Warehouse 31: STILL the most fun you’ll have getting scared in Florida!

We have revisited our favorite Floridian haunted house because, dangit, we just couldn’t get enough! Last time we visited was a special event for Valentine’s Day, and now we’re back for the Halloween season!

Back at our Happy Place!

We couldn’t wait to return here! We had so much fun and scares during the Valentine’s event that we just simply had to return for the Halloween season, and let me tell you, we were not disappointed (see our review for their Valentine’s Day event here). Warehouse 31: UNLEASHED has completely redesigned their haunted houses, and added many new obstacles for guests to crawl, weave, slide, and squeeze their way through. Make no mistake, this haunted house is physically challenging! This year’s line up includes four haunted houses: Lockdown, Mr. Tasty’s Meat Factory, Dark Waters, and Slaughter Circus, as well as a life sized pirate ship outside of the main haunt filled with actors known as the Ghost Ship!

Overall Experience

10/10 without a doubt. Two thumbs up. 5 stars. Whatever you wanna call it! This place is awesome! There’s so much hard work that goes into this place; from the set construction, to the custom painting throughout, down to the make up and prosthetics. The actors give 110% every second they’re in the show, never breaking character. Every factor comes into play here to bring an absolute quality product, every time. We always have huge amounts of fun here and get decently scared by the actors no matter how many times we go through! Every single member of this haunt’s enormous cast makes sure to interact with you in whatever creative way they can think of, making for a very personal experience. In fact, whether you go on a night when they have 60 actors or a night they only have 35 or even less, you’re still in for the time of your life. That’s how much these actors put in their all! Kudos to all of you guys!

The Haunt

Same as last time, this haunted attraction’s unique concept has guest’s entering each of four haunted houses, one after the other, with short queue lines in between. Parties are sent through the haunt one by one, ensuring there’s no “conga-line” type situation for your experience. Typically, unless its quite busy, guest’s usually only have to wait in the first queue and from then on it’s pretty much walk on queues. The first haunted house guests enter is new at the Warehouse for this year; Lockdown.

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Entrance to Lockdown, the beginning of your Warehouse 31 UNLEASHED experience.

Lockdown is themed to a zombie outbreak, and you have to escape the laboratory where the disease first started. Guests are led through a maze of medical rooms, offices, scientific labs, and escape the facility before becoming victims themselves. To avoid any spoilers, we can say that this one isn’t for the claustrophobic! Get out of there however you can, before you become one of them!

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The second house during the walkthrough is Mr. Tasty’s Meat Factory. A long time returning haunted house for Warehouse 31 UNLEASHED, this one takes guests through a meat factory where, of course, humans are butchered to sell to the masses. This one deserves its repeating spot on the line up, as it has so many great scenes and scares, and the actors are giving it their all in here to boot! Mr. Tasty will greet you at the factory’s rolling door, as seen below. After he opens the door for you, step inside, but beware the butcher.

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Third haunt on the adventure, Dark Waters, takes us into a voodoo queen’s house and then out into a swampy bayou. A great effect is in here, right at the beginning in fact. All we’ll say is deer heads. Trek murky waters, shifty bridges, and tilted sets in this very dark and frightening house.

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Last but not least, the clown house, Slaughter’s Circus, featuring lots of glowing neon colors, extremely energetic and acrobatic clowns, and more than a touch of insanity. A completely redesigned and reimagined clown house for this year, this one was a great way to finish off the entire experience. The actors were very in your face and had great characters and had lots to say to us, making us scream, laugh, and smile, sometimes all at once. The cherry on top of an already great and spooky time!

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If You’re In Jacksonville, GO TO THIS ATTRACTION

Not only won’t you regret it, but you’ll have a place to go back to time and time again. This place leaves an impression that sticks, and makes you (or at least us!) want to go back over and over! We will always find ourselves back at Warehouse 31 UNLEASHED every season and special event they are open (whenever we’re not at Halloween Horror Nights!)

 

 

Haunts around the US: Jacksonville Round 2

Last week, we decided to return to Jacksonville for another round of local haunt goodness!

The 13th Floor

The self proclaimed “World Famous” haunted house in Jacksonville, FL has other locations around the US, including Chicago, Colorado, Texas, and Arizona. These haunted houses have all won different awards and accolades for their achievements in set design, make up, and overall guest experience. We at HHNU would say that these were indeed all deserved!

