Media Event Q&A

We had the privilege of attending this year’s opening night media party, and we had a great time. For those hardcore HHN fans, we have transcribed the Q&A session here for your reading pleasure. Grab some popcorn and get ready to get some great information on this year’s event.

Q: Besides the Academy of Villains [show], was there anything else affected by the hurricane, anything else that needs fixing up?

A: You know, we have minor cosmetic damage across the property. I think what’s wonderful about it is that storms pass and we [still] get the opportunity to give the guests the great event that we have. I think that honestly we, you know, all of our thoughts and prayers are definitely with everybody, but it’s also an opportunity to provide an escape for them, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes in a soundstage. So they can have A/C. (all laugh) If you want to see something uplifting, it’s amazing to see how all of the team members here at Universal came to help each other out personally with whatever they were effected by the storm, and then come together and get this event up and running, so [it’s an] amazing family to be a part of.

Q: If guests could choose only half of the houses, which ones would you suggest for them to go to?

A: The closest ones to them. (all laugh)

Counter Q: It’s like picking your favorite child, do each of you have your favorite house?

A: Yes, they are my children and I love them all equally. That’s the political answer, too, but I usually do have a favorite house, but it doesn’t occur until the end of the event, you know. I have favorite scenes, favorite houses, favorite moments as we go through, but I don’t have one yet for this year, cause I haven’t really seen everything yet, you know. I have to go through night after night and then really meet my kids and get to know them better. What’s also good about the event is that your favorite house is gonna be different than your favorite house is gonna be different than your favorite house.

We have got such a great slate of properties and original storytelling this year that everybody is gonna get something out of the event.

Whether something truly terrifying or really entertaining, it’s gonna happen, and I think that that’s one of the great hallmarks. Up to a point at the end of the event, yeah, we’re gonna have favorites, but as of right now, level playing field. Everything is game.

Q: Earlier you said the event itself is the icon essentially this year. Fans love their icons. Can you elaborate on that statement?

A: I think that Halloween Horror Nights is the festival itself. It gives us an opportunity to place an umbrella over the IPs and over the original content, the scarezones, the shows. It shows that Halloween Horror Nights in and of itself is bigger than anything we would bring or put into the park. Halloween Horror Nights is an institution. We are on our 27th year and it’s only going to grow from here. And so I think that it is iconic of us to be able to take on that mantle. You know, years ago we had festival of the dead that ran as a parade through the park, and I think that calling upon that as kind of an homage is also part of what makes this year iconic in nature. It also gives the opportunity, here in the scarezones, is to create apex predators in each zone. Instead of having this one icon, we have got Sam hanging out in Trick R Treat, we got alien scientists out in Invasion, we have got our bone reaper that hangs out in festival of the deadliest so, it opens up the ability to get these main predators in each area.

Q: What kind of steps did it take for you to secure the rights to have The Shining be part of the Halloween Horror Nights family?

A: Most of it had to do with begging, pleading, crying, chanting, and some phone calls. It was a long process. Much like other mazes that we brought in the past, whether it be American Werewolf in London, Exorcist, Halloween; those are things that as fans, we have been seeking for years, and things just happened to work out this year that we were able to work with our partners and were able to secure that. It’s actually a very fortunate thing and we are all very excited for you guys to go and do that [house].

Q: The Shining is very psychological, so what was your biggest challenge in trying to convert that into a house that we could experience?

A: That is an awesome question, and that’s what we asked ourselves on day 1. Stanley Kubrick takes this huge Overlook Hotel, but he is doing it from a claustrophobic view when you watch it, and I think that’s what we decided to tackle first; the idea of expanse, but also feeling claustrophobic. So we checked the boxes, moments that you want to see, which I think are very important, but also our design team did an amazing job of giving you tight corridors while at the same time giving height. Sometimes height can imply more of a massive structure, so there’s alot of implication that really sells in the house. Kudos to our design team who did an amazing job with that. Thematically when you walk through the maze, you are observing as that individual who is going through the process of having The Shining and being attacked by the Overlook, which is something that Kubrick does such an amazing job of, that you go along Jack’s path.

Jack’s course that he has throughout the film, you are going through that entire process as you travel from the beginning to the end of the maze.

