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Halloween Horror Nights 23 Reviews & Photos

violarum

Premium Member
Oct 5, 2009
1,891
peregrine woods
Here are some tidbits about the street experiences:

There is a scene in which the "legless walker" wanders around on grass. It's pretty damn creative until people start using flash. There's also the barn, and you'll see the bloated walker scene after you walk through it. After the forest, there is a walker eating a deer and it sprays you as you watch. In Atlanta, there are barracks with dead people on them, and there will be humans walking with wounds as walkers crowd around them. I don't know anything about a CDC facade, but I'm still hopeful. All in all, the street experience was pretty wholesome, though lacking in some spaces due to no theming (this gives some areas nice resting feels, however). From what I've seen, there will be no lagoon show, but that could change.
 

Hockeyman55

Premium Member
Aug 19, 2009
5,559
Palm Beach Gardens
It's not an easy event to photograph at all, at least if you don't have a tripod with you. It's dark, and the lighting is weird. It'll take patience.
Even with a tripod it'd tough to get the scare actors in the street that way. My advice is is shoot at f/1.8 and crank your IsO as high as you feel comfortable with and pray you get something going :lol: I had minimal luck tonight in the streets but got some decent scenery stuff with the tripod
 

Andy

aka Hatetofly
V.I.P.
Mar 16, 2010
11,087
My INITIAL rankings and please take into consideration that this is the first night. So if history has shown us anything it's that the event will get much stronger which is a great sign of things to come for this years event. Tonight was easily the strongest opening night for houses I've seen in a few years. The house line up is very very strong and even with cast changes and an abundance of daylight my top 4 houses are easily better than all of last years houses. I could easily see 7 of this years 8 being better than all of last years houses by event end. So here is the rough initial rankings.

1. AWIL- Outstanding house, easily in my top ten of all time and probably top 5 by event end! All I can say is holy **** those puppets are scary.
2. Resident Evil- Another solid house with huge potential. Massive sets, mini guns, and flesh eating dogs. This house delivers.
3. Cabin in the Woods- Great sets, good scares, and tons of room for improvement in a good way.
4. Ll Larona: Caught it during a cast change, and it was the first house so I couldn't see a damn thing. Good news is the house line up is so strong I have a feeling this house alone would trump all of last years haunts easily.
5. Afterlife: one of the most disorienting houses ever but again caught during a cast change and it was still daytime so it's not fair to harp on it at all.
6. Evil Dead: A very detailed and scenic house but didn't really get any scares. I will say though that this house is easily going to get better. There again is a huge potential for scares here.
7. Walking Dead: Sucked, I'm just over it now. I mean the house in terms of theming with the show is fantastic but it's not scary at all.
N/A. Havoc: Can't vote on this yet since I haven't been through it yet!

Streets: Jury is still out for me but I'm not really digging it. There isn't any variety and it's just gets repetitive. As Izzy mentioned tonight, while the WD is the hottest thing going right now this is just to much and it's becoming overkill.
 

USO92

Veteran Member
Jun 18, 2012
2,150
Winston-Salem
My INITIAL rankings and please take into consideration that this is the first night. So if history has shown us anything it's that the event will get much stronger which is a great sign of things to come for this years event. Tonight was easily the strongest opening night for houses I've seen in a few years. The house line up is very very strong and even with cast changes and an abundance of daylight my top 4 houses are easily better than all of last years houses. I could easily see 7 of this years 8 being better than all of last years houses by event end. So here is the rough initial rankings.

1. AWIL- Outstanding house, easily in my top ten of all time and probably top 5 by event end! All I can say is holy **** those puppets are scary.
2. Resident Evil- Another solid house with huge potential. Massive sets, mini guns, and flesh eating dogs. This house delivers.
3. Cabin in the Woods- Great sets, good scares, and tons of room for improvement in a good way.
4. Ll Larona: Caught it during a cast change, and it was the first house so I couldn't see a damn thing. Good news is the house line up is so strong I have a feeling this house alone would trump all of last years haunts easily.
5. Afterlife: one of the most disorienting houses ever but again caught during a cast change and it was still daytime so it's not fair to harp on it at all.
6. Evil Dead: A very detailed and scenic house but didn't really get any scares. I will say though that this house is easily going to get better. There again is a huge potential for scares here.
7. Walking Dead: Sucked, I'm just over it now. I mean the house in terms of theming with the show is fantastic but it's not scary at all.
N/A. Havoc: Can't vote on this yet since I haven't been through it yet!

