Thanks to Andrew Marco from Movie Pilot, my friend Alex and I had one of the greatest experiences in our lifetimes. We had a chance to take part in this year's Halloween Horror Nights 26 Media Event on Friday September 16! We were two of the lucky few to be a part of this year's press event.
What We Did Before Touring The Haunted Houses
First, we ate lots and LOTS of food. Hors d’oeuvres were everywhere! It was all you could eat and drink and the food was spectacular. The desserts were fancy, and some of them looked way too good to eat (not that that stopped us).
After eating, the press event began. Patrick Braillard, the Creative Development Show Director and Writer at Universal Studios Orlando, took to the stage to introduce this year's list of haunted houses and scare zones. Patrick was kind enough to give us some details into the amount of work it took to make these houses and scare zones come to life.
Click on the video below to watch the full presentation below:
Even Some of The Cast From ‘The Walking Dead’ Said Hello!
Lauren Cohan (Maggie), Alanna Masterson (Tara), Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel), Ross Marquand (Aaron), and Jordan Woods-Robinson (Erik) all came onstage to tell us a little bit about The Walking Dead haunted house. Check out the video below!
Q&A With Greg Nicotero
Shortly after the cast told us their experience of that haunted house, special effects make-up artist and executive producer Greg Nicotero of The Walking Dead came onstage and talked a little bit about his experience in film as well as answering a few questions from the audience.
Greg fondly reminisced about his days on the set working closely with Quentin Tarantino on From Dusk Till Dawn. In particular, he spoke how he'd get up early every day to put the make-up on the beautiful female vampires from the film. He also spoke about the incredible amount of work he’s put into making the The Walking Dead, while also saying that he plans on directing more episodes in the near future. It was a fun Q&A, but we finally came to what we’d all been waiting for…
My Experience Inside The Haunted Houses
And now, let me briefly touch on the incredible houses I was able to explore. The houses seem to get better each and every year! At Halloween Horror Nights 26, there were nine of them. The attention to detail of the sets and costumes turned them into works of art. That’s what I look for when going to these houses and I was happily rewarded.
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The very first house my friend and I walked through was actually my least favorite. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never watched an episode of the The Walking Dead, however, I am admittedly not a big fan of zombies in general. There’s just something about zombie characters that bothers me, since they all mostly act the same way.
It also reminded me too much of last year's The Walking Dead house, because they repeated some of the familiar beats and scenes from it. However, it’s a house that’s sure to please fans of the show. It wasn’t a house that piqued my interest, but I am still happy for giving it a go.
GHOST TOWN: THE CURSE OF LIGHTNING GULCH
They came looking for gold. Instead they found death and destruction. Now their doomed souls seek others to join them…
This house showcased a Western theme and did not disappoint. My favorite aspect of this house was how well the creators made you feel as though you were traversing through the Wild West. The sets were spectacular, and the ghosts popped up at the most opportune moments. I thoroughly enjoyed this house because it was prolific and inventive. It was a house not based on any properties, and it truly showed the talent of all those involved.
TOMB OF THE ANCIENTS
Immortal beings of the ancient past have returned to rule mankind. Now they wait for someone foolish enough to disturb them...
This was a house I was very much looking forward to. Like Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch, this house was original. I really liked the theme to this one as I’m a big fan of ancient Egyptian culture. The tomb we walked through was neatly constructed to the point where all you saw were amazing hieroglyphics, ancient Egyptian artifacts, and of course scareactors who portrayed dead mummies, pharaohs, and other monstrous creatures.
Tomb of the Ancients was another house that thoroughly impressed and I was glad to have had a chance to experience it.
LUNATICS PLAYGROUND 3D – YOU WON’T STAND A CHANCE
Step into Chance’s realm where the lines between her twisted delusions and reality are continuously blurred...
Every year there is one house that forces you to wear 3D glasses in order to get the full experience. Lunatics Playground 3D is that house for this year.
This was in fact the third 3D haunted house I have had the chance (no pun intended) to take part in. 2011’s mind-bending The In Between and last year's Asylum In Wonderland 3D were the two other 3D haunted houses I have experienced.
While Lunatics Playground 3D's visuals were impressive, the house left me wanting more. A complete knock-off of the Harley Quinn DC comic book character, Chance is out to show audiences the zaniness of her crazy mind. The house is nothing more than a Harley Quinn-esque character who tortures her victims to the point of death. The 3D effects didn’t seem as impressive as the previous two 3D houses I’ve walked through and I also found Chance’s character extremely annoying.
I found this house to be one of my least favorites but if you’ve already been through the others, then give it a go. If not, I’d suggest skipping this one entirely.
HALLOWEEN: HELL COMES TO HADDONFIELD
Michael Myers is still alive and still out for blood in this all-new house.
How can you not want to experience a house that’s based off one of the OG slasher flicks by John Carpenter? This house is strictly based off of Halloween II, the sequel to Carpenter’s innovative masterpiece. The story in the haunted house picks up immediately after the events of the first movie, where Jamie Lee Curtis’ character is taken immediately to the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.
It starts with Michael Myers walking through the streets of Haddonfield, eventually heading to the hospital. Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield mostly takes place inside of the hospital so expect to see a lot of the deaths from the film recreated inside this very place.