Q: So you got the Blumhouse, and you’re showing a sneak peek of the upcoming Insidious. You’ve got Jigsaw. Has it gotten easier working with other studios that have active upcoming properties as far as this is what we are going to do, this is how we are going to have your upcoming project without spoiling anything. Like working with Walking dead previously, you have been working with Horror Story throughout the seasons, has it been easier to work with these studios in bringing these things to life?

A: I think there is a level of trust that has been harbored. I can easily say that there is a hard earned trust. There is an established trust now that they know where to take care of their kids, you know what I mean?

We take alot of care in trying to represent the best we can their properties and I think there is a growing trust between us and those studios.

Plus it’s really fun, cause sometimes we see scripts before everybody else, and we see screenings before anybody else, and it’s really really fun.

Q: As a first timer from Atlanta, have you ever been told you went a little bit too far, and what do you have to say about that?

A: Everything is subjective, right? You’d be surprised. Sometimes something would go on like “oh I hope this isn’t going overboard” but everybody ends up loving it. You never know, life and art is subjective, so you never know what’s gonna come your way. There’s also the opportunity for us if there’s something we want to have work, it might be physically impossible because we might not know how to do it yet, but we will figure it out.

If we care enough we will go down that path and we will figure it out.

I think between us we put everything on the table. We absolutely have conversations and then we edit from there, but we always put everything on the table. So I think if we say “that’s too far” then that’s WAY too far (all laugh)

Q: With all of the work that goes into the detail and stuff on the scarezones and the houses, are there any easter eggs that you would want us, the fans, to keep an eye out for?

A: For the scarezones, Trick R Treat in Central Park, when you pass through and first look, it may appear that is sort of the party at the beginning of the film and the neighborhood where the trick or treating is happening, but if you really pay attention to all of the detail, the little easter eggs that are dropped in, you will see this fever dream of the story of Trick R Treat. It is all laid out for you, all of the pieces of the story is there. I’ll bring up Dead Waters because it’s based off the scarezone from that street, if you saw the shack in the street scarezone, you would have noticed alot of the decor, we have taken very specific care in selecting different pieces from that. So if you have photos from that year, you may be able to find some of those pieces existing in the house also. I have mentioned this morning, one of my favorite authors is an easter egg represented in the house as a zombie.

Q: How many people do you expect to come through this year? We like to give information to our followers and subscribers about how to make an experience better, so are there specific days or dates that we can share with them that might be a little less crowded? Any tidbits that you would have for people as they are walking the park as far as making the most of their experience or how they should spend their time?

A: Okay, number 1) Alot (all laugh) Number 2) We are doing more nights than ever before, so there’s alot of different choices. And number 3) Don’t pass up the opportunity to go to the bathroom. And wear comfortable shoes. Alot of times we walk through and there is somebody dressed gorgeous and they got their toes sticking out of their expensive shoes.

I’m like “Man, come and sweat in tennis shoes,” you know? Just be comfortable. Just come to hike around, have a good time, and party.

When I was asked tips on how to avoid the scares, you can’t. There’s nowhere that’s safe except bathrooms. We are not legally allowed……yet.

Q: Eli Roth directed one of the commercials for this year and I was wondering, can we expect him to have more involvement in the future in terms of IPs?

A: What I can say is that Halloween Horror Nights is an ever changing event. There is always going to be changes in attractions, whether people want them or not. Because of that, we are never gonna stop looking for people to work with, or groups of people to work with, or companies to work with, licensed piece of art or installments to be able to partner with in order to create to greatest event that we can possibly can for our guests, year in and year out. You dropped his name as far as the commercial is concerned. Wasn’t that a great commercial? And did you see the director’s cut, too? That was awesome. It was fantastic, and I think what that also does is it also points out the fact that Horror Nights 2017 is a party. It is a festival. You have no choice but to enjoy yourselves as somebody who, when people gets scared around you, everybody laughs. That is the first thing that happens when anybody gets scared, they scream and either they laugh or somebody else laughs. It’s a wonderful thing, it’s a positive thing. I also think that, with Eli Roth if you watch the director’s cut version, from all of us, my favorite thing to see, like we were talking earlier about Halloween Horror Nights itself being so iconic, is to have Eli Roth say, you know, here is a master of horror films who is a fan of Horror Nights himself. Whoooo, that was amazing. I was so happy when I saw that.