Streets: Jury is still out for me but I'm not really digging it. There isn't any variety and it's just gets repetitive. As Izzy mentioned tonight, while the WD is the hottest thing going right now this is just to much and it's becoming overkill.
Good to know my first 3 houses tomorrow night will be a steady lead up to the "i might pee myself" houses. :thumbs:
 

Cheezbat

Veteran Member
Jan 18, 2013
1,432
Orlando Florida
I did all 8 houses tonight and I think the top three are ranked:

1. Cabin In the Woods
2. American Werewolf in London
3. Evil Dead

Now don't get me wrong: this year I enjoyed most houses, instead of only 3 or 4 like previous years. I definitely think the Walking Dead, Resident Evil, and Afterlife were all worthwhile.

La Lorona and Havoc were the two stinkers for me this year.

Bill and Ted was pretty good...and I absolutely LOVED the riffs on Disney and their Orlando theme parks. ;)
 

TylerDurden

Veteran Member
Oct 14, 2012
1,466
Ok, I went tonight and did 7 houses and no shows. Obviously, I had a great time and will be going again (hopefully) several more times throughout the season. But I paid close attention, and with this being the first year I heavily followed the event, as well as gauge criticisms/praises from all of you guys, I feel like I can write a solid review. Obviously, this all may change, and there may be spoilers.

Anyway, overall, the house lineup is phenomenal. Not a single *bad* house. All of them are not only leagues better than the houses last year but also a step up in HHN set design overall. Let's get to the good stuff.

1.) American Werewolf in London--the hype is real, people. I'm a huge fan of the movie, as are a lot of us on here I think, but bias doesn't play a role in how freakin' amazing this house is. For one thing, it's long...the longest HHN house I think I've ever been in (it was the first of the night, so it may have just felt that way, but I think it seriously is a lengthy house). The layout takes you to nearly every scene in the movie (including the dreams) and the attention to detail is unreal--this has to be the most faithful movie adaptation in Horror Nights history. That being said, it's not just a fanboy's wet dream; this house is intense. I was skeptical about the puppet (more on that later) but MAN this wolf was SCARY. I freaked out the first time I saw it, yet each subsequent appearance of the titular werewolf had no less effect on me--it really is that well-done. And the dream sequences are top-notch too. There's no one thing in this house that stands out above the rest (like the set design in Gothic or the cast in Havoc), it all comes together beautifully in an amazing blend of flawless set-design, top-notch scares, and quality special effects. I can already tell this will be one of my favorites of all time.

2.) La Llorona--I have never been to Hollywood's event so all I knew about this house going into it was that it was apparently really well-done over there. I was blown away by the facade, the best of any tent house ever--not only does the facade completely cover the tent the house is in, but the theming extends beyond just a two-dimensional structure. Brilliant. The inside is just as gorgeous. This has gotta be one of the most beautiful, detailed houses in HHN history (not just because of the design itself, but the authenticity it offers in bringing a Spanish heritage to life). But the best part is, the scares are here, and they're aggressive. The woman got me good quite a few times. I can't wait to do this one more.

3.) Cabin in the Woods--again, a truly awesome house. I like that it's aware of itself, and you don't need to suspend disbelief, as the whole nature of the IP itself depends on the idea of you being a victim of a horror movie. I LOVE the variety of monsters present here, it makes the whole thing very fresh. They come at you good, too, as there's never really a dull moment here--smart to place most of the action in the Facility. I was very disappointed, however, in the Merman, who ended up being nothing more than a static doll placed over a dummy that made noise. The rest was very good, however, and I love how the scares come at you from several different angles, often at the same time. Now, I do have one complaint that is not about the house itself, but about how the queue line video (which is well-done and offers a lot of substance) is placed in the alley between sound stages, when it would've made SO much more sense to put it where the switchbacks are (the bulk of the queue). But I can't really knock the house for that.