This attraction, unfortunately, does not allow photos or videos of any kind, so this article does lack the photos that we do love to include in our reviews.

Beginning with the set design, it was honestly comparable to Halloween Horror Nights, if not better! Imagine going to HHN and seeing all of the astounding set decorations and lighting design, but take away all the conga lines and missing all the scares because it happened in front of you or behind you. That’s right, 13th Floor Haunted House takes guests through in small groups, making sure there’s a gap in front of you and behind you, maximizing their actors abilities to scare you throughout the experience.

Much like a lot of local haunts of this caliber, there is a halfway point between the houses, allowing you to go to the bathroom and perhaps take a sit break before continuing the haunted house experience. However, this halfway point didn’t have any foodtrucks or drinks available for purchase like we’ve seen in some other haunts with a halfway point (looking at you, Netherworld!). This didn’t take away from the experience, though, however we were thirsty.

Why were we thirsty, you ask? Well, we had to wait in this line:

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Yup. That line you see above took two hours to wait in. That’s as long as Stranger Things at HHN28! In fact, one of the only complaints we had about this entire experience was the damn wait! The line moved so insanely slowly that we were really considering leaving and letting them keep our money. But we stuck it out and waited the whole two hours, and we didn’t regret it.

But Once You Finally Get In!

The experience is completely, 100% worth it. We loved every second of this haunted house experience and would recommend it to any horror lovers that have an itch to see other haunts! This haunted house experience, which took us about 45 minutes, included three haunted house themes:

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Taking place in what seemed like an abandoned house in a countryside, much like the Sawyer house in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this haunt took us through what seemed like a demented family’s house. This one began with an impressive two story facade of the family’s house, creating an ominous atmosphere before stepping inside. The members of the family took a liking to mangling human bodies with a chainsaw, of course, and eating their remains BBQ style. This house was full of rickety wooden floors that moved, actors playing victims as well as violent family members out to get us, and one really huge and impressive animatronic monster eating someone alive! Definitely a great way to start off the haunt, not to mention the fact that this was the longest house at this location. The exit spit us out into the halfway point. In fact a staff member opened the door to the exit, waving his hands towards him yelling “come on come on! This way! You’re safe this way! Hurry!”

The main character of this haunted house, as seen in the banner above, hangs out either at the main entrance queue or at the halfway point. Guests may or may not see him inside the actual house attraction, as we did not.

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Next up was Dead End District, a zombie themed haunted house that took place mostly in the sewers of an apocalyptic cityscape. Yet another very well designed and decorated haunted house experience, this one included more awesome animatronics that had us saying “whoa that’s neat!”. Our favorite sets in here were all the sewer scenes, all very well decorated and really made us feel like we were inside a legit sewer, surrounded by plastic bottles, sewer water, all the while being relentlessly chased by zombies and creatures.

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Probably our favorite of the bunch, Cursed Voodoo has a lot of really neat tricks up its sleeve. The entire house takes place inside a sinking paddle boat (HHN27 Dead Waters, much?) and there are a lot of effects and moving floors in here to keep that illusion going throughout the walkthrough. There are even more larger than life animatronics in here, but these ones get MUCH closer to you and your face. Our favorite moments in this one included the room with the moving floor and the octopus face dude, as well as the swamp maze. Now, let me just take a moment to give this swamp maze the time it deserves, because it was probably our favorite thing here. Imagine a very large room full of a dense cloud of fog all the way up to your belly button, and inside this dense cloud of fog is this big maze that you can’t see that you have to make your way through. The fog is lit up by green lasers, creating the illusion that you’re wading waist deep in a swamp. Guests must use their arms and hands to find the walls of the maze to find their way to the exit, with scareactors ducked down in the fog, standing straight up and scaring you the whole time. This part was a lot of fun and really sticks in our heads.

Overall, 13th Floor Haunted House in Jacksonville, FL is a highly recommendable haunted attraction. We got scared multiple times and were pretty cautious while walking the entire way through, which is saying a lot for us seasoned haunt goers. We would recommend spending the extra money on the “skip the line” or “fast pass” options however, just so you don’t have to wait at least two hours to enter. The long wait did effect our overall experience, though.

At the end of the day, we’ll give this haunted house 4 out of 5 stars! If you ever find yourself in Jacksonville with at least an hour to kill, take you and your friends here. You won’t regret it!

*Spoilers* WB Studios Horror Made Here Full Review (100+ photos!)

