So you decided to go to HHN in a group…

In my first post on HHN Unofficial, I want to focus on the pros and cons of making a trip to HHN a group activity. Attending with only two or even three additional people can be easy to deal with, but what happens when you have a group of five, six, or more?

Congrats, you just bought your ticket for HHN 27! You’re so excited that you post about it on social media and people are liking your status. It’s a great confidence boost until you start to see comments and texts rolling in from friends, family, and acquaintances who are also going…on the same day…and now they want to meet up with you. Maybe it’s that you have social anxiety, or you just hate having to host a get together where you could potentially split up, whatever it is, its scaring you more than any chainsaw could.

Never say, “I’ll be right back,” because you won’t. 

The first step to going in a group is accepting that YOU WILL SPLIT UP. This is one of the biggest cons of going in a group. You might agree to stick together before you enter through the turnstiles but inevitably, someone will decide they don’t want to go to that house or will want to eat something or they might run into other friends along the way.

The best way to deal with this, if you want to stay together, is to make a game plan to reconnect. Make sure you exchange phone numbers for texting and agree to meet up. Make sure you stay with at least one other person from the group in case your phone dies or you lose service.

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The walkway or courtyard of Bill and Ted are great places to gather your crew after you split.

Shows are perfect places to meet because once the show ends, everyone filters out into the same general area. Take Bill and Ted, for example. The show takes place at the Fear Factor stage. Ever since Amity moved out and Diagon Alley moved in, the area has been the perfect empty space, void of scareactors and lines, to gather your friends after splitting up. There are bathrooms, a water fountain, food and beer stands in this area as well, so you can keep everyone happy.

No one likes a line jumper.

But what if you want to meet up at a house? Well, the short answer to this is DON’T. The problem with houses are the lines. Plenty of people think “I can just skip the line and meet my friends”, but HHN security does not play well with people who decide to jump the line. The risk of getting expelled from the park is far too high to leave to Chance (see what I did there) so just DON’T. You may run into people who aren’t too keen on line jumpers in front of them, so even if you get past line security, you won’t fool these folks.

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Everyone else is waiting two hours, why can’t you?

If by some miracle all of you want to enter the same house (typically only happens for the first few houses of the night before you separate), enjoy! Play a game on your phone (if it doesn’t waste too much battery) or go over what houses you want to see. It’s the perfect place to create a game plan without wasting time in a scarezone and it will help you forget about the wait. *Hint* This is one of the biggest pros of groups!

Operation: Human Shield

Now, what happens when you enter a house? We all can see by the promotional photos that the typical set up is single file lines. The house attendants will advise you of this before you even get in. It’s safer for both the actors and the guests but as we all know, there’s going to be some crazy scary stuff and you will want to run.

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No one’s hanging on yet, but once you get into the house, you better hope you have your human shield.

The best idea here is to not make yourself one long, vulnerable line. Scareactors will descend on you like vultures and someone will break off and leave you to figuratively die. If you get scared easily, have two friends be human shields for you, one in front and one behind. Although you’ll still get a scare, you’ll have your buddies to push you along. If you are a brave one, be first in the line, that way you’ll see the scares ahead and can guide everyone through.

My friends are flakes, now what?

I know what you’re thinking, “this sounds great but what if my friends are supposed to meet me after Bill and Ted and they missed the show and now they’re in line for a house that has a wait time of 120 minutes, what do I do?” I won’t mince words here: ditch ‘em.

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With crowds like these, its easy to get separated.

Essentially, they did it to you first and if you have a one night only ticket, you don’t have time to wait for people to meet up with you if they aren’t going to be there in less than 10 minutes. By ditching, I don’t mean for the whole night, just for one house. The ultimate goal of a one-night ticket is to get as much in as you can, so if that means you have to stay apart for another two hours, so be it. Just make sure to adjust your meet up plan if you plan on staying together before the night ends.

You know what they say, if you set something free…

Remember, you WILL split up. Keeping that in mind will prevent frustration and will make you take stock in who you plan on going with. If you know you do not want to deal with organizing people, the alternative is splitting up at the start and meeting at houses that everyone wants to go to. Afterwards, you can meet at the exit on the way out, talk about what houses you saw and grab some late night grub at Citywalk. Just keep in mind, the point is to have a good time!

