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Halloween Horror Nights 2018 (USH): Reviews & Photos

Discussion in 'Halloween Horror Nights 2018' started by Brian G., Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Brian G.

    Brian G. Staff Member Administrator

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    Please share your opinions, reviews, photos, and videos of this year's event here.

    Reminder: There will be SPOILERS in this thread.

    PLEASE LIMIT OFF-TOPIC RESPONSES AND KEEP DISCUSSION LIMITED TO ONLY PHOTOS AND REVIEWS.
     
  2. Freak

    Freak Veteran Member

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    Okay review time from my trip last night. Note that I do lean more towards scenic design and story flow over scares, but scares are still high up there for me. Also note that I got two run-throughs on everything except Blumhouse and three run-throughs of Monsters. Yup, it was that good. More on that soon. Going to go through everything in the order I went through.

    Stranger Things: We have a soundstage maze again! Yay! I liked this one despite the fact that it was light on scares. The upside down scene was really cool and I loved how massive the lab was. It would be nice if there wasn't a blinding strobe light for every friggin' scare so it wouldn't get ruined for me. I wonder if it was intentionally made to be light on scares to appeal to the more general ST fans that aren't into horror.

    Scares: D

    Sets: A-

    Overall: B

    Trick 'r Treat: We waited 10 years for this and what did we get? Black wallapolloza. This maze was exactly what I feared it would be. The school bus scene was pretty nice and Kreig's house was beautiful, but it was absolutely ruined by so many lazily designed rooms of nothing. Man, what a freakin' waste. A little scarier that ST, but not by much.

    Scares: C

    Sets C (Deserves higher with some rooms but those stupid black walls)

    Overall: C

    The Horrors of Blumhouse Vol. 2: Okay, I enjoyed this a LOT more than I should have. Don't give two craps about the movies, but this was not bad at all. The scares were pretty good in this one! Nice scenic as well. Surprise hit for me.

    Scares: B+

    Sets: B+

    Overall: B+

    The First Purge: This also kinda surprised me. I enjoyed this a lot more than I should've. Mannequin scene was excellent! Lots of energy in this one. Still those black wallz....ugh.

    Scares: B+

    Sets: B-

    Overall: B

    Poltergeist: Probably the best SFX-heavy maze they've done since the Exorcist (Heck, this is better than Exorcist!) I actually felt like I was in the house in a few rooms! Aside from the random black walls with that face-peeling guy which made no sense at all....okay, maybe I see what they were going for, but this is getting old by now.....it flowed fairly well. Good scares and awesome puppet effects!

    Scares: B+

    Sets: B

    Overall: B

    Terror Tram: Normally, I'd say "who cares", but it actually seems to take a step in the right direction. 2016's tram was the absolute best, but I liked how they had a line at WoTW to break up the congestion. Toward the end, it felt like a descent "mini-maze". Too bad it was more of the same old Murdy scenes of the face-peeling and nonsense like that. Still not great, but a step in the right direction, nonetheless.

    Overall: D

    Halloween 4: This is probably the weakest for me. I'd say it has an awesome facade. Love how big it is. The garage room is pretty cool, the rest of it was very bland and uninspired. Maybe part of it was because I'm just tired of Michael. Energy was great though.

    Scares: B

    Sets C- (Garage was awesome but the rest were just fences and boring stuff)

    Overall: C

    Universal Monsters: So far, this was an okay year for me. Everything felt more of the same. Black walls, Murdy-ish feel, more of the same. But this one maze pushed it from being just an okay year to a good year. You can tell where all of the money went. I felt like I was in another world. The scenic is probably the best they've done since La Llorona and Crimson. In fact, it's probably the best they've done, period. Yeah there a few black walls, but they're used so sparingly and the scenic is so beautiful, it's easy to forgive. Probably my favorite maze of all time now. Well done Murdy.

    Scares: A

    Scenic: A++

    Overall: A+

    Scarezones: They're all pretty good this year. Holidayz in Hell is probably my favorite. Too lazy to get into it.

    Overall, it should be just an okay year, but Monsters pushed it to being good. Everything just felt more of the same as we've already seen. Business as usual. Some things to note:

    *Stop. With. The. Black. Walls. This has become a serious issue since they added that extra maze last year. Maybe since more people will show up for ST and they're selling alcohol at the event now, they could afford to get rid of those black walls and put something there? Even for the forest scenes, it bugged me that they couldn't at least use mesh camo netting. Dude, it's like $10 at Walmart. Cover those up in the forest scenes. I hope they hold off from adding a maze in the next few years because the budget-cutting of this level is just unacceptable.

    *Why does every singe scare have a strobe light? When you're conga-lining in the last room, you can clearly see where the guy is jumping out and it ruins it. Use it sparingly, but just rely on the audio trigger the scare without the light. It works just as well, and it doesn't ruin the scare from the last room. Monsters used this more and it was great! Speaking of audio...

    *The houses are LOUD. I don't have super sensitive hearing, but I had to cover my ears serval times to keep my ears from getting blown out. I get it you need to make it loud to make it work for guest noise, but would it kill you guys to turn it down a little bit?

    *Good food options. I like where they told you on the map where to find them on the map. Also thank you for bringing back the tatchos. THANK YOU.

    My order from best to least:

    -Universal Monsters
    -Poltergeist
    -Stranger Things
    -The Horrors of Blumhouse
    -The First Purge
    -Trick 'r Treat
    -Halloween 4
    -Terror Tram

    So there you have it. I may go back one more time in October and hope to go closing night.
     
    Ryan, Fallow and SpookySkeletini like this.
  3. MacMillian Crew

    MacMillian Crew Veteran Member

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    So I went last night, keeping up the Opening Night tradition going, and I can honestly say I had a lot more fun than last year (which is neither shocking nor difficult, given the bar set in 2017). My group and I had the Universal Express Unlimited so we were able to do the mazes multiple times to get a more thorough look so here's my quick review, in the order of doing things. (Note: we repeated mazes after we finished doing all of them so me putting the number of times next to a maze title doesn't mean we did that maze that many times in that moment)

    1. Terror Tram: Having loved 2016's TT, I was unsatisfied with last year's Titans of Terror Tram, but obviously the situation with having to create a maze based on that concept due to the losing of an IP was understandable in how the Terror Tram version would be affected. This year's was definitely my favorite and yeah I'm a sucker for the corny "story titles" that were announced in the tram video. I don't think there was a weak portion in this year's tram (I don't count that dead spot between Bates Motel and the wooden fence entrance to War of the Worlds) and my group got all the scares from the monsters in each portion. Everyone had their heart in it, and honestly I'm not too bummed out that they didn't go deep into Harry's lore.

    Rating: A+

    2. Universal Monsters (3 times): I decided not to watch the Scare LA presentation, hearing that they revealed a lot of concept art and the soundtrack songs for the maze. I wanted to be totally surprised for this maze. Granted, it was definitely a badass experience! Some of the choices they made for certain things were understandable (i.e. the Invisible Man room). I do have to say there wasn't, in my opinion, enough Dracula and the Wolfman, as there was an abundance of the Phantom and Frankenstein's Monster actors in there (not that there's anything wrong with that, but given Dracula and Wolfie were in a lot of advertising, I just assumed they'd have more actors based on them in there). It was a very eerie, macabre setting which I loved. It did make me feel bummed that the Creature couldn't be in the maze this year; especially hearing about why they cut him out of this year's maze (budgetary restraints), but still I was pleased with this maze.

    Rating: A+

    3. Halloween 4 (3 times): I know a lot of people on here didn't really care for this maze, but honestly I loved it. Maybe it was because my group got all the scares each time we went through, but regardless, I loved this maze more than 2015's. My favorite two scenes were Jamie's Nightmare sequence and the electric power station scene.

    Rating: A+

    4. Stranger Things (2 times): One of my favorite mazes of the night; it hit all the scenes from the first season I expected them to do. I definitely enjoyed the execution of the Upside Down and various demigorgon scares. I know some people complained about it not having the exact vibe of the show, but given that I knew the maze would focus on the horror elements, that was a given. I'm hoping this convinces Netflix officials to let them do season 2 next year.

    Rating: A+

    5. Trick 'r Treat (2 times): The smells and scenes were very fitting for the vibe. I loved the werewolf forest scene the most, given that I wasn't expecting the puppets. I also wasn't expecting the "surprise" from Sam on the ceiling. Very close to the film.

    Rating: A

    5. The First Purge (3 times): My least anticipated maze and ended up being my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, there were scenes where the actors were aggressive and nailed it. Definitely the maze that had the most black walls (which was funny given the maze located there last year). From what my friends and I could tell, there were a lot of things that they couldn't do from the film, in order to avoid controversy (which IMO, they should've done that original concept maze they had line up for instead of this IP), contributing to a lot of dead spots in there.