4.) Afterlife--I had high hopes for this one, and I came out satisfied. However, it feels like something is missing. I love love LOVE the '30's vibe (I wish it extended more into the queue, which is otherwise dull and quiet and boring), and the whole premise behind the thing is fascinating. But I can't help but feel like there could have been so much more intensity packed into this house. Don't get me wrong, it had great scares (one room in particular made up of nearly entirely of mirrors almost put me in tears :lol:), but the energy seemed off or something. And it's completely anti-climactic. Still, a very solid house which, by the way, uses its 3-D very effectively. It's not quite at the level of the In-Between, even though it re-uses a lot of that house's elements, but it's still a solid house.

5.) Evil Dead--I know nothing about this franchise so I may be a poor judge. It was a good house that offered good scares, but it was nothing to write home about, to me. I don't see myself remembering it particularly strongly in years to come, or comparing any other houses to it, but it's still a lot of fun. The sets and scare-actors seem very repetitive (a lot of girls with cuts on their faces coming out of wooded areas), but I would be lying if I said this house didn't get me pretty good a few times and that's what it's all about. One thing that caught me off-guard is how strange the beginning is--you enter the soundstage, yet walk around the perimeter of the 'maze', and then into a few mostly blank rooms. Kinda weird.

6.) Havoc: Derailed--I liked Havoc, but was not as big into it as a lot of other HHN fans. That being said, I was still looking forward to what they could do with this house. I like the pacing of it. It's solid. They made it very clear you started on a train, the train crashed, and then all hell broke loose. I appreciate that kind of solid storytelling, especially in an event like HHN. I also really, really, REALLY loved the queue video--the original footage is great and the effort they put into setting up the premise to a simple haunted house astounds me. I applaud Universal like crazy for this. Yet, despite all this it had going for it, the house didn't really do it for me. A lot of it was people in cages banging around--yeah, it's startling but it loses its luster after a while and isn't really "scary". Again, not a bad house, and the set design was just gorgeous (a common trend here), but the scares were on the weak side.

7.) Resident Evil--first of all, the facade for this house is a triumph in haunt design. You aren't in a soundstage, you're in Raccoon City. The sets on this house are so incredible, you truly have to see them to believe them. That being said, the rumors about it being really short in length and scares are true, so once you soak up the atmosphere, you've experienced the best part of this house. The 'creatures' they tried to pull off were super lame looking (more on this later) and the scareactor scares were generic and not that scary. The pause room is also the definition of over-hype--it's literally nothing. This house was beautiful, but weak, IMO. Though it was the "dud" of the group tonight, it's still not a bad house and is better than the best of last year, by far.

8.) Walking Dead--didn't get to hit this one, but I will update as soon as I do!



I also did no shows.



As for streets, I honestly hate them. I'm very happy that props were brought back but what's the point when the scareactors are lame? Walkers can't do anything, how can Universal expect them to scare people? Not only that, but good props does not make a good scare zone--you need the music, the effects, the lighting, and yet all we've got are a tank, some trees, some cars, some other props, and some slow Walkers milling around. I'm sorry, but it's lame. I did like the Barn, or at least the idea of it, since nobody inside bothered to do anything. I also liked the sets with Walkers doing stuff (crawling around with half a body, eating a deer), but it creates such a cluster****, it kinda begs the question what's the point? I will say that the makeup is more hit and miss this year (whereas last year it was all miss). A lot of Walkers look pretty convincing, and I saw some grotesque makeup/wounds. I also, however, saw a lot of obviously rubber masks. You win some, you lose some, I suppose. I do love that the rumors about the Chainsaw Drill Team being abolished were false though; they were great, as always, and definitely on their A-game tonight.



So weak streets, strong houses. That's the gist of it. But I have some things to say about the event itself:
-Queue videos (with original content)--love them, keep them coming please!!!

-The facades are all fantastic...each house (even the tents) puts you in the world its trying to convey before you even step inside because of how large, grand, and masterfully-done each facade is. Fantastic.