Q: How often do you guys monitor, randomly walk through and just kind of make sure that your vision is still being undertaken?

A: All night long. Every night. Every house, every street zone, we are constantly roaming. We also have performance coordinators with us assisting us so we are constantly walking through the entire event. And we practice what we preach, we all go by and wear our comfy shoes right when the event starts that we wear out by the end.

Q: Since this is the last year for Bill and Ted, what are you doing to send it off in style? I’m also curious to hear why is this the last year for Bill and Ted and for next year, will there be anything else replacing it?

A: Okay, I’m gonna work backwards here. C) Can’t talk about it. C) Are we doing anything special? Yes. You’re gonna have to go see the show. And then A) Why is it the last year for Bill and Ted? I think that to my answer earlier is that we are an ever changing event and it is subjective for sure.

People are gonna have a different opinion and it’s going to become a debate topic over whether or not Bill and Ted should stay with 28 and 29 and 30, but I think that if we are doing, I think we give our guests a huge disservice if we don’t constantly evolve and elevate this event and change it year in, year out.

I think that’s what you’re seeing; different parts come and go. I think it’s a great opportunity for guests to experience a different, new, and revitalized event.

Five Favorite Scarezones

One of my favorite aspects of Halloween Horror Nights year after year is the event’s uncanny ability to make me feel as if I’m fully immersed in another world. When at its best, HHN can make me feel scared and make my own experience seem unique and exclusive even when I’m walking through a scarezone surrounded by dozens upon dozens of fellow park goers.

Here at HHNU, we give a lot of time and focus to our favorite houses and the haunts we hope to see in the future, but I’d like to point the spotlight on the horror that happens on the streets of the event each year with some of my personal favorite scarezones in my years attending Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN 17-26).

War of the Living Dead (HHN 19)


Ever played “Zombies” in Call of Duty and thought, “…I want to go to there”? If so, this scarezone from the 2009 event was as close as you were going to get without an X-Box Live subscription. Uniformed members of the undead littered the streets of a war-torn town, the sounds of artillery fire and a flurry of bullets buzzing through the air, dense gun smoke and fog obscuring your view, and to top it all off – literally – a zombie on a high turret firing shells (blanks, of course) at passersby below. I recall being aimed at directly, being fired upon, playing along and reacting to the gunfire, and then getting a thumbs-up from my attacker up top. Needless to say, I walked through this scarezone a few times throughout the night.


Zombie Gras (HHN 20)


While this wasn’t a particularly impressive scarezone in terms of set decoration, this area definitely excelled with its combination of both a festive and fearful atmosphere. This colorful and macabre zone was especially memorable because scareactors would lure guests towards them with Mardi Gras beads, dropping a shiny necklace on the floor and enticing brave guests to pick them up. If you were one of the lucky ones and made a quick dash towards the actor’s feet, you could grab the beads, escape with your life, and with a free souvenir. I’ve still got my beads.

The Purge (HHN 24)

See you at Finnegan’s.

This is perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had in a scarezone. I won’t say that I was in a completely lucid state-of-mind after a few Dirty Shirleys, but this zone – modeled after The Purge: Anarchy – lived up to it’s name: the streets of New York were nothing but pure anarchy and chaos. Scareactors roamed the streets celebrating the annual Purge, trashed dumpsters and propaganda signs announced the event, and a white truck with a mounted Gatling gun rode by looking for fresh victims. The chaos would only stop when a live demonstration would take place featuring the New Founding Fathers from the film.

All-Nite Die-In – Double Feature (HHN 25)


It’s always a thrill to meet your favorite celebrities, and my favorites happen to be famous monsters. Like Zombie Gras, this scarezone lacked any real decorations or sets, but I had a blast simply because I was able to see and take some pictures with my favorite Universal Monsters. And before you ask, yes, I did follow the rules for taking pictures of scareactors: ask politely, wait for the actor to agree and pose, and be quick. What made this scarezone special was the two sets of characters roaming the area depending on the time of day. Early in the evening, the San Francisco/Disaster area would be flooded with the aforementioned Universal Monsters – Frankenstein’s Monster, the Bride, The Invisible Man, and even a Count Orloc from the original 1922 Nosferatu – all dressed and painted in black and white to reflect their silver screen origins. Later in the evening, they would be replaced by full-color monsters of the modern age like Freddy Krueger and Chucky.

