!

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Wyrmwood returned from 2015, in shed #2.

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This one seemed to have improved since last year, I think it benefited from a more compact layout with fewer "shuffle through the corridor" moments.

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If you're not familiar with the film, it's about some kind of zombie infestation in the Australian outback.

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Next up is Conjuring 2. It's this kind of view that makes you really start to appreciate the front-of-line perk.

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I'm told the film is about some kind of phantom who doesn't really appear until the end, so it's something of a challenge to turn that into a maze. This one definitely used a lot more environmental effects than the others, again it's cool to see the park trying out something new.

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Spooky entry. This was a relatively strong maze, with some creative scares, including a particularly effective bungee-zombie-nun.

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The secret room inside Conjuring 2 included some interesting behind-the-scenes art.

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The video feed from the maze was pretty funny to watch, some people scare very easily!

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More concept art, showing how they translated the film into a haunt maze.

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Outside of the mazes the park has a strong focus on entertainment this year, including this live band that played all night.

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There's also plenty of selfie opportunities with the roaming characters.

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The bumper car building hosts Friday the 13th, another returning maze. I was impressed by this one last year, but this time around it definitely seemed like a budget version.

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So the climax of the Ultimate Terror Tour is an exclusive "haunt experience". As I mentioned earlier, this was a huge highlight last year so I was definitely looking forward to seeing what the park had come up with.

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The tour is inside Stage 12, aka the back half of Scooby coaster's queue. The "museum tour" theme this year wasn't terrible, but was paced quite unevenly - ten minutes of slow narration followed by all of the gags going off at once. The actor playing the tour guide was quite good though, and very amusing.

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Fan + fog juice = haunt atmosphere!

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The evening wrapped up with a show, everybody turned out to watch!

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Our guitarist and strippers from earlier present "Rise of the Dead".

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Some DJ stuff, more dancing...

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Dancing! With fire!

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Then the Christmas lights came on at the end... huh?

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Thanks for reading, that's all from Fright Nights. Overall it's a solid event, I definitely plan to check it out again in 2017. Coming up next week - Universal Singapore Horror Nights!

Edited by azza29
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Great coverage of this year's FNs. Interesting to hear another perspective, as I've heard a lot of this year being quite underwhelming, including the FDTD maze.

 

The christmas lights at the end are basically a way for the park to say "okay it's over now get out of here".

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Universal Studios Singapore - Horror Nights 6

Universal Singapore has an excellent track record when it comes to Horror Nights, so in what's become something of an annual event for me, I headed there last weekend to check out their sixth iteration of this event.

 

One of the things I love about Singapore's Horror Nights is that every single maze and scare zone is original and brand new, every year. A number of the mazes have some basis in local culture, which gives rise to some great, unique haunts. The event is hugely popular, with most of the guests being Singapore locals. This year the park has responded by adding an extra maze, and bringing back the theatre show. The lines were still quite long, with the mazes hitting at least two hour waits during peak times, and even the express queues were around the 30 minute mark.

 

Fortunately we'd booked the R.I.P. tour, which pretty much eliminated waits during the tour and gave us bonus express passes once it ended. This is definitely a great way to see the event, and it also gave us the option to see some behind-the-scenes on a couple of mazes beforehand, as well as a look at the makeup/prosthetic process.

 

Of the five mazes, my highlight was the very dark Bodies of Work, based on an artist who went crazy when his family were killed, and now makes art out of people. This one was properly disturbing, and featured some incredible prosthetics and makeup. Hu Li's Inn was another fantastic maze, telling the story of a 1930s brothel "gone wrong". This mazes incorporated a few funhouse elements, as well as some top notch environment design.

 

Jack's (Recurring) Nightmare Circus was back this year, and another highlight of the evening. This was easily one of the best theme park theatre shows I've seen, and the park had featured some excellent performers - including America's Got Talent act Deadly Games.

 

So, here's a look at the awesome Horror Nights 6!

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It doesn't matter which of their parks you're at, it's mandatory to start with a picture of the Universal globe.

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As the park emptied out and began changing into "haunt" mode, our behind-the-scenes tour began.

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This is Fin. For some reason Universal Singapore dress their tour guides in hospital scrubs.

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We made our way backstage to the first haunt site. The park builds all of their mazes from scratch every year, with each one taking about three months to construct.

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Salem Witch House is about as close to using an "IP" as Universal Singapore gets.

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The maze designer, whose name I have forgotten, showed us through the house. Photography was allowed, hooray!

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That is one grisly thanksgiving dinner.

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Random, terrifying goat animatronic.