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You will also find plenty of scareactors playing Michael Myers as he attempts to terrify those walking through this house. In fact, Carpenter’s famous Halloween theme song is even sprinkled throughout the house, which makes it even more incredible. It’s a house I’d HIGHLY recommend, but be sure to have re-watched Halloween II in order to fully appreciate it.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Experience every scene, every kill, every bone-chilling rev of the chain saw from the original masterpiece.
After experiencing Halloween: Hell Comes To HaddonField, I didn’t think a recreation of a film could have been topped. Well, I was wrong.
I have seen the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre film only once in my life and it absolutely terrified me. One of the scenes that stood out to me from the film was when Leatherface is seen opening up that door, revealing himself and all the skulls on the wall with the terrifying bloody background — like so:
All of the kills from the first film could be seen throughout this house, along with Leatherface’s maniacal family members.
The attention to detail in this house made this experience far better than I thought it would be. I felt like I was going through the actual house that Leatherface lived in. Yes, you will see furniture made out of human remains. You will witness the terrifying butcher room complete with meat hooks hanging on the walls. And, of course, just like Michael Myers in Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield, you will see Leatherface multiple times. This house was a brilliant rendition of the 1974 slasher hit and was one of my personal favorites at HHN.
As a blizzard rages outside, St. Nicholas’ evil counterpart and his band of Dark Minions claim the souls of the faithless one by one.
Krampus, Michael Dougherty's comedy/horror movie that came out last fall was surprisingly good. The trailers for the film didn’t seem all that impressive; however, I was astonished to find the film entertaining to the point that I believe it’s one of the better horror/comedy films we have had in years. The use of practical effects were also used brilliantly and effectively.At Halloween Horror Nights of course, there are no CGI effects to be seen which made Krampus a worthy film to adapt into a haunted house.
Since the majority of the movie takes place inside a house, it was no surprise that Universal took the same route. There are many things to enjoy about this house, especially the attention to detail. You walk through every corner of the house, eventually finding your way outside.
The costumes used in this house are probably some of the best I’ve seen, simply because I actually felt like Krampus’ dark elves, the clown jack-in-the-box monster, and the gingerbread men were ready to attack those who walked by. Even Krampus makes a subtle but brief appearance toward the end of the haunted house. It’s a good walkthrough and will definitely please those who have seen the film.
AMERICAN HORROR STORY
Relive scene after scene of sinister threats from Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel in this extensive, terrifying house.
Like The Walking Dead, I really haven’t invested myself too much into this show. I have heard great things about AHS and hope to one day begin my own marathon of binge-watching. This house includes a few scenes from certain seasons including Murder House, Freak Show, and the latest season, Hotel.
Though I haven’t watched the episodes faithfully, what I will say was that the house was true to the show. I talked with a few people who absolutely love the show and they said it was a perfect rendition of it. It should be no surprise to learn that the creators of American Horror Story worked closely with this haunted house to make it as authentic to the show as possible. It is also this year's longest Halloween Horror Nights haunted house. Overall, it was an entertaining house complete with many clever scares.
Go inside the mind of a tormented girl, possessed by evil. It will leave you haunted.
They definitely saved the best house for last. William Friedkin’s masterpiece was finally put to the test and, boy, did they knock this thing out of the park. Patrick Braillard mentioned in the video posted earlier how they’ve wanted to do this movie for quite a while. But they finally had the chance to do so and it was by far my favorite house at this year's Halloween Horror Nights.
I remember my tour guide mentioning to us shortly before entering that the house made people never want to enter it again and that it was an absolutely terrifying experience for them. Being such a horror fanatic as myself, this house definitely had its terrifying moments for sure, but was all brilliantly portrayed by the scareactors.
I knew I was going to enjoy this one the most as soon as we were told the audience would enter the house just as Father Merrin did in the film. It was also explained that the majority of the film took place in a bedroom, which would have made it difficult to recreate a full house. However, the creators were able to make it happen.
You will witness multiple scenes of the little girl, Regan, in many famous scenes from the film including the creepy spider-walk scene, the neck twisting scene, the vomit scene, and the “power of Christ compels you!” movie scene. Hell, you’ll even see the demon of Pazuzu himself, including the statue he resided in before taking over Regan’s body.
I still can’t believe that Universal was able to pull off this house. How they were able to recreate the entire film without making it look too repetitive was absolutely incredible. After walking through that house, my night had been complete.
'Halloween Horror Nights 26' Sadly Came To An End
After having such a blast, the night sadly came to an end. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at my third HHN and would surely do this all over again for years to come! Universal Studios takes great care to please horror and thriller fans alike. The passion and dedication it takes to create these houses and scare zones, to make them feel real and bring them to life, is time consuming. The creators and developers work all year long to create something different and unique for the audience to experience in the next HHN.
I cannot wait to go back next year to see what Universal has in store for us. Thanks again to Movie Pilot for giving me this amazing experience, Halloween Horror Nights 27, here I come!
Will you be attending this year's Halloween Horror Nights? What house are you looking forward to the most? I'd like to hear what you all have to say in the comment section below!