    Rating: B-

    6. Poltergeist (3 times): The soundtrack and character audio from the outside got me uber nostalgic. I had a feeling they'd have to rely on certain characters for multiple scares (i.e. peeling face guy, corpses) given that the movie didn't have a lot of scares from visible antagonists. It was a shame there was a portion of continual black walls. I also wished they would have had elements from the sequels, like various characters (Kane, tequila worm monster), given that the sequels had a lot of maze potential. Still, I loved the effects and I enjoyed this maze the most from the backlot.

    Rating: A-

    7. HoB Chapter 2 (3 times): I was definitely curious about the execution of this maze and I actually liked it more than I thought I would. The ToD portion seemed fitting, though the grinning masks confused me at first. First time going through and the actress scaring the couple a few people in front of my group looked like she was wearing the smiling Purge mask until we saw it up close. Unfriended was pretty solid, and I loved how they augmented Laura's demon look. The Girl portion was pretty creepy and kinda made me wish they could've done a whole maze based on that concept.

    Rating: B+

    For scare zones, my favorite would have to be Holidayz in Hell obviously. Monster Masquerade was fitting and had enthusiasm in the character's role in the atmosphere, especially when confronting guests getting out of Universal Monsters. Toxxic Tunnel was okay; not much changed from last year, but that's a given with the environment's constraints. Trick 'r Treat was a good scare zone, and Hell's Harvest was definitely interesting. The costumes and masks for that zone were kind of overwhelming to look at when first going into the park, but we got used to them as we passed by them throughout the night. We didn't do any of the rides, the Jabbawockeez show, or TWDA. Overall this year's event was better than last years. Black walls just seem to be part of the HHN vibe now (like strobe-light scares); they're here to stay, but weren't as bad as last year's. My overall ranking:

    1. Stranger Things, Universal Monsters, & Halloween 4 (tied)
    2. Terror Tram, Trick 'r Treat, & Poltergeist (tied)
    3. HoB: Chapter 2
    4. The First Purge
     
  4. HHNManics

    HHNManics Veteran Member

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    Alright I have gotten enough sleep from what was a night where I almost passed out about like 7 times. And so I finally feel ready to give my thoughts and opinions on what I think about Halloween Horror Nights 2018. I'll start with the order I went in.

    Stranger Things (3 times):
    Despite at the very beginning not looking forward to this maze it grew on me over time went on and now it's here. The maze has so many little effects and neat touches that sometimes you don't pick up on. It's really a beautiful maze and the costume design is all great. I really love what they did with the Upside Down as that was a great scene. And the maze just looks and feels great. Unfortunately it does spend only 1 scene in the Upside Down which I wish we spent more and the Scares really suffer in this maze like bad. But otherwise it's a fantastic maze.

    Scares: D-

    Sets: A+

    Costume Design: A-

    Overall: A-

    The First Purge (2 Times):

    I remember the day seeing this film which was the day of the maze announcement and asking myself how they were gonna do it. I was really hoping to like this maze and enjoy it. As I saw more and more from EP and Media Articles I was worried and then I went in. Jesus christ. The Scares in this maze are completely awful which is weird for the Purge because usually the Purge actors in the past are more energetic. Not here. The Facade is just awful easily the worst facade of the year. The Set Design is very trashy and just looks terrible and the Black walls don't help either. Speaking of Black walls 50% of this maze is that. More Black walls than any of the Mazes this year. The Costume design is actually pretty great aside from Skeletor which looks absolutely terrible. The Maze doesn't also make use of the Film's great opportunities (Eye Contacts - Only 2 Scenes with them and on Mannequins, Loud Sounds or something for the Exploding Teddy Bears instead of having a Random Character from the film pop out from the left side, Strobes for the Apartment finale like the film). The only good scenes are the Mannequin Scene and Rave Party Scene which again the Rave Party Scene looks nothing like the film! It's just a mess and a really awful maze.

    Scares: F

    Sets: D-

    Costume Design: B+

    Overall: D+

    The Horrors of Blumhouse Chapter 2 (2 Times):

    Another maze I wasn't looking forward to from the start but I was very much hoping it would be better than Last year's. Which it totally is. Blumhouse 2 like @foodstampsFTW said on Twitter has no business being as great as it is. So the facade is really cool (even though it's the same as last year) and I like how they made a Poster for the 3rd Section that's Original ("The Girl") which actually looked so real it threw people off and they actually thought it was a actual film. Truth or Dare is really good. The Lifelike poster for it is great and the section is just really fun and detailed. It's mostly in the Mexican Mission and it's just really fun and I got the best scare of the night here (The guy who cuts his throat open). The Smile Masks look a little funky though. But still very good. Unfriended is shockingly the best section of the maze. It's really fun and detailed and just overall great. The scares are really good here too. The only problem is that it's insanely short however. Still the best part of the maze. Then the maze falls flat with the 3rd section (Which I was looking the most forward to) "The Girl". The Girl herself has this really weird looking mask that looks insanely cheesy. And it's a lot of black walls at the end of the maze and for this section. The Maze itself is a million times better than last year Blumhouse and is a fun great maze but the 3rd Section is pretty bad.

    Scares: A

    Sets: B+

    Costume Design: B

    Overall: B+

    Poltergeist (1 Time):

    I was very nervous on the upcoming days to EP for this maze because I just thought they would pull a Exorcist 2016 and have a bunch of Black walls. I was wrong. The Facade is absolutely gorgeous at night. The Set Design to this maze is gorgeous. I know there are more than a couple black walls (Mainly after the Skin Peel Scene is a long black hallway) but the maze itself is just beautiful and looks like the film. The Costume Design is also really fantastic. The Effects in this maze are astounding. They find a unique way to do all the scenes in the film. The Clown Scene is really well executed and identical to the film. The Maze's strongest suit is Scares. This is actually the Scariest maze this year. There are so many great scares in this maze especially the Coffin scene which has like 6 different Scare actors there. And the giant skulls which look fantastic and are very scary. I was extremely happy with this maze and it's one of the best mazes this year!

    Scares: A+

    Sets: A+

    Costume Design: A+

    Overall: A+

    Trick 'r Treat (4 Times):

    I was very nervous as well when I heard this maze was going into Mummy Queue and was worried it would be a bunch of recycled crap. But it's not. The maze facade is probably my Favorite this year as it's absolutely gorgeously beautiful. The maze has just really beautiful Sets and some fantastic Costume Design. I thought the Scares would be weak but the Scares here are incredibly strong. It's a really fun maze to go through and I love the mini transitions with the Yellow text. My favorite would have to be the "The Schoolbus Massacre" Scene as it's just gorgeous and huge. The maze has some really huge sets actually and looks beautiful. A lot of well executed scenes. I just loved this maze so much and thought it was my 3nd favorite maze this year.

    Scares: A+

    Sets: A+

    Costume: A+

    Overall: A+

    Terror Tram - Hollywood Harry's Dreadtime Storiez (1 Time):

    It's fun. It's a lot of recycled stuff but I find to be a massive improvement over last year and I just found it to be insanely fun actually for some weird reason. It had this really cool Cheesiness vibe to it and it really just stuck with me. It's okay but it's a lot of fun.

    Overall: C+

    Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers (2 Times):
    I was expecting to feel Michael Myers Fatigue going through this maze but I ended up not feeling that. The facade is really great. The maze itself is really amazing actually which shocked me. The maze doesn't really tell the story of the film all too much and it doesn't really have much of a ending but aside from that Amazing maze. The Costume Design is great, it's the same old same old (But I loved how they did Bandaged Michael a lot at the start). The Sets are really great as well. Although a lot of reused sets (Fences covering Black walls, White Curtains) it doesn't bug me because the maze has fun it's not like Purge. The Scares are fantastic however. It's a really intense maze that gets your heart going. The Electrician death scene is probably my Favorite scene in this maze. I also loved the Silver Shamrock section which is really fun. It's just a really amazing, intense, and fun maze that I loved going through. I would rank it in between the Incredible 2016 Version and the Alright 2015 Version.

    Scares: A+

    Sets: B+

    Costume Design: A-

    Overall: A-

    Universal Monsters Music By Slash (2 Times):

    Holy Christ. This maze is pretty unbelievable and should be the #1 Rated Maze this year if not I won't be that happy. It's just really unbelievable. My friend actually came out Crying of happiness when we finished it. I adore this maze. The Facade with all the Blacklight is absolutely gorgeous. The Scares are phenomenal. Really great scares in here. The Sets are the most beautiful Hollywood has ever done. It's just a unbelievably beautiful maze. The Costume Design is also phenomenal. The Music is stellar too as well. The Maze has scenes that like are the greatest ever. Invisible Man Scene, "We Belong Dead/It's Alive" Scene, Mummy/Reinfield Scene, Dracula Scene, Beginning Frankenstein/Wolfman Scene, Vault Scene, and it just keeps going. The maze is my favorite this year and I think by the time the event is over it might just be the best Maze they have ever done.

