By: Dallas Thompson
Halloween is finally here! Halloween is arguably the most exciting time in Orlando and theme parks in general. One of the most well-known events is Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. I had the chance to attend this year’s event in Orlando and wanted to share my thoughts with all of you.
Before I begin giving my reviews of each house, I need to say that I got to go through every house except for American Horror Story, so that house will be missing in my review, but from what I have heard it is one of the best the event has to offer this year,
House Reviews (from Best to Worst)
#1 The Walking Dead - 4/5 stars
Honestly, I am shocked that this is at the top of my list. The Walking Dead comes back to Halloween Horror Nights year after year, and it has gotten pretty stale. However, The Walking Dead maze this year was really good.
From the smells to the sets, to the costuming and make-up, it all is well put together. The effects, story, and characters work and make sense. Either way, it is still The Walking Dead and will be wildly popular. Here is the story of this house:
“Guests will walk – or run – in the footsteps of the show’s cast of survivors, fending off packs of flesh-hungry walkers at every turn. They’ll step inside instantly-recognizable locations, such as the hospital from Season 1 where Rick awakens to a world overrun with the dead, the unnerving home of the Governor in Season 3 and the seemingly-safe refuge, Terminus, from Season 4.
The experience will culminate with iconic scenes from Season 6, where guests will trudge through a decomposed sewer and try to evade the brutal pack of villains, The Wolves, after they’ve invaded Alexandria. Along the way, they’ll rush to avoid the bite of the show’s most memorable walkers – including some that have never been seen before at Halloween Horror Nights.”
#2 Lunatics Playground 3D: You Won’t Stand a Chance - 3.5/5 stars
At this point, I will begin to have an unpopular opinion. On many review sites, Lunatics Playground has been listed as the worst house of the year. I can see where they’re coming from, but I also really loved elements of it.
Lunatics Playground is the year’s 3D maze, and it could be the fact that I haven't gone through a Halloween Horror Nights 3D maze before, but I really felt like this one was the most unpredictable to me. The beginning was one of my favorite elements. You felt like you were spinning, and I actually almost fell. This is also Chance’s (HHN 26 “Mascot”) house for the year.
#3 The Exorcist - 3/5 Stars
The Exorcist has been described as one of “the scariest movies of all time”. In The Exorcist you go inside the mind of a tormented girl who is possessed by evil. The sets, smells, effects, and scares in Exorcist are what makes it one of the best. The puke mattresses that you walk through is definitely one of the more disturbing and the best effect.
#4 Krampus - 3/5 stars
A house that has gotten mixed reviews this year has been Krampus. For those who don’t know Krampus is basically the Christmas haunted house. Here is how it is described by Universal:
“The dead of winter sets the stage for the terror that’s about to unfold one cold, dank and dreary Christmas Eve as the fabled anthropomorphic "half-goat, half-demon" horned creature emerges to terrorize those devoid of holiday spirit. In scenes lifted from the film, guests will navigate the dysfunctional Engel family home to encounter the evil ancient spirit of Krampus – the dark shadow of Saint Nicholas – and his band of Dark Elves and sinister Gingerbread Men, who cause the family to fight to see the light of day.”
Many have complained that the house feels empty. However, I believe that has been progressively changing and I think Krampus is becoming one of the best at the event. The strengths of Krampus are the sets and effects.
As you walk through, it is snowing to further enhance the feeling of Christmas, as it should. Not only do the sets look realistic, but they also smell like Christmas.
I did not understand the story to the house very well, and that was the case for a couple other houses, but it could partially be due to the fact that I have not seen the film.
#5 Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield - 3/5 stars
Halloween II: Hell Comes to Haddonfield is a direct sequel to last year’s adaptation of Halloween. Michael Meyers has returned and the story picks up where the last left off. Story-wise, I felt this was the best the event had to offer. The finale is fantastic, and I would for sure go through this one again!
#6 Ghost Town 2.75/5 stars
I did not dislike Ghost Town, in fact I really liked it. It just happens to be towards the bottom of this list. It for sure was one of the strongest houses story-wise. What I love about the Universal-original houses is that you don’t know the story prior to going in.
#7 Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.5/5 stars
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I knew from the start, would be one of my least favorites of the event. Chainsaws have never frightened me at any haunted events, and this one was pretty much a compilation of Chainsaws and it seemed like that was it.
#8 Tomb of the Ancients 1/5 stars
This one is at the top of many lists, but it made the very bottom of the list for me. Maybe I had a bad run through, but all it was for me was things hanging from the ceiling. I didn’t get any feeling of a story, no jump scares. However, the claustrophobic situations at times got a little extreme, and maybe that’s what they were going for.
I went on a night in early October, a very rainy and stormy night to be exact. As a result, I don’t feel that I can properly review the scare zones.
How did I get through all of the mazes in one night (except American Horror Story)? It was just luck, it stormed pretty badly the first few hours so we took advantage of the situation and hit every house we could. The storm could play a role in why I disliked a few of the houses, but I think I just got some bad run-throughs.
Overall, this year’s event was a great follow up to Halloween Horror Nights 25. I look forward to seeing what they do next year! You have through November 5th to check out Halloween Horror Nights 26 at Universal Orlando Resort.