Haunts Around the US: Kissimmee, FL

The dark months of HHNU’s particular subject matter are upon us, but that’s okay because there’s plenty of things we still have to talk about, take for example another year round haunt review, and this time much closer to home!

Mortem Manor in Old Town

Going back in time just a little bit to Septmeber first of this year before Horror Nights 27 finally began, the wife and I decided to kick off our haunt season with a visit to Mortem Manor. We’ve been considering going to this haunt for a while, just never really got around to it. But now that we’ve finally come around to checking it out, we can say without a doubt that it’s…………okay.

Now don’t get me wrong here, it wasn’t terrible or anything, but it wasn’t incredibly knock your socks off terrifying either. I would rate this level of haunt at about a “don’t hesitate to take your scaredy cat friends that don’t do a lot of this type of thing.” The wife and I didn’t get scared or startled, and found ourselves smiling once or twice.

Standing outside waiting for the attraction to open. Nice spooky music playing at the exterior facade.

The Pros

  • Use of smells
  • Layout isn’t too straight or boring, we liked the inclusion of a staircase
  • Linear progression (from foyer, to living room, to church, to morgue, etc.)
  • Although weak, there is some kind of storyline here.
  • Very affordable price points. If this was Roller Coaster Tycoon,  my guest reaction would definitely be “Mortem Manor 1 is a really good value!”

The Cons

  • Lacking on human actors. I believe we only saw about 3 throughout our walkthrough, and they didn’t follow us or anything, just stuck to their respective scenes.
  • Heavy reliance on animatronics. Animatronics are fine and good when used well and sparsely, but when you use them to this extent, it makes the attraction feel like a cheap carnival/state fair ghost train ride.
  • Not scary. Okay, maybe we’re spoiled. Perhaps we’ve seen too many scarier attractions and our expectations are too high. Nonetheless, this haunt felt very tame and tolerable, suitable for a much less experienced audience.

So what’s the take away here?

Fun can be had at Mortem Manor. Our final review is a fair 3 out of 5 stars. It’s not scare your pants off frightening, but it’s fun. Experienced, die hard haunt fans take note: you won’t be shaking. Bring your friends that you can’t normally take to scary movies, Halloween Horror Nights, or other haunted attractions and events, and lower your scare factor expectations. Follow these steps and you’re in for a jolly good time at the least. Also, for the extra five dollars, we recommend the Buried Alive experience. They lock you in a coffin equipped with interior cameras so guests can watch as you become more and more claustrophobic inside the coffin. Inside, you can smell roses and soil, and hear the dirt hitting the coffin’s surface as your funeral proceedings take place and you’re buried into the Earth. They’ll let you out when you start kicking and screaming. $5 is a great price, even if you just want to watch your friend suffer.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you guys out there! -Scott



HHN Fans Campaign for Bill & Ted’s Return

A campaign has been created on Change.Org to have our time-travelling duo return for more shows at next year’s HHN28.

The petition which is addressed to Thomas Williams the CEO of USF makes a compelling argument, it reads:

The Bill and Ted Excellent Adventure show has been a staple of Halloween Horror Nights! Not only has the show grown a fan base of thousands of people, but has created traditions, memories, reunions, laughter, and much more! Bill and Ted has also provided in a sense a “cool down” or desensitizing atmosphere for many. The body produces adrenaline when we get scared, henceforth the human mind and body becomes hypervigilant; the Bill and Ted show provides an escape from the adrenaline and hypervigilance.

Society is always changing; for the good and the bad; Vegas for example, Bill and Ted was able to touch upon it that not only showed tribute to the lives taken, but helps make light of the dark; also while refreshingly being the one true redeeming stab at pop culture from year to year. The signatures speak for themselves for the fan base and income brought in for the Bill and Ted show!

A new campaign Facebook Group has been created, along with petition specific T-Shirts all to help spread the word, they can be found here.  The petition, which has over 1200 signatories, believes that every time 500 people sign the list it gets emailed to Universal, so the purpose of the petition is being heard by the very top of the organization.

Right now the future is looking bleak for our pair of time-travelling dudes.  Back in 2013 HHN Hollywood cancelled their show mid-run due to a small number of complaints, with the show never returning to the West Coast.  Over in Orlando with the sheer amount of construction that is rumored to be beginning soon and the fact that Universal have already said that last year was the final year it is hard for us to see a way through them.

It was strongly rumored that their run of shows was to actually have ended last year on their 25th.  It was rumored that Art and Design along with a number of current and past Bill and Ted collaborators managed to persuade Park Management to bring it back for one last run which was this year’s show at HHN27.

Will Bill and Ted return for HHN28?  Will this group #savebillandted?  Let us know in the comments whether you would want them back for 2018…





HHN Smashes All Records!

It has been confirmed by both coasts in Orlando and Hollywood that both HHNs smashed all records this year on attendance numbers, customer satisfaction and more.  On Orlando USF’s Senior Director Entertainment Creative Development Mike Aiello tweeted:

While over on the West Coast HHN Supremo John Murdy tweeted:

It was definitely noticeable by our crew at HHNU that most nights the attendance ranged from busy to packed for Orlando, with the last few nights being absolutely rammed; though that is more likely down to the vacating Bill and Ted factor.