    Scares: A+

    Sets: A+

    Costume Design: A+

    Overall: A+

    Scare Zones:
    1. Holidayz in Hell:
    Really fantastic Zone. Insanely fun and detailed. Probably my favorite Zone from HHN and best Gaunlet. (A+)
    2. Monster Masquerade: It's a fantastic continuation of UCM and has great music and some great costumes/sets/lighting. (A+)
    3. Trick 'r Treat: A really great return to form for the Opening Scaremony Zone. It is very small however but it's insanely gorgeous and just fun to walk through (A-)
    4. Hell's Harvest: Hell's Harvest is really fun actually. The Costumes are all great and the Sets are really great as well. Love the Bonesy Brothers. (B+)
    5. Toxxic Tunnel: Lmao. (F)

    Jabbawockeez: Don't really care enough.

    1. UCM
    2. Polt
    3. TrT
    4. Stranger Things
    5. Halloween 4
    6. HoB 2
    7. First Purge

    Overall:
    This is actually a really great year (Aside from Toxxic Tunnel and First Purge). It's really fun and while they is black walls there is plenty of great effects and gorgeous sets to make up for it. It's not as good as 2016 but a Massive improvement from 2017 and probably my 2nd Favorite Year of since I have been attending. But overall Solid Year. (B+)
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
  5. Brian G.

    Brian G. Staff Member Administrator

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  6. DTH

    DTH Member

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    Universal Studios Hollywood presents
    in association with Halloween Horror Nights
    DTH’S HALLOWEEN MONSTERS BATTLE ROYALE
    9/15 Trip Review
    Saturday, September 15th, 2018.
    5 PM - 2 AM

    As always, this is a very detailed review. By it's nature, spoilers are abound. This is for people who have already gone and want a refresher, for people who will never be able to go and want perspective outside of just watching walkthroughs, and for people who don't mind spoilers and want to just get more excited.

    EARLY ENTRY
    Headed in at 4:20 PM and there wasn’t a whole lot of people there, we were basically the second group of people in line under the main entrance and gate. However, there were tons of day/night people going in, plus 4 PM early enters who bought the “gift” for early purchasers. My friend bought a different ticket from a discount site and they barred him from entry. Basically, they read your whole ticket to make sure you got it from the official website and determine if you can go line up. We explained there was 9 of us and he was the only one with that type of ticket, so they let him in. I don’t know if they’ll be this kind and understanding in the future, so again, only buy your tickets from the main website to be safe and make sure your whole group does too. They opened the gates at 4:45, so we headed in down the Star Way and went directly to Stranger Things and got there right at 5. The whole Transformers extended queue was already full, but they hadn’t let people towards the soundstage yet. I thought it’d be an hour or so for that line, but luckily it was half that. They started letting people more towards the maze around 5:05. And here… we… go!

    STRANGER THINGS
    Advertised Wait: Didn’t give one. I think it just said “closed.”
    Time in Line: 5:00 PM
    Time in Maze: 5:29 PM
    Actual Wait: 29 minutes


    Got into the soundstage and fun 80s music was blaring, plus the main theme. This really sets the tone and gets you excited. We were all amped for this maze by this point, including myself who thought it shouldn’t happen at all. And guess what?

    It shouldn’t have. Every fear I had about this maze came true. It’s very boring, bland, and not scary. I wish I could say it at least looked beautiful with big expensive sets, but I’d be lying. It was fairly cheap looking at some parts outside of maybe the lab scene. For a soundstage maze, it wasn’t very immersive either, as there’s not too many roofs and this early in the day, light is pouring in from the giant studio doors, so the maze isn’t that dark.

    The monster looks SO STUPID, it’s embarrassing. Like a giant flower coming after you. My fear that without his mouth moving, he’d look silly and he sure does. Hardly any of the kids in the maze make an appearance outside of Dustin, who’s randomly in a corner behind some shrubs, not lit at all, and merely holding a 5 watt flashlight.

    Unfortunately, this is a huge cash grab just to get more people in. I’m not surprised, but I feel bad for fans looking to get scared or enter that world. And even more bad for anyone waiting anything longer than an hour for this, as it’s totally not worth it. Now, it’s not the worst maze this year, but it’s barely average. I was kind at first, saying it was maybe a B, but everyone in my group said it was a C, and that was being generous. And then after doing all the mazes, they lowered it to a D. I watched a video after too and I just have to agree. We got all the intended scares and everything, the maze is just simply lackluster.

    But okay, let’s talk about some of the good. The lab set is great, the soundtrack is great, the actors they did hire to represent some of the other characters were okay, and the mannequins looked a lot like the characters. There’s little moments, like when going through some forests, where I was totally into it. When it started, some hands popped VERY far out of the wall and got me good, twice. After that, unfortunately, snooze fest. And the Upside Down is literally maybe 15 steps and it’s over. This maze needed to be twice as long. They should’ve cut their worst maze and delegated all their budget here instead to fully fill up that soundstage. Oh well.

    I have a theory about this maze. I think Universal knew a lot of kids would be coming to check it out, so they told HHN creatives to tone this maze’s scares down. And they ended up just toning every element of it down. It’s a shame. Than again, I don’t think this show works as a HHN property, so I don’t know if it ever could’ve worked. Season 2 will be better, if they decided to do it.

    [I also watched a video of this that was taken at night and the sets actually looked a lot better. I think my opinion of it looking “cheap” might have to do with the light bleed instead of seeing it under proper show lighting. I’ll have to hit it last next time I go and see if my opinion changes. DO THIS AT NIGHT and don’t make the mistake I did thinking the soundstage would keep this maze dark, it doesn’t (since it’s sunset during Early Entry, the sun is literally shining directly through the wide open doors). Don’t also think you could get the huge wait out of the way, as all my other lines were longer than usual after this because it breaks the usual game plan of hitting the backlot first. Just hit right before park closing, trust me!]

    FACADE - 0. I won’t be forgiving here. There’s no excuse. All that budget and space and they decided to do nothing. Not even a freakin’ name placard above the entrance.
    SET DESIGN - 7. Some stuff looked great, others horrible. The stuff that did look good though, looked dang good. But mostly everything was too small and too short and it didn’t fulfill the space it needed to pull things off. They hardly had any real scenes from the show.
    SOUND DESIGN - 10. I really enjoyed how this maze sounded, that’s probably it’s highest mark.
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 4. Oh God. Laughable monster. Especially when you see it just standing in a corner, full body. This should’ve mainly been puppets instead. Also, it’s way too tan.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 5. They weren’t trying that hard, to be honest. And maybe it’s hard in those giant flower costumes, but they gotta be more aggressive to make this maze work. And the lab guys who randomly pop out weren’t making it any better either.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 5. I just kept thinking as we exited every scene, “really, that’s all we’re gonna get from that?” This maze hardly represents the show in a tonal/design form, I didn’t even feel like I was fully in it.
    LENGTH - 5. It’s half as long as it should be.
    SCARES - 3. Very low on scares. There’s no creepy vibe and the pop outs hardly work.
    STORY - 10. I think for the most part it works and I caught what was going on. I could see it represented which parts of the show, but it didn’t fully fulfill them in design, but the story is fully there, just very truncated.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 10. In order not to be TOO harsh here, because I enjoyed myself a bit. It was fun-ish, just not a good maze. If I waited long for it, I’d be mad, but I didn’t, so it was what it was.
    59 out of 100. ‘F’
    (Wow, even when I thought I was being generous, this is still shockingly low)
     
    marip123 and Dr. Herbert West like this.
  7. DTH

    DTH Member

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    [Continued 1]
    HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE: CHAPTER TWO

    Advertised Wait: Didn’t say. Just said “closed,” which is annoying
    Time in Line: 5:47 PM
    Time in Maze: 6:02 PM
    Actual Wait: 15 minutes


    Alright, after that subpar performance, I was hoping we’d run into something good. But I figured, ya know what, let’s just get the bad mazes out of the way, so we hit this. And wow, I am eating some crow for this. You should be hyped, because this maze is dang good and one of my favorites this year.

    The Truth or Dare segment is nothing like the movie and that’s for the better. I don’t even remember seeing that many smiley faced teens. The chuche massacre scene was fantastic. Walking in to a room and seeing a bunch of body parts every where was pretty terrifying, with a nun coming at you with an axe two seconds later. I wish they’d just cut the teens talking stuff from the soundtrack as it just reminds me of the dumb movie. This mostly works best as a semi-original portion instead of trying to copy the movie.

    The Unfriended part is GOOOOD. I saw this on YouTube and even that didn’t do it justice. I felt so on edge during these scenes because of the way the walkways are designed, I couldn’t tell where the scare actors were going to come out of. And the sound bytes, distractions, and the actual scares always worked in every scene. I’m glad they found a way to make this property work, as I’m one of the few fans who actually enjoy the movie.

    The Girl segment is my favorite. I was very creeped out by the music and not knowing where the hell any of this was going. I loved little moments like picture frames spinning and the girl’s look was unexpected to me. In the moment, she was creepy, but in retrospect, maybe she’s a little goofy. I loved the long hallway where she’s coaxing you forward with lots of doors down the side and you don’t know where something is going to pop out from.

