Halloween Horror Nights 29 General Discussion | Inside Universal Forums
  • Signing up for a Premium Membership is a donation to help Inside Universal maintain costs and offers an ad-free experience on the forum. Learn more about it here.

Halloween Horror Nights 29 General Discussion

Kinchkinet85

Member
May 24, 2018
660
Is there usually a drop-off in performance towards the end of the event? Asking because I might go back to HHN on November 2nd, but don't want to be disappointed because the performers aren't trying as hard due to everything coming to an end.
The drop-off already happened, there won’t be any more this year. I also hear that since it’s the last day on Nov. 2 the scare actors give it there all to finish with a bang. So I say go and have fun.
 
  • Like
Reactions: CoopF22

Brian G.

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 21, 2008
20,565
Orlando, FL
I'd argue 30 is important because it's not only year 30, but the first year under new head leadership.
I was speaking in terms of anniversary importance and how it's not imperative that 30 be another "Anniversary throwback" theme. The new leadership just so happened to take place the year before 30. In that regard, yes - it's an important year.
 

OhHaiInternet95

Veteran Member
Aug 18, 2017
3,008
I was speaking in terms of anniversary importance and how it's not imperative that 30 be another "Anniversary throwback" theme. The new leadership just so happened to take place the year before 30. In that regard, yes - it's an important year.
Again, I thought Braillard and Gray have been more in charge since ~27. I hope Aiello moving on doesn't mean any bad changes (e.g. lineups similar to 22 in the near future).

I am beginning to come around to the view that they shouldn't just rehash the standard anniversary format next year.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Darko and RevFreako

shiekra38

Legendary Member
Dec 13, 2009
10,691
Florida
I'd argue 30 is important because it's not only year 30, but the first year under new head leadership.

Personally, the further I get from my 29 trip, the more I feel like the formula that started around year 23 just feels stale. And I think the public at large agrees. Now, HHN can just ignore that because they're the only viable game in town, but I would hope that would be an impetus for change.

I also know this is sadly out of A&D's hands for whatever reason, but if there is going to be an icon next year, it shouldn't be Jack. It should be something new and fresh.
HHN has a "where does it go next" issue on its hands. It's a completely ground up new build in terms of houses each year, yet it feels extremely similar to last year.

I'm not sure what fresh looks like for HHN, but I think HHN30 is the perfect time to change it up.
 

JungleSkip

Premium Member
Feb 15, 2010
20,705
The Mushroom Kingdom
HHN has a "where does it go next" issue on its hands. It's a completely ground up new build in terms of houses each year, yet it feels extremely similar to last year.

I'm not sure what fresh looks like for HHN, but I think HHN30 is the perfect time to change it up.
I think the big issue is the IPs, to be honest. Outside of the one big one each year, the others have felt superfluous basically every year. No one was clamoring for Us, House of 1000 Corpses, or, as we've seen so far, Ghostbusters honestly. Replacing those three mediocre-to-forgettable IP houses with originals would make the event more interesting. Not to mention less confusing for people who have never seen smaller films like Us and HO1C.

Not to mention actually having an over-arching theme that is actually represented in the streets. They can say this year was "80s", but outside Anarchade, none of the zones felt like they came form the 80s. Vanity Ball was...whatever. Zombieland was straight up the worst zone I've ever seen. And the Vikings one was fine, but I can't say it felt like it fit in with the event overall.

I dunno. I know marketing doesn't want Icons for whatever reason, but they need to allow A&D to make a cohesive event. This year just kind of felt like a big hodgepodge. I always circle back to HHN25 and 21, which were by far the two best years I've been to. Mostly because they felt cohesive. Not that everything fit under one story, but that the event felt like it wasn't just a bunch of random things thrown into a pot.
 

jrn14

Veteran Member
Dec 21, 2016
1,354
ehhh I agree about the cohesion part, but I think IPs are key to HHNs success at this point... Maybe I"m not the typical guest, but I'm always more excited for the IP houses than the originals. Don't get me wrong I love the originals too, but I love seeing what UC does with the IPs. Local haunts in Pittsburgh do a great job creating original haunted houses (some last for like 40+ minutes...) so like I feel people go to Universal to see IP houses. Also I feel even without Stranger Things the IP houses area almost always a longer wait than the originals.
 

Brian G.

Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Administrator
Jan 21, 2008
20,565
Orlando, FL
Again, I thought Braillard and Gray have been more in charge since ~27. I hope Aiello moving on doesn't mean any bad changes (e.g. lineups similar to 22 in the near future).