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Some cool projection effects on the witches' bed.

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A Frozen homage? This is definitely the brightest room I've ever seen in a haunt maze!

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And we all know what happens to the villagers at the end...

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Next up, important queue preparations!

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Haunt designer Fauzey is going to guide us through Hawker Centre Massacre.

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A hawker centre is a kind of food court/market hall, found in Singapore (among other Asian countries). Though there was a path through the maze, it was quite "open" which definitely added to the realism.

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They've started experimenting with some animatronics this year.

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This poor guy has some epic food poisoning.

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They had the "smell" effects turned on for our tour, including chicken rice, flowers, vomit, and garbage.

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This rig supports the maze finale, a "truck about to hit you" gag. They bought a real truck and carved it up to make the effect, put it on a stick and added some compressed air.

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After the mazes, next stop was the makeup room. There are four hundred actors every night, each requiring some kind of prosthetic or makeup.

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Lead artist Marc took us through the different techniques his team of 120 uses to make it all work.

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This is Damian Shipman, the "hero" of the Bodies of Work maze. In case you're wondering, the prosthetic is on his left side.

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Damian is wearing an apron made of people!

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Marc also showed off some of their creations from previous haunts.

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Say aahhhh...

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Once that part of the tour ended, we headed back to the front of the park. The event was still an hour away but already the queues were quite long.

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Fortunately we could wait in the VIP lounge, which had been suitably decorated.

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With a few minutes before Horror Nights starts, a huge crowd was packed into New York Street.

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Noted!

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So the preshow had a little more to it this year, with a skeleton DJ "performing" for the crowd.

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But then he burst into flames.

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And our haunt heroes came out. Hooray!

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Escaping the mad rush that follows rope drop at these things, we headed first to Bodies of Work. As I mentioned earlier, this was an excellent maze. It played on gore more than outright jump scares, which was particularly disturbing.

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Old Changi Hospital is themed to an abandoned hospital which is now haunted by the people who died there. While this was still a good maze, it was probably the weakest of the selection, with a story that didn't quite mesh. That didn't seem to hurt the lines though, that is indeed a 140 minute wait time posted!

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Two scare zones were featured at this event, Suicide Forest being the darker one. The theme is simple, and definitely not something you'd ever see in a Western park - this is the forest where Japanese people go to kill themselves.

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That's right, trigger warnings be damned, Suicide Forest is the site of many honorable deaths.

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Creepy dolls are terrifying!

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The park hasn't added any new rides in the past year so there's nothing much to show on that front, but Mummy always looks incredible at night.

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Hu Li's Inn was a particularly creative maze. Based on an old-timey Chinese whorehouse, this one started in a lively bar, and "all went horribly wrong" from there.

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It had some great funhouse features, like a mirror maze, bouncy floors, and so on. These worked very well.

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Throughout the night the stage at the front of the park became a photo op for the "hero" characters.

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So wait times were pretty long, and you definitely wouldn't want to do this event without at least the express pass. This photo was taken about an hour before the park closed, and yes there was a 120 minute wait for the crappy side of Battlestar Galactica!

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Continuing a theme I'd seen the week prior at Movie World, the park's main scare zone was the Mexican-inspired March of the Dead.

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This was probably more of a photo op zone than a real scare zone, but it did look great.

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Some very cool theming really sold the theme.

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Creepy dancer.

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Blue lights + smoke = haunt.

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New this year was a haunt parade, which tied into the March of the Dead theme.

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Lots of skeletons and mariachis.

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Nice to meet you too,sir.

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The parade culminated in a show, involving some kind of sacrifice ceremony...

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with fire performers...

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and "volunteers" from the audience.

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This didn't end well for her.

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Demons turned up.

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Job done.

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Next up is Salem Witch House. This was another well executed haunt, and they'd timed a few of the effects to go off infrequently enough that you didn't see the scare coming. I thought the storytelling in this maze was particularly good, going from the witches as young girls right through to them terrifying (and murdering) the villagers at the end.

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Lines still huge, hooray for super express tour privileges!

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The final maze, which we'd also already looked at earlier, was Hawker Centre Massacre.

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Based on what I'd seen in the afternoon tour I was looking forward to checking this one out at night. It didn't disappoint, and didn't feel like a traditional maze either, due to the open layout. The use of smell effects was particularly noticeable here, and very effective.

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I was glad to see Jack's show make a reappearance this year, as it had been excellent back in 2014.

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The lineup was a little different, less predictable, and very entertaining!

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Jack's back!

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Everyone's favourite creepy clown.

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Any show that starts with a rendition of Time Warp is a winner.

