We have seen it all at Halloween Horror Nights 26, and it’s time for us to let you know what you definitely need to see, and what fell short of expectations….
The Haunted Houses
This year’s event has brought forth 9 solid haunted houses. It was a bit of a task choosing which houses are duds this year, to be honest. It was even harder choosing which were the absolute best as they were all so great. We gave you guys individual reviews of each house throughout the weekend, and we would like to put them all in a list, best to worst, in three categories. For more in depth reviews of each house including why we ranked them as we have, check out our full reviews here (Ghost Town, Tomb of the Ancients, and Lunatics Playground), here (Krampus, American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead), and here (Texas Chainsaw, The Exorcist, and Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield)
Must See Mazes
These are the best of the line up this year. Coming up with the top three wasn’t exactly easy, but these houses took the cake and got the extra fifth star that earned them the top spots on our list.
# 1 Tomb of the Ancients ★★★★★
If you are to only visit one original content house his year at Halloween Horror Nights, make it the Tomb of the Ancients. Slated to become one of he greatest original content houses UO has ever constructed, this house utilizes claustrophobia and closed quarters to the max. Full of actors every two or three feet, the scares are abundant and relentless. This house has scared us the most out of all the rest of them. You will walk out of this maze shaking, yet wanting to visit again!
#2 Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield ★★★★★
This house has lived up to its predecessor of two years ago and brings us straight back to the horrors of seeing Michael Myers right in our faces at every turn. From beginning to end, you will fear Michael’s presence every step you take. This house also offers incredible special effects that are seriously a wonder, including the glowing embers of the hospital burning to the ground all around you.
#3 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ★★★★★
This maze is incredibly detailed, full of actors, and an amazing recreation of the movie. This one really is like walking through a physical representation of the film from beginning to end, and it is full of scares and fantastic effects.
The Close Seconds
These houses could very well be included in the “Must See” category, but didn’t have as much impact in comparison. For one reason or another (lack of diversity of characters, not as many scares, or the house is more of a visual wonder than a total scare fest), they didn’t get that extra fifth star.
#4 American Horror Story ★★★★☆
Being very faithful to the television show it is based on, this maze has many many details that fans of the show can find. Unfortunately, our first and only walkthrough so far was in the middle of a cast change, so many of the characters were missing! The house seemed like it had a lot of potential, and we can’t wait to give it a second go round, hopefully with a full cast!
#5 The Exorcist ★★★★☆
Jam packed full of awe inspiring special effects, this haunted house is quite visceral and throws you straight into Regan’s own possession. From narrow corridors with things stretching through the walls and touching you to a room full of vomit (with the smell to boot), you walk through the possession as it happens, and watch Regan herself decompose more and more as she spirals deeper into Pazuzu’s grasp.
#6 Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch ★★★★☆
This house is more of a looker than a screamer, and is decorated to the T with amazing detail. The characters speak with old timey, slightly humorous accents as you walk through this deserted western town of yesteryear.
The “Fall Flats”
These houses, although brimming with potential, fell flat for various reasons. Whether it’s they didn’t deliver on their promises, or they weren’t scary at all, these mazes didn’t quite make the cut against all the houses we have visited throughout the years of Halloween Horror Nights seasons.
#7 Krampus ★★★☆☆
Many people looked forward to this house, whether it’s because they liked the movie or were looking forward to it being this year’s comedic house with a sense of humor sprinkled throughout. Unfortunately, this is not what was delivered. Instead, we got a house with the same characters over and over and no comedy whatsoever. They could have done a lot more with this house, but it kind of felt like they phoned it in.
#8 The Walking Dead ★★★☆☆
As we have said before, this was more of a “best of” house from all previous years of Walking Dead mazes. It could have been good, as the idea would be to put all the best scenes from all the previous houses that worked really well when they originally appeared together, but it ended up feeling like a Nickelback “greatest hits album” where you knew all of the overplayed songs already and would rather not hear them again, but you were forced to listen to it anyway.
#9 Lunatics Playground ★★✮☆☆
Destined to become the biggest disappointment of the year, this house orginally sounded like it was going to be pretty sweet. You have Shadybrook Asylum, the icon of the year, and the promise of multiple brutal murders all throughout. Maybe the mistake was choosing to make this a 3D house, but something went wrong and what we ended up getting was a dull, crude, scarefree walkthrough of Chance killing multiple people on stages.
This year’s scarezones are rather diverse, ranging from a post-apocalyptic turf war to mythical monsters of the forest. But how do they stack up against each other?
#1 Survive or Die: Apocalypse
This scarezone is full of some pretty interesting characters, making up two different gangs of survivors of the end of the world. They can be seen fighting with each other throughout the scarezone, battling for turf, precious oxygen, and grapes. In terms of screams on the streets, you will hear the most in this scarezone. This scarezone also has chainsaws.
#2 Roaming Hordes
Now before you go and tell us “hey, roaming hordes don’t count as scarezones. This is true for the most part, but on the topic of scareactors on the streets, they can’t be ignored. The four different hordes bring their own spices to the table, and make for many screams from guests, and even make some run in terror. These hordes are not to be underestimated just because they aren’t on the map.
#3 Vamp ’55
With plenty of characters spread out and lots of events that happen throughout this night, this scarezone is diverse enough for multiple visits without seeing the same thing twice. The actors seem to be having fun with their roles and have a decent amount of energy and interaction with guests. The music and wardrobe also give this scarezone a nice aesthetic boost.
#4 Dead Man’s Wharf
Although not very scary at all, this scarezone is a marvel to look at. The lighting is brilliantly designed, and the attention to detail throughout on the props and costumes is superbly stellar. The soundtrack chosen is also quite sublime. Although you will rarely hear guests’ screams echoing through this scarezone, it is definitely something to behold.
#5 Lair of the Banshees
With a decent amount of actors throughout, this scarezone provides for a good night time walkthrough. This zone is not nearly as effective when the sun is out. The neat effects inside the prop pieces really reach their full potential in the dead of night. The stilt walkers work as a great distraction to the actors on the ground, and the shaker cans make their return.
#6 Chance In Hell
Chance once again makes her unfortunate and disappointing way to the bottom of the list with this scarezone. Although the escaped Shadybrook patients have some pretty cool outfits (especially the syringe crowns), this zone’s tiny footprint and lack of scares cause it to fall short. The only thing this scarezone really has going for it is it’s gory set pieces. The main issue with this scarezone is the fact that Chance is on the middle stage, and it causes a huge traffic jam right at the entrance of the park! Tens of people just stand there and take photos of Chance and film her as she tells knock knock jokes and talks to herself, causing a big roadblock. This is most definitely a scarezone that one will walk through and not pay much mind to.