I am beginning to come around to the view that they shouldn't just rehash the standard anniversary format next year.
Aiello was still the guiding light.

ehhh I agree about the cohesion part, but I think IPs are key to HHNs success at this point... Maybe I"m not the typical guest, but I'm always more excited for the IP houses than the originals. Don't get me wrong I love the originals too, but I love seeing what UC does with the IPs. Local haunts in Pittsburgh do a great job creating original haunted houses (some last for like 40+ minutes...) so like I feel people go to Universal to see IP houses. Also I feel even without Stranger Things the IP houses area almost always a longer wait than the originals.
Because it's been conditioned to expect that. They need to break that expectation. The IP well is drying up, especially when they use 5-6 a year.
 
Apr 26, 2018
346
ehhh I agree about the cohesion part, but I think IPs are key to HHNs success at this point... Maybe I"m not the typical guest, but I'm always more excited for the IP houses than the originals. Don't get me wrong I love the originals too, but I love seeing what UC does with the IPs. Local haunts in Pittsburgh do a great job creating original haunted houses (some last for like 40+ minutes...) so like I feel people go to Universal to see IP houses. Also I feel even without Stranger Things the IP houses area almost always a longer wait than the originals.
IP’s are what gets me super excited before I go, and the four times I have been the original houses usually end up being what has me excited when I remember my trip.

So excited for IP’s, but love the originals when I’m there. (I consider monsters an original, not IP). My favorite houses this year in no order were monsters, depths, graveyard games, yeti, klowns (yes, I know I said all summer it would suck!) ghostbusters, and stranger things.

Hmm, I guess I’m really saying I just didn’t like nightingales, and we skipped ho1c and us.

This combo works for me, I must be the target market or something.
 

OhHaiInternet95

Veteran Member
Aug 18, 2017
3,008
Aiello was still the guiding light.



Because it's been conditioned to expect that. They need to break that expectation. The IP well is drying up, especially when they use 5-6 a year.
I just hope that they're still allowed the same amount of creative freedom. Obviously marketing clamped down when Roddy left, so I hope they don't further do so now. As you say, the IP well is drying up so there's no way they can't allow at least four originals if they want to stay at 10 houses. I worry that they won't be allowed to do dark and gritty houses like...well, all the originals this year.
 

SeventyOne

V.I.P.
Jul 1, 2010
2,748
Orlando
I think the big issue is the IPs, to be honest. Outside of the one big one each year, the others have felt superfluous basically every year. No one was clamoring for Us, House of 1000 Corpses, or, as we've seen so far, Ghostbusters honestly. Replacing those three mediocre-to-forgettable IP houses with originals would make the event more interesting. Not to mention less confusing for people who have never seen smaller films like Us and HO1C.
I think it's IPs more than the loose "formula," which I think could still largely work. By having a dark comedy house, a history house, a traditional house, etc., ensures the event isn't too one-note.

The idea seems to be throw out as many as possible in the hope one or two works. Effective with, say, AHS or Klownz or Poltergeist--but for each success, there's two or three meh results (Evil Dead remake, Cabin in the Woods, Silent Hill, Cirque de Freak, Dracula Untold, Resident Evil, Alice Cooper, Penn & Teller, Purge, later years of TWD). That alienates casual fans, as you say, and puts handcuffs on the designers I have to imagine.

That all said, I think the zones remain the number one priority to fix. I think 2019 may just have been a perfect storm, with Aiello wanting to do his two dream IPs (Ghostbusters, Klownz) before he moved on and the suits strongly pushing Stranger Things, so that the three marquee properties "aren't that scary." Easy enough to fix next year. I really don't know how to begin fixing zones at this point.
 

DannyPowers

Veteran Member
Apr 29, 2016
1,277
or, as we've seen so far, Ghostbusters honestly.
Uhhh...I was pumped when I heard Ghostbusters was coming. I personally know several other people that were as well.

As for IPs, they bring the general public’s eyes to the event, as well as sell the hell out of merchandise and themed foods/drinks.

That all brings in more money, which gives them a bigger budget to work with. In short, we all love the originals, but IPs feed the machine
 

horrornights789

Veteran Member
Jul 8, 2017
3,125
Uhhh...I was pumped when I heard Ghostbusters was coming. I personally know several other people that were as well.

As for IPs, they bring the general public’s eyes to the event, as well as sell the hell out of merchandise and themed foods/drinks.