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Just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right!

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Some "audience" participation, with selfies.

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More dancing, and no complaints here.

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America's Got Talent act Dangerous Games featured as the finale.

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Knife throwing,with blindfolds!

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And then on the wheel. I don't know if it's a useful skill, but it's certainly impressive!

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And that takes us to the end of another great Universal Singapore Horror Nights. Every year this event seems to improve, I can't wait to see what they come up with in 2017! Next week I'm taking a look at some Hong Kong haunts, starting with Disney!

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Been lurking here for a couple of years & finally needed to register... if only to say I agree that the Universal Singapore Halloween Horror Nights are getting better. 2016 definitely a step up from our previous visit.

 

Anyone considering going I highly recommend the R.I.P tour. 2014 we managed to squeeze everything in with an Express Pass but this year with the R.I.P tour we managed to hit the big rides & still have time to spare.

 

& in a crazy twist from looking at your photos we were there the same night, we were in the other group on the same Behind The Screams tour (my wife had the scar applied at the make up demo). Small world.

 

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Been lurking here for a couple of years & finally needed to register... if only to say I agree that the Universal Singapore Halloween Horror Nights are getting better. 2016 definitely a step up from our previous visit.

 

Anyone considering going I highly recommend the R.I.P tour. 2014 we managed to squeeze everything in with an Express Pass but this year with the R.I.P tour we managed to hit the big rides & still have time to spare.

 

& in a crazy twist from looking at your photos we were there the same night, we were in the other group on the same Behind The Screams tour (my wife had the scar applied at the make up demo). Small world.

 

Great to hear you enjoyed the event as much as we did! I think for anyone who's traveling to visit these things, the express pass is a must, but the RIP tour definitely made it much easier to see everything without rushing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Disneyland Hong Kong

Next on this eclectic collection of haunts we have the Hong Kong parks - let's start with Disneyland! In true Disney fashion the park was heavily decorated for Halloween, though it's not an upcharge event (yet). The seasonal offerings were of varying quality, ranging from a couple of somewhat mediocre parades to the very impressive Nightmare Experiment. This wasn't your typical temporary haunt - more like a London Dungeon-style tour through some "scary" Disney moments. The park clearly had a good amount of money to spend on this, and it was pretty solid. The only downside was the capacity - groups of 20 every 5 minutes - but it was worth the wait.

 

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Hey look it's Hong Kong!

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Pumpkins = Halloween!

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A not-so-hidden Mickey.

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Last time I visited Hong Kong Disneyland they had a great afternoon parade, so I was looking forward to the Halloween version.

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Sadly Mickey's Halloween Time Cavalcade was not great.

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It featured Disney characters in their "Halloween" clothes...

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A handful of dancers...

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A couple more characters...

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And three of these. And that was it.

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Duffy says, "what happened to the rest of the parade?"

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Alright maybe it gets better in the evening. Spooky atmosphere, check!

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Here we have the Nightmare Experiment, themed to steampunk.

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So the premise is that a scientist has found a secret portal that will transport people to terrifying Disney realms, and we are the test subjects (hooray!). During the experiment we visited a New Orleans bayou (Princess and the Frog), the Pirates of the Caribbean jail, Sid's room (Toy Story) and the Mad Hatter. The experience concluded in an Alice in Wonderland-inspired hedge maze, which even featured a few very un-Disney scares!

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The quality of the whole thing was excellent, very immersive and a great use of Disney's IP without restoring to a cheesy "parade of villains". The Pirates of the Caribbean scene was particularly cool, with the group being locked in a prison cell before escaping through a secret door. I don't know how well this would play in the US parks - it's not particularly scary but I'm sure people would probably still complain.

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Nothing to do with Halloween but Mystic Manor is still one of the best Disney dark rides around!

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The Toy Story land had some great photo ops. Who's pass up a picture with Legs?

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How great would a Halloween overlay for Toy Story Midway Mania be?

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Projection mapping is all the rage these days. The castle looked pretty good. Can't wait to come back once it's three times as big!

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More pumpkins...

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There was a nighttime parade as well, based on what we'd seen earlier in the day I wasn't expecting a whole lot. It was better than the daytime offering but still fairly average. There was a whole Jafar vs Maleficent storyline going on, "who's the best villain" thing.

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The floats looked decent enough, though there weren't many.

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Jafar, that's not very polite!

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It ended with some kind of battle in front of the castle. This went on for some time. Overall I think the concept was good but the execution could be improved.

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No special Halloween fireworks, but Disney in The Stars is a pretty good show. The new castle can't come soon enough though!

