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Universal Orlando Resort (USO, IOA) Discussion Thread

P. 624: DreamWorks Land passholder preview report!

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Dragon Challenge was dueling today, hopefully this cheers some of you up. Had a few friends go up for a day and it was dueling the whole time they were there.


I rode it just before closing today and it wasn't dueling. Back row on Fire is still a kick ass ride, though!

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My guess is they were probably slowing one train down on the lift hill, so they didn't synch up during the course. I think some people are just confusing that with it actually dueling. More than once last week they had both trains leave the station a second or two apart, only to have one stop half way up the lift hill for about 10 seconds.

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Thats pretty unfortunate that they dont duel anymore. Back in the day when I went to IOA, it was one of my favorite rides, and is still pretty unmique. As for what hit the victims, as a ride operator for the past six years I'm wondering what the loose item policy is. The timing BEGS for some scandal or wallet to fly out and hit the other person as the trains fling by each other....

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My guess is they were probably slowing one train down on the lift hill, so they didn't synch up during the course. I think some people are just confusing that with it actually dueling. More than once last week they had both trains leave the station a second or two apart, only to have one stop half way up the lift hill for about 10 seconds.


Yeah, just to reiterate, that's exactly what happened when I was there last week.

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First Trip Report! I will do my best to avoid any real spoilers.


Last night I was given the great opportunity to experience HHN during the employee preview (thanks to doublestufforeo). There was a rather large turn out for the event, but I still managed to squeeze in a walk through of every house at least once, three of them I got in twice. A couple of the houses were rather bland, but 4 of them immediately stand out as being some of the best houses I've seen.


Can't talk about the attractions without first giving my input on the event itself. Universal once again managed to give every inch of the park an amazing atmosphere that just oozes terror. They cut back a bit on fog this year as compared to last, but it doesn't really detract much from anything. The level of detail they put into everything is Universal's usual extravagance with sets and special effects that left my jaw on the floor. This was only the employee preview though so some of the effects in some houses and scarezones were not working yet, but even with these small detraction, my overall opinion of the event is that it is better than last year and I can't wait for my next visit.


Now, onto the houses. I will list them in the order I visited them.

Winter's Night:

Winter's Night is one of the three houses in the soundstages and right off the bat it blows you away. Walking in you have an amazingly beautiful set showing the entrance of the cemetary, also sporting a real snow maker (not the soap stuff you get everywhere). This house is gorgeous all around with some of the best set designs this year. It might not have the best overall scares, but it is worth checking out for the sets alone. Warning, it is cold in there! I think they have it set around 55 degrees. Not something you'd want to view if you are soaking from rain or another attraction. Overall this is one of my top 4 for the event and earns a solid 8/10.



Nightingales is another of the three houses in the soundstages, with the last one being The Thing. This house is amazing. Everything is pretty much flawless with some really effective scares, brilliant set design, and a few awesome special effects. This house throws you directly into the trenches of WWI, and I mean it really feels like you are there. I don't want to say much more about this house as this is probably going to be the underdog hit of the event and I would hate to spoil it. A perfect 10/10.


The Thing:

The Thing really disappointed me. How can you take an idea as awesome and creative as The Thing and create something so bland and somewhat boring? The sets are rather boring minus the entrance which uses a snow maker just like Winter's Night, and the space ship which only takes like 2 minutes to walk through. Also the ending of it is very anticlimactic. I really feel they dropped the ball with this one. One of the weakest of the event 4/10.


Holidays of Horror:

The comedy maze for this year, Holidays of Horror, is quite effective at giving comedy, or at least I laughed a lot through it. The idea is great and quite humorous in and of itself, but I wish it had been explored better, having only a small room for each of the holidays presented and no real scares to be found. I can't help but say this is the event's other weak maze, 4/10.



Awesome set designs and great material to work off of made this one a very fun house. I am a big fan of Edgar Allen Poe, so walking through these scenes and trying to figure out which scene eluded to which of his stories was a lot of fun. Sadly this maze feels rather short and doesn't include many of his works, so the potential is there, but it falls just short of glory 7/10.


The In Between:

As far as 3D mazes go, this is a good one. Very disorienting and with a couple good scares along the way. Some of the rooms seem rather cheesy though or are lacking in decoration. Overall it's just fun 7/10.


The Forsaken:

One word is best to describe this house, EPIC. The sounds, the effects, and the sets all add up to what is the most epic maze I've experienced. It is of a very large scale with details a plenty. Seriously one of the best of the event, 9/10. (It lost one point because of the conga line it forms that likes to come to a dead stop, killing several of the scares.)


Saws and Steam:

Once a scarezone, now a house, and a bloody good one at that. Walking in, only one thing popped to my mind, "Holy crap it's Bioshock!" Seriously, the theme of this maze is probably the closest we will end up getting to having a Bioshock themed house. This house had some of the best props and effects out of any of the houses, some of which were quite gruesome. This is in my opinion the best house they have this year and everyone should check it out! Perfect 10/10.


I'm not really going to talk about the scarezones as I was only able to check out three of them while the actors were still in place, but Grown Evil has a really cool theme to it and is just fun to walk through. Acid Assault had a really cool effect to it that made it stand out, but once again, no spoilers .

The last thing really for me to talk about is this year's Bill and Ted. It's hilarious! They have some better material to work with this year over last and some real guts in the jokes they present. There were a few jokes that I could tell were intended solely for the employee preview, but the majority of the really good ones should still be present during the normal run. An integral part of the HHN experience and definitely worth a watch.

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I invited Andrew (pufferfish) to come along with me last night to the employee preview of HHN21 and while he has his report being the big horror buff, and me just being the theme park dork here is my look at last night.


