We asked our great friend and HHN fanatic Austin Proctor of Theme Park Conqerors to tell us about his first visit to HHN, his first impressions of it all, and what has kept him coming back all these years since. Grab a delicious snack and journey with us into his first night of terror and delight! Maybe it will remind you of your first visit!
As a kid who grew up in Orlando, I was no stranger to always hearing about HHN throughout the years. You’d probably assume I would’ve attended every year I could have since its in my hometown, but I never actually went until 2014. For some reason I resented the fact of paying money to be scared, but I have no idea where that came from. Maybe its because I don’t scare easily and thought it wouldn’t be worth the time and money. Boy, was I wrong. One of my friends who frequented the event went begged me to come in 2014, and I finally caved. I bought a one night pass to the event in October and, even though I only did 3 houses, I was instantly hooked! I realized upon entering that I should’ve gone years ago and knew this would forever be a yearly ritual.
We arrived later than we should have, so the lines were already insane when we got there. The first house we did was Giggles and Gore, Inc since it had the shortest wait. After nearly an hour of waiting and hopping out of line to pee twice thanks to the beverages at the in-queue bars, it was finally time to see what the hype was all about.
Clowns have never scared me in the slightest, but I’m not too fond of them after this house. I remember the first clown who get me good after the second corner and I screamed like a little girl. I was shocked that I could actually be scared and still have a fantastic time. Then we entered the strobe mirror maze scene and I couldn’t decipher which clowns were real! Needless to say I went through that room as fast as I could because those strobes were messing me up big time! Overall that house was very well done and I was thirsty for more scares (and booze!)
After nearly crapping my pants in Giggles and Gore we moved on to TWD: End of The Line. This was the third installment of the TWD houses, but it was new to me. The queue line was super long as expected halfway through October, but at least I could admire the prison while I waited. I was super into the Walking Dead at this point in time so I was amazed at this house. Upon entering through the prison facade I encountered my first walker and my jaw dropped straight to the floor. Between the astonishing make up and detailed set I felt like I was right in the middle of a TWD episode. I was astounded at the production value of this particular house and wondered how much it must’ve cost. Everything was spot on and it made for a spooky experience. That was the longest house ever done at HHN at that time and I loved every second. As I drew closer to the end of the house I could see an insane amount of strobes. Great, just what I needed; more blinding light surrounded by things trying to eat me!
With chain link fences on both sides of me and crazy light effects, I was disoriented to say the least. I exited the house with a stupid grin on my face, and I couldn’t wait to see what was next.
Being spooked all night takes a toll on you, so we took a minute to get a couple drinks and just wander around the park. First up on the menu: The Dead Walker! This was the only signature cocktail this particular year, which included some Full Throttle in the mix. It was loaded with alcohol and quite tasty I must say. With drink in hand we set off around the park to explore the scare zones in depth. The first scare zone you came across was the MASKerade scare zone, which was decent. I wasn’t too huge on the theme but the scare actors were great, especially the stilt walkers. As we continued on we hit the Purge: Anarchy scare zone which made me feel like I was apart of the annual massacre.
Everything about that scare zone was perfect. From the masks, to the sign, to the scare actors. Overall it was a very well done scare zone. After the Purge we made our way to the Bayou of Blood which was my personal favorite. It was so eerie with all the smoke and the Louisiana voodoo vibe. That section of scare zone (Central Park) is always my favorite because its short but sweet. I don’t feel like its a forced scare like most open zones are. This zone is up close and personal, always full of fog, and one of the reasons I love HHN to this day! Moving on, the fourth and final scare zone was that of Face Off!
This was an interesting one for sure. I loved the idea behind it, but with so much open space it wasn’t as frightening as some of the others. Overall I did enjoy all the scare zones, but ranking them I’d have to go; Bayou of Blood, The Purge: Anarchy, Face Off and MASKerade. Once we saw all the scare zones and were feeling quite spooky, we had time for one more house and settled on AVP since the wait the lowest.
As a fan of both the Alien and Predator movies I was sure this house would be well done, but not sure how scary it would be. This house was inside one of the sound stages, so getting a feel for the house was impossible without an external facade. The second I entered the sound stage, screams filled the air and my blood started pumping. Usually screams aren’t a good thing to hear, but when you’re at HHN, nothing pleases the ears more than frightening screams echoing throughout. The house was masterfully done with great animatronics and puppets, I might add. Every corner had me gasping, jumping or screaming and it made for a very exhilarating yet pleasant experience.
As you came to the last corner of this house there was a man waving you to a small air vent, demanding you to crawl through in order to get out alive. Being a 6’6” dude, I was very hesitant to enter at first, but the line needed to keep moving so I hastily crouched down. As I bent over to fit into the narrow corridor, I heard loud noises and felt stuff hanging from the ceiling. As I was in front of a friend with a decent gap between the person in front, I decided to run. Naturally I was a little frightened being in a compromised position and legitimately felt fear. As I got closer to the exit I felt a whoosh of air hit my back and it raised every hair on my body. I finally booked it as fast as I could to get outside and I felt instant relief when I did. As I mentioned before I really don’t scare easily but that house had me sweating! It was indeed a great way to end my night, although I do wish I got to do more houses or even bought a FFP that year. I’m not sure why I didn’t go back and try to do the other 5 houses that year. I guess you can say I learned my lesson and decided buy a FFP for every season afterwards.
I’m still in shock that it took me so long to attend what is now my favorite event of the year. After attending only 3 HHN events I can say I will go until they decide to stop doing it. It’s something I look forward to all year round and get overjoyed the closer it gets. I can’t wait to see what the upcoming years bring to HHN and how they plan to continuously give me great scares. I’m very excited and hopeful for the future of HHN and can’t wait to see what they have in store for us over the coming years. Stay spooky everyone 🙂
Written by Austin Proctor of Theme Park Conquerors
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