Just last week a friend brought to my attention that a new haunt attraction has sprung up in Orlando, and with that, it didn't take long to make our plans to go over and check it out firsthand! As it turns out, the Holiday Inn Resort Orlando Suites - Waterpark is hosting this new Halloween offering this year, in partnership with the team behind Dark Harbor at the Queen Mary II in Southern California! It wouldn't surprise me if this is that team's way of gauging market interest for a larger Halloween presence in Orlando in the coming years...
If you've never been before, you'll be surprised by just how big the Holiday Inn property is... Located close to Walt Disney World, the resort has a large pool and water fortress with slides (hence the water park) and a large marketplace area in the center of the resort that features lots of shops, dining options, a 4-D theater, a stage venue for variety acts, a laser maze and an arcade. Take all of these elements and add in the a series of new Halloween offerings including a surprisingly lengthy haunted house, a family friendly 4-D film called Panic House (with no shortage of jump scares), a midway with custom themed games of chance and a themed bar to grab drinks and light bites!
Starting with the main event, the maze is a bit of surprise in that is incredibly effective despite being filled with a small cast of live scare actors in a venue not designed for this function. Guests are pulsed into the maze in groups of no more than 18 at a time (and for us, we were among only a few others) so the scares are more intimate and there is no "conga line" effect like you find at the major Halloween attractions in Central Florida. The house is filled (almost to excess) with animatronic spooks, some moving by default and others springing to life in response to those passing by... But as a result of there being so many "dead spirits" surrounding you, you're hard pressed to prepare yourself for the moments in which the live scares jump out. There are no drop doors, shaker cans or triggered scream effects with these performers. They rely solely on their own screams and some creative placement to scare you in multiple places without leaving their post. You'd never realize just how few actors are actually in the house (I didn't until I asked) because of just how effective the layout of the maze and the placement of these scare actors is in relation to the animatronics. The maze is hosted in the resort's variety stage venue, but you'd never realize it thanks to the dark and foggy air inside. You twist through a progression of corridors within the space that twist and turn within the room, going up onto what would normally be the stage and returning to ground level later in the house. Add in the light story that has been added with a live pre-show delivered by one of the house cast, as you're looking for a professor who has gone missing in the tomb. I am easily startled, but I cannot deny that some of the jump scares I got in Terror at the Inn: The Mummy's Curse rivaled those of Howl-o-scream and Halloween Horror Nights. You can't argue that this haunt has the same set quality as what you'd find down the street at Universal, but the intimacy of the experience (with the limit of guests allowed in at once) really makes a difference and amps up the vulnerability that makes for a great scare.
Panic House was the special 4-D theater film for Terror at the Inn, running you through one person's nightmare encounter in a haunted house teeming with zombies and a variety of creatures looking to feed. The film is presented in a first person point of view, giving all in the audience the perspective that they're being chased through this haunted house. There are water effects from overhead and the seats move in tandem with the onscreen action. There's no excessive gore but there are a few good jump scares that make this a neat experience for horror fans and families alike.
The midway features a variety of classic redemption games custom built to match the macabre theme of the event and they are a fun diversion in between runs through The Mummy's Curse and Panic House.
The event runs through October 31st on select weekdays from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, and 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Friday and Saturday. For $19.95 (plus tax) you get unlimited access to The Mummy’s Curse haunted house and unlimited entry to the Panic House 4D (and other films in the theater). The Midway games are an extra cost per game. There are discounts for Florida and Georgia residents, military personnel and first responders and parking is free for the event. You can find more info about the event here: http://www.terrorattheinn.com/