    For the most part, this felt like an original maze. ToD is half original, Unfriended is so creative it might as well be original, and The Girl is completely original. So even though this was at the bottom of my anticipated list, it certainly still had my interest as to how they can even possibly do it. And they surely pulled it off fantastic. Sure enough, this was the most scared I was in any of the mazes last night. As a purely creepy maze based on town, this had me the most on edge. It may not be the most beautiful or amazing, but it sure got the scares down.

    FACADE - 9. So funny enough, one of the letters on the marquee were being held up by black tape and that just made me laugh, wondering if that was an intentional choice or if the letter fell off and they had no other options but to do something cheap haha
    SET DESIGN - 8. This maze was perfectly designed for the mood it was trying to capture, it just wasn’t very elaborate. It also helps this maze is super dark and I literally walked into a wall.
    SOUND DESIGN - 10. This is the main thing that creeped me out while being in here and it really made me feel uneasy for 2/3 of the maze.
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 7. Unfriended ghost works, The Girl works for the most part, and the ToD stuff is limited, so I don’t have too many complaints. There’s a random devil in here though.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 10. These guys had something to prove and clearly wanted to be the best. And honestly, they did it.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 10. After the church massacre scene, I was totally in it and creeped out by the vibe the maze was pulling off.
    LENGTH - 10. I never felt any segment needed to be longer or shorter.
    SCARES - 10. Some of the best scares of the night were in here.
    STORY - 8. ToD’s story is stupid by it’s nature. I wasn’t sure what was going on in The Girl segment though, as I still don’t get the aforementioned random devil.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 10. Super low on my anticipation list and it surprised the hell out of me. Great job.
    92 out of 100. ‘A’

    POLTERGEIST

    Advertised Wait: 60 minutes
    Time in Line: 6:10
    Time in Maze: 6:40
    Actual Wait: 30 minutes


    Purge was sporting a crazy 90 minute wait, so I opted for the shorter wait over here instead. This maze was all walking for 20 minutes straight. We finally stopped on the last zigzag before entering and this was a nightmare in of itself. Unfortunately it was still daytime so the facade didn’t have that cool little light show when we were going in. But the sound design alone was creepy as it is.

    Going in, I was definitely on edge already. And this is one spot the screen with a pop out definitely works and makes sense. However, after that, things jump ahead really fast to the guy pulling off his face stuff. Like, no build up at all? Then you go in the kitchen, no scares. So now there’s two scenes with no scares in the beginning of the maze, but I can forgive the opening. Here though, give me something. And the man pulling off his face turning around isn’t much of a startle either. Then, random black hallways to transition you to another part… where the man is still pulling off his face. Why is this so predominant?! All the material this maze had to work with and 20% is spent on the man pulling off his face?! Alright, now we go into some bedrooms. The bed moving was cool, plus the giant tree branch (chronologically, I’m already annoyed, but whatever). Then the maze goes into puppet territory for awhile. Then we get YOU ONLY MOVED THE HEADSTONES! Which is definitely the best part, A LOT OF scares from the graves, I think at least 75% of those guys were real. Then another puppet, end maze. Welp… that was… okay I guess.

    They could’ve done a lot better. The stuff they did do, I was impressed with. There’s a random scene they do go into the ghost dimension with the clown in plain sight, which is a missed opportunity. The clown under the bed however, worked REALLY well. I think this is a mixed batch… the sets are good, some of the scares are good, the tone and sound are all good and the performances are fine… but structurally, it’s a very flawed maze. I wanted to love it, and I even went back later in the night to hit it right at closing (literally the last people out) and it worked a bit better when you’re the only one in the maze and the scares are hitting a bit harder and all focused on you. But… yeah. It’s good, but not great. I just wish they figured out how to do this better, as it can totally work a lot more.

    FACADE - 9. At night time, it’s beautiful. I love how they did the whole house, including a yard. The roofing is wonky, that’s my only nitpick.
    SET DESIGN - 7. I’m taking points off for that random transition that lasted too long and then just did the same-ish scare again. There was a lot of moments missing that I wish they represented as well.
    SOUND DESIGN - 10. This was one of the creepier parts of the maze. This sets up the uneasy, creepy tone, it just doesn’t have the hard hitting scares to alleviate the feeling when walking out.
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 10. What is in the maze fully reflects the movie pretty well.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 8. They could be a bit more aggressive.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 8. Very creepy environment, but the black wall segment takes you out, and the lack of scares keeps you at bay with little release.
    LENGTH - 7. The length is fine, but they didn’t utilize the space well, so it left more to be desired.
    SCARES - 7. Scary, but not quite scary enough. If they added 2 or 3 more scares, it’d be perfect and more well balanced. But for now, it’s mostly puppets that you see from a mile away.
    STORY - 7. It completely glosses over the girl being taken and the whole inspectors coming in. You get the house is haunted though, which I guess is the only necessary thing to know.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 7. I wanted more from this. Highly anticipated and the maze in my head is better, unfortunately. It’s still good though, just slightly “meh.”
    80 out of 100. ‘B’-
     
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  8. DTH

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    [Continued 2]
    THE FIRST PURGE
    Advertised Wait: 85 minutes
    Time in Line: 6:45
    Time in Maze: 7:27
    Actual Wait: 42 minutes


    I really dug the facade, a bit small, but it reminded me of The Walking Dead prison years with the bodies out front and stuff. Entered the maze and the first portion is pretty decent. And then it all… goes down… hill. Black walls everywhere, no effort to do any set design, and then it ends prematurely. This was clearly either last minute, a huge budget cut, or nobody cared to do this right. Why this couldn’t be all the Purge films combined or part of Blumhouse is beyond me. Scareactors weren’t scary nor aggressive. The best parts of the maze were random tidbits, like the mannequins. I can’t think of much else to say because there isn’t much maze. It’s bare, boring, and bland. Think Fright Fest quality, not even Knotts quality.

    It’s one of the worst mazes we’ve ever had. I read a review where someone said to skip it and at first I thought, well I don’t know, every maze has it’s qualities and one person might find something to enjoy about it. No, just garbage. Stranger Things was bad, but this is an abomination. I’m fine being disappointed by not being fully designed to its potential (ST/Polt), but literally not having a design is worse. If the cast performance jumps to a 10, which will than boost the scares, this could at least be a decent fun time, but it’d still be a bad maze.

    FACADE - 6. You know there’s a problem where just your facade is the best part, but only by a little.
    SET DESIGN - 4. There hardly is a set. The little set there is, is barren and ugly to look at. Doesn’t look like or represent a real city at all. Silent Hill did this way better back when, even in a cramped space.
    SOUND DESIGN - 3. I remember nothing about it.
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 4. Nobody was scary. Skelator looked stupid with that mask.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 4. Lazy. Sorry, nobody tried. The mannequins were great though.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 4. Walked through it without feeling much other than disappointment after halfway into the maze.
    LENGTH - 4. Ends so quick. No finale. No climactic scene.
    SCARES - 2. Mannequins got me, that’s it.
    STORY - 5. Chaos, I guess? This should’ve just been a compilation if they weren’t going to try.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 3. I can’t believe I anticipated this maze at all, giving it a chance or thinking it could do well. What a let down, waste of space, and purposeless maze.
    39 out of 100. ‘F’

    HOLIDAYZ IN HELL
    I might have found my new favorite scare zone. This gauntlet has everything! So many details, it was remarkable. I’m gonna have to go through this a few more times to catch everything. I’m going to try and take this in a bit more so I can give this a full review like I would a maze, because honestly, if they slapped a tent over this, put some triggers, this would’ve been maybe the second or third best maze of the night. There were so many ideas and creativity, I was pretty impressed. Unfortunately, there are people stopping at every little vignette to take pictures. This holds up the experience, backs up the line, and makes it a really slow walk through. Not a lot of scare actors when I went through, but I see the potential. I really wish they did this as a maze instead of First Purge. This is just sad it didn’t happen.
    A+

    DINNER
    Surprised the Jurassic Cafe was open! NOTE ABOUT THE SOUVENIR CUPS: it says unlimited refills but that’s the biggest lie. The refill machines will limit you by the hour, saying to come back in different intervals. First it says “free refills for the next 6 hours!” Then you’ll go back and says “your next refill is valid in 3 hours.” I went to get a refund but they told me just to ask the counter service people about a refill instead of going to the machines. Seems like they’re aware of the issue already, but this is just a stupid system to begin with. I hate them for this, as I’m sure many people will not even try to ask about it. And all those people are being ripped off.

    TRICK ‘R TREAT
    Advertised Wait: 60 minutes
    Time in Line: 8:50
    Time in Maze: 9:50
    Actual Wait: 60 minutes on the dot
    (although, the line was stopped/moving slow for about 20 minutes and I suspect the maze shut down or something for a bit because people weren’t leaving the exit and I saw a few people leaving out an emergency exit, and once it started moving again, it was going fast)


    At this point in the night, my friends and I were bummed. Were the mazes really going to be this lackluster? Was Blumhouse really going to be the best?! Are all the rest of the mazes mediocre?! Well, low and behold, from the moment we went in, this was instantly my favorite maze of 2018, and stayed that way when it was all said and done.

