Halloween Horror Nights at Midsummer Scream

HHN_Fall2017-961x421_v2-660x330

One of the biggest attractions at Midsummer Scream is always Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Every year fans gather in a room to hear any bit of news from HHN’s creative team, John Murdy and Chris Williams. This panel always draws an enthusiastic bunch of haunt fans, and this year was no exception.

Before jumping into the new stuff, they provided some background information regarding how they became involved in Horror Nights. Both men painted rosy pictures of their childhood love of monsters, and how it inspired them later in life.  None of this was news to me, but Murdy and Williams were as charismatic as usual, so it was still entertaining.

the-shining

As for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, they walked the audience through pictures chronicling the process of building The Shining maze. They promised the Grady sisters, room 237, Danny on his tricycle, “Here’s Johnny”, and of course the famous carpet. Murdy stated that his goal with this maze is to capture the slow burning dread of the movie.

They delved into scare zones a bit, too. One of the scare zones will be Hell on Earth set in New York City. Guests can expect to see an assortment of demons roaming the streets. HHN always creates top notch monsters/effects, so haunt lovers will definitely be in for a devilish treat.

HHN2017_Homepage_TheShining.jpg

Finally, for those super fans, Universal is bringing back their VIP tours known as the R.I.P. Experience. This walking tour includes front of the line passes to everything in the park, free valet parking, special entry, a buffet dinner, and reserved seats for shows.

Keep your peepers here for updates about Halloween Horror Nights. Also be sure to follow us on Twitter at @HallowsHaunts. We’ve got lots of spooky stuff in store this Halloween season, and you won’t want to miss it.

 

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 2016

universal-halloween-horror-nights-logo-e1471141436640

With haunt season officially upon us, the team here at All Hallows’ Haunts kicked it off by visiting Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Now because we had different views and thoughts on the event, we decided to list each of our opinions on the event. Below you will see the opinions of AHH members Andy Shultz (@Andy1701) and Lola Tarantula (@Lolatarantula).

 

the-purge-at-universal-halloween-horror-nights-hollywoodScare Zone: The Purge Anarchy

Andy- Going into HHN I wasn’t too excited about The Purge Scare Zone. Universal has used The Purge as its main Scare Zone the last few years and it gets rather repetitive, so I was expecting to see the same thing as before. Though, I am rather happy to say that I really enjoyed it this year. Universal made the choice of having only one theme throughout all its Scare Zones, and I think it really worked. It would be interesting to see how it grows in upcoming years.

Lola- I didn’t enjoy this year’s Scare Zone theme very much. I will say that The Purge functions better as a haunt theme than a film, but still after several years of The Purge, I’m just over it. It’s the same stuff you’ve seen for the past several years, and nothing else. I will say that in the upper lot there is a part of a scare zone that’s basically a maze but without a wait. This part is actually kind of neat. There’s some weird art projects made from old doors, spray paint, and trash heaps. If you get a chance, walk through it. Other than that one exceptional part, I think this theme has overstayed its welcome.

 

hhn_2016_terrortram_8003_ver1-0Terror Tram: Presented By Eli Roth

Andy- The Terror Tram in the past has always been hit or miss with me. Still, I’m a fan of Eli Roth’s work and I was really looking forward to seeing how this evil clown infused Terror Tram would stack up. I left the Terror Tram very disappointed. I thought there were quite a few operational issues. I noticed in two main areas of the Terror Tram: 1) They chose to use shipping containers as tunnels, which caused the lines to back up and bottle neck as only a few could walk through at a time. 2) They crammed way too many people down there at one time, which made the usual 15 to 20 minute experience more like 40 minutes, but not in a good way. To make things worse, we had to wait almost 20 minutes at the end for a tram to pick us up.

Lola- As usual, the Terror Tram is the worst attraction at HHN. I had hoped that Eli Roth’s influence would be enough to transform the generally lackluster Terror Tram into something different. However, I think this year’s Terror Tram is among the worst I’ve ever seen. Like Andy said, the way the route was layed out caused major foot traffic, which made it take way longer than it ever has before. Not to mention, there’s nothing unique about the creepy clowns. By the time we got to the end of the trail I was one cranky spider.