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Guaranteed way to not split up…

Buy a RIP tour ticket or grab yourselves an exclusive RIP tour with just your buddies – Universal will backdoor you into so many houses and attractions that you’ll never need to split up!  Tickets for RIP tours are not on sale yet, however, please see their official site for more information.

Have you visited HHN in a group of 5 or more?
Have you ever done a RIP tour?
Let us know your experience in the comments!

Guest Blog: My Favorite House at Halloween Horror Nights 26…

Guest Blog: This week we have Karen from the excellent UO Fan Guide who wants to talk about her FAV house for 2016, take it away Karen…

 

Before I begin talking about my favorite house at Halloween Horror Nights, I have a few confessions to make:

I love Universal Orlando. It is quite literally my favorite place on Earth. I visit every chance I get throughout the year and cry real tears nearly every time I leave. But until this year, I’ve never been to HHN.

Throughout 2016, I spent hours, or more accurately, months, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and reading everything I could about the event – partly because I don’t like to do anything without studying like I’m preparing to write a dissertation and partly because once I started learning about the event, I just didn’t want to stop. To say that I was excited about attending HHN 26 is a dramatic understatement.

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American Horror Story at HHN 26

When I read on HHNU that American Horror Story (AHS) was coming to HHN 26, I couldn’t believe my luck. AHS is one of my favorite television shows. I’ve seen every episode multiple times, and (feel free to sneer, laugh, or call me a nerd when you read this next bit) I’ve even read my fair share of AHS fan fiction in between seasons.

Of course, I wasn’t the only one who was thrilled about the prospect of one of TV’s most delightfully twisted shows coming to the theme park. Universal Studios’ creative director John Murdy called AHS the “No. 1 requested maze” among guests, and Universal Orlando Resort’s creative director Michael Aiello told Entertainment Weekly that AHS was at “the top of the list for many years.”

The appeal of AHS was hard to deny once HHN 26 started. On nearly every night of the event, the lines for the AHS house were longer than the lines for most, if not all, of the other houses. I truly enjoyed touring every house at HHN 26 and thought that they all had something fun and/or horrifying to offer. However, AHS was easily my favorite because it placed me into the show’s most memorable scenes and brought me face to face with quite a few of my favorite characters.

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It’s All Connected!

If you’re not familiar with AHS, the main thing that you should know is that it is an anthology series with six seasons under its belt and more on the way. Each season is a standalone story with a beginning, middle and end, but there are intertwining mythologies that connect some of the characters and the seasons to each other. For example, two of the characters, Pepper and Dr. Arden, appeared in both Asylum (season two) and Freak Show (season four). We also saw The Countess from Hotel (season six) seek out medical services from Dr. Charles Montgomery, the original owner of Murder House (season one). Montgomery was also the last name of one of the characters in Coven (season three), and that’s probably not a coincidence.

I won’t rattle off any more examples since the interconnectedness is fun to discover on your own and easy enough to seek out online if you’re interested in learning more. But I do think it is worth mentioning that Ryan Murphy, the creator of AHS, recently told The Hollywood Reporter that the connections will become increasingly evident and “explode in seasons seven and eight.” It will be interesting to see how this is represented at future HHN events.

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Fun Moments in the AHS House

When you think about the interconnectedness of the seasons, Universal’s decision to base their very first AHS house on multiple seasons (Murder House, Freak Show, and Hotel) makes sense. Personally, I think that squeezing three seasons into a single house was almost pushing it – after all, that’s a lot of material to cover – but it worked well enough.

The house was split into three sections, with each section focusing on one particular season of the show. Universal made several really good creative decisions to make the AHS house shine.

1.) They chose to populate each section with several of the most iconic scenes and sets from the show.

2.) They did a great job of recreating sets so that fans could clearly recognize the scene that was being represented.

3.) They cast people who actually looked (or were made up to look) like the characters from the show.