It goes to show how successful our ‘little Halloween event’ has grown, from a small few  party nights that pulled in mostly the locals to THE premiere world-class event it is today.

So thank you every Creative, Scareactor, Producer, Performer, Artist, Operative, Makeup Artist, Costumer, Technician, Custodian and everyone in between.

Universal you did it again, you smashed it, so here’s to HHN28!


Is Stranger Things Coming to HHN/USF?

Stranger Things Season 2 recently debuted on Netflix at the end of October.  Fans had been awaiting this release since the hit series premiered over a year ago.  Fans have also speculated that the series would be a perfect fit for HHN but no announcement on this has ever been forth coming.  And as a break with company protocol, Universal released the following weird tweet…

Quickly, the tweet was shared and discussed across internet forums and Facebook groups as to why Universal were promoting this series’ return to Netflix.  As far as we are aware, Universal as a company has no links to Netflix or it’s subsidiaries and Universal has never been one for promoting TV Shows that aren’t apart of it’s NBC wider family.  To make things even stranger (sorry!) Universal receieved scores of comments from expectant fans and a few corporate pals with Universal responding to one with:

So what’s going on?  Is Stranger Things coming to say HHN28 or perhaps as an attraction at USF?  What is compounding matters right now is that our pal the ‘mystical’ Ifrit is doing a weird countdown that ends either today or tomorrow (depending on when zero is) a countdown that started with the number 11 on 31st October – which is also a possible reference again to Stranger Things and their main character Eleven?

Right now the quiet War of Central Florida Theme Parks is raging with Disney finally committing to spending millions updating and adding to DHS and Epcot (plus hotels and infrastructure improvements), while up the I4 Universal has made big announcements (though more to come), has closed attractions and bought lots of acres nearby for future growth.

It was also worth noting that during HHN27, the near whole of KidZone was under used for crowd control as though the whole area was primed and set for an immediate construction closure. Fast and Furious opens next year, Mario is coming down the pipe (sorry again!) and what then other than just new hotels?  Could our beloved Netflix show be the next big franchise that Universal sets it’s sights on?  Maybe just maybe we might find out today/tomorrow…

Let us know in the comments whether you’d love to see a Stranger Things Maze or full-time attraction at Univeral Orlando?  Or are Universal just trolling us all?  Let us know your thoughts!  HHN28 will be here quicker than you think!

Thank You Everyone for HHN 27!

I think I speak for the entire HHNU team when I say that HHN 27 was another amazing year to be an HHN Maniac! With the Bill and Ted show cast and crew working so incredibly hard to bring the legendary show of 26 years to a close with an absolute bang. I think it comes as a sad fact to all of us that Bill and Ted have always had a special place in our HHN loving hearts and to see the HHN 28 lineup without it is just gonna be a real tough image to handle. But we don’t look at this day with sadness, we look at it and know how thankful we are for another colossal event that everyone at Universal Studios worked to put together. We all tend to take HHN for granted but being one of the largest and most award-winning haunts in the world does not come easy and handling several hundred thousand guests throughout each season is not a simple undertaking.


This years scareactors had to deal with larger crowds than ever before and with that comes all new stresses and rules. But even under the pressure of working the greatest horror event in the country, they have shown time and time again that they know how to deliver through and through.22770045_10214330949057093_2414192288438043201_o

The Creative Team always deserves a shoutout for their incredible work in bringing these amazing IPs and original ideas to life under such extreme pressures. The teams of Mike Aiello and John Murdy always create such beautiful scenes and scares in their haunts year after year. There are no thanks great enough that we can extend to them for all that they do for us. 23120099_10214433893430638_211058509075190568_o

Another massive thank you goes out to all of those HHN and Universal employees who work behind the scenes of the event. There are literally thousands of employees that help HHN run from night to night and it would take me forever to name each department individually but to everyone who works in the parks during the event I personally want to thank you. I have worked in a theme park for 6 years now and I know how hellish it can be on capacity days. But you know it all worthwhile when you see the looks on those guests faces when they see the magic of HHN come to life. 22555487_10214334623148943_3929644421621897143_o

My final special thank you goes to the men and women of, not only the security team who keep us all safe during the event, but also the men and women of law enforcement who work late nights in the parks to ensure that security has the tools they need to keep us all safe and happy during the event.

We at the HHNU team would like to thank everyone on the Universal team for making HHN 2017 such an incredible event. Every scare, every blast of fire, every laugh, and every drop of blood was truly incredible to experience. See ya for Grinchmas!

All of the photos in this article were taken by Mark Walter, who has always taken amazing photographs of Universal Orlando and surrounding areas. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mwjw/sets/

Bruce Campbell at HHN27?

At the very beginning of HHN27 there had been unsubstantiated reports that Bruce Campbell had been lurking during select nights of the event.  No photographic evidence, social media mentions or any formal confirmation from Universal were ever given.