 

Mazes

halloween-horror-nights     Krampus

Andy- I really enjoyed this maze. I know most people don’t want to think about Christmas this time of the year, but with the added horror of Krampus, it was a lot of fun. Now, I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t really compare the film to the maze, but it was really cool walking through this house that’s being terrorized by a monster over the holidays. My favorite thing about the maze was the use of scents in each room. Some rooms smelled like ginger bread,  or vanilla, and even Christmas trees. Yet, it wouldn’t be HHN with out some of the burning disgusting smells as well. Overall, the maze is fun and now gives us a good excuse to extend Halloween all through Christmas.

Lola- I’m a fan of the Krampus film and the maze definitely captures the spirit of the movie. My favorite part of this maze, besides the smells, is seeing the toys in the attic come to life. Those who’ve seen the film will know what I’m talking about.

 

hhn_2016_freddyjason_7608_ver1-0Freddy vs Jason

Andy- Going into the event, a lot of friends who attended the preview night said that this was the best maze of the event, so I went in with some high expectations. I’ll tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. Universal took their own approach with the story and brought these two juggernauts of horror together into one epic show down. I felt the maze was fantastic. The story was compelling; the maze itself was perfectly dressed with some amazing scenes to walk through. Most of all, it was the only maze of the night to get a few scares out of me, which is rather difficult to do. Most of all, it did both Freddy and Jason justice.

Lola- The Freddy Vs. Jason maze is pretty damn cool. While quite a bit of it is stuff fans have seen before, there were a few unique touches that helped elevate it to a new level. Unlike Andy, though, I didn’t necessarily feel that they hit all of their story beats. That is to say I didn’t feel the story they were trying to convey was mapped out quite as well as it could’ve been. Still, it’s worth the wait. I like that they have alternate endings, depending on the night you attend. Some nights Freddy wins, and some nights Jason comes out on top.

 

hhn_2016_halloween_7601_ver1-0Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield

Andy- Let me just start off by saying that this is by far my favorite maze of all time. The maze looked beautiful. The scares were great and it continued to tell the story of Michael Myers. Some of the rooms used the glow in the dark effects brilliantly. It really set a new standard for mazes. What blew me away were the giant pumpkin rooms we walked through. We were literally inside giant pumpkins! It was my favorite thing ever.

 

Lola- I have to agree with Andy, this maze is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen at HHN. I can’t add much more than that. My favorite part of the maze is the black out room with multiple glow in the dark pumpkin masks. Some are props and some are actors. The actors jump out at you as you walk past. This is what I think Horror Nights does best, it uses a movie a springboard, to create something entirely new, but still resembles the original film or films.

 

img_2741The Walking Dead

Andy- Now this maze obviously differs from Walking Dead mazes of the past as it is now year-round. Obviously, this maze had the most attention to detail as it is permanent, which definitely keeps you in awe. There were times when I thought I was really on the TV show, which was fantastic. The performers were top notch and on point. My only complaint is that I feel that the walk-through was way too short, especially for something that’s a year-round attraction.

Lola- I love The Walking Dead, and it was such a treat to be able to see the show come to life like this. I’ll agree with Andy, that the attraction felt a bit short, especially considering how much material TWD has to pick from. However, it’s still a near perfect depiction of what life is like amongst walkers. Those who’ve been through HHN’s previous Walking Dead mazes will probably recognize some props and ideas, but it’s been revamped enough that it still feels like a completely new experience. Consider this year-round haunt to be a love letter to walker fans, everywhere.

 

American Horror Story, The Exorcist, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre Mazes

Andy- Due to the extreme wait times for the mazes, we were unable to get into these mazes before the event was over for the night. Wait times were averaging three hours, and with the park being sold out, we couldn’t hit up all the mazes.

Lola- The fact that we weren’t able to see three mazes pissed me off. If you have to spend the kind of money HHN is asking for then I think you should be able to see all of the attractions. Now with that being said, I wrote to Horror Nights to tell them I was upset, and they were surprisingly reasonable. They offered me a comp ticket, so I plan to return and go through these mazes.

The Jabbawockeez

Andy- I’m not a huge dance fan and with the long wait times for the evening, we opted not to see The Jabbawockeez show.

Lola- Unlike Andy, I am a huge dance fan. I danced almost every style for several years, but the time constraints just didn’t allow enough time to check out the show.

 

 

Overall Thoughts

Andy- From an artistic, design and performance standpoint, and from what attractions we saw, this was easily one of the best HHNs in years. Each maze was enjoyable and they were fun. From operational standpoint, this one of the worst I’ve seen. Three hours is way too long to wait for a maze, let alone most of the mazes. Universal needs to either lower the number of people allowed in to HHN each night or add additional attractions. There were just too many people, which resulted in a less enjoyable evening. I understand Universal is trying to make money, but at some point, there is a huge loss in quality. It is also our understanding that in an attempt to correct this issue, Universal has started to do early entry earlier to reduce overall wait times. So hopefully, future HHNs will run a little better.

