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Halloween Horror Nights 29 General Discussion

DannyPowers

Veteran Member
Apr 29, 2016
1,290
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.
Point taken. There’s definitely been a bit of a shotgun approach to IPs the last few years. I don’t know if 1-2 is the sweet spot though. If that were the case, we probably would have missed out on some good second tier properties (Trick ‘r Treat, 1k Corpses, Klowns)
 
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kingmantis

Rookie
Mar 31, 2017
113
Point taken. There’s definitely been a bit of a shotgun approach to IPs the last few years. I don’t know if 1-2 is the sweet spot though. If that were the case, we probably would have missed out on some good second tier properties (Trick ‘r Treat, 1k Corpses, Klowns)
I think there's a clear formula for why we get 5-6 IPs a year, and too many people assume that IPs only exist because the HHN team has a gun to their head from the higher-ups. I think in reality 1-3 comes from marketing/management/etc., and the other 3 are ones A&D want to do (I think these are the ones you mentioned). Sometimes these overlap, but the problem is if they don't, then there's 60% of your house count right there.

Also people really need to stop insisting that nobody wanted Us. It's the 9th highest grossing film of the year domestically, second-highest grossing horror, and highest grossing original. Just because you may not be a fan of it doesn't mean there isn't an audience.
 

OhHaiInternet95

Veteran Member
Aug 18, 2017
3,147
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.
There's been plenty of nights this year when crowd levels were quite manageable, thankfully. Lord knows if they can keep having IPs that draw in big crowds, though. I predict the three headliners next year will be ST (all three seasons + preview of 4), FMTW and H5.
 

kingmantis

Rookie
Mar 31, 2017
113
I actually quite like the movie. Just clearly shouldn't have been at the event this year, especially when it was a rush job.
Fair enough, sorry, I'm just exhausted from the constant debate over it. I agree that the rush job hurt it due to the last minute deal. Actually, the constant mix of finnicky rights issues and and an event always on a time crunch is a totally fair criticism of IPs.

There's been plenty of nights this year when crowd levels were quite manageable, thankfully.
Definitely, I even managed to get what amounted to two solo runs through Depths. Probably why I liked the house so much even with it being a hot mess. That being said, low crowds now were the packed nights 10 years ago, and I doubt those will ever come back consistently.
 

OhHaiInternet95

Veteran Member
Aug 18, 2017
3,147
Fair enough, sorry, I'm just exhausted from the constant debate over it. I agree that the rush job hurt it due to the last minute deal. Actually, the constant mix of finnicky rights issues and and an event always on a time crunch is a totally fair criticism of IPs.


Definitely, I even managed to get what amounted to two solo runs through Depths. Probably why I liked the house so much even with it being a hot mess. That being said, low crowds now were the packed nights 10 years ago, and I doubt those will ever come back consistently.
It's definitely more crowded now, but people are acting like you went through houses alone back then when that's just not true.

Still think discussion is overall more positive than last year, but that may just feel that way because my expectations last year were so astronomically high and I was so disappointed when it wasn't the greatest year ever. With this year, it's the year before an anniversary = muted expectations on my part.

So, does anyone know what the GSATs have been like?
 
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kingmantis

Rookie
Mar 31, 2017
113
It's definitely more crowded now, but people are acting like you went through houses alone back then when that's just not true.

Still think discussion is overall more positive than last year, but that may just feel that way because my expectations last year were so astronomically high and I was so disappointed when it wasn't the greatest year ever. With this year, it's the year before an anniversary = muted expectations on my part.
I agree, the park wasn't bereft of people. It's less a problem for houses and more for zones/general atmosphere. It's hard to create a creepy atmosphere throughout the park (particularly the back half) when for most of the night it's slammed to the point where actors need to step out of the way to avoid a crush of people. And while its possible to find quieter times to enjoy these areas... it reminds me of pre-GE collapse Disneyland/WDW: its still possible to have fun even with crowds, but I really shouldn't need to do so much planning/timing things out to have that fun, you know?

Credit where credit is due, I think the team realized this and pivoted to a party atmosphere. Makes sense with bigger crowds and is probably what I would have thought of doing too. In execution though, the zones are still bad, it's just they're paying people to hang out on phones/talk to friends rather than even bothering to try as well.

I do find it funny that the recent years I've enjoyed the most, namely this and HHN26, are the years a lot of others didn't like. I always go second week of HHN in September, before everything breaks/cast leaves, so I wind up enjoying a lot of the houses that completely collapse by Halloween.
 

ReelJustice

Premium Member
Aug 6, 2008
3,818
Universal City
There's been plenty of nights this year when crowd levels were quite manageable, thankfully. Lord knows if they can keep having IPs that draw in big crowds, though. I predict the three headliners next year will be ST (all three seasons + preview of 4), FMTW and H5.
Oh man, another Halloween house next year would be a tremendous whiff.
 