Dead Man’s Wharf (HHN 26)


My love for this scarezone from last year’s event has everything to do with my love of the Bioshock video game series. With blue, green, and purple strobe lights giving the illusion of being underwater and bloated zombified scuba divers right out of the 1930s (not unlike the “Big Daddy” from the Bioshock series), enough can’t be said about the stunning architecture and ambiance of Dead Man’s Wharf. While the San Francisco-set scarezone did suffer from overcrowding, the claustrophobic location coupled with the exceptional attention to detail made the area feel more akin to an outdoor house than an actual scarezone.

As is the case with every house, no two guests have the same experience in a scarezone. Were you bored by The Purge at HHN 25? What’s the best scarezone experience you’ve ever had? Please let us know and share some of your best scare zone photos!


The Best House We’ll Never See

I had the amazing pleasure last year of interviewing Universal Orlando’s HHN Supremo Mike Aiello on (click here to listen now). We asked him directly, “what is the best house that we’ll never see”, his response: Doctor Who. And I for one fully agree with this idea, a house based on this IP would be amazing, so here’s why:

  1. Back Catalogue

Doctor Who started in 1963 and has been almost consistency going strong ever since.  It disappeared from our screens in the late 1980s, reappeared for a Fox TV movie in the mid 1990s but it wasn’t until 2005 when it came back with a vengeance. And despite being away from our screens for a few years, the output of official and unofficial audio plays, books, graphic novels, documentaries and conventions saw no sign of pausing.

That’s why this 50 year+ catalogue of content has more monsters, ghouls, worlds, villains and heroes to explore that would all be perfect for a haunted house concept.  And can you hand on heart say it wouldn’t be awesome to be chased by a Dalek or a Cyberman?


2. Fans

Doctor Who has fans all around the globe.  Concentrated perhaps in the UK the show is annually sold to over 75 countries with strong viewing figures in the US, Canada and Australia.

The dynamic of having a popular sci-fi show come to HHN is something new and like the cross-section of IPs that Universal currently offers, it draws people from other fandoms through Universal’s gates – which is exactly what DW would do.

3. Story

Doctor Who has had 12 actors play the part of Gallifreyan Time Lord (well 14 if you include the War Doctor and Peter Cushing) since 1963.  Along the years the stories have morphed from the ‘monster of the week’ to epics tales of pathos or social commentary.  Along the way the viewers of the show have been to spectacular environs, to deathly planets, to the dinosaur period or the Victorian and back again.

The beauty of the show is that it can never end as the actor who plays the part passes the baton on to the next but in doing so passes on one crucial story rule: the Doctor can go anywhere and at anytime.  That basis alone allows any HHN designer the remit to set any house wherever they like and with whatever they like.


So why has Doctor Who never appeared at HHN?

Mike within the interview gave the impression that is might be impossible but did not give specifics – nor should he.  IP negotiations are a delicate process that in the case of The Exorcist may take decades or as with the The Shining will take just over 10 years to agree.  So with these in the bag, maybe Universal need a new White Whale to slay…

Doctor Who is not an outright impossible target to get for HHN, in at least, Universal are the kings of IP management, their handling of say some of the most iconic brands (Harry Potter, Seuss, Marvel, Nintendo etc) shows that Universal knows how to form worthwhile partnerships to bring these screen characters to life, in only a way that Universal knows how.  So although we could speculate as to the whys and ifs, it’s a fruitless task.  We can however be hopeful as the Doctor is a recognizable brand with a strong fan following that although may never appear at HHN he will be popping up at other theme parks relatively soon in time and space.

And you never know – people once upon a time thought that seeing The Shining at HHN was impossible.  Unlike all their competitors, Universal is the King of this process and with their creativity and management abound, it could happen, as the Doctor would say…


Would you love to see Doctor Who at HHN?

What other ‘impossible’ brands would you love to see at HHN?

Let us know in the comments!