We had the privilege of being invited to the media preview of Warner Brother’s haunted attraction event, Horror Made Here, and here’s our complete review of the event with TONS of photos. Grab a bag of chips and let’s do this!This is WB Studios’ second year doing this event, and they really seemed to have a grip on what they’re doing. With five haunted houses, one make up demonstration, and an entire movie prop and set exhibit, there’s plenty to see here.

First things first, I must describe how the haunted houses at this event play out, because it’s absolutely nothing like Halloween Horror Nights. Or Howl-O-Scream. Or any other theme park haunt event. The haunted houses here only allow 14 people or less in at a time, and the houses are more like performances than your average haunted house experience. Each scene in these houses have an actor or two that has things to tell you. Guests stop in each scene and listen to the actors dialogue and further the plot of the haunted house itself. The actors are very interactive with the guests. They speak to you and make you feel alone in the house. Since only fourteen people go in at a time, there’s plenty of opportunity for people to get ahead of you and you end up walking alone. We found all the houses here to be incredibly refreshing from our usual HHN grind. There are no conga lines here AT ALL. Once your studio tram reaches the entrance, you are greeted with carnival props adorned with dead bodies and skeletons. The entrance to the studio itself where all the haunts are located is in the shape of the Joker’s face with his mouth agape.

The main event grounds has a drop ride right in the center named “Devil’s Drop,” and the haunted houses surround the ride.

We we’re able to spot the joker opening the gates to the Asylum and grabbed this photo.

Scareactors roam the entrance area as well!

Not sure what’s up with Freddy’s outfit here
Check out the drink menu!

We lost our boat down the sewer but this guy took it and offered me a balloon.

IT: IT Knows What Scares You

This of course was our most anticipated house, and it didn’t disappoint! The atmosphere was great and the attention to detail was very high. We had a lot of fun going through this one and there are some good scares.

As you enter the house, you walk through a living room and are eventually greeted by a staircase with this silhouette. Ben’s room is well represented, including the New Kids On The Block poster. The House contained many of the ways that Pennywise scares the children when they’re alone, including the bloody bathroom seen above, the creepy painting lady, and the three doors: Not Scary At All, Scary, and Very Scary. As a matter of fact, all of these doors are closed and guests can choose which ones to open and physically open them. But beware what’s behind those doors. The most incredible part of the house was most definitely what we would call the floating room, where there were tons of children floating around and Pennywise on top of his pile of stuff watching them all.

The Exorcist: Forbidden Screening

The name of this one is actually kinda important. You see, this isn’t a typical walk through haunt attraction. Instead, guest’s attend a ten minute abridged screening of the Exorcist inside of a holy church. Sitting on pews, guests encounter multiple paranormal hauntings take place within the church as the screening of the film takes place. This can be quite scary depending on where you sit.

Escape From Arkham Asylum

The Joker and many other villains have taken over Arkham Asylum, and it’s up to you to escape. Fans of the Batman video game series or even just the Batman universe will eat this one up like candy. Featuring tons of sightings of different Batman villians (depending on the cast) including The Penguin, Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Two Face, The Riddler, Harley Quinn, and of course The Joker, this is a feast for the eyes. We saw this one multiple times and saw different characters in there each time which also made it fun to make repeat visits.

Bodies with buckets on their heads and graffiti everywhere, visitors are asked to take their inmate photos and are then taken to the Judge.

Pay close attention to the following photo:

Judge Joker sentences us to imprisonment in his version of Arkham Asylum. Interior shots of the courtroom as sentence hearing takes placeAfter boarding and exiting an elevator, we enter into the morgueHarvey “Two Face” Dent will flip a coin and decide your fate. And Poison Ivy will seduce you with beauty and then go for the kill. Play cards with Edward Nigma!The Joker then has a chance to interact with every guest or couple and tell them to either go left or right!

The Conjuring Universe

Although we don’t know very much about this franchise of movies ourselves, this house has a lot of dialogue from the actors that built a story and played off the events taking place inside the haunt. We go inside the Warren’s archive full of their most prized possessions, including Annabelle but Annabelle VANISHES! Oh dear!! We then exit that house and into a backyard of another house and we are greeted by another paranormal expert of the Warren family. He takes us inside another spooky house full of demons and we find Annabelle! But that’s not good news, and something bonkers happens that I don’t wanna spoil. This was pretty cool and we loved how it played out theatrically. The last gag with the nun was also super cool!