4.) They had the scareactors lip sync to real audio clips from the show.

As soon as you walked into the AHS house, you saw a projection of the TV show’s credits on a wall, which served as a sort of welcome. After that, it was one memorable scene after another.

Some of my favorite scenes from the Murder House section included the creepy basement laboratory of Dr. Charles Montgomery, who was standing by inhaling some of the ether meant for his patients, the smoldering children (Margaret and Angie), who were having a tea party at an exceptionally clean table that contrasted dramatically with their burnt skin, and the rubber man room, which was draped in red and filled with mannequins and a single scareactor, all dressed in rubber suits. My favorite Easter egg in the Murder House section was Tate Langdon’s library book. It was hard to spot, but a cool touch nevertheless.

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The Freak Show section of the AHS house was nicely themed. I especially enjoyed visiting the trailer of Ethel Darling (the Bearded Lady), which included all sorts of trinkets and books. I feel like there were Easter eggs to find in this trailer, but I had trouble picking anything out. What I did notice was a copy of a V.C. Andrews novel in a stack of books, which was a rather odd prop choice (seriously, why was that there?) Twisty the Clown’s murder bus was also a fun stop. It contained kids’ toys scattered among the clutter and a couple of nods to past HHN events (like the sack from Jack’s HHN 25 show) that even a newbie like me could recognize. The rest of the Freak Show section was rather gruesome, especially the scene where Elsa’s legs are being cut off, but it did a good job of reflecting various scenes and characters from the show.

The Hotel section of the AHS house featured a lot of strong character moments, from Queenie being stabbed in her bed to an appearance from The Countess and her children. But one of the best moments came near the end when you saw The Mattress Man, a decrepit and decaying ghoul, crawl out of the mattress he had been sewn into. When I took an RIP tour, this scene really shocked and scared the people who were not familiar with AHS, and I have a feeling it is the one scene that might have stuck with them the most.

After seeing what Universal did with AHS, I have to say that I really hope they continue to do AHS houses that represent the seasons that were excluded this year.

UO Fan Guide can be found at:
Instagram: @uofanguide
Did you enjoy AHS and would you be excited for it to return for #HHN27?

A Sincere Thank You From the HHNU Team

Well after months of speculation, teasing, and finally getting to live the event, Halloween Horror Nights 26 has come and gone. This year brought us unbelievable experiences, incredible houses, some of the most immersive and entertaining scare-zones, and of course more cherished memories of HHN passed.14938109_1479869852042081_8749950505396506563_n

I wanted to write this post as a thank you not only to Universal Studios for creating this event some 26 years ago, but to all of you who bring this event, its characters to life each year. As an administrator for the HHN Facebook fan page I get to see and talk with so many of the scare-actors for the event, and I love all of the characters each of you has created and made their own over the course of the season. I especially revel in how much you all love what you do! To scare on such a large scale is no easy task, and certainly not everyone can do what you do, but I am absolutely thankful for every scare and every ounce of sweat put into the event. img_0292

As much as those on the front lines are a huge part of HHN, I would be leaving out so many important people if I chose to stop there. A huge thank you needs to go to everyone at Universal Studios for the hard work they have put into the event this and every year. From Mike Aiello and everyone on his creative team to the A&D Department for the amazing treatments and scenes they have created. From Security, for keeping all the employees safe along with the couple hundred thousand guests who attended throughout the month, to the lighting, sound, and stage technicians that allow us to have a completely immersive experience.img_9561

To every employee at Universal Studios, both onstage and off, I want to say thank you. I grew up loving the idea of “riding the movies”; Halloween Horror Nights has always been my passion and it’s a dream to be a part of the event even just in a small way. Without all of you that make it happen every single night and every single year, my dream wouldn’t be possible. While many of you may be tired of the rushes and more so the drunks, I want to say never stop thinking that your job is crucial to every guest. It means so much more than you know, especially to those of us that have followed the event from the start.img_9483

Before I begin to ramble I will wrap myself up. Thank you to every single employee who had even the smallest to do with Halloween Horror Nights and every day operations at Universal. As a fellow theme park employee myself I understand how hard it can be while working, but what you do is creating a whole other world. By doing so, you allow people to escape and have fun. We here at the HHNU team want to personally thank every scare-actor that we had the privilege of seeing at the event,  and we wish all of you safe scaring in the many years to come. Stay tuned to HHNU for more updates throughout the year!