However, could he finally be coming to HHN?

It appears that his book tour has a date for Orlando being tonight at the Coliseum of Comics at the Fashion Square Mall, so what else could an evil busting hero such as Campbell do tomorrow – say go to HHN?  Here’s hoping.

So, if you’re heading to HHN on Friday for the special UOAP events or for the Soul Collectors games – let us know if an actual chainsaw-hand wielding hero is around!  As this would be perfect timing for an appearance…

Placing this entry firming in the ‘theory’ category!  But keep your eyes peeled.

HHN Invites Soul Collectors To Official Meetup!

Universal has today invited select Soul Collectors (those that had signed up to the HHN website before the event) to a special meetup, where amongst other things, you will be tested!

During this challenge, Soul Collectors will compete in a series of games where they will solve clues, take part in physical tasks, which might get messy, and consume some unusual cuisine. These include:

  • Throughout this challenge, there will be six (6) different games featured throughout Universal Studios Florida during #HHN27.
  • Each game will eliminate half of the participants.
  • This is a timed experience, therefore, your wit and skill will help you advance.
  • You are encouraged to bring cell phones to solve clues.
  • You must wear comfortable clothing, including shoes, that can get really dirty.
  • Photography and video capturing are allowed.
  • 64 Teams will take part.
  • All entrants will receive free parking and two express passes.


So if you’re a signed-up Soul Collector – check your inboxes now!

Celebrity Cameos at HHN: James Franco

Guests at Universal Studios Hollywood last week were treated with a special celebrity cameo in The Shining maze…..

Hollywood: Where anything is possible

You read that right: James Franco took the role of scareactor last week in Hollywood’s HHN event as Jack Torrance in their Shining haunted maze. We’re incredibly jealous of anyone who had the opportunity to witness him wielding the infamous axe, terrifying guests as they recluctantly navigated the attraction.


If you have been following our Facebook page, you’d know that Orlando was supposedly to have a celebrity cameo by Bruce Campbell inside the Ash vs. Evil Dead haunted house, but unfortunately this didn’t turn out to be true. A bit of a let down, but that’s okay because the Orlando event is absolutely top notch regardless.

So take this little tidbit of information as a tip: keep your eyes peeled inside those haunted houses. If you cover your eyes, you might just miss one of your favorite celebrities right in your face!

Another Halloween Horror Nights 27 Review – Part III

And now for the big ones. The qualifying medalists of the HHN Olympics. The top three houses at Halloween Horror Nights 27. And yeah, they’re all originals!


3) Scarecrow: The Reaping – We were promised a ton of scarecrows in this one and boy did Halloween Horror Nights deliver. This was perhaps the most consistent house of the bunch in terms of sheer scares per minute (SPM possible new term?) and relentless terror. The set design was stunning, featuring a ton of corn stalks and a mostly wooden facade, giving each location a very real-world earthy vibe. The sets were packed with more scareactors than you could count, with some definitely over six feet and beyond. In addition to being one of the best houses of the year, Scarecrow: The Reaping takes the prize for perhaps the most disgusting room of the year. For those of you that may not have attended this year’s event just yet, all I’ll say is that you enter what I believe was a stable populated by a number of crows perched on planks above your head, cawing loudly. Someone must’ve given those crows a laxative…


2) Hive – If you like your vampires bloodthirsty and terrifying, then this is the house for you. There are no sparkling vamps here, unless you count the great glowing effect in the eyes of some of the creatures haunting this cavern. Featuring clear inspiration from Salem’s Lot, Nosferatu, and perhaps even a little bit of The Lost Boys, Hive was packed to the brim with all manner of terrifying vampires ranging from pale gaunt beasts to seven foot tall Count Orlocs to hanging vampire children that reminded me of Eddie Munster. The makeup effects here were among the best I’ve ever seen in an HHN house before, the scares were consistent, the sound and ambient noise chilling, and the southern-style cavernous sets were expertly done. I had a blast going through this one.


1) Dead Waters – As soon as I entered the stage and turned the corner to see the stunning riverboat assembled in all its grimy swampy glory, I knew I was in for a real treat. I clearly remember turning to a buddy of mine and saying, “This is the best thing they’ve ever built”, referring of course to the creative team at Halloween Horror Nights, who deserve to be showered with every possible bit of praise for what they’ve been able to accomplish with this house. The interior sets were just as impressive, with every prop clearly showing some level of age and rust and dampness, which gave the house a very old, abandoned, forgotten feel. From entering the boat at a disorienting lopsided angle to my encounter with the Voodoo Queen, I was in constant awe of every heat lamp, every piece of moss and mildew, every leaky creaky board, every voodoo doll, all given its own care and detail, which is what Halloween Horror Nights does best: immersing guests in a fully-realized hyper-detailed world and then scaring the crap out of them.


Agree with these picks? What was your favorite house of the year? I hope everyone has enjoyed or will have the time to enjoy this year’s event because it really was a great one. And soon we get to start looking forward to 28…