-The set design once past the facade is also great--every house was absolutely gorgeous. And immersive. And big. There are very few moments where you are aware you're in a haunted house. The scale of these sets is unparalleled, not only for HHN, but in themed entertainment, period. Not only are they packed with detail, they are grand in scale. Each house's design is an attraction in itself.

-The use of puppets/dummies...besides the SPECTACULAR werewolves in AWiL, the use of dummies and puppets blows. Like I said about the merman, they're all very obviously fake. They don't do much. I remember when HHN would have houses full of severed body parts that were still wet, heck they looked like they were still pulsating--those days are long gone. Most of the body props/dummies look like they were taken from a department store Halloween section. As beautiful as the sets are, the use of dummies has declined. The puppets used in Resident Evil are laughable, also, and the animatronic in La Llorona is pretty weak-looking too. Please, if you're gonna give us these complex creature-based houses, make the focal point realistic! The best houses often were comprised of only human scareactors, and I think that's no coincidence.

-The violence has definitely been toned down. There were attempts to be edgy and gory, but they were hokey. One particular effect in Afterlife involved someone getting stabbed, but it's not convincing. A dissection scene in Cabin in the Woods uses an aforementioned fake-looking dummy, and very crummy effects. Nothing has matched the spine-ripping scene of Body Collectors; heck, the stabbing scenes in the Carnival of Carnage houses were bloody and realistic-looking. It's a bummer that such scenes are done so poorly this year, because there are plenty of opportunities for good ones.

-Alcohol: the speculation thread hosted a several-page discussion about alcohol sale at HHN. However, it is almost impossible to even get a slight buzz at HHN. Unless you literally bar hop and refrain from any houses or attractions, you can't get drunk. One vendor per line with a one-drink per ID sales policy is not enough to even get middle-school me tipsy. I fail to see how the amount of bars in the park are a bad thing, because it's hard as hell to even keep a buzz going while still "doing" the event; even the shots are way watered-down. The bars do rob you, though, and they are no doubt making Uni a ton of money and will never go away.

-I mentioned this in another thread, but Transformers being open seems to have a minimal impact on crowds--it was at 10 minutes every time I walked by and the lines were pretty hefty tonight--this is the first opening night I haven't been through every house. Maybe this will change as the event goes on.

-And that brings me to lines in general...I go to HHN expecting to wait in lines. But I also expect to wait in line around what the board says at the entrance to the house. Those wait time estimates are wildly inaccurate. There has to be a better way to guess how long the lines will be. Even if theres a guy with a radio saying "the line now ends at Point B, change the wait time accordingly" or such and such. I understand it's hard because of Express and the continuous fluctuation of guests but when the wait time boards are like up to half an hour off (both ways) then just get rid of the things and don't mess with our expectations/planning lol.



That's pretty much it. Congrats to anybody who powered through that. Hopefully that gives all of you who are really curious about how the event went a good idea. Overall, it was a blast, and it's really impossible to have a bad time, even when the houses are stinkers. Luckily, the attractions are top-notch, and I cannot wait to keep going back.
 
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USO92

Veteran Member
Jun 18, 2012
2,150
Winston-Salem
Fantastic review! Definitely gives me an even more in depth look at what Im getting myself into. Being a HHN virgin I should end up enjoying everything. Did you do the AP event??
 

TylerDurden

Veteran Member
Oct 14, 2012
1,466
Fantastic review! Definitely gives me an even more in depth look at what Im getting myself into. Being a HHN virgin I should end up enjoying everything. Did you do the AP event??
No, I went with AP-less friends from out of town, and had met them in the park earlier (since they also wanted to do rides during the day)...we then went to Finnegan's at around 4:30 and were released at 6. The Stay n Scream deal didn't seem to be as efficient as year's past, with the open house being AWiL, yet still having a still line until about 6:15-ish.

Glad you liked the review though!
 