Journey into The Repository – Full SPOILER Walkthrough and Review

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2016 marks Halloween Horror Nights’ first foray into the increasingly popular realm of virtual reality (“VR”). The Repository is a brand-new interactive experience accessible through a premium add-on ticket marked at $50.00. The ticket can only be purchased by calling a phone number provided on the Halloween Horror Nights website speaking to a representative that will assist you in booking your reservation. Please note that you must also purchase a Halloween Horror Nights event ticket to participate in this unique experience.

Ever since The Repository was first announced back in August, there’s been much controversy surrounding the new experience. Most of the controversy is in regards to the steep price point. With the prices of general admission tickets and Express Passes already at an all-time high, is it worth shelling out an extra $50 for what is essentially one more haunted house? Personally, the idea seemed intriguing, I’ve never had any kind of VR interaction beyond a View Master, and in order to celebrate my 10th HHN anniversary, I figured I’d “reward” myself with something special. So, I was all in. But, like many others, I was still concerned with whether or not the money would be worth it. For $50, how long will this house be? And how exactly does the virtual reality work? When I called in mid-September to make my reservation, I asked the customer service agent these questions and was told to set aside 90 minutes altogether for the event: 30 minutes for the initial preparation including signing of safety waivers, and 60 minutes for the actual experience.

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Fast-forward to 6:00pm on Friday, October 21st. My buddy and I picked up our tickets at a Will-Call kiosk and were instructed to head over to the Blue Man Group area to check-in. After having our tickets scanned, we entered a large waiting room filled with maybe a dozen round tables where groups of eight were assigned to sit and wait. There was a bar off in the corner, a server going around the room taking drink orders, and on each table were waivers for everyone to sign and one folder containing multiple printed documents. The documents ranged from textbook pages to an article on the Philosopher’s Stone to an eBay auction for a camera that was used to photograph the dead. After approximately half an hour of signing our waivers, ordering some drinks, and chatting with the fantastic people we had the pleasure of sharing this experience with, everyone in our eight-person group was handed a lanyard (4 red and 4 yellow), and split into two groups of four based on our lanyard colors. One of the employees emphasized to make sure to pay attention to details and be very observant of our surroundings as anything could be a clue that would be crucial to solving the event’s final puzzle. My group of four (red lanyards) was summoned we were instructed to head over to an exit. And thus began our journey into The Repository…

Our fearful foursome was led into a dimly lit room filled wall-to-wall wooden shelves stocked with ancient artifacts. Think the haunted artifact room from The Conjuring series mixed with the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. A soldier in black riot gear stood in the corner of the room next to a podium and telephone. Then, from the darkness appeared our first scareactor. He was a professor of sorts and in a very convincing performance explained the general story, which involved keys and portals to other dimensions. I will say right off the bat that the best aspect of the entire experience was the interaction with the scareactors. Each performer stayed in character at all times and always had some kind of improvised response to any question or action I or any of my groupmates would make. Unlike the regular houses, the actors in The Repository are allowed to touch you and they used this freedom to great effect while never being invasive or crossing any inappropriate lines. At one point, the professor moved to one side of the room, looking away from us, and as I examined the contents of the table in front of us, my friend picked up a hand bell and rang it. The professor responded by yelling “Don’t ring the bells!” and came running back to chastise us for setting some kind of evil free. He grabbed my lanyard in frustration when suddenly a phone rang and the soldier answered the call.

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Our group was hurried into a small room made to look like an asylum cell. The guard told us to stay in the room, warned us not to touch anything, and assured us he’d be right back. He left the room, but not before noticing that the young woman in our group was crossing her arms because she was cold. “Rub your chest,” he said. “Your arms will take care of the rest.” He was clearly as big a fan of Batman Begins as I was.