    First scare, right off the bat, guy came running out of sheets and did not expect him and probably gave me the best scare of the night. Second follow up scare, I thought for sure the girl with the lollipop in her mouth was a dummy, and wham! The black walls moments telling you the name of the segment were really well done and always accompanied by a scare, so I never minded them once.

    The Principal segment with the kid barfing I wish was a little closer and I also wish the barf was a darker color, like in the movie. The little Sam in the window is a neat touch. This is a HUGE room, didn’t know our sets could get that big, especially in the Mummy queue. By this point I was immensely impressed to see one of my favorite films come to life in such grand fashion.

    Surprise Party I wish came at the end, like in the movie, but oh well. I love the giant immobile wolf… it almost tricks you with Sam just sitting there, because out comes a full human form wolf from the other side. And then maybe my second best scare of the night, the very well hidden puppet wolf which was so wonderfully placed in the dark and in between shrubs that I even didn’t suspect it was there when I went back to do the maze at the end of the night when it had no line.

    The School Bus Massacre is maybe my least favorite part. The pool of water is hard to even notice and I didn’t even realize I was looking at the top half of a bus for a moment. Plus the scare actors have a long distance to travel from their hiding spots before they ever get to you, so they didn’t hit hard here, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

    Meet Sam has another beautiful little facade. Second time in, I didn’t know there was a Mr. Kreeg scare next to the stairs and it really got me. My favorite moment is Sam on the ceiling. The whole time you’re looking at him and thinking, “okay, there’s doors on the side, someone is going to pop out.” So you cautiously move forward and keep looking up to see if he moves or anything, then BAM! Squirted in the face by him. This is the only time I’ll ever praise a water squirt because the execution was so clever and actually scared me. I wish the Sam scare in the next room wasn’t from the window, because it’s a little far from the walk way. I love the zombie kids at the end, I was terrified they would move, but they didn’t. And then the pop outs at the end where they all attack you at different times was great, so I left the maze with my heart racing.

    I enjoyed this maze so much. It beautifully rendered the movie and it embodied the spirit of Halloween so well. The wait was so worth it. I hope the second movie comes soon so we can have a sequel maze. Thank you Murdy for listening to the fans on this one and taking that leap. Easy favorite of the night.

    FACADE - 10. Beautiful, with the music playing too!
    SET DESIGN - 10. The black walls were just transitions and used creatively. Huge set pieces and well designed rooms the whole way through.
    SOUND DESIGN - 10. I felt like I was in the movie and that’s not something well executed anymore as it used to be, especially this year.
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 9. My only issue is Kreeg isn’t exact. Everything else is on point and look like they’re straight from the film set.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 10. Everyone was aggressive and on fire the whole night, really trying their hardest and using the space they were given to provide you the best scare they can give you, from the face characters to people operating puppets.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 10. I felt like I was in it, I was scared even more than the actual movie, and it was a dream come true.
    LENGTH - 10. I read somewhere someone thought the sets were big and made it short, but I feel the opposite. This maze got all the key scary moments, plus some transitions. And those rooms were big and took an extra moment or so to walk through. It ended appropriately.
    SCARES - 10. Two out of the five of my biggest scares of the night were in here.
    STORY - 10. I could tell exactly what was going on, but I’ve seen the movie. Could they have done more to convey the story to those uninitiated? Sure, but maybe in the line, as the maze is already jam-packed. Hopefully they find a way to show clips or more soundytes for those way off by the Star Way in line.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 10. One of my all time favorite movies becomes one of my all time favorite mazes. Bravo.
    99 out of 100. ‘A’+

    TRICK ‘R TREAT SCAREZONE
    It’s really small. Just three little photo ops and a bus. No music other than Hell’s Harvest bleeding over. If you wanna take some pix, cool, and there’s a lot of awesome pumpkins that set the Halloween mood, so at least there’s that. But this zone in itself is almost a bit needless. I enjoyed it a tiny bit though.
    ‘C’

    HELL’S HARVEST
    Now this is a pretty cool zone and there’s a LOT of props and scenic stuff in the streets. I didn’t get to see the Bonesy Brothers though, just never got to venture that way. Music and flames going, it felt like HHN!
    ‘B’+
     
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  9. DTH

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    [Continued 3]

    UNIVERSAL MONSTERS
    Advertised Wait: 30 minutes
    Time in Line: 10:02
    Time in Maze: 10:28
    Actual Wait: 26 minutes


    Was heading to Terror Tram when I saw a 90 minute wait but UM with a 30 minute wait, so I took an immediate right after the Starway. This was my most anticipated and did it deliver? Outside looking at the facade, I was pretty hyped as I noticed — the entire outside walls are designed. Instead of trash bags or just plain black walls, they went all the way around (at least the queue side) and designed it to give it some class. I’ve been asking for this since freakin 2009, so 10 years later and only on one maze, at least it’s something. The facade graffiti was beautiful, but a bit weird, so oh well. The noise bleed from Hell’s Harvest is a bit annoying but tolerable. Anyway, into the maze.

    I love this little outside, quick gauntlet graveyard, although I think the scare could be a bit better here. I love the part with Frankenstein and the little girl, but then again, Wolfman’s pop out is in a weird spot that doesn’t hit hard. Unfortunately, they were targeting two little girls in front of me the whole maze, so I had to observe how it happened to them. I tried to slow down and everything but it just never worked and never got any the whoooole maze to get some scares aimed at me. Hopefully next time. Anyway, I’ll keep going. Weird black wall transitional part to get to the next section of the maze.

    Angry villagers could be a tad more aggressive, or maybe even chanting something so it’s clear what they’re here for. Why y’all attacking me anyway? Don’t really understand the projector room. Am I living the movies or just watching them? And AGAIN, projector screen is off to the side so the scare from there is in another awkward spot! WHO DESIGNED THE SCARES FOR THIS? Beautiful maze, but the scares are just in the worst spots!

    Invisible Man is cool, but no scares here. Phantom is cool, he has a little spot where he could scare you in close distance, but probably won’t. Hanging bodies, nothing new, but it works in the context. Wolf disappearing is a neat trick. Again, the wolf that attacks is not in the prime spot, as where the TrT wolf is in one of the best spots ever.

    Dracula’s dining room is pretty dang cool. Double scare from the chimney and from a curtain, so finally something with some close approximation! The Mummy room is cool, but no hard scares here. Got Igor/Fritz with a shovel next, but he has to come all the way around a corner just to get to you. The Bride is super far away. Why is this key character being cut up so far from guest view?! Random Mummy scare at the end and it’s over.

    Well, I wanted to love this maze but the scares are so poorly designed. Performances are fine, they just have a hard set to work with. I fully believe this was designed and they were like, “but wait, we forgot to add some scare spots in there!” And they had to just make some up at the last second. It’s beautiful and fun even, but the scares are low. Which is odd because there’s a LOT of scareactors willing to do the work and trying hard. I hope this gets some tweaks as the months go on. Final verdict: House of Horrors was better.

    FACADE - 9. I’m not a fan of the backlight stuff. Tonally just strange to me.
    SET DESIGN - 9. I know, I’m sorry, but I have to dock for where the scares are located. Nearly all of them are in an awful place. The maze itself is cool to look at, but this will never win a scariest maze award with scare placements like that.
    SOUND DESIGN - 9. I didn’t notice the music that much, but overall, the sound bytes from the movie helped a lot with putting me in the classic monster mood.
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 10. These guys looked really cool and updated for our current generation. I wish the new Dark Universe would take this as a hint as to how to do it right.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 10. Everyone seemed into their roles and really going for it. Sadly, nothing landed, but they were trying.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 9. I think this puts you in the right mood to be scared. But you end up just gawking at the sets and don’t spend much time running away from the monsters.
    LENGTH - 10. I think they fit quite a lot in there for the space given. I’d love to see that projection room taken out for a Creature from the Black Lagoon aquarium next year, or something.
    SCARES - 4. Now I know I didn’t get the scares aimed at me, but the girls in front of me were being aimed at and they didn’t seem all that scared either. Watching videos, don’t see much scaring going on either. Unfortunately, this is just not that type of maze.
    STORY - 10. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I love it. All the monsters are mingling together and it’s beautiful. This is what Titans of Terror should’ve been.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 7. Wanted to love it. Ended up just liking it. Hoping for tweaks and improvements throughout the run to get this really up there. I see the potential, but they’re really going to have to change things up.
    87 out of 100. ‘B’+

    MONSTERS MASQUERADE
    What a great little companion piece. However, this part was ruined by screaming girls over acting so they were targeting them. It was beautiful and fog filled with good music and designs. Not my favorite, but it works very well.
    B+

    TERROR TRAM: DREADTIME STORIEZ

    Advertised Wait: 90 minutes
    Time in Line: 10:40 PM
    Time in Tram: 11:23 PM
    Actual Wait: 43 minutes


    This is the same exact Tram as 2016, they just replaced some characters with scarecrows or cannibals or whatever. The back up to get to the WOTW kills the mood. And then there’s a back up in there in itself just to go through two tiny rooms. They say there’s two routes also with monsters, but don’t listen. If you wanna see everything, you’ll have to stick to the left. The right side is an immediate exit of the tram with the exit chainsaw guys there.

