After my long silence from the page, I’m back guys! I wanted to hold off on my speculation and early reviews of the event until after I had a chance to attend and truly experience this years event for myself. I attended Orlando from September 22nd – 24th. Now I know that three days isn’t very substantial and I will probably receive form criticism for not having seen more then one weekend but here is my review of the event anyway. I tried to look at this year as I do every year and enjoy the houses without too much hype going in, after writing about them and talking about them for so long this was a bit difficult but I think my reviews are fairly bias free and I hope you agree with some of them as well. Here is my rankings for the events and experiences at Halloween Horror Nights 26!
Number one on my list for HHN 26 houses has to go to Halloween II. This house followed the movie, one of my favorites, almost scene for scene and much like the Halloween house of HHN 24 it was able to bring you into the movie and make you feel that suspense of being chased by Michael! Although there were times I went through the house and noticed character changes and minor timing issues, the design and scaring in this house was absolutely amazing. The fiery ending of this house was absolutely up to the hype and delivered on detail and maintained the scares up until the last second!
I might face a bit of criticism for ranking this house so high on my list. Ghost Town is one of favorite houses this year for two reasons. The first being its ability to create a brilliant set design and create the world with an incredibly amount of detail but still maintaining the story. The second reason was the created weather environment, walking through the house you feel the rain falling from the sky and you get the gusts of wind along with the flashes of lighting. Along with being a welcome relief from the humidity outside, it made me feel like I was brought into the house and the world they were attempting to create. I truly loved this house and although the story was not the most terrifying, I hope Universal delivers this amount of detail for years to come.
The Exorcist takes the third place spot on my list for one very good reason … The movie does not deliver on scares or jump scenes, which is rather crucial when making a haunted house. That being said, Universal has been wanting to deliver this house since the beginning of the event and seeing this house you can tell there has been a lot of work put into these designs. The house takes every groundbreaking and classic scene of this essential horror movie and brings it to life. I highly recommend seeing this movie before entering the house so you can truly appreciate every scene and every detail but I loved this house so much and seeing every room and the immense detail on what is in reality a house filled with the same scene just repeated was incredible. From the facade which is beautiful, to the demon statue reveal, this house is fantastic.
Ahh American Horror Story, although this house had by far the longest waits of the year it was an incredibly well done house. I must admit however I have not seen every season of AHS even with my friend from the HHN Facebook page, Christine Grey, insisting on how amazing the show is I simply couldn’t find the time to binge the show in time. From what I have seen and what I know of the show the house was incredibly spot on and offered fans and even non fans a glimpse inside the world of AHS. The story might have confused non fans of the show however even non fans were faced with incredible detail and great scares throughout the house. I loved this house even though it had an incredibly long wait, it had great jump scares along with a story that makes me want to watch the show even more. I recommend getting to it early to experiencing it before the wait becomes unbearable. Stay tuned the the Halloween Horror Night fan Facebook page for Christine Grey’s (fellow page admin) review of that house!
I had high hopes for this house, having been a fan of all the TCM movies since I was little and always loving the sound of chainsaws as horror events, however I was not blown away with what the house had to offer. Being in a tent they were unable to use real chainsaws for the scares in this house and although the fakes were almost as good they killed the illusion in my mind. Part of that scared feeling for me with chainsaws is smelling that exhaust and that is no longer a possibility with the fakes or even in the park since they switched the types of chainsaws being used. I will say however, this house delivered well on some scenes from the movie rather well, although not hitting all. The house could have been designed with the story more in mind or other types of scares in mind since the movie only features one chainsaw kill!
On to Number 6! Tomb of the Ancients was a very well designed house, the claustrophobic environment and low hanging ceilings made one feel as if they were in an ancient temple. However the incredibly incredibly dark nature of this house and to me the lack of scares kind of took away from this house. The featuring of pull ropes in the one hallway was cool to see as it has been done in past but this house didn’t scream to me as an original like Ghost Town did. I’m sure other people enjoyed this house much more than me but it falls towards the bottom of my list for lack of light and insufficient scare opportunities.