From behind a pillar appeared another actor dressed in a hospital gown. He had long and greasy blond hair and spoke in whispers with the occasional outburst, which included a loud “Look at me!” clearly inspired by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. The inmate led us into another asylum room with writing covering the walls, a safe in the corner, and a locked wooden crate atop a table. He whispered something that only the girl in our group could hear and then came over to me and whispered, “Do her a favor and give her those numbers on the wall right over there.” He was pointing to a specific piece of the wall that read something along the lines of L50R70. I realized that it was a locker combination meaning I had to turn the dial left to one number and then right to another. After the first try, the locker opened revealing a small box containing a key. Using the key we opened the crate, revealing four cubes, each emitting a different colored light: red, blue, green, and yellow.

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Cubes in hand, our group was quickly shuffled away to another room designed to look like a high-tech laboratory. Our new chaperone was a no-nonsense woman who instructed us to gather around a metal table while she stood on the other side of it and tried to bring her lifeless colleague back to life. She explained the significance of the cubes, but not before yelling at us and telling my friend to spit out of his gum. Her colleague jolted to life for a second and fell on the floor. As she continued speaking to us, I experienced my one and only scare in The Repository when the presumed dead body grabbed me by the ankle and screamed in agony.

Another soldier burst into the lab and rushed us into the next room, grabbing me by the shirt collar so that I’d hurry. The concrete-walled room was empty. We were ordered to stand at different corners with our backs to the wall. A drill instructor explained our mission and prepared us for the VR portion of the experience. Finally! Our group was split into pairs. My partner and I were led to an adjacent square room approximately fifteen feet long on all sides and told to stand in the center back-to-back. We were fitted for our headsets and I will say, as someone who wears glasses, the headset was a bit tight and pressed my glasses into the bridge of my nose. As for our mission in the VR world, we were instructed to look for symbols and colors and remember the order we saw them in. The instructions were very vague and we weren’t exactly sure what kind of symbols to look out for. With my headset on, I was handed a wand and told that my cube was placed on the end of it, an image that was reflected in the VR world. As for the VR world itself, this is where the negatives begin.

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After a short countdown, my partner and I were “transported” to a library setting. With Playstation VR and Oculus Rift allowing players to see fully-realized beautifully-rendered environments, I was immediately shocked to see that the level of detail in The Repository’s VR world was no more impressive than the graphics of an early Playstation 2 video game. As you may recall, we were instructed early on to examine everything, as anything around us could be a clue to solve The Repository’s final puzzle. I recall being told specifically to look in books. I walked over to a bookshelf expecting to be able to interact with a book, but as I pointed my wand at it, the wand avatar simply went through the book and the shelf. Why would we be instructed specifically to look through the books, then transport us to a library packed wall-to-wall with books, and then not allow us to interact with anything? I turned to see a ghostly avatar that represented my partner in the room with me. Eventually, I noticed different brightly-colored symbols throughout the room and pointed my wand at them. I tried to remember the look of each symbol, but they were all pretty elaborate designs that looked very similar to each other.

After finding four or five symbols, the setting changed and we were warped onto a stone cliff in the night. Cold wind breezed past us and as my partner and I looked down at the floor and identified the same colorful symbols, pieces of the cliff started breaking away, shrinking our platform smaller and smaller until we were once again back-to-back. This short portion is where the VR was most effective because I clearly felt a sense of vertigo as I looked down over the edge of the cliff.

We were then transported to our third and final dimension: a graveyard. Once again, we looked around at the graves searching for more symbols, with the occasional poorly-rendered grim reaper appearing when I turned. I should’ve been scared, but I couldn’t get past how bad the visuals were. After finding all of the symbols, our headsets were removed and we were whisked away to the final room, rejoining our two other group members.

Let me take this moment to explain that for a house that was billed as a revolutionary VR experience, the entire VR portion lasted no more than five minutes. Not only was it short, but as I said before, the three short environments that we visited were poorly-rendered and offered very limited interaction no more immersive than an old point-and-click computer game. For $50 I was expecting a house set predominantly in a virtual reality landscape. But regardless, even if the philosophy was for the house act as a build-up allow for a short but sweet visit to the VR world, I would expect to be blown out of the water for those five minutes. With the software released for Playstation VR and Oculus Rift, we know the potential is there. This visit was definitely short, but unfortunately, it was anything but sweet, making it the weakest part of the experience as a whole.

