The first thing I noticed when I ducked into the Universal Studios soundstage that houses Dead Waters was a musty, mildew smell. It wasn't an implication of the resort's housekeeping crew. It was an indication of the doting, lavish attention that the HHN team bestows on every sensory detail. The pungent odor helps establish the tone of the maze, which takes guests through a decaying, partly sunken paddlewheeler, a murky swamp, and the Voodoo Queen's funky village.
The boat lists to one side in a riverbed. A challenge to navigate, its tilted corridors will surely help make visitors more vulnerable when the maze's "scare-actors" lunge at them. (There were no live actors lurking in the shadows during my tour.) Likewise, the squishy material embedded in the floor of the swamp scene, which simulates a muddy bog, will keep guests off balance and more susceptible to scares.