OhHaiInternet95

Veteran Member
Aug 18, 2017
3,147
Oh man, another Halloween house next year would be a tremendous whiff.
I would much rather have Haunting of Hill House for the third headliner instead, but with a new Halloween movie out next year (and Miramax refusing to play--despite no longer being owned by Disney :shrug:), they'll want synergy.

Granted, I'd rather have Halloween than some new family friendly property in addition to ST.
 
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jrn14

Veteran Member
Dec 21, 2016
1,354
Also say what you will about "another Halloween House" but you know who will always bring in the crowds... Freddy, Jason, Michael, Chucky etc...

I see the debate, but I'm parking myself staunchly in the "there are NOT too many IPs" camp. I haven't been this year yet, but even in previous years.. IP houses that folks said were lackluster (Halloween 4, SAW, Ash vs. The Evil Dead, Blumhouse v 2.0) I quite enjoyed. Being able to get these IPs and throw a budget behind them is what sets these events apart from every other Halloween event in the country. If you get IT and Strangers Things and 8 originals ... The IP lines will be insanity and the original lines will be much lower. I'd even predict that people would not hang around the event as long if there weren't as many IPs.
 

MrRoamer

Premium Member
May 20, 2013
2,122
Local
I agree, the park wasn't bereft of people. It's less a problem for houses and more for zones/general atmosphere. It's hard to create a creepy atmosphere throughout the park (particularly the back half) when for most of the night it's slammed to the point where actors need to step out of the way to avoid a crush of people. And while its possible to find quieter times to enjoy these areas... it reminds me of pre-GE collapse Disneyland/WDW: its still possible to have fun even with crowds, but I really shouldn't need to do so much planning/timing things out to have that fun, you know?

Credit where credit is due, I think the team realized this and pivoted to a party atmosphere. Makes sense with bigger crowds and is probably what I would have thought of doing too. In execution though, the zones are still bad, it's just they're paying people to hang out on phones/talk to friends rather than even bothering to try as well.

I do find it funny that the recent years I've enjoyed the most, namely this and HHN26, are the years a lot of others didn't like. I always go second week of HHN in September, before everything breaks/cast leaves, so I wind up enjoying a lot of the houses that completely collapse by Halloween.
I agree with a lot of what is being said except two points.

1) I will be shocked if this year's crowd numbers are even close to the numbers of any of the years since 25. The crowds have felt very light every night. The only time I've seen it start feeling busy is the Sunday before Columbus Day, which even that felt quiet compared to past memory.

2) HHN started with a party atmosphere and only recently (8 years ago maybe?) did it begin to shy away from that. We had parades, loud music, beer came in $5 Yards not $10 for a Refill Cups, shots and liquor at every bar every 10 feet, Shot Girls, Sexy Dancers, and Foam Parties.
 

Nick

Staff member
Moderator
Sep 22, 2011
21,300
Orlando
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.
Us is arguably the second most popular IP this year (as far as wait times go) and Ho1K Corpses has been moving a lot of merch. I agree about the other IPs you mentioned though.
 

JunoSynth

Rookie
Sep 26, 2013
498
Morrison, CO
I always go second week of HHN in September, before everything breaks/cast leaves, so I wind up enjoying a lot of the houses that completely collapse by Halloween.
Wait. So are you saying the best time to go to get the optimal experience is to go in September? The reason I ask is because I always go the last few weeks of OCT. If the best experience is during Sept. then maybe I should reconsider the times I go each year.
 
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MrRoamer

Premium Member
May 20, 2013
2,122
Local
Wait. So are you saying the best time to go to get the optimal experience is to go in September? The reason I ask is because I always go the last few weeks of OCT. If the best experience is during Sept. then maybe I should reconsider the times I go each year.
Its kind of double edged. Going later allows the crews to get in their grooves, but attrition builds up and their casts are seeing more and more holes due to lost members.

This is the main perk of getting a full FF pass. We get to see the entire event, nearly every year my favorite house at the beginning is totally different than my favorite house at the end. Sometimes its because they fixed something that wasn't working (Havoc) and sometimes the crew is decimated and key gags break (Carnival Graveyard)
 

kingmantis

Rookie
Mar 31, 2017
113
Wait. So are you saying the best time to go to get the optimal experience is to go in September? The reason I ask is because I always go the last few weeks of OCT. If the best experience is during Sept. then maybe I should reconsider the times I go each year.
I've only ever been once in October so I can't directly compare, but I have found September to be both cheaper and less busy than what others have said about the October experience.

As for quality, others made this great observation in the thread already that its a trade-off. IPs and effects heavy houses tend to get worse because things break and the hard-to-replace face characters quit over time. Scareactor heavy houses tend to be weaker early on as people figure out their roles, and stronger by the end once they're comfortable. Locals can probably speak to the differences better though.

For me, I like earlier in the season. I'd rather see the effects/IP houses in top form, since there's plenty of decent actor-focused houses in NY I can see without travelling. Also, I get to avoid the crowds and save some money; rush of fear is a fantastic value for a tourist.

EDIT: Oops, just listen to what @MrRoamer said, haha.
 
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