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The final room was the setting of our final puzzle. Resembling something out of “Legends of the Hidden Temple”, we were told to find the two remaining cubes somewhere in the room and then match the six total cubes to six square pegs. The solution would be based on the colors and symbols we saw in the different dimensions. We were locked in the room and told we had three minutes to solve the puzzle. Needless to say, neither of the four of us had any clue what we were supposed to do. We found the two remaining cubes (purple and orange), but had no idea how to match them. We placed cubes randomly into slots and a trail of light told us if we we’d made the right choice (white light) or a poor choice (red light). With maybe 45 seconds remaining, I realized that we didn’t really need to know what to match, but rather just randomly place the cubes in the pegs until the white light glowed for that particular slot. With that logic, we quickly arranged the cubes until all six emitted a white light, triggering and a plume of fog and a light signaling our victory. Another soldier came into the room to congratulate our team and led us outside to the exit. We were given green stickers to place on our lanyards, signifying that we had made it through The Repository and successfully completed the puzzle at the end. If we’d failed, we would’ve been given a blue sticker. Basically, a participation ribbon.

Outside, there was another bar, some snacks for purchase, and one scareactor dressed as an inmate who hung out with us for a while, congratulated us on our win and eventually escorted us out into Halloween Horror Nights.

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And that was the end of The Repository. So was it worth it? I hate to say anything negative about HHN because it’s something so close to my heart and my favorite event to attend all year, but I can’t say in good conscience that The Repository was worth the $50 I paid. When I originally made my reservation, The Repository was inaccurately sold to me as a 60-minute VR house when in reality, the entire experience lasted no more than 25 minutes, with only a fifth of that being dedicated to the use of the virtual reality technology. At the very least, if the VR segment was impressive or more immersive, I might be more forgiving, but when the number one selling point of the house is the use of this new gimmick, then the gimmick needs to be extraordinary and memorable. The interaction with the scareactors was, again, the best aspect of the event, but it was still not enough to warrant such a high price tag.

Would I pay for a follow-up VR experience next year? As it stands, the answer is no. But could I be convinced otherwise? If the price is lowered, the length of the experience expanded, and the VR technology dramatically improved, I could see myself putting the headset back on and taking a trip into another dimension. I’d definitely take my glasses off this time.

Have you or anyone else you know experienced The Repository? If so, please give us your thoughts in the comments. Do you agree with me or am I completely mad?

-Freddy

Did Universal Just Secretly Announce A House for #HHN27!?

Did Universal Just Secretly Announce A House for #HHN27!?

Okay we admit, it is SUPER early to be talking HHN27 – especially as this year’s event hasn’t even finished yet!  But we have good reason, promise.  It seems Universal’s A&D department might have been playing a game with us HHN fans, a game that seems to be going back a long way!  Allow us to explain…

Halloween Horror Nights back when it started in the early 90s was an event that took a few months to organize.  Often, the crews who planned the event would look to start forming their ideas and designs around the late summer. Into the late 90s as the event grew in size it started to need far longer to plan, so 6 months was taken to get everything done.  Into the early 2000s and the event was planned from around 9 months ahead and in recent years the planning is anywhere from 12 months to 2 years – depending on the IP or technical ability to pull off the scares.

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Some IPs, such as The Exorcist for example, have been in negotiation and development for far longer (though the norm is 12 to 24 months).  This being said, A&D probably have 3 or 4 houses that are locked in and in development already for #HHN27.  Yes, these guys are the true undead as they never rest sleep!