Walking dead … after being a HHN mainstay for the last 5 years or so I’m kind of tired of talking about it, however, this house was enjoyable having been a long time fan of the show. Walking season by season rather then featuring just one or two was a better way to take on the title. The scenes were delivered beautifully and created incredibly well, delivering the perfect amount of claustrophobia and wide detail throughout the house. I have nothing against TWD and enjoy the show very much, however as an HHN fanboy I would like to see the title replaced, maybe if Orlando were to follow in Hollywood’s footsteps and create a permanent attraction to make room for another house would be a better choice.
Krampus! The rumor everyone, including myself, had been talking about since its release fell a bit short of expectations in my opinion. I enjoyed the movie, it offered laughs with a new kind of scary movie take but the house did not deliver the same feelings. Using only Krampus’ minions for scares and never once featuring the main man himself in a moving version for me was a huge letdown. The scenes were created well and there was no lack of detail in the house, which I liked, but a lot of the movie is CGI and to deliver that in a house with stable characters is not easy and tends to ruin the story. That being said I still like the Christmas feeling in a haunted house and wanted to get the same feeling that I did back in 2007 with the Psychoscarepy home for the holidays house, I hope Universal tries with this idea again but executes it a bit differently next time.
Finally to the Icon herself. Ive never been disappointed with an Icons house before this years event. 3D houses are cool to see but to me they lose the ability to scare when I cannot see clearly with the glasses. The facade tells a great story of Chance getting arrested after the events of HHN 25, the house fails to carry that torch on. In my personal opinion Universal should have offered a new look at Shadybrook asylum which has held jack for many years and this year we could have seen chance running the asylum. I was disappointed in this house because of its use of 3D and the “look through Chance’s mind” aspect. I think the house had far more potential then Universal gave it.
Survive or Die tops off my scare zone list for this year. It followed in the footsteps of the purge and many other scarezones which have graced this area. The use of 3D projectors was a great touch and was nice to see used again in this section. I also enjoyed the inclusion of chainsaws a bit here, that along with the great props and even story line for this zone makes it a number one for me. Although the costumes were a bit simple and non iconic they fit the roles they were trying to portray.
My second favorite scare zone on the year is Vamp 55! I usually never like the scare zones on Hollywood blvd, however this year the zone was fun and interactive which was a pleasant delight. I didnt spend a great deal of time in the zone this year but what I saw when I did go was football players, greasers, and prom girls all interacting and telling a story without skipping a beat while scaring. This isn’t easy to do and I applaud all of the scare actors in this area for playing their parts incredibly well.
Taking the third spot on my list is the roaming hoardes. Roaming chainsaws have been an HHN mainstay for years and although many don’t like them or their placement around the park, I wouldn’t think of HHN without them. They tend to be placed in not so crowded areas on non peak nights which makes scares few and far between but they are always an enjoyable sight and I applaud their work every year!
Liar of the banshee. I had high hopes for this year as well. It was a good scarezone but as that area has been rather well known for, it was dark and crowded. I went on non peak nights and already the zone felt a bit tight and hard to navigate. The costumes and scarers were very good and I don’t want to make it seem like this zone was poorly done, the detail and feeling of the zone was very well done. I just feel that maybe this area is getting too small for a scare zone.
Dead Man’s Wharf! The scare zone I was most anticipating for this year. I was not disappointed on sets and costumes for this zone, the sets were all designed beautifully and the costumes and scarers were all incredible. However the scares I feel were not that common and many people seemed to just pass through without noticing the scarers. I think the zone looked absolutely amazing however it felt a bit crowded and passable.
Our final scare zone is again The Icon herself. Chance although being the Icon really isn’t all that noticeable at the event, No show and no real presence. Her scare zone however is made fun and enjoyable by the scarers within it, whom are entertaining and very good at what they do. You can tell the scarers are having fun with their roles and get incredibly into their parts, I only wish there was a bit more to that zone.
Well thats my lists and I hope you agree with at least some of what you see here and as always feel free to comment and let me know what you though of the event and the houses. I also wanted to say thank you to all of the Scareactors and designers for this years event. You all make the event what it is and you bring these stories and characters to life. I wish you all luck for the remaining scaring season and for you all to stay safe as the peak season approaches. Thank you all, and Take care.