A Farewell to Bates Motel

Tonight marks the end of A&E’s surprise hit Bates Motel, a show that upon announcement may not have sounded like a great idea (didn’t we already learn that you shouldn’t remake Psycho?), but ultimately proved naysayers wrong with five seasons of solid drama and a unique place in television history, proving that with the right amount of care and passion for the source material, and a talented team behind the project, any idea could be worth a shot.

Now, I won’t go into a whole history of how or why Bates Motel came into fruition. For those full details please check out our very own Chris Ripley’s book, Psychos: The Story of the Psycho Film Franchise. What does interest me is that around the time Bates Motel first premiered, it carried a lot of baggage, which should’ve led to instant failure. Not only was the show yet another remake of Psycho, a franchise that was seemingly dead after the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake, but the show also premiered during a period of time where television networks were developing a number of shows – to varying levels of success – that were either adaptations of classic movies (Fargo, Parenthood), re-imaginings of horror properties (From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series, Rosemary’s Baby), or modern-day retellings of either (Sleepy Hollow, The Exorcist). Bates Motel falls into ALL THREE categories.

Despite the baggage, Bates Motel premiered on March 18th, 2013 on A&E. The show was a surprise hit, maintaining an audience of approximately 2.70 million viewers in its first season. A respectable amount for a scripted drama on a network primarily known for its biographies and reality programming.


But why does the show work? Sure, name recognition and general curiosity might get an audience to check out the pilot, but where many new shows oftentimes suffer a drastic dip in ratings from the first to second episode, what made that audience come back week after week for five years? The answer, I think, is that the show is more than just a rehash of the films that came before it, and the quality of the performances are of the highest caliber.

Being the latest remake to Psycho is no easy feat, but expanding that story into a long-form narrative with multiple new plot threads, new original characters, while still remaining faithful to the original material (both the Hitchcock film and the novel) is damn near impossible. Bates Motel did the smart move of being both a respectable remake while also expanding the mythology and creating characters that were more than just disposable puppets waiting to be killed off. And while not every new character and plot thread was a home run (Bradley’s return, the marijuana farm subplot), the show always did of good job of righting itself and rewarding viewers who stuck with the series.

That’s not to say that all the adjustments on the show were the result of course correction. In fact, one of the best decisions Bates Motel made was in realizing what a captivating actor Nestor Carbonell (“Sheriff Romero”) was, a fact that fans of the television series Lost or Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight may already know. This is evident in the show promoting Carbonell from a supporting player to a series regular at the start of the second season.


Speaking of the performances, there would be no Bates Motel without the lead players: Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother, Norma. Amidst the multiple plot lines, the show’s main through line and primary narrative has always been the exploration of the relationship between the mother and son Bates and how that relationship yields the birth of a psychopath. That story and those characters, especially Norman, would be tough rolls to embody, especially considering the role was arguably already played to perfection with Anthony Perkins’ portrayal in the original Hitchcock film. Speaking as a fan of the film and Perkins’ performance, I was won over by Highmore’s performance fairly quickly. As a young child actor, Freddie Highmore was no stranger to giving great performances, having starred alongside Johnny Depp in both Finding Neverland and Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The innocence displayed in those two performances, specifically, were a perfect fit for Highmore’s interpretation of Norman Bates, a character who appears as a mild-mannered and collected innocent young man on the outside, but a monster with a bloodlust on the inside.


Vera Farmiga’s Norma Bates is equally complex, and Farmiga clearly has a blast playing a role and bringing to life a part that was originally only portrayed as a skeleton in the Hitchcock film. Her Norma is equal parts haunting, sympathetic, funny, sexy, and absolutely terrifying, and Farmiga captures all aspects of the character with nary a misstep.


What Bates Motel proved is that just because a movie is a classic doesn’t mean that it’s untouchable. Psycho was a landmark picture in the history of film, but in the current state of remakes and re-imaginings, it may not always be a terrible idea to go back to the well. Sure, oftentimes these revisits don’t work. For every Dawn of the Dead (2004), we get about fifty Red Dawns (2012). But sometimes, when made with the best of intentions and with a clear purpose and direction, you can breathe new life into an existing property. And if you’re successful, you’ll make audiences want to check out the original property. So pick up a copy of the novel Psycho by Robert Bloch, watch the Hitchcock original, and tune in to A&E tonight at 10pm for the series finale of Bates Motel. Will Norman kill again? I doubt it. Why, he wouldn’t even hurt a fly.