So knowing how the event is planned – could A&D be teasing us with clues for the coming year inside the houses of this year?  If true, this could add a whole new level of excitement to the current slate of houses…

We have it from a variety of sources that Universal has an actual track record of hiding clues to the coming year’s houses inside the current year’s houses.  Clues have been hidden, where they can, in select houses pointing to the houses that would be coming for the following year.  So here’s a few of the past clues that we knew about (we’re sure there are many more):

  • In 2013’s Urban Legends: La Llorona there was a copy of the original Dracula novel placed on a shelf in the church scene, then in the following year of 2014 Universal presented Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood.
  • In 2014’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator located on one of the shelves in the scene with the first alien was a very Jason-esque looking hockey mask.  Skip forward to 2015 and Universal presented Freddy vs. Jason for the first time.
  • In 2015’s The Walking Dead house during the early scene within the house at the prison, there was a Sheriff’s hat placed at high level which for many, they expected this hat to belong to Rick Grimes (it was reasonably prominent within the scene).  However, on closer inspection the badge on the front was inscribed ‘Lightning Gulch’.  Skip forward to this year and Lightening Gulch returned for Ghost Town. [CONFIRMED FACT AS THIS IS CURRENTLY MENTIONED ON MOST BEHIND THE SCREAMS TOURS]

So these are just the clues that we have noted in previous years, we’re sure there are many more!  So this brings us onto this year…  Every year Universal places tonnes of Easter Eggs or cameos into the houses, it’s near impossible to find them all and indeed most of them are random or based on props at hand like Indiana Jones’ temple idol which has been in every house in the last 5 years or the bunny slippers in The Walking Dead that have been present for last 4 years – there’s scores of Easter Eggs!

So the ones we must be concerned about are the ones that are displayed within a reasonable location to see for the diehard fan and the ones that do not reference past or current houses (or any that reference non-horror related franchises, we’re looking at you Dr. Who’s Tardis!)  We also need to discount the amount of recycling of props and sets that Universal needs to do.  But right now there’s only one Easter Egg that stands out from the crowd…

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HHN Hollywood’s Krampus House

 

In the Krampus house towards the end of the house there’s a variety of model houses that are displayed within a number of snow globes.  This references the movie where the homes he has visited are displayed within a snow globe in his lair.  They houses are all made by the highly creative Ray Keim who is currently a consultant with Universal’s Art and Design Team.  Ray has worked on HHN for years and in his many years he has made a number of designs for house facades that you can download and make for yourself.  Click here to go to his site.  Literally most of the buildings inside these snow globes can be yours to make at home right now (including a few Disney ones too!).  Seriously, go check out his site, it’s awesome.

So which buildings are located in the snow globes?  They are:

  • Freddy’s house from Nightmare on Elm Street (seen in 2007 and 2015).
  • Halloween house (seen in 2014 and 2016)
  • Shadybrook Asylum (used a number of times)
  • The Skool House (2008)
  • Legendary Truth house (2010)
  • Caretaker’s house (2002 and 2003)
  • Boris Shuster’s Office (2008)
  • Psycho house (1993, 1994, 1999 and 2006)

There’s one more and this one has never been seen at Halloween Horror Nights before and that final building within one of the snow globes is…. The Amityville Horror. Could this franchise be coming to HHN27?  It surely stands out from the others placed within this room!

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Here’s a few reasons why this could be the case:

The franchise has a new sequel coming out in 2017 entitled Amityville: The Awakening which is being produced by Jason Blum who is the same guy that Universal worked with to create the past number of Purge and Insidious houses and scarezones on both coasts from last year and before.  He has also just worked with Universal on their latest horror offering Ouija: Origin of Evil which is currently being cross-promoted at HHN in Hollywood.  The snow globe can be seen below (photo taken on the tour before the photography ban was issued in week 2).

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And above all else, as Universal Orlando steamrolls into using more and more IPs at their event, they have never used this franchise for a single house, ever.  And for a franchise that has been going since 1979 and has 18 movies worth of materials to mine, it could be a safe bet that the franchise would sooner or later cross paths at HHN.

Whatever the answer, this sure brings a whole new dynamic to the event for the remaining nights!