I'll go in the order of the houses we went to.


Winters Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetary

Rating: 8.5 / 10


This place had amazing sets and I loved the freezing cold you get when you walk in, it definitely is one of the best houses this year, the only thing I didn't like about it was the first time through it was just average, but later in the night it became a lot better as the actors got into their groove of things. The sets were definitely amazing and I loved the attention to detail in it and I love the ending. (Also watching a woman fall over the 2nd time through because she was so scared knocking her friend behind her to the floor kind of made the night.)


Nightingales Blood Prey

Rating: 10/ 10


Definitely my favorite house of the night themed after WWI, you immediately walk in and are taken into the trenches of the war, with dead bodies above you and dead soldiers to the sides no matter which way you go nowhere in that house is safe. I loved the aerial effects they used in that house, the sound, and the set, the scare actors were really amazing in that house, the best house of the night for me. (*HUGESPOILER* Watching a Nightingale swoop down to take the torso off of a guy and have the "guts" spray all over you was amazing. */ENDHUGESPOILER*)


The Thing

Rating: 6/10


I know Andrew didn't like this house but I definitely did, I think they could've done a lot more with this, but I still think it was pretty awesome, I just don't find strobe light monsters to be scary at all it looks to slow motion for it to be scary. I like the set for this, and it being the employee preview they didn't have the aerial effect through the hallway on which was a bummer and was the one thing that I was looking forward to, I'll just go on a normal night and see it then. While it wasn't great, the sets were awesome, and just in general cool to look at.


H.R. Bloodengutz: Holidays of Horror

Rating: 4/10


My least favorite house of the night, you could tell it was the "comedic" house but I find that rather pointless when I'm here for horror, granted it got a chuckle out of me at (spoiler) "Thankskilling Day," and "Ho-Ho-Homicide" (/endspoiler) but other than that it didn't impress me and I found myself walking through a few of the rooms just trying to figure out the holiday we were in.


Nevermore: The Madness of Poe

Rating: 7/10


I'm a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and my one of my favorite things to read is The Raven so I was definitely looking forward to this one. I would have enjoyed it more had the people in line before us not been chain smoking the entire time we were there. Once we got into the house it definitely had some awesome sets and I loved the costumes and I loved the spinning mirror room I don't know how the actors do it, I'd get so sick. The Raven part of the house definitely lived up to what I wanted from it, but for some reason I just left the house going "it was good," I felt like it was lacking something but I can't put my finger on it.


The Inbetween

Rating: 7.5 / 10


This was my first 3D maze I've done and I definitely loved the effects, and I made the terrible mistake of closing my eyes then reopening them on the spinning tunnel. I was pretty disorientated after that, and I loved how rave-ish this house was with all the neon colors everywhere, there are some decent scares in there but in general its just awesome to look at.



The Forsaken

Rating: 9 / 10


One of the best houses of the night some amazing scares and even more amazing sets, we did get a stand still through the line which I understand why once you walk through it some people have a bit of trouble with it, but that I won't spoil because its the main room. The masks on the faces were pretty creepy alone and this house kept me on my toes a lot.


Saws n' Steam: Into The Machine

Rating: 9.5 / 10


This was my 2nd favorite house of the night behind Nightingales Blood Prey, I loved the effects in this house and it was definitely the best house they have had in the Jaws queue in a while. They have some awesome scenes in there and I the steam punk feel to it is awesome, just be prepared to get wet in that house, and if you wear contacts that will dry to water friendly bit of advice, don't stare directly at the waterfall. You'll see what I mean if you go.




Overall this was the best year I've been to HHN and I definitely enjoyed myself, great job Universal.

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I had a wonderful time attending opening night, can't wait to go back in a few hours. Like stated in all the reviews, Forsaken and Winters Night are incredible just to walk through. The biggest surprise of the night for me was definitely The In-between. I loved every second of that house from how it looked to the scares. The only big let down for me was Bill and Tedds...if it's true it is a new director it really showed. I had a few good laughs but over all disappointing. Not to knock the event at all, it was awesome, because the atmosphere is so great!

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Its interesting to see how other people rate the houses, I honestly just think some of them depend on your mood/the time you walk through/how long you waited, it really just depends. You can tell some of the best ones off the bat just by comparing other peoples reports, but then if you look at others me and Andrew put Saws n' Steam very high, and Holidays of Horror dead last, it really just depends on a lot of factors, so I think in general they are all just awesome houses, its really (not to sound punny about the theme,) just all about luck.

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^ A lot of it has to do with timing as well. Since, you are usually going through in one big conga line, you can easily miss a lot of the scares. I usually like to see people's ratings that have been through each house multiple times. That is a better indication of which houses are the top ones.

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^ Andrew and I went through a few a couple of times, this year the only one I wasn't really satisfied with but wasn't unsatisfied with was Holidays of Horror, the rest of it is pretty amazing. Even if I miss some of the scares (which happens a lot) normally the people who get them are the people in front of me which is totally fine because I love watching people get scared.

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I don't think there's any bad houses this year. The Thing and Winter's Night are both classics in the making, and all of the others are pretty decent, with some new and imaginative effects being seen in multiple houses. The Forsaken is a bit of a letdown, because I think it could have been better, but it's still not a bad house. The one house I see getting bashed a lot is Holidays of Horror, and people need to realize that it's a comedy house before they go through it. Much more so than the previous comedic houses. Don't expect the same type of experience you get from the other houses.


I think the area where the event needs the most improvement is scarezones. And yeah, Bill & Ted needs some tweaking at the very least. The new writer isn't off to a great start.

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