Bates Motel’s first four seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix.


Top 4 Best Legends Never Seen at HHN

We at HHNU delve into the history and rumors of the IP houses all too often and we never seem to put too much thought into the original houses that Orlando’s HHN event does so well.  So for our article today we thought that we’d look at the 4 best legends never seen at HHN that would make great houses!


1. The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp

“I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me. It was about 25 yards away and I saw red eyes glowing. I ran into the car and as I locked it, the thing grabbed the door handle. I could see him from the neck down – the three big fingers, long black nails and green rough skin. It was strong and angry. I looked in my mirror and saw a blur of green running. I could see his toes and then he jumped on the roof of my car. I thought I heard a grunt and then I could see his fingers through the front windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”

The above is an actual police witness account that a one Christopher Davis made in 1988 about his encounter with the legendary Lizard Man of a Scape Ore Swamp.  Since then scores of sightings, property damage, vehicular damage and blurry footage has surfaced of this alleged bipedal lizard humanoid living in the swamps of South Carolina.

The contemporary setting, the swamps at night and the description of 7ft tall lizard men running around is just prime HHN material waiting to be used!


2. Jack the Ripper

Okay, so technically this idea has kinda been done with 2008’s Body Collectors: Collections of the Past where Bodycollectors are the real culprits for the famous Victorian murders and not some deranged psychopath, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t revisit this theme and present an actual Jack the Ripper house!

“One day men will look back and say I gave birth to the twentieth century…”

A direct quote from one of the infamous ‘Dear Boss’ letters that were sent to Old Scotland Yard and others during the height of the Ripper murders all signed off with ‘Jack the Ripper’.  So maybe Jack was right, he spawned the century that gave us Freddy, Jason, Michael, Bruce, Pin Head etc, so if that makes the Ripper the King of horror then perhaps he is due his own house?  And how cool would it be that like the original murders, guests have to figure out who the actual murderer was?  Even to this very day people are obsessed with these murders and creating a life-like Victorian street complete with ladies of the night, beggars, crooks and a maniac running rampant would be great fodder for HHN!


3. The Mothman

In West Virginia folklore, the Mothman is a legendary creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area of the state from around November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966, titled “Couples See Man-Sized Bird … Creature … Something”. The national press soon picked up the reports and helped spread the story across the country with numerous sightings since and even a Hollywood blockbuster being released in 2002.

Richard Gere movie aside, the monster could make for a great HHN house due to the use of cables.  In many past houses and scarezones, Universal have used scareactors on various rigs to scare guests from above.  How cool would it be to have a house where the monster is literally flying around the house from one scene to the other, whilst jump scares from below catch us off guard too?  It would be awesome!


4. Bigfoot

Many houses have come close but no houses to date have ever featured Bigfoot.  Which is kinda weird when you think about it, but hey a few have suggested him or replaced him with aliens such as in 2008’s Creatures!  We know Universal can build hyper detailed forest environments (or maybe turf out E.T.’s queue every night?) and have a 9ft tall beast lunging at guests in the thick dense forests could be epic.  Tales of this enormous beast go right back to the earlier pioneer days with sightings occurring to this very day which make this monster very relevant and prime material for a HHN house.

This blog post was written in connection with the Thinking Sideways Podcast, the greatest non-solving mystery podcast of them all.  All four of these legends have been featured on their show, heck they even had a Kubrick’s Shining episode (which is a must listen!).  So if you want to hear more about these mysteries we strongly recommend you look up their show here.

So what legends would you love to see at HHN? Let us know in the comments!


