So Universal have unofficially but officially confirmed that HHN will be returning to Universal Studios Park and not be at Islands of Adventures or a dual park event, as previously rumored by some. However, what with all the new construction work going on, we thought we’d have a look at where they can place the haunts we so love. Last year in 2015 it set a HHN world record with 9 houses in total. There had never been so many houses! So as HHN is now more popular than ever before, Universal will need some way of maintaining this record despite the massive construction projects currently on-going; that said, where would they fit them all? Well let’s have a look…
Last year we had the following locations:
Sprung Tent 1
Sprung Tent 2
Shrek Theater 2
Disaster Overflow Queue
B79 Parade Warehouse
All of which could be reused, except for Disaster, as its currently being demolished to make way for the Fast and the Furious. So that makes us one house down. We also have the precarious situations of using the Parade Buildings and the Shrek Theater. The Parade Warehouse has become somewhat of a recent HHN mainstay, so I see no reason for that to change, however, the Shrek Theater was a little more contentious.
The Shrek Theater had never been used as a HHN haunt before, and right after the event closed in November last year, it was by far the first to be cleaned out and demoed to make way for the green ogre and his donkey sidekick. Some have suggested that many of the operational staff on days were not happy with losing a Shrek screen for the event’s run, though as the event is likely returning to USF Park, it will probably have to reuse this building again.
Operation’s grumbles were purely down to losing half of their attraction, the house did no damage, in fact, the A&D people did a fantastic job retrofitting the Alice house into this space, a feat that if seen on the Unmasking Tour was something to behold.
So that leaves us officially one house location down from last year. Soundstage 23 was not used last year but has been used on and off since HHN2, so that’s a likely destination. Likewise Soundstage 25 could be used, it has only been used once for the Walking Dead mega house in HHN24 but this is often used for productions. The other soundstages are currently being used for production or operational arrangements.
So these are two possible, however they do have their problems. The proximity of all the soundstages means that setting the lines for each house and their respective express-pass entrances could be problematic. Having them all clustered together could mean that bottlenecks open up along Production Central where most of the queues will have to commence, likewise they will all have to empty out here too, which is not ideal considering that Twister is currently being demolished to make way for Jimmy Fallon – so can Universal really bank on using these two additional soundstages? Doubtful…
Nazarmans (now Starbucks), Jaws queue (now HP London), the Boneyard (now used for queue space) and the Hercules Soundstage (now Transformers) were all good previous haunt locations but they have all now gone, so where else does this leave? Well, not many places that’s for sure! They could build a new Sprung Tent, perhaps temporary move some of their backstage mobile huts off to their new plots of land and replace them with a Sprung Tent. And although technically a temporary building (they’ve been in place since 2006!), the Sprungs have to adhere to many of the same building codes as traditional buildings, so because of this they are very expensive to build; though it is still a possibility.
Some have suggested they build a house within MIB. This could be done as houses have been built within rides or within ride queue buildings, likewise The Mummy or Terminator could house smaller mazes. The problem with using existing ride queue buildings is that it effectively closes the rides or shows they use, and what with Beetlejuice and Twister down, they may think twice about closing another attraction. This said, HHN has presented “haunted attractions” for the event. In the past they have repurposed E.T.’s Adventure as “Alien Forest”, Jaws became “The Shark in the Dark” and Kongfrontation became “Tramway of Doom,” featuring appearances by Darkman.
There’s also the problem of Beetlejuice or there lack of! This stage hasn’t been used every year but it has had some memorable shows, which will now no longer be held within this venue.
Other than the above, Universal might be fighting for every inch of their park to find space to house these mazes, however we will leave you with one final thought: Just because the Universal ticket site says the event is at USF, it doesn’t necessary mean that the event will just be at USF, they could easily “borrow” some space from neighboring IOA attractions and thus, we could have a duel event after all…