I must preface this piece by informing you that I usually throw these review out during opening weekend a few houses at a time, but this year, I really wanted to see each house at least 5 times to really get a good idea of my opinion on each haunted house and make a much more educated ranking list for you guys to consume. I’ve already attended HHN28 7 times so far, and it’s only just beginning. Sit back and relax and read up on how we think the houses stack up at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event in Universal Orlando…
Ten haunted houses, one list.
Ten honestly is a lot to think about, especially when what you’re ranking is at such top notch quality like Halloween Horror Nights haunted houses. This list has taken a lot of thought and reworking for me to be happy with it. So let’s get it started with the worst ranked haunted house, number 10:
This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to most HHN fans. Blumhouse didn’t knock many people out of the park last year, and it hasn’t this year either. If anything it fit in the shoes left by last year’s house pretty well. The actors inside this house, or at least the baby face dudes, were pretty lazy with their scares if I’m being honest. Just not very scary at all and boring to boot. Anyways, moving on.
9. Trick R Treat
So readers may be a little bummed with this house’s placement on the list, but I may be a little biased since I attended last year and saw the scarezone for this property. This house kinda feels like they took all the set pieces from the scarezone and threw them into a soundstage and called it a house. Granted, they added additional scenes from the movie and brought back the American Werewolf In London werewolf puppets, which is freakin awesome to see again, but the lack of scares bring it down the list for me. The smell of chocolate is a great added touch, but overall I wasn’t too overwhelmed by this house. It’s a great depiction of the movie, but it felt like a bunch of stuff we’ve already seen last year.
8. Seeds of Extinction
Ranking all of the houses got really tough from this point on, let me tell you. All the houses from here on are extremely well executed in most every way, with Seeds of Extinction being the weakest of the best. The themeing of this house is absolutely top notch, and there’s plenty of decorations and Easter eggs to notice throughout. The issue I have with ranking this house any higher is how the scares in this house are designed. All of the actors are in gilly suits or plant suits and hiding in plain sight. It was quite easy for me to spot every single scareactor before approaching them, making it pretty much impossible for them to scare me. Something else to note when visiting this house; it’s raining in there and you will get moist at the least.
7. Carnival Graveyard
We were really excited for the concept of this house, and the amount of Easter eggs within this house is awesome and they’re all very fun to spot and point out. The guest activated triggers (red buttons) are really fun to push, just keep in mind that if you push these buttons, you may get wet. Overall great house, and it’s actually one of the longer houses this year. Keep an eye out for lots of HHN and Universal Easter eggs scattered throughout. Some people may not like the aesthetic of this house, since it’s basically just a bunch of piled up garbage, but since it all takes place in a scrap yard, I can let that slide pretty easily.
6 Stranger Things
Maybe not as high on the list as you expected, huh? Yeah well, there’s reasons for that. I call this house one of the “fan service” houses that Halloween Horror Nights creates. It doesn’t so much exist to scare people, but more so for people to walk through and say “omg I recognize this! Omg this character! Omg I remember this scene! Hey this was in the show, too.” There are some decent scares in here, but they are tightly wound into an overall representation of the show. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an absolutely phenomenal representation of the show.
All the characters from the show are represented in here, so be sure to warm up your finger so you can point while walking through this attraction.
5 Halloween 4
Michael Myers is ALWAYS excellent at HHN! Always! But unfortunately this year, he’s really got some competition, landing him the middle spot of this list. There are plenty of fantastic scenes and scares inside this house to satisfy any Halloween franchise lover, no matter how inexperienced. You can definitely enter this house without knowing anything about the movie. The scenes are all laid out chronologically and in a way that makes sense for anyone who enters. Mike is in the the hospital covered in bandages. He kills some people. He gets his mask back. He kills some people. Loomis shoots at him. He kills some people. Loomis shoots at him again. The end. That was a pretty simplistic explanation but this house is definitely one to see.
4 Scary Tales
Flying witches. Humpty Dumpty. Hansel and Grettel. Rapunzel. Goldilocks. Even the HHN Bear. They’re all here and they’re a pleasure to see. This house has sights and smells that tickle the imagination and frazzle your nerves. There’s some great scares and even better scenes in here, and it’s all just so fun to look at and smile. A highlight scene is the siren/mermaid scene. It’s all underwater and you’re walking through a super narrow corridor with walls made of kelp. The scareactors, very much resembling the mermaids in Pirates of the Carribean (if you’re not completely sure what a siren is) pop their heads through the kelp and scare the poop out of you. Also, keep your nose open for the gingerbread scent!
3 Slaughter Sinema
This year’s variety/comedy house takes us to the infamous (in HHN lore at least) Carey Drive-In theater. Guests are greeted with the scent of fresh hot popcorn when entering, and are then treated to a handful of scenes from fictional, B-horror style movies, all containing the unmistakable flair that only 80’s movies could possess. This house is full of many different types of scares and characters, from werewolves to swamp monsters, from demon babies to Amazonian cannibals. The scenes take place in many different locations, as well; Mars, a barber shop, a biker bar, even a Chuck-E-Cheese type children’s arcade! This house has a lot to look and laugh at.
2 Dead Exposure
Without question this year’s most terrifying house, Dead Exposure is back ten years after its original incarnation. This house is completely pitch black, and you’re only source of light is strobe lights. This house plays tricks on your eyes from beginning to end, and it’s goal is to make sure you can’t see very well or at all. These effects really make for a very scary experience, as the lights are flashing in specific, looping patterns. The scareactors know these patterns and time their scares accordingly. The lights flash bright a few times in a seemingly empty scene and then stop, leaving you unable to see. And then suddenly they flash back on one more time and there’s actors RIGHT IN YOUR FACE scaring your pants right off. We at HHNU absolutely ADORE this house, and find it to be one of the scariest houses at HHN in recent years. Since at least 2014. If you are going to Halloween Horror Nights 28 at Universal Orlando, DO NOT MISS THIS HOUSE. There’s only one house at the event this year that tops this one….
The effects. The scares. The set design. The storytelling. Everything that makes this house what it is is absolutely perfect. This house is stunning. Although it only takes us through the last twenty minutes of the movie, that’s all we need to get a completely amazing haunted house experience! Not only do we see important scenes from the movie, but this house explores questions that the movie never did; What happens if you actually walk into the light? What’s inside the closet? What exactly is on the other side of the fuzzy television? Prepare yourself to literally WALK INTO the movie Poltergeist and beyond, and get ready to be frightened. I don’t want to spoil much about this house, but I can tell you that this house introduces effects that are completely new to Halloween Horror Nights Orlando that we hope to see in the years to come as well.
And there you have it, my definitive ranking of all ten haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights 28 at Universal Orlando. Many people may disagree with me, and that’s the beauty of this event. Everybody has a different taste. Not everyone likes Dead Exposure because it’s so dang impossible to see in there, and I completely understand and respect that. I hope my reviews and babblings helped you guys get a better idea of what to expect for your trip to this year’s event.
With HHNU, this is Scott Rifkin signing off, and I’ll see YOU at HHN28! Stay scared, my friends!