Guest Post: The effects of Nintendo on Universal & HHN

Today we have a guest blog by Brian Saeger of, checkout his awesome travel and theme parks blog, but in the meantime take it away Brian…

Universal Orlando Resort – One of America’s most popular and visited theme parks. People come from all over the world to enjoy the thrills of excitement and enjoyment of planning there vacations to immerse them in a world of escape from reality. Taking a flight on a Hippogriff or levitating in a floating chair on Forbidden Journey at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or teaming up and seeing your favorite Super Heroes at Super Hero Island at Islands of Adventure from the X-Men, Spider-Man, or Captain America as some examples.
However when it comes towards the fall season and the sun goes down, the park becomes a different kind of park and the vibe and atmosphere becomes totally different. What we are referring here is the most top voted and nominated Halloween event of the season of Halloween Horror Nights. This event is not just a simple some ordinary event, it’s where your living the horror and being part of your favorite intellectual property films and shows from the genre and is a multi-million dollar event and drawing in a ton of revenue for the park and hundreds of thousands of visitors too.

This event ranges towards other countries at other Universal Studios Parks & Resorts from Japan and Singapore too. Anyways that was a brief introduction if your not familiar with the event or the park in central Florida but, there is something to discuss even though it’s not on anyways minds as of right now and that is the partnership with Universal Creative Entertainment and the mega billion dollar-Japanese gaming franchise of Nintendo.
In this post we’ll be discussing the event of HHN and it’s new future challenger once it hits the park even though Nintendo will be coming towards Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. We’ll be focusing more on Orlando more in certain sections in affecting attractions, soundstages, scare zones, and more that the event plans and prepares well ahead of it’s schedule in the fall. So here’s a small breakdown of how Nintendo can affect that in those three points mentioned and “rumored” supposedly that Nintendo will come towards Universal Parks & Resorts some point around the Tokyo Olympic Summer Games in 2020.

Note: This is all just personal speculation and brainstorming ideas here and are all subject to change once ground breaks for the parks for Nintendo and this is all just guessing as a fun creative post for the future impact of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.


It’s not quite sure or likely of how much of the modification process will be affecting the soundstages since HHN utilizes and gets permission for licensed horror television shows and films to set it at a such highly professional quality production for these sets. Speculation we can think of here it may or may not affect towards the back end of the park versus of the main front end of the park where the bigger or aka “uber houses” take up a ton of space and for examples such as last year’s highly popular American Horror Story, The Exorcist, Krampus were used.
Currently this year, there will be a brand new attraction of Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon on April 6th, 2017 that replaced the storm chasing attraction-set show from the film of Twister: The Ride. It is that is near a soundstage that was used and also for you 90s kids out there, of Nickelodeon Studios that HHN used numerous times of past and fan favorite horror films and television shows. So it’s likely that Nintendo wouldn’t be the correct or ideal spot in affecting the main end of the park.
This is also where some of the non-intellectual properties or “original houses” and can be unfortunately being eliminated or relocated because of how much space the Nintendo expansion can be taking up. Last year’s original houses were “Tomb of The Ancients” and “Ghost Town: The Curse of Lighting Gulch” and around the time when 2020 comes those possible options would a Universal Creative decision if that would be the case.



Now the biggest candidate and selection of where the Nintendo expansion is speculating is the potential of replacing the kidzone play area and “rumored” the last opening day one attraction of Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Now we are not sure or how much space will be demolished once the gaming IP will taking over and from the reports if you have been reading online lately that this seems the “ideal” spot for this expansion.
However this expansion is going to come at bigger cost and more expensive then Diagon Alley from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2014 for a whopping cost of 40 billion yen in Japanese currency for Universal Studios Japan and for American USD currency of $351-more than $400 million dollars just for the average budget. Potential scheduling delays and over budget could affect the expansion but, we can’t predict if this will this will be for certain in the coming future in 2020.
Universal Creative Entertainment is working with in partnership with the gaming company’s creator of “Mario” and legendary game designer and producer, Shigeru Miyamoto and with president of Universal Creative Entertainment and recently appointed chairman vice president, Mark Woodbury to bring the gaming company to life for the parks.