Here’s a photo of the first character we encountered on our haunted journey. Here’s where Annabelle was SUPPOSED to be. But she’s missing! We’re in for a spooky time!More spiritual artifacts. The actress in this scene kept telling us to not touch anything the entire time we were in there. It was crucial that we didn’t or else ghosts and stuff. Also, we found a Batman Easter Egg!Gotta get outta here before we all die!The last scene had us in the foyer of the house.

Nightmare On Camp Crystal Lake

A combo of a backlot studio tour and a haunted trail, this was also a bit of a deviation from your typical haunted house. In a very big, dark, open forest, guests trek through fog, and there’s dead bodies everywhere. And did I mention it was dark? With a combination of Freddy and Jason out to get you in the forest, you’re not safe out there. You eventually end up in a cabin, where you have to zig zag your way through bunks full of suffering teens attacked by the fearsome duo. Keep in mind some of these photos were taken with flash with permission. Did I mention it was dark out there?

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic time, full of smiles, scares, and on top of everything, fun. This, as said before, was a very refreshing take on haunted attraction experiences. Mind you, it wasn’t open to the public the night we went. We can’t account for large crowds but this event does sell out, which means they are aware of their capacity limitations and put a stop to admission sales at a point. We highly, highly, ever so highly, recommend this haunted attraction experience if you find yourself in the Burbank, California area.

With Halloween Horror Nights Unofficial, this is Scott Rifkin. I’ll see you guys at the haunts!

HHN28 Haunted House reviews: Worst to Best

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:

10. Blumhouse

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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….

1 Poltergeist

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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!

Should we expect another Halloween house in two years?

Here at HHNU, we have noticed something interesting about the Halloween movie franchise and HHN, let us explain…..

2014: The first appearance of Michael Myers at Universal Orlando

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HHN24. An incredibly strong year for original concept houses, the first appearance of the Voodoo Queen (who would eventually return herself in Dead Waters, HHN26), and the first time Florida HHN goers could live out the terrors of the classic horror film, Halloween.

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This house was incredibly frightening, and introduced some effects that are still used at Halloween Horror Nights to this day.

2016: The Return Of Michael Myers

HHN26, yet another great year for original houses, as well as the first year Chance got to be center stage as the icon of the event for that year. This time around, two years after the first appearance of Micheal Myers, brought visitors into the movie franchises’ first sequel: Halloween 2. The house was called Halloween: Hell comes to Haddonfield, and it brought back horror’s favorite icon for a second round of frights.

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Keep in mind, this return of the Boogeyman to HHN comes two years after his first appearance….

Present Day, 2018: The Re-Return of Micheal Myers

HHN28. Can’t say how good of a year it is other than the houses that are going to be there, but we know that Halloween 4 is getting its own haunted house treatment for this year’s event.

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Unfortunately, our time machine is under disrepair, so we can’t provide you with photos from the house. But here’s the house’s banner, though!

Now to the interesting bits. According to history, including this year, the Halloween franchise returns to Halloween Horror Nights Orlando every two years, and in chronological order. You might be asking yourself, “Well why did they skip Halloween 3: The Season of The Witch?” and while we may not be able to accurately pinpoint Universal’s own reason why they made this choice, we at HHNU can come up with our own conclusion: Michael Myers isn’t in Halloween 3.

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A scene that we will more than likely see this year at HHN28 starting Sept 14

Michael Myers is the icon of the Halloween franchise, the draw that brings people back to see more. If Universal made a “Halloween” haunted house without Michael Myers inside of it, a lot of people unfamiliar with the franchise would end up rather confused. Granted, there are indeed fans of the third movie, but the general public likely hasn’t seen it. There was actually quite a number of people who had never even seen Halloween 2 when it was announced as a house two years ago.

So What’s Your Point?

Given the historical evidence of Halloween’s presence at Halloween Horror Nights and the amount of movies in the film franchise, we at HHNU speculate that Michael Myers will return once again in the year 2020, which would be HHN30, as Halloween 5. But only time will tell if we’re right or not….

 

New Original House: Seeds of Extinction

Another original houses has been revealed for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, and it tackles the idea of an overgrown, apocalyptic Earth after the extinction of the human race…

“A Sound Of Thunder”

Ray Bradbury’s short story “A Sound of Thunder” would provide a good example of the environment we should expect in this new haunted house for HHN28.

Imagine the human race meeting its end, nature takes back its claim on Mother Earth, and creatures that became extinct thanks to the human race are able to rise again. Even creatures science has never discovered.