    The tram video is dumb with dumb acting and bad dialogue to set up the “nightmares” for no good reason. The Hollywood Harry clown staring at you slightly moving is exactly the same. In the queue, they just play the same video from 2016, plus the CryptTV shorts. I didn’t hate it, I had fun, but it’s so recycled, it’s not even funny. I guess the only thing missing are the few storage bins at the end of 2016 and instead gave us this new ending, which really isn’t that spectacular either.
    C+

    HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS

    Advertised Wait: 85 minutes
    Time in Line: 12:10 AM
    Time In Maze: 1:25 AM
    Actual Wait: 75 minutes


    Was planning on hitting Jabbawockeez, but I guess I’ll have to save that for next time, since I got out of this right at 1:32 and the entrance for the show was already closed. No big loss there though. Anyway, waited the longest wait of the night here. Painfully slow. They were letting in way too many FOTL people.

    First room is huge with a scare right away from bandaged Michael, who they use a bit more than I thought they would. The second big room, I wish the scare wasn’t in a place at the far end of the room because everyone is going to see it. There’s a cool backyard scene with a random trigger scare of Christmas like lights but no person coming out that actually works pretty good. Love the trick or treaters!

    As the maze goes on, it just gets better and better. Oddly, this is the most Halloween (the holiday) feeling of all the Halloween mazes. Love the sheets portion, just feels unpredictable. I wish they did something different for the shotgun scare and placed Michael a bit closer, but oh well, he comes pretty close in the very next room. I think my third biggest scare of the night was Jamie under the bed. Did not think she would pop out so I literally leaped up.

    The power plant part is SO COOL. Such a great room and innovative way to put it in the maze. After that, you get some pop out scares and the maze is over. Sadly it’s a wee bit short and I wish they figured out a way to do the roof top chase.

    In my opinion, this is better than 2015’s maze but not quite 2016’s. And nowhere near 2009’s. The scares hit harder here than 2016’s, but that maze had a beautiful ending, so it takes the cake. Other than that, this would’ve beaten it by being really relentless with the Michaels.

    FACADE - 10. This is oddly a big facade.
    SET DESIGN - 9. Maybe one too many black transition rooms, but then again, they filled them with Michaels, so I can’t complain too much.
    SOUND DESIGN - 10. These mazes always sound great!
    SCAREACTOR DESIGN - 10. I mean, it’s Michael and he looks good and was cast good. They somehow always find the perfect Loomis too. Wish they would’ve included little Jamie in some capacity other than the under bed thing, but oh well.
    CAST PERFORMANCE - 10. RELENTLESS. They were on fire all night.
    ATMOSPHERE/TONE/IMMERSION - 10. Scary, more than it had any right to be scary! Was bouncing from one room to the next.
    LENGTH - 7. Had two scenes they really could’ve capitalized on and they dropped the ball. This is a short maze, but very impactful in that time limit.
    SCARES - 10. Had me jumping scene after scene in hard hitting fashion. There’s one or two spots that are meh, but the rest of the scares work.
    STORY - 9. I think not including Jamie as a plot line is a mistake, as that’s almost the whole point. But Michael returned, and I guess that’s the key story element they went with.
    PERSONAL BIAS POINTS - 9. This was way better than I imagined. I love Michael Myers either way and figured it’d at least be fun, and it sure delivered and then some. What a great maze, there’s no fatigue for me here. I really hope they skip part 5 and just go straight to H20 next year, if they intend to keep doing these mazes.
    94 out of 100. ‘A’
     
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  10. DTH

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    [Continued 4]

    REPEATS
    Went back down to TrT and it was even better this time around. This maze is just so solid, it’s the clear best. Usually when I do repeats in the same night (especially right before closing), it’s nowhere near as strong and the scare actors are getting lazy because they’re about to get off. But these guys were going crazy all night, even for people walking through while there’s no line. Then I RAN all the way to Poltergeist and got there right at 1:59, last one’s through. The maze was better since we were the only one in there, but a lot of actors seemed to have left already.

    OVERALL
    I liked this year, for the most part. I think my night and how my friends felt at first was, “it was disappointing,” but that’s because we hit all the lackluster mazes in the beginning. It leaves you feeling sour for the rest of the night, but actually, there’s 4 mazes I’d say are really top tier, 2 that are bad, and one that’s almost good but not quite. I’m going to plan my night to start a bit better next time and that means just starting with Blumhouse, Poltergeist, then hitting Purge, and then Stranger Things last or somehow in the middle if I can. And ending on a high note with Halloween.

    The talk of black walls this year is a bit over exaggerated. Only one maze is truly ripe with them and poor design in total, and that’s First Purge. Poltergeist has one section that’s randomly in there, but that’s it. TrT, Stranger Things, UM, Blumhouse and Halloween fully utilize their darkness or are really quick transitions. I know we’re a bit traumatized from 2017, but it’s nowhere near that bad.

    As far as where it ranks in terms of all the years I’ve been going, it’s more towards the middle-bottom. Obviously not perfect like ’16 and not the trash fire of ’17. It’s just a regular old year, which is fine by me. Could be better in a lot of places. I’m also surprised at how much I enjoyed Blumhouse, which was way better than last year’s version. TrT, although highly anticipated for me, was way better than I expected and that makes me very happy — that was treated with the grandeur, respect and amount of love that I was expecting for Stranger Things, and even to some degree, Universal Monsters. Not that UM is bad at all, but the scares just are too far away to work. With a bit imagination, they can fix that. Poltergeist, however, I don’t think can be fixed, as the problems with that maze are built in. I’d love it if it got better, since it’s arguably my favorite property represented at this year’s event, but I can’t be too optimistic that they’ll make necessary changes.

    First Purge should be a wake up call for upper management, especially with Holidayz in Hell right next to it — that we need more original mazes. With Uni Monsters and to some degree Blumhouse being so good, they came from places of the most creativity. It’s why First Purge is so awful and why a SCAREZONE IS BETTER THAN A MAZE. And I just don’t get why they neuter the Terror Tram more and more every year. This used to be a star attraction. Please, just TRY to do something a little different. I’d love that hill back too, if we can.

    I’ll happily be returning at the end of the run and I’m excited to see any improvements or changes. In a few weeks, I’ll be attending WB’s event and how that’ll stack up. Fright Fest’s reviews should be rolling in and we’ll see how I feel about that. And KSF is already out of my line-up this year (unless I can somehow go for free). But with competition stacking in, next year’s HHN is going to have to break it’s odd-numbered curse. It’ll be it’s make or break year, especially since this year wasn’t exactly the world’s biggest home run. It was more like a bases-loaded, stealing-bases to get ahead type game, until something finally brought it home to the finish.
    ‘B’-

    RANKINGS —

    MAZES:

    AMAZING - Trick ‘r Treat
    GREAT - Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
    GOOD - Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter Two, Universal Monsters
    AVERAGE - Poltergeist
    OKAY - N/A
    BAD - Stranger Things
    WTF - The First Purge


    SCAREZONES:
    Holidayz in Hell
    Hell’s Harvest
    Monsters Masquerade
    Trick ‘r Treat


    TERROR TRAM (through the years):

    AMAZING - 08, 09
    GREAT - 16, 13, 12
    GOOD - 14
    AVERAGE - 07, 18
    OKAY - 15
    BAD - 10
    WTF - 17, 11


    OVERALL YEARS:
    *PERFECT* - 16
    AMAZING - 14, 08, 12, 10, 13, 09
    GREAT - 18
    GOOD - 15, 11
    AVERAGE - 07
    OKAY - 17
    BAD - N/A
    WTF - N/A
     
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  11. Brian G.

    Brian G. Staff Member Administrator

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  12. Herny15

    Herny15 Newcomer

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    Here are my initial thoughts from opening night:

    Stranger Things:
    Amazing sets and cool effects. Costumes were neat and the sound design is on point.

    Trick R Treat:
    I was severely disappointed after I walked through this one. Only one room per section and in between those scenes were long hallways filled with Black Walls. I also missed a lot of scares but the characters and sets were great.

    Poltergeist:
    Best puppets in years! They recreated the overall vibe of the film so seamlessly and I loved some of the design choices for some of the rooms.

    The First Purge:
    This year’s AVED. It started off strong with some great scares but it all goes downhill with all the lackluster sets, Black Walls, and fake looking Skeletor masks.

    Blumhouse of Horrors 2:
    Not as bad as I expected. Truth was okay, Unfriended was kinda neat, and the original ending was just weird and frustrating.

    Terror Tram:
    Definitely better than last year, which isn’t saying much. I would say it’s on par with 2016’s but oh my god there are so many reused props!