That all brings in more money, which gives them a bigger budget to work with. In short, we all love the originals, but IPs feed the machine
I wasn’t excited for it but I’d be lying if I said the merch wasn’t awesome for Ghostbusters. To add onto this, Us was the most anticipated maze in my group and was a convincing factor for a couple of my friends. My little brothers friends all for excited for that and Stranger Things too and he’s 16. House of 1000 Corpses was pretty unfamiliar to most people I knew though but a majority loved the maze
 
  • Like
Reactions: DannyPowers

kingmantis

Rookie
Mar 31, 2017
113
I feel like there’s some revisionist history going on. Before the event, people were claiming this to be one of the greatest IP lineups of all time, and the event itself possibly being a GOAT year. Now that HHN29 quite hasn’t panned out that way, everyone wants to place the blame on not enough original material. Yet the two favorite houses of the past two years are IPs (Poltergeist & Monsters), and it feels like many people felt last year was one of the strongest events in years, even with an almost identical IP/original. And as for “cohesion”, HHN17 & HHN19 were both majority IPs, yet still managed to maintain a single theme despite the different properties. Honestly, I think the IPs are a scapegoat for what’s clearly deeper issues running through the event:

1. The team seems to have a “build ‘em all, let god sort ‘em out” approach to houses. I understand this is an event with many moving parts, so not everything can be accounted for, but it feels like the HHN team is putting together houses based on what rad effects and costumes look like when they can stroll though alone in a preview setting than what functionally works in a live setting regarding operations and staff. Think about all the random ops people standing in the middle of rooms because there was no space designed for them to stand. And it didn’t take an IP to turn Depths of Fear into a complete disaster where many of the effects don’t work and massive staff turnover from unsafe costuming, to the point where they’ve needed to revamp the entire house midway through the event. Same goes for the chainsaw crew in Springfield. Even Ghostbusters, the supposed darling, has effects breaking down and missing actors (like according to the boards here apparently the proton packs are actual weight?).


I’ll grant you the IPs do make casting harder, which in turn means that as the event goes on and staff leaves, you’ll wind up with more empty spaces. That being said, with Stranger Things, wasn’t the house supposedly going to have even more mannequins before Netflix intervened? And they didn’t invite back most of the look-alikes from last year? Why are rights-holders needing to step in to make houses better? Stranger Things 2&3 aren’t hurting for scary material and based on last year’s house its clear that the property can actually be decently scary in a house-setting. It’s a lot of work to put together 10 stellar houses every year, it’s pretty clear the design team is going to prioritize pet favorites and that Stranger Things was a “been there, done that” for them.


2. The event is too popular. I didn’t care for Universal Classic Monsters, mainly because the three times I had a chance to go through, I either missed or saw the reset on all the major scares (Wolfman bungee, Hunchback, etc.) because of the conga lines. It is getting rarer and rarer to have the intimate, alone moments that make for great and terrifying house and zone experiences. There are simply too many people. So instead design is going for more spectacle, more big effects in houses and mini-shows in zones. I’ll give them credit for trying to adapt, but that winds up creating timing issues where if a guest goes through at the wrong time, or passes through a zone in-between shows, the entire experience is barren of anything worthwhile.

Of course, the easy answer is get rid of IPs and the crowds will go away. And the easy rebuttal is Comcast. A multi-billion-dollar conglomerate has zero incentive to reduce crowds, unless done in conjunction with massive price-hikes for the event as a whole. Bringing in IPs grew the event exponentially. And honestly? Even if the event next year was 8 originals, Stranger Things & IT, I bet it would be nearly as crowded. This is the new normal for the event, and addressing the problem would require a radical rethinking of what HHN even is.

Sorry for the essay on this, it’s just been something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately in the wake of this year’s event (which I enjoyed for the most part). Unsurprisingly, there's other stuff I've been thinking about but I'll just cut it here.

TL;DR: IPs may just be a scapegoat for the fact that a packed event is the new normal, and houses and streets are not being designed with this, operational, and staff/costuming decisions in mind. The team need to radically rethink HHN at this point, and that’s going to require coordinating with other teams rather than just build what they think looks neat in a vacuum.
 
Last edited:

JungleSkip

Premium Member
Feb 15, 2010
20,705
The Mushroom Kingdom
Uhhh...I was pumped when I heard Ghostbusters was coming. I personally know several other people that were as well.
I wasn’t talking about *everyone*. I’m talking about how the house has fared crowd wise during the event, and generally the wait is only slightly longer than average at best. It’s just not a high powered IP.

As for IPs, they bring the general public’s eyes to the event, as well as sell the hell out of merchandise and themed foods/drinks.
IPs like Stranger Things, American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead (for the first few years) certainly do. IPs like Us, House of 1000 Corpses, Krampus, Ash vs Evil Dead, and the likes of those certainly do not. And that was my point. 1-2 IPs a year are all that are needed, because 1-2 are about the only ones that matter.

I feel like there’s some revisionist history going on. Before the event, people were claiming this to be one of the greatest IP lineups of all time,
idk anyone who was saying that about the IP lineup