This house is going to be chock full of buildings covered in vines and other various overgrown vegetation, including extinct plant species. Amongst the abandoned buildings and shrubbery lie the house’s namesake, nature’s forgotten species of the past. Humans are no more and they are able to reinhabit the earth and take back what was theirs.

But visitors beware, these species of ages past prey on humans.

Keep your eyes open inside this new house, Easter eggs have been placed throughtout this attraction for those HHN diehard fans with keen eyes! Be in the lookout!

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“Jack and Eddie” of course being Jack the Clown and his brother
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This of course is in reference to HHN26’s house “Ghost Town, Lightning Gulch”

 

 

Athazagoraphobia comes to HHN28!

Do abandoned theme parks and carnivals like Six Flags New Orleans scare you? How about the thought of getting lost in a deserted area with no one to help you? If so, get ready for Halloween Horror Night 28’s newly announced house, Carnival Graveyard.

Athazagoraphobia: The fear of abandonment

Many of us have seen photos of various abandoned amusement parks, whether it be from listicles found on Facebook, or some clickbait article that’s something like “19 super creepy photos. You won’t be able to sleep after seeing #7!”

Now imagine taking these environments and turning them into a haunted house that only Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights can devise. Sounds like we have ourselves a fantastic opportunity to see plenty of weathered, squeaky, defunct rides and attractions, covered in rust. However, it doesn’t stop there. Imagine if you will, that the workers and performers that the carnival employed never left the property, and instead stayed there and became psychotic. Welcome to Carnival Graveyard, a deserted attraction from yesteryear that should never be reopened.

The Scares

Okay let’s say you’re not scared of abandoned buildings and attractions, you’re probably asking yourself “so how are they going to frighten me?”

That’s where the former employees come in. You see, they decided to begin scrapping the rides of the former park for spare parts, and turn those parts into weapons. Any urban explorer (in this case, you) who dares decide to enter the old park for say perhaps their YouTube vlog will meet a gruesome demise by the hands of the disgruntled workers.

If one manages to evade the deranged unemployed psychos, then you’ll have to manage to escape the many guard dogs on the premises. Just when you think you’re no longer surrounded by crazy carnies, more pissed off shepards will find you in the shadows, ready to maul you to a pulp.

Personally, I think this sounds really awesome and it gives Universal’s creative team and set team plenty of opportunities to construct some really interesting scenes. From a worn down tilt-a-whirl to a Ferris wheel that’s leaning on its side, about to fall down at any moment, the possibilities are endless here and we at HHNU can’t wait to see it in person on Sept 14.

Three Scarezones Announced!

Although scarezone announcements aren’t as exciting as House announcements, they’re a huge part of the event and make the experience that much greater. Today we learned about three scarezones we’ll see this coming HHN28

The Harvest

Last year’s House of the Year award winner “Scarecrow: The Reaping” is making it’s comeback for HHN28, and this time it’s in the form of a scarezone! That’s right, the frightening characters of last year’s scariest haunted house attraction are coming back, and this time outside of the confines of a haunted house! The scarezone will be themed as a large farmhouse, decorated with trinkets from each haunted house featured this year at HHN28

Vamp ‘85

As another callback to a previous Horror Nights event, Vamp ‘85 is a sequel to the HHN26 scarezone, Vamp ‘55. Whereas two years ago the scarezone was a high school pep-rally and parade being over-run by vampires, this scarezone takes us 30 years into this fictitious timeline. This time, though, it’s not a high school football hype party; it’s a New Year’s Eve party! Expect lots of confetti!

Twisted Tradition

Remember how Central Park was decorated with over 200 jack-o-lanterns in the Trick R Treat scarezone? This year the pumpkins are back, but this time they’re a bit rotten. The description of this scarezone is rather vague so far, but our understanding tells us to expect rotting pumpkin-people and other decaying creatures.

As always, check back with us here at HHNU for the lastest updates on HHN28!

 

Scareactor Stories: Nicholas Cappelletti

 

Hey there HHNU readers, my name is Nicholas Cappelletti. For the past 2 years I’ve been fortunate enough to be a scareactor at Halloween Horror Nights. HHNU reached out to me to share some tales from my time as a Scareactor….