 

Lola- I’ve had a love/hate affair with HHN for years. With the exception of the Terror Tram, most of the mazes were high quality. Of course, I’ve yet to see three of them. The mazes seemed more creative this year than in the past. Still, 3 hour wait times can sure spoil anyone’s Halloween fun. The ticket prices and the wait times seem to go up every year. I must say, though it seems like Horror Nights is starting to take steps to correct some of this nonsense. I was impressed by their speedy response to my complaints. Also, I guess early entry has been moved up to 5PM. Hopefully, this helps make the HHN run in a more efficient manner.

 

 

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights throughout October and the first week of November. Visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com for event info and to buy tickets. We do recommend buying tickets ASAP as the event has sold out almost every night of the run so far. We also recommend getting their early and doing early entry as wait times are long.

 

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here and on twitter-@HallowsHaunts, for more information of Halloween, Horror and Haunt events in Southern California.

Knott’s Scary Farm Sets Sights On Halloween 

Halloween and haunt enthusiasts were treated to quite a few surprises over the last few weeks as Knott’s Scary Farm made back to back appearances at both Midsummer Scream and ScareLA Halloween to announce some of what they have planned for this upcoming Halloween Season.

First appearing at the inaugural Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival in Long Beach, California, Knott’s gave fans a brief history of audio mechanics for the mazes before making a few major announcements.

The first announcement  was met with many cheers as they announced last year’s Paranormal Inc. maze would be returning to Knott’s for 2016. When asked if the story or maze would be different, Knott’s representatives stated that only a few tweaks were made to create a better experience.

The second major announcement from Knott’s  concerned the Skeleton Key rooms. With the growing interest in escape rooms, Knott’s has decided that the Skeleton Key rooms for 2016 would consist of an escape room element. The rooms are: Visions, Zozo, Slasher, and Prey.


These new additions to the Skeleton Key rooms definitely add a new factor of terror and excitement to an already incredible event.

The news from Knott’s didn’t end at Midsummer Scream. The following weekend at ScareLA, Knott’s continued the show. The panel at ScareLA started off as a history of Knott’s and Halloween, where they explained the evolution of Knott’s Scary Farm.

They began to speak of the many celebrity hosts of Knott’s Scary Farm, when the official ScareLA host, Elvira, crashed their panel. Elvira announced that she would be returning to Knott’s Scary Farm this year with a new show!

The announcements didn’t end there as they announced that the popular laser tag and paint ball inspired Infected: Special Ops will be replaced this year with an updated version called Infected: Black Ops.

This new version of Infected will introduce a whole new style to the game as it will be in a new area of the park. It will also have a standard queue system instead of special times, new terrain to cover, unlimited ammo, and a whole new boss at the end.

Knott’s plans to announce the remainder of their mazes and shows for this year at a special Knott’s pass holders event on August 25th.

Between the announcements made at Midsummer Scream, ScareLA, and the few made online, Knott’s is shaping up to be the main event for this Halloween season.

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here on our site or on Twitter- @HallowsHaunts for more information on Knott’s Scary Farm and other Halloween, horror, and haunt events in Southern California.

Knott’s Makes a Big Announcement!

Well folks, the Halloween season is approaching fast. In less than two weeks, it’ll be time for the Midsummer Scream Convention, followed by ScareLA. To tide us over, Knott’s Scary Farm has released the names of the returning Scare Zones and a short trailer. Back for 2016 are Ghost Town Streets, Fiesta de los Muertos, and CarnEVIL.

Ghost Town Streets is a literal ghost town. This scare zone mixes the aesthetic of old Western films, with the mysterious allure of the supernatural. Did someone say High Plains Drifter?

Fiesta de los Muertos is a favorite of mine. The brightly colored sugar skulls and fun atmosphere are a perfect complement to the brooding, unwavering finality of death.

CarnEVIL is your standard spooky freakshow, in the tradition of Mr. Dark’s Carnival. I’m a sucker for anything with a macabre circus theme. This one never disappoints.

Be sure to check back with us, for more updates regarding Knott’s Scary Farm and the 2016 Halloween season.