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Main Street had the whole Halloween projections thing happening as well, and it looked great! Given that they're not charging any extra for a Halloween party, I thought the park did a good job. They could have used some more roaming characters around the place (a lot of photo op areas were empty) but the Nightmare Experiment alone made this a worthwhile visit. Hong Kong Disneyland is definitely a park with a lot of unrealised potential, so it'll be great to come back once the new expansions are complete!

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Ocean Park Halloween Fest

Of all the haunt events I've tried in the last few weeks, Ocean Park had by far the most variety on offer. At one end you have the family-friendly trick-or-treat maze and Ghostbusters "shooting dark walkthrough." At the other is 16+, which was basically themed to a sex dungeon. So, something for everyone!

 

Ocean Park's Halloween event is included in regular park admission, and it's incredibly popular. During the day it wasn't too crowded but the park was heaving once it got dark, with two-hour plus waits the norm for most of the mazes. Only having the one night there, we'd purchased the front-of-line ticket, and it was well worth it! The general quality of the mazes was pretty good, with plenty of entertainment around the park to add to the party.

 

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It's a ten minute cable car ride from the front of the park to the top. Ocean Park is massive, and one of the most picturesque parks anywhere!

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Let's start with Sugary Spook Village, one of the more kid-friendly attractions.

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Set in one of the gardeny parts of the park, it's a walkthrough where you are rewarded with snacks and stickers. Hooray!

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It's quite a hike to get your free sugar hit.

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Most of the mazes were original concepts, aside from the Ghostbusters area. The Ghostbusters Academy was essentially a shooting darkride, except without the ride part. You had two minutes to shoot as many ghosts as possible. The best part of this was the preshow rooms, which featured a lot of props and fan service from the films.

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They were even pushing Ghostbusters in the restaurant. This is eight dollars of "themed drink".

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Legendary Palace is an interesting one - it changed from a family-type maze in the day, to something more sinister at night. The premise was a castle filled with spooky stuff, the main difference at night being less lighting and more scare actors. I remember there being a lot of obstacles in this one, notably an extended "crouching under" section.

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The daytime version of this featured augmented reality using a smartphone app - you downloaded the app, and when you found these symbols in the maze, you'd see animations on your phone. A little gimmicky for my taste but the punters seemed to enjoy it.

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Project Deathway (get it?) is the headline show. We decided to catch an early performance.

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VIP pass had us in some great seats!

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Then the fire alarm was pulled and the show was cancelled. Crap.

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So there are two ways to get from the front of Ocean Park to the top. A funicular through the mountain, or the cable car. If the funicular breaks, it's a Saturday during Halloween, and most of your mazes are up the top, the cable car gets some pretty insane waits. Another tick for the VIP pass!

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Club Blood was the first proper haunt of the night, a nightclub with a vampire problem. Very gory, but apart from a few interesting projection effects this one was definitely middle-of-the-road.

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Stay Puft = great photo op!

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Ghostbusters Live! sounds like it would be a show. It is, in fact, a haunt maze. It was clear that a lot of money had been spent on this one, which was mostly a retelling of this year's Ghostbusters film. It was more funny than scary, but I liked it.

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On the whole Ocean Park's haunt didn't take itself too seriously, which was quite appealing. Cheesy but fun!

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Ocean Park is huge! Some of the mazes were about a twenty minute (themed) walk from each other.

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I believe Mortuary Lane was supposed to be a scare zone

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There weren't any scare actors here, so it was mostly just fog and things to trip over in the fog.

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School of Shadows was your typical "school gone wrong" maze. It was decent, though not particularly memorable.

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The next maze, however, was very, very memorable.

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It was quite popular, fortunately there were some roving, uh, "characters" to keep us amused. You won't see this at Disney!

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In 16+ the first thing you do is put on a mask and enter what is essentially a sex dungeon. From there it just kept getting weirder and featured every S&M trope known to man. I certainly can't see this kind of haunt ever appearing in the US or Australia (and certainly not in Singapore!), but it was definitely fun!

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A fire performer kept the waiting masses entertained.

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More fire!

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At the end of the night we headed back to Project Deathway.

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It was all in Cantonese, from what I could tell the plot was something to do with the fashion king (dude in the middle) and his two assistants putting on a show.

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There were a lot of big production numbers in this, I can't speak to how it measures up on the fashion front but the rest was generally excellent.

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Oh my.

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So lots of dancing...

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Some silks...

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The bendy poles from Mad Max...

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Ending with fireworks and a trapeze artist! Ocean Park's Halloween Fest is definitely one of the more unique offerings out there, we had a great time!

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