Halloween Horror Nights 26 was my first ever year attending HHN or any haunted attraction in my life, however, it wasn’t intentional that it took me to the 26th year of HHN to attend as a guest, or even perform. I had the opportunity back in 2008 to check out  Halloween Horror Nights 18 with my family, but I saw a guest at Disney walking around with a Bloody Mary themed shirt, and as a young child I was so spooked by what I saw on that shirt. I unfortunately decided to keep to kid friendly activities. Pretty dumb in hindsight, especially considering the fact that the majority of the HHN community believes HHN18 was one of the event’s greatest years.

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“Scareacting is an addiction.”

The rush one feels when they put the fear of potential death in someone is exhilarating. For my first year scareacting at HHN26, I made sure to listen to the returning veterans, as their advice really helped me find out which scare technique would be best for different people. Sometimes people would just look at me when I emerged from my “boo hole,” but most of the time I would either have people freaked out running to the next room, or my favorite when someone gets so scared they drop to the floor. I can remember cast members and I would tell each other how many bodies we dropped after each set was over.

I met so many wonderful and amazing people in my first cast. The chemistry we had when we first met can only be described as “lightning in a bottle.” Besides the wonderful friends I made in my first year, the moment that really took the cake was when we won House of the Year.

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If the above picture didn’t give it away, I was part of the incredible cast of American Horror Story, playing Larry Harvey aka “Burned Man”.

As the season kicked off, the cast as a whole could tell that we were doing something special, and breaking the all time house attendance record TWICE was something that really gave the cast a purpose to create even more horrific nightmares for the guests. Us  scareactors in the Season 1 area knew we had to set the tone for the rest of the guest’s experience throughout the rest of the house (season 4 and 5) and I feel we hit that goal every single night.

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When auditions for HHN27 arrived I knew if I was selected, this would be my final year scareacting. Although I had hopeful plans, and dreams of going on until HHN30, those dreams were unfortunately squashed. We’ll get to that part later…….

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“I couldn’t believe it!”

When I found out I would help in representing one of the greatest horror movies in history I honestly got quite nervous. When I found out my role before I showed up to costume fitting, I nearly fainted. I held the outfit of the great Jack Torrance in my hands, and I was literally shaking. Not only was I excited, but I also wanted to make sure to do the best job possible representing this character and the actor who portrayed him.

My new role in my second year was to be what I had looked for last year; a mentor. I helped any first years whenever possible, and even learned new scaring techniques myself along the way. If there is anything I took from scareactors who have been scaring for more than 10 years, it’s that you are constantly learning, improving, and enjoying this event in many different ways. Jack Torrance had the best scare out of both my years as a scareactor, in my opinion, because it was so well hidden. I could pop out with an axe, have a guest drop to the floor, and immediately vanish back into the hedges.

Probably the greatest experience out of both years came during HHN27. I was in a spot in the hedgemaze where I was the middle Jack in a series of three. Our timing had to be perfectly precise, since the Jack who popped out before me had 2 spots he could come out of, and 2 Jack characters could never be seen at the same time. Our Performance Coordinators were walking into the maze with guests in front of them as well as behind them. The first Jack popped out of his first hole and scared the guests surrounding the Coordinators; they freaked out and he quickly vanished. I emerged immediately, lifting my axe above my head swiping at the guests in front of me. After I quickly vanished back into the hedges, the guest in front of the Coordinators got so scared that they backed up and refused to continue moving. The guests behind them kept trying to push their way forward, screaming that they don’t know where Jack is coming from. Suddenly the Jack before me popped out of his 2nd boo-hole and had everyone fly against the side of the maze wall, and I took the opportunity to scare those same guests again as they ran back towards me. This back and forth scare continued for a solid minute, freezing the line in between our Coordinators because the guests surrounding them were too scared to continue on. That to me takes the cake as the best moment of HHN27 because my Performance Coordinators were there to witness our great timing, execution, and creativity as 2 Jacks who were downright terrifying. As scareactors, we pride ourselves for our great scares, but unfortunately no one really sees them besides the guests surrounding you and a few people behind them.

“So…do you think you could become a scareactor?”

If you’re a method actor like myself, this type of work can be quite fun. When I got hired for HHN26, I had never watched American Horror Story besides the pilot, but I went back and finished the entire season and fell in love with the whole series. When I was told my role, I practiced at home on how my character walks, talks, thinks, and feels. I even burned myself on my kitchen stove so I knew how it feels to be burnt alive, and how my body would react, which was a huge factor in my scare.