The kidzone area consists of different children television and animated cartoon shows from Curious George, Barney the playful dinosaur, and others would be the victims that would be eliminated for the Nintendo take over.
Nintendo and Universal Studios came towards a mutual agreement in May 2015 and quote from the Universal Orlando Blog post that “The agreement brings two icons of entertainment together and represents a significant partnership for Nintendo as it expands the reach and popularity of its characters and intellectual property”.
Halloween Horror Nights has been a consisted and frequent number of 9 different IP and non-IP houses all around and the back end attractions of the park ranging from MIB: Alien Attack, The Simpsons: Springfield area, Diagon Alley, and the upcoming Fast & Furious: Supercharged opening up next year in 2018. It could be a chance and from what posted on December 17th 2016 for the houses around those attractions that quote:

“The addition last year of the new MIB tent that housed Chance’s house this year could always be on the cards, likewise, the same kind of building could be sourced and dotted somewhere else in the park. The soundstages, though bottlenecks, could also be used to house additional houses (subject to production requirements), though this would be tough, seeing how AHS had to use an empty soundstage to house it’s mammoth queue this year.”

It’s hard to stay this would be a definitive move to relocated or build additional soundstage since parks these days are buying up land or adding some sort brand new parking structure for these new immersive and themed expansion lands those there parks. The event is always improving and gradually getting bigger and better and better to raise the bar each year for there guests.

Scare Zones:

Universal Orlando has always been consisted of offering 4 different scare zones (or more) and surprisingly haven’t been any licensed zones from films or television shows in the last few years. One of last year’s most popular scare zones was “Vamp 55′” like a Lost Boys mixed with a The Outsiders 1950-1960s influenced type of zone. This is just a example we can take in a account and generally speaking there might be a slight altercation for the guest flow for the zones. Depending on the nights for the event and the crowd calendars that always consistently and frequently change and whenever Nintendo opens up that, it’s really honestly hard to say if the park would hit crowd capacity with a two in one deal of HHN and the expansion.

Nothing else can be said but, as mentioned in those two points up above that the zones may have a fair chance to be affected around the attractions and the crowd flow especially on weekend nights and sometimes weekday nights in which it it can get busy. If Universal Creative wanted too that they could shrink down a scare zone and have like small mini scare zones but, this wouldn’t probably happen since the scare actors would be all crammed into one spot and making there jobs not so easy and uncomfortable for them.


Now last thing we need to mentioned here is pricing for the event, annual passholders and for those who are Florida residents. Halloween Horror Nights 27 not too long ago got confirmed for this year for September 15th-November 4th, 2017 and tickets start at $69.99-$80.99 (varying different nights through out the season) a pop and not mention with package deals or even the “Frequent Fear” pass which gives you different options to go multiply HHN nights. Last year’s HHN was a 3% increase for general admission which were $104.99 including tax according towards the Orlando Informer or even with your annual pass discount if that’s accepted.
Also not to forget the “Stay and Scream” pass that can be added on towards your daytime ticket to experience Universal Orlando for your favorite attractions and experiences and “does not” have to used the same day during a night of Halloween Horror Nights. We also got to take the general admission for the park and the other factors that the park always changes there prices every year. Recently Universal Orlando increase there prices for a one-day ticket at $110 from $105 and park hopper towards Islands of Adventure at $165 from $155.

So if your just going towards the park by yourself and your looking at average about paying $200-$300 range with general admission and Halloween Horror Nights and package deals are offered if that’s the direction you want to take for your visit. So what are we trying to sum up here once Nintendo comes into play by 2020?
Basically with all these tier level prices for annual passholders that are or are not Florida residents or anyone coming out from out town that, Nintendo is guarantee or no doubt hike up those prices because the huge investment for the profit being more then Harry Potter will affect there paying guests.
4 years down the road in a estimate theory that Halloween Horror Nights could be probably in the upper $100 dollar range for a general admission ticket and general admission for the park would be slowly merging into towards the upper $200 or more range just get in the park for a simple one-day ticket. This is just all guessing and speculation here and take it as a grain of salt since this isn’t diffident or in the plans yet for the parks.
So anyways guys what you think of these points and do you agree that we’ll see more expensive prices and will affect those three points mentioned? Also, what is your dream or ideal list for what you wanna see at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights for licensed horror television or horror films?! Leave it down in the comments section below!

This is a guest blog post written by Brian Saeger for and is a freelance writer for his own blog over at about the themed entertainment and tourism industry. His blog is over a year old now since last year in April when it first launched and covers different aspects and themed entertainment from parks ranging from Disney, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and Universal Studios Parks & Resorts including Islands of Adventure.