USO92

Veteran Member
Jun 18, 2012
2,150
Winston-Salem
No, I went with AP-less friends from out of town, and had met them in the park earlier (since they also wanted to do rides during the day)...we then went to Finnegan's at around 4:30 and were released at 6. The Stay n Scream deal didn't seem to be as efficient as year's past, with the open house being AWiL, yet still having a still line until about 6:15-ish.

Glad you liked the review though!

Oh ok. Well I will be doing the preview so that should help with getting through all of the houses. I definitely wanna experience La Llorona at night! :thumbs:
 

IzzyB

Premium Member
May 23, 2010
3,988
Orlando, FL
Got to do all 8 houses and Bill & Ted show tonight. Had a great time with everyone and really had the best time ever at HHN. Partly was being in a larger group and the other part was the houses were way better than in years past.

here is my rankings:

1. AWIL- This deserves all the positive hype, just amazing.
2. Resident Evil- The sets were amazing and there was some good scares too.
3. Havoc - I know this house is getting some hate, but I thought it was really good and had some great scares in it. The beginning was slow, but the middle and end was really good.
4. Cabin in the Woods- Really liked this one and the last scene was really cool.
5. Ll Larona: I would love to do this one again, because the beginning just didn't have scares in it, but I think it might have been cast change
6. Afterlife: One word... trippy :)
7. Evil Dead: The scenes make this house, but it is not scary
8. Walking Dead: All I can say is, "It was better than last year" - lol

Bill & Ted was really good. I felt the show was slightly better than last year, but some others in the group thought otherwise. I loved the digs at Disney and that is probably why I thought it was better.

The Scare Zones had really get props and sets (way better than last year), but they needed more variety. Too many zombies this year. I think if they just had two other types of characters it would have been much better and topped years past when it came to Scare Zones.
 

Cupcakes

Contributing Member
Jul 20, 2013
543
Someplace I think
Whew! What a night! I wasn't able to see anyone here, but I managed to do all eight houses plus B&T.

Here's my rankings:

1. An American Werewolf in London: This house not only met my expectations, it obliterated them. This is easily going in my top ten houses of all time. Excellent sets, actors, costuming, scares, atmosphere...just plain spectacular. Do not miss this one under any circumstances.
2. The Cabin in the Woods: Also better than I expected. Very strong scares, and some really great scenes that make it feel as though you just stepped right into the movie. If you loved the movie, you'll love this as well.
3. La Llorona: Incredible sets and effects, some good scares, but open for improvement in some areas.
4. Resident Evil: Thankfully not as horrible as I feared. Again great set work, and some solid scares. Check this out if you love the video games. I'm no gamer but I can say that I found it quite enjoyable overall.
5. Evil Dead: There are some very well done scenes in this house, though they need to get better when it comes to scares. Look out for some references to the original trilogy.
6. Afterlife: Fun use of 3D, but not anywhere near is good as the In-Between. Still worth seeing, but just after you've done the five above first.
7: Havoc Derailed: I can admire the creative premise for the house and while some of the scenes were good, this house completely was lacking in the scare department. Needs serious improvement there. They also need to work on the train crashing part, as it didn't feel convincing enough. Might've gone in at a bad time.
8: The Walking Dead No Safe Haven: ...well...I liked it a little better than last year's house...but still very mediocre overall, however not as terrible as I thought it was gonna be. I think the problem with Walking Dead is that while it can lend itself to some good sets, it does not even remotely lend itself well to scares.

Speaking of which...

The streets this year were horrible. Not a single scare was had on them last night. It seems more like it's just a giant photo opportunity area rather than a true scarezone. I truly pray that they can do whatever they can to improve this, because it's totally the worst aspect of the event.

Also when it comes to Bill and Ted, I can honestly say that this was the best show since 2009. The amount of digs at Disney made me seriously LMAO.

Oh yeah, I also got to ride Transformers again during the event. A ridiculously fun blast of a ride as always.

So overall, not too bad of an event. All the houses were good, even the worst one still having some redeeming features. But it's the streets that really blow this year unfortunately. I'll keep coming back to see if they get any better, plus I need to see Rocky Horror, and I definitely want to go through American Werewolf again as many times as possible. So far, I'll give this year a solid
7/10. Don't miss it.