    Universal Monsters:
    I think I’m in love!! You can really tell a lifelong fan made this maze. The characters, scares, sets and soundtrack were freaking incredible.

    Halloween 4:
    This one is sort of a mixed bag for me. For the most part the scares were intense and some of the sets were nice. But it just ends so abruptly and left much to be desired.

    Scare zones:
    Hell’s Harvest was a pretty good entrance zone with some awesome scare actors. Trick R Treat lacked characters but the props were good and I’m so glad the fire towers are back. Monster Masquerade was an awesome unofficial finale to an even more awesome maze. Toxxic Tunnel...is at least better than last year. Holidayz in Hell has a lot of cool and creative props and aesthetics!

    My opinions will most likely change by the end of the event but as of now I think 2018 is a pretty solid year. I’ll post a more detailed review when the event ends in the HNN forums and maybe in this site as well.
     
  13. Brian G.

    Brian G. Staff Member Administrator

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  14. Horror Lover

    Horror Lover Member

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    Okay, now that I've had enough time to think it through, after two trips to HHN, here's my initial review on Halloween Horror Nights 2018: True Fear Comes From Within.. As usual, there will be mild spoilers but not in complete detail.. that gets saved for my formal review of the event at the end of HHN season in November [​IMG]

    Poltergeist: 9/10 = I've been wanting this IP for the longest at HHN and I'm happy to say this maze delivered on all fronts [​IMG] Saw everything I wanted to see from the movie in this maze [​IMG] Only problem were the black walls.. but very happy with the way this maze turned out [​IMG]

    The First Purge: 6/10 = Eh.. It's the Purge.. I got some good scares in this maze but suffers from black wall overload and just feels like it was thrown together at the last minute.. But I did like a few things about this maze and the talent did their best to get me good..

    The Horrors Of Blumhouse: Chapter Two: 7/10 = Liked this one slightly better than The First Purge, if only because the nature of the movies represented in Blumhouse kinda forced a bit more creative leeway in how the maze was done.. Truth or Dare was kinda cool, Unfriended was okay.. The Girl part of the maze surprisingly scared the daylights out of me.. it's an okay maze.. not the worst I've been through but not my favorite either..

    Trick 'R Treat: 9/10 = Like with Poltergeist, I, and a lot of HHN fans had been wanting this maze for many, MANY years.. the black walls are in this maze as well but at least some are used in a creative fashion.. I did like the sets and the scares in this maze and it was great seeing this IP come to life.. so I overall liked this maze [​IMG]

    Stranger Things: 8/10 = I do like this show and I really liked the maze design-wise.. I thought the sets were incredibly on point and it was cool seeing iconic moments from the show.. but the scares in this are kinda tame.. not sure if this was done on purpose to avoid alienating the younger fans of the show who are coming to HHN for this one.. but overall I liked the maze [​IMG] Just needed an actual facade and again, less black walls..

    Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers: 9/10 = Not much to say about this maze.. It's Michael Myers.. he's scary as hell.. he's attacking you throughout the town of Haddonfield.. it's an alright maze strengthened by a really good cast..

    Universal Monsters Resurrection: Music By Slash: 10/10 = THIS maze is what I come to HHN for.. THIS maze was everything I wanted and more.. Seeing ALL the Universal Monsters was nothing short of amazing.. the set design, character design, music and scares in this one are all so fan-freaking-tastic.. I just wish it was a bit longer.. but honestly one of my favorite HHN mazes, possibly, of all time.. <3 <3 :)

    Terror Tram: Hollywood Harry's Dreadtime Storiez: 7/10 = It's better than last year's.. I like the opening video with Hollywood Harry finally taking center stage as his own character and taking us into his "Koodle's Karnival" show.. the Tram itself is still same ole', same ole'.. but overall just okay.. although I did get a few good scares [​IMG]

    Scarezones are so good this year.. Hell's Harvest is really cool, Trick 'R Treat scarezone is decent but needs more scareactors, Monster Masquerade has some incredibly gorgeous costumes and lighting and really impressed me visually.. love seeing The Phantom and The Hunchback get their due.. Toxxic Tunnel is the same as last year.. and then we get to Holidayz In Hell.. I LOVE THIS SCAREZONE SO MUCH!! The characters are quirky and twisted and the aesthetics are so awesomely gruesome.. every holiday gets twisted on it's ear.. and I really want to see this return as a maze next year.. it's that good of a scarezone

    Jabbawockeez was alright.. Just an okay dance show that isn't really my thing..

    So overall, that was my initial review of HHN 2018 [​IMG] Still a lot of work needs to be done about the black walls issue but I overall enjoyed this year way more than last year.. Classic Monsters may be one of my favorite mazes they've ever done [​IMG]
     
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  15. SpookySkeletini

    SpookySkeletini Newcomer

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    So I FINALLY went to HHN yesterday and overall it was a pretty solid year. It was definitely miles better than last year, and they’re trying out new things that put them on the right path. Before I get into the attractions, a couple of broad thoughts-

    The black walls are back, but not as prevalent as last year. However, they will always be the ultimate pain in the a**. I hate blindly flailing around in a tight, pitch black room, with fear of walking out of an exit or walking into a plywood wall. Worst of all would be bumping or even accidentally shoving talent. Backup also happens often in these hallways. It sucks, not only on an operational level but on a thematic level as well. Three mazes suffer from this in particular, and it’s a shame that the story has to be so heavily affected by this decision. I don’t care if they exist because the budget is thin; if that’s the case, I’d rather have less mazes so that the others can pack a bigger punch. Either that or increase the budget, after all I do expect more coming from the overpriced ticket I pay and the crowds they generate. In a lot of ways they are on the right track, but when it comes to this problem, more of an effort needs to be made.

    Effort HAS been made to change up scares though, which is a nice surprise. Yes, the tired curtain strobe and boo window scares are still here, but there’s also some great unexpected stuff and some awesome puppets. Hope the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking is still there next year.

    The dubstep is also something that I’ve always disliked; I feel that it takes away some of the “Halloween aura”. They seemed to have toned it down this year though, as it’s really only in the first two scare zones. Maybe they’re realizing that dubstep was never really that cool to begin with.

    Decor is more common and elaborate this year, and I couldn’t be happier. THIS is a really great step in the right direction. It has always been my one of my biggest problems with HHN, that it’s never truly felt like a “Halloween park”. It felt weird walking through a thematic experience, only to be spat out next to the Simpsons or something. Something as simple as banners or jack o’ lanterns helps. Hopefully the decor continues growing, and maybe next year they’ll spread it throughout the whole park, and not have it only prevalent in scare zones.

    [CONTINUED IN PART 2]
     
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  16. Fallow

    Fallow Veteran Member

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  17. SpookySkeletini

    SpookySkeletini Newcomer

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    [PART 2 - SCARE ZONES]


    The Scare Zones are nicely done, with only one that’s pretty weak. The talent were also consistently great, there wasn’t one zone that felt low energy.

    Hell’s Harvest is a good opening statement for the park. It’s a little too complicated theming wise (none of the decor really goes with the costumes too), but at least it’s different. It also meshes well with the Trick ‘r Treat scare zone. The costumes are awesome; I love the unique and interesting designs of the masks. The Bonesy Brothers were a fantastic touch; this is the type of direction I wanna see HHN take, more entertainment and immersion. And of course, the chainsaws are fun and make for some entertaining people watching!

    Trickr Treat comes up right after Hell’s Harvest, and offers traditional halloween fun. The characters all look much better than what I was expecting, and the decor and lighting is beautiful. However, it’s got its issues. The sound design is just all wrong; why is there dubstep blaring in this classic halloween themed attraction? I don’t understand why they don’t use the amazing soundtrack from the movie? It even fits with Hell’s Harvest if that was a concern! I also find it to be much to small. When you watch the movie, there’s rich, detailed design everywhere. The scare zone definitely doesn’t do that justice. I mean how cool would it have been to make the ENTIRE entrance a mock up of the halloween festival in the movie! Oh well, it’s still pretty good. And hey, the fire tower is cool!

    After you exit the Universal Monsters maze, you’ll find yourself in the Monster Masquerade zone. As it’s own, it’s not super impressive or groundbreaking, but as a compliment to the maze it works perfectly. The fog, lighting, and set pieces work really really well with each other, and give the talent some great opportunities to scare. The costumes are pretty cool and detailed, and that Red Death Phantom is sooo cool. It’s got a solid soundtrack as well; it doesn’t sound cheesy or too “modern”. To put it simply, it’s great!

    Our weakest zone comes in the form of Toxxic Tunnel. It’s not absolutely terrible, and I understand the complications with working with the tunnel. I think the costumes look alright too. However, I think the problems start from the beginning. If they can’t do fog or props, then why go with the toxic spill theme anyways? It’s those details that really sell that theme! It seems like the only things that can be done in the tunnel are strobes and maybe some posters(?) If the tunnel is this difficult to design, and needs so many sacrifices, then maybe it shouldn’t even be a scare zone. The lighting also sucks, as it’s just the Purge strobes but with a flash of green. A simple “red alarm” strobe would be more effective. Even the name is dumb, why add that unnecessary “X”? I have so many questions. The talent absolutely saves the zone, as without their energy, this could’ve been much worse.