In my first day in the makeup chair, I talked to myself about my character’s wife, and how awful she was and how sorry I am for my daughters. Just about every day before we began while the que lines were starting to form, I had tea time with my kids; I miss those kids.

I had the same mental preparations for HHN27 for every set, and I would get into Jack Torrance’s head. Because of this, though, I became very depressed up until the half way mark of the event. At home, I would have fits of rage and instability. I had to eventually find myself again and try to hold back the crazy Jack.

I believe anyone can be a scareactor, I’ve seen it from my day job, to people on the street scaring their family when their family turns a corner. The part you as an individual will have to focus on is body language and movement. Try practicing without using your voice; you may not have an opportunity to speak in your role. Everything will come from what your body movement says, and over time you’ll find what works best for you, whether it’s a quick movement or a slow powerful movement (especially with a weapon). Personally, I would recommend scareacting, as you can put your heart and soul into any part you are assigned to.

“There is never a bad role”

So why am I not returning? Some of you may be thinking that 2 years as a scareactor really isn’t much, and I agree with that statement. I wish I could continue but there are a few factors that went into my decision to not return.

If you are in a relationship with someone, they more than likely will not understand exactly what work goes into scareacting. It mainly came down to the hours, though; the hours I worked vs. the hours my significant other worked. Being a scareactor can tear relationships apart and cause major rifts between couples. I saw it happen in both of my years performing. It doesn’t matter if their significant other was a scareactor at the event or not, this event can be a relationship killer. My best advice is to try to have some sort of support group before you jump into this line of work, and if your significant other can’t accept what you’re doing then you’ll need to really work out a gameplan with that person.

The second reason isn’t in the public eye all too much, but being physically assaulted, or worse, does happen at this event. This was honestly the main thing holding me back from returning for any further seasons. What I personally experienced this past year (2017) the final nail into the coffin for me. Although this does happen to many a scareactor, how they individually decide to deal with it is up to them. Just keep in mind that Universal Studios is an amazing company to work for, and they will treat you like family. They will be there for you for whatever comes your way as they want you to succeed in all aspects of your life.

I want to thank the readers of HHNU for their time, and their support to the scareacting community and Halloween Horror Nights. Your support means more than you know! We do see you, and we do love it when you return over and over again to the event. I also want to thank HHNU for approaching me to write this piece, and I look forward to seeing you all at Halloween Horror Nights 28!

What is Dead Exposure anyway?

A new haunted house has been announced for HHN28 today, and it’s actually a sequel of another house we HHN fanatics saw 10 whole years ago. So what was the first house like? What can guests expect if they never visited the first Dead Exposure haunted house? Let’s talk about that….

We Remember It Like It Was Yesterday

A few months over ten years ago now, we were getting ready to enter the house called “Dead Exposure” during the “Reflections of Fear” year  of Halloween Horror Nights, the year of Bloody Mary. We weren’t quite prepared for what was in store for us and how scary it was going to be. Imagine you’re a photographer, and you’re thrust into a pitch black environment completely populated by the undead, and your only source of light was your camera flash.

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That was Dead Exposure so many years ago. The pitch blackness was immeasurable, and we couldn’t see our own hands in front of our faces. The camera flashes were the only source of light throughout the entire house experience, and scareactors would scare the hell out of you in those brief moments of bright flash. Of course, once the light was out again, it was even harder to see because our eyes couldn’t adjust to the extreme change from light to dark. It was indeed a uniquely terrifying experience, and it just so happens that it’s coming back to catch us off guard again, ten years later.

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Watch a black and white, night vision walkthrough of the original 2008 house here:

Okay, So What About This New Sequel?

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The concept is the same, but the storyline is a bit different. I know I’ve been calling this house a sequel this whole time, but let me just confuse you here for a second. It’s really a prequel. This new house for 2018 will take us to Paris in 1982, right as the zombie outbreak is beginning. There’s a quarantine in effect for all those unaffected by the infection, and military personnel are administering a vaccination in an attempt to prevent the disease from spreading. This vaccination does have one side effect however; blindness.

You, Halloween Horror Nights guests, take the role of a vaccinated, blind survivor, and must make your way through the devastated city without the ability to see. You won’t be able to see a thing, but trust me when I say, they will be able to see you. Make your way through the pitch black darkness that is Dead Exposure: Patient Zero and see if you can survive.

Are your ready to brave your fear of the dark and enter the realm of Dead Exposure? Let us know in the comments!