The (persistent) Walking Dead

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The Walking Dead has quickly become the HHN equivalent of Justin Bieber, Vegemite, Marmite, Mondays, knuckle clicking and bubble wrap – when it comes to TWD at HHN you either LOVE it or HATE it.  So let’s look at where we started with the TWD and whether it will be back for Orlando (#HHN26) or Hollywood this year…

The Walking Dead premiered in the US on October 31, 2010, on the cable television channel AMC and then internationally on November 2010 on Fox International Channels. AMC has renewed the series each year because of its consistently increasing Nielsen ratings, which have been unprecedentedly high for a cable series, including averaging the most 18 to 49 year-old viewers of any cable or broadcast television series during its fourth and fifth seasons. The sixth season premiered on October 11, 2015. A 16-episode seventh season will debut in October 2016. An AMC companion series, Fear the Walking Dead debuted on August 23, 2015.

The current viewing figures show that year-on-year the show has been attracting greater and greater audience figures:

Season 1  2010  5.2m
Season 2  2011  6.9m
Season 3  2012  10.4m
Season 4  2013  13.3m
Season 5  2014  14.4m
Season 6  2015  14.6m

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The show started with HHN in both Orlando and Hollywood in 2012.  Both events had the same house named ‘The Walking Dead: Dead Inside’, and although the houses were not entirely the same, they also committed their famous ‘Terror Tram’ to the series along with their whole marketing campaign too.  Orlando’s house was located in the now defunct Disaster Extended queue which made for a pithy house with fast pacing, whereas the Hollywood maze was lengthy and had exceedingly high makeup standards throughout.

On both coasts the herald of the zombie franchise was well received, so-much-so that the houses returned again for 2013.  Orlando received ‘The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven’ which told the tale of the third season whereas Hollywood done a repeat of using the franchise within the Terror Tram and throughout all their marketing.  No real great changes other than the fact the Orlando house was pushed undercover in the Parade Tent.

2014’s event swept in with news that once again TWD would be coming back to HHN, which was met with a few grumbles from the diehard fans.  Grumbles that were met by priming the largest house ever built for Orlando’s HHN.  Both events following the pattern of the two previous years (house, house, tram, marketing), the two studios repeated what had been done with their new house, ‘The Walking Dead: End Of The Line’.  For which we all felt MUST be the end of the line by now…

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But we were all wrong, the franchise returned for 2015. Orlando received ‘The Walking Dead: The Living and The Dead’ and Hollywood received ‘The Walking Dead: Wolves Not Far’, yet The Purge took over residence in the Terror Tram and the marketing was cooled down a little for TWD in Hollywood.  Despite this watering down of the franchise at the event, the houses have been consistently excellent, and if you don’t believe me I will be spelling out why in the new edition of the unofficial guide to HHN.

So that brings us to 2016 and will the popular brain eating zombies be returning for a fourth outing?  Well, we asked our the HHN fan community via our various social media channels and the answer was overwhelming clear.  We had hundreds and hundreds of responses and the people of HHN say, “we don’t mind”.  The Walking Dead coming back will not affect the vast majority of fans from attending the event.  Here’s the results:

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52% of people didn’t mind it returning as it won’t affect their decision to attend, 31% said the decision to bring it back would make them angry and a much lesser contingent of 17% said ‘awesome please bring it back’ (thank you to the hundreds of peeps that voted by the way).  So technically, 69% of voters were okay about it returning.  So if it does return what can we expect?

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Season 5 was done in 2015 with both coasts attempting to recreate the various iconic scenes from the season; some scenes were undertaken to perfection with others delivered well but unfortunately missing the mark.  This means that unless something radical occurs, the houses of 2016 (if it returns) will be based on season 6.  Season 6 has so far contained raids, herds, plenty of flashbacks, lots of wolves, and loads of action and the season doesn’t even finish airing until April.  All of which could be easily be portrayed by the creative geniuses behind HHN.  But do they dare bring it back?

Well yes probably. Greg Nicotero, executive producer and special effects makeup supervisor for The Walking Dead recently said:

“I couldn’t be more delighted to continue and expand ‘The Walking Dead’ universe with Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando than by having fans experience some of the most harrowing and suspenseful moments of our show.”

The Walking Dead and HHN are more popular now than ever before.  The Walking Dead is a worldwide phenomenon right now, and it is no where more popular than with the Georgia neighboring Floridians, as the show is only filmed up the road in Senoia, Georgia. Cast and crew regularly attend the event, the critics keep giving it a favored rating (8.6 on IMDB currently!), the audience figures are continuing to grow, theres even a supposed ride in development and a vast array of TWD merchandise is available which appears to be more popular than ever.  All of which pointing to the fact that the franchise will be returning.

Neither coast have spelled out which houses we will be enjoying (expect announcements in May or June at the earliest).  So despite the larger segment of fans complaining of the annual TWD rehash, there is a larger portion who would welcome the house back with open arms.  Though there is one slight problem.  Hollywood has always had space issues, and has in the past had to build temporary buildings dotted all over their estate just to provide the six houses they did in 2015.

Whereas Orlando which was haunt space plentiful in 2015 is about to enter a huge rebuilding program where a number of the former house locations are now no longer with us.  In 2015 there was record 9 houses offered, so will Orlando be able to provide as many houses again, and if not with space a premium, can it afford to bring back a house like TWD?  Especially if bringing it back will knock another unused before IP or original house off from the lineup.

My opinion: It’ll be back.  In the old days, people moaned about Bill and Ted coming back every year, but they soon learned to embrace the duo who are now HHN legends.  Will this decision make people happy?  Some won’t be.  Others won’t mind and many will love the return.  Others, who aren’t fans of HHN, will probably see the cross-marketing and attend the event never even knowing that TWD had been at HHN before.  Whatever the decision, I like the over half of people surveyed, will still be coming and we simply won’t mind.

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Well I will mind actually, can Orlando finally spruce up this prop – its been seen every single year!!!

So would you be happy for the return of this popular franchise?  Let us know…