    Our final zone we come across is also the best: Holidays in Hell. This is the greatest scare zone that HHN has ever done, period. It’s pretty much perfect. It’s scary, super fun, and carries a twisted sense of humor. The scenes are also very long, but it doesn’t get tiring at all. Every character looks fantastic, especially the Turkey-Man and Father Time. The colorful, chaotic environment is wonderfully done; the plentiful set pieces are creative and the lighting and fog give off an appropriately garish appearance. This is one of the best scare zones anywhere, and it’s definitely one of the highlights of the event.

    That’s it for the scare zones this year. Some really solid stuff here, and while not all of it works, their attempts with immersion are admirable. I hope they keep trying different ideas, and let’s see if they can somehow top Holidays in Hell next year!


    [CONTINUED IN PART 3]
     
  18. SpookySkeletini

    SpookySkeletini Newcomer

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    [PART 3 - MAZES]


    The first maze of the night was Stranger Things. Classic 80s music rang through the air outside the soundstage, setting the perfect mood for the experience. Thank god for that soundtrack, for the disappointing lack of a facade certainly didn’t get anyone pumped. Like seriously, not even a banner for the show? On the other hand, the maze itself is gorgeous. It is a perfect representation of the show; you can tell that a lot of love was put into this. I really liked the Upside Down and the Lab. This is a dual-edged sword, however, as since it is so faithful to the show that the scares feel like an afterthought. Like they felt almost inappropriate. I knew that it wouldn’t work to well as a “haunted house”, but as more of a passive “walkthrough experience”. There are a couple good scares, like the wall gags, but the rest are lazy, obvious, or just don’t work because of the clunkiness of the costumes. The Demogorgons do look super impressive, but do I feel bad for the poor bast*rds inside of them. The face characters look great too, and I’m so happy they didn’t go with Winona Ryder masks or anything. All that I felt was really missing scenically was a room highlighting the kids. The scares are beyond weak, and maybe it should’ve had more characters, but the fantastic visuals and sets save Stranger Things from being a drag.


    Trickr Treat came up next, and wow what a great entry statement. The facade was absolutely wonderful, and I loved how it blended with the next scene. Speaking of scenes, the sets were absolutely awesome, and had some really cool scares (I especially liked the werewolf puppets and Sam on the ceiling). I also liked how spacious the rooms were, like the rock quarry. The characters also looked really solid, and the talent were awesome as usual. So it’s a shame that the experience is hampered by some god awful transitions. They tried to do something different, and those glowing titles did look neat, but the dark hallways lasted for waaay too long. Why not some cool “comic book” walls or something? And of course, every hallway had the predictable box scare. This left the maze feeling really choppy and repetitive, and thus it didn’t flow well at all. The lack of a finale room was also disappointing. It’s definitely not perfect, but Trick ‘r Treat’s strengths are noteworthy and keep the maze afloat.


    When Poltergeist was announced as another maze, I had my hesitations. Having the opportunity to go through it now, I can safely say that it’s my favorite maze at HHN this year. Maybe my favorite out of any year! An amazing facade greets you with a false sense of security, and then drops you into terrifying chaos. If I had to describe the maze in one word, it would be “intense “. The scares are the strongest here, as well as the most creative. The puppets look incredible, and are very startling. The talent were merciless, those damn clowns got me too many times! Scenes depicting the house are spot on, and the Other Side is gorgeously dream-like as well. The coffin finale is a great finisher, and those corpses looked gnarly! It’s a nearly perfect experience; the only gripe I have is an unnecessarily long black hallway with a couple of face-peeling Martys. It doesn’t add or take away anything for the maze. Other than that, it’s flawless. Definitely hit up Poltergeist. It’s a can’t miss and is probably the best maze of the year!


    [CONTINUED IN PART 4]
     
  19. Ryan

    Ryan Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't feel like I have the patience to write a long, lengthy review full of detail. This year's event left me bored, sad, disappointed on many fronts, though that's not to say there weren't highlights... it's just that it seems John Murdy has decided they aren't the elements that should drive the event anymore.

    Everything more than ever feels like it's less about being scary and more about being a pseudo-rave with droning dubstep (remember scarezone music? Remember that?!), constant strobes and dance lighting with themeing in most SZs reduced to roll out floats. Only the Trick R Treat scarezone had a hint of identity and consistent thematic design. The budget was clearly scaled back resulting in a cheap, thrown-together vibe. This of course is coupled with the fact that alcohol and food sales seem to drive everything now more than ever (especially with the Stranger Things items), making it all seemingly less about the scares and theme and more about a party/festival atmosphere. However, instead of this being a Halloween festival or celebration, it's more of a frat boy/EDM dealie. I never felt out of place at Orlando's HHN or at Knott's. I felt out of place here. HHN at USH is changing rapidly and I'm not a fan.

    The staff was also standoffish and rude. After realizing the turnstile TMs forgot to hand out wristbands to the first hundred for 2PM entry, I was stopped by a team member who refused to let me move and also had no option to call anyone but instead wanted me to wait for a lead to eventually come along. I tracked one day, and the dude constantly refused to apologize despite me giving him several options to. The woman who gave me my wristband was the first person to apologize to me and listen. Maze watchers all had the permanent "please kill me" look on their faces, many of which refused to let me even soak in a scene lest I not move along. Luckily F&B were all very nice and welcoming, which was a nice change of pace. The stress of the event and the crowd coming in has clearly already taken a toll on them.

    Still, there are mazes and let's go through them:

    Stranger Things: I love this show. I did not love this maze.

    So much about this is pulled straight out of Orlando's playbook and boy oh boy did they fumble that interpretation. Playing the 80s music outside, having extra queue space in the soundstage... ok, I get it. The problem is that 1) they forgot to include the facade once inside the maze proper and 2) they forgot to shut the doors in the bulk of the stage which leads to light leakage and 3) there was no roof over this thing despite it being a tent in the SS leading to EVEN MORE LIGHT LEAKAGE.

    Would be nice if the maze were consistent but no, the demogorgans are not very effective and only a few effects work. I did like the lab scenes and appreciate the scenic but the Upside Down is poorly done with fiber optics instead of the very obvious foam effect in use in Orlando, and the child statuettes are pathetic. There's good elements there, but they just don't work together. I hope they can make for a better showing next year.

    Trick R Treat: black freaking walls. Light leakage like crazy. Bad location. Dumb repetitive scares. Yeah, some cool sets here and there but there's some major flaws here. Worst maze of the event.

    Blumhouse: it's ok. I don't get the Unfriended stuff and was bizarre and felt cheap. I liked the Little Girl ending, that had some really neat creative elements and some decent scares.

    The First Purge: I barely remember this maze outside of thinking, "eh that wasn't that bad". Say what you will.

    Poltergeist: aaahhh I get to praise something and say nice things! Yes, this is not a perfect maze (there's a black wall switchback and clearly had a missing scareactor) but there are so many really neat rooms, puppets and effective scares. The scenic in this one is perfect and reminds me of all the best Insidious mazes. Lots of great practical effects, and man I loved that skull. Did it three times, second favorite. Dug the Jerry Goldsmith score outside the house as well.

    Terror Tram: the whole Hollywood Harry stuff is a delight, and I enjoyed the cheesy video on the tram. It reminded me (fittingly) of the macabre Jack humor, so consider me happy as a clam upon seeing a reference to ol Jack in the path itself. I liked how it was segmented and while everything here is pretty rote and tired, at least they put a fun, creative spin on everything.

    Halloween 4: it's a gauntlet of Michaels with some pretty decent scenic. Another solid WW queue maze. I really wish I had more to say but at least it was nice.

    Universal Monsters: now here's the stuff! Insane scenic, wonderful makeup and scare placements, amazing effects (the invisible man) and something that felt fully like a love letter, a genuine, sincere ode to the old Universal Monsters. This was the clear winner and I adored all three walk-throughs. This is one that Orlando peeps would rave about, and it's a shame most of the other mazes aren't even close to this level.

    So yeah, I didn't have a great time at this year's HHN but it wasn't a total loss. I really hope the team learns their lessons and sees why UMR was a success and why some of the other things weren't. Nothing is an automatic win, and if they want to keep up, they need to put the effort back in. Raise budgets, be creative and stop giving into your worst tendencies.

    Also, no, I didn't see Jabbawockeez. It's not my thing, but I'm glad people seem to enjoy it.
     
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  20. Freak

    Freak Veteran Member

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    Thank you for this review. I miss the days when it was an actual Halloween event with Halloween music and it wasn’t a scary EDM. I really don’t like the direction the event is going.

    I agree with your stance of the event. I’m starting to lose interest in HHN. I really don’t care about speculating for next year because I know it’s goong to be the same. Doesn’t matter what property we get, it’s just going to be filled with black walls.
     

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