So what do you think?  A cool fan theory or maybe something for #HHN27? Have you ever seen any past clues for future houses too?  We’d love to know on both!  So let us know in the comments…

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A Marvel Avenger Plus Others at #HHN26

Every year HHN gets bigger and better with people travelling from all over the world just to experience our humble halloween event and celebrities are no different (they’re people right?).  Hollywood gets their own massive influx of celebrities whom all work and live locally whereas you’d be forgiven for thinking that Orlando just pulls in Professional footballer players, golfers and the odd WWE Wrestler (like our buddy Scotty on ScareZone).

But you’d be wrong along with these living locally celebrities there’s also a bunch of Hollywood actors etc who regularly make their own HHN pilgrimage to the humid climbs of Orlando to experience our very special event, so here’s our top 7 celebrity spottings at Universal Orlando during HHN.

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Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

1. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake

Years before he was rocking out with Can’t Stop The Feeling and she was lighting up the Vegas skyline the pop powerhouses were a couple (man I feel old saying that).  Spears and Timberlake had both been linked since they were kids on  Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club and into the late 1990s, when Timberlake had taken over the world with N Sync and Spears was arguably one of the most famous pop performers on the planet. They started dating way back in 1999 but it was 2001 when HHN’s Eddie was the main icon (though was actually replaced by Jack), that the pop duo flew to Orlando to experience the thrills and chills of millennial HHN.  If this had been today I’m sure social media would have imploded…

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Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando

2. Richard Gere

Gere has been spotted by plucky HHN goers for many of the last few events and has been rumored to be visiting the event for much longer.  Gere who is no stranger to the Central Florida theme parks was also on hand during the opening weeks of Diagon Alley.  He is rumored to be a HUGE Universal Orlando fanboy.

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Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando

3. Ariana Grande

This native floridian and mega pop sensation has been visiting our Orlando event since she was a kid, and although she now resides in the City of Angels (where she has been visiting Hollywood’s event in the last couple of years), she always takes time out of her busy schedule to visit her home state and enjoy some Floridian horror (no not the humidity).

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Photo courtesy of mynews13.com

4. John Landis

What many of you will know is that John Landis has visited Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando for the opening night of his movie, An American Werewolf in London’s house in 2013 (and the subsequent re-run of the house in 2015). What many of you won’t know is that prior and since this house running in 2013 he has visited the event with his family for a great number of years.  He had a great hand in the creating of this house and an even bigger role which was rather contentious on the 2015 house (read more here). Landis, who not only has made iconic horror but has literally wrote the book on the genre, loves HHN at Orlando and will surely be a regular visitor for years to come.

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Photo by Matt Stroshane/Universal Orlando

5. Tippi Hedren

Okay so I wager some of you have just looked at your screens and said “who?”.  Well before we throw the internet at you let us inform for those that don’t know, Miss Hedren is THE Hitchcock blonde.  Not only is she one of only a few surviving actresses to work with the great master of suspense but she was also discovered and tutored personally by the man himself.  Only starring in two of his movies, though arguable her performance in The Birds is still one of the most iconic additions to the horror zeitgeist, she has (as far as we know) only visited Halloween Horror Nights once back in 2009.  The year that saw the likes of Chucky, The Wolfman, Jigsaw, Dracula (and the debut of The Usher) saw a vast number of Hollywood stars crossing the country to experience the horrors for themselves.  Which only leaves us with one final query, Mike – we know you read this so can we PLEASE have our Hitchcock house for #HHN27! 🙂  He Universal trolled us all below on this back in May this year…

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Photo courtesy of Universal Hollywood

6. The near WHOLE Walking Dead Cast

So we all know that The Walking Dead have been at HHN Orlando EVERY year since 2012 (though rumors we reported on say that this year is the final year to that run).  And every year and before during initial production, a number of the cast have been coming to the event to help promote it and to relax into the iconic HHN Orlando fog. The reason that vast numbers of the cast and crew (including TWD creator Greg Nicotero) have been visiting our event is due to the proximity of sets to Orlando.  Shot mostly over the state boarder in Georgia, the event is a nearby attraction that is very popular with this show’s company.  Our good friend and former HHN Creative Director James-Michael Roddy even guest starred on the show as a decomposed walker!  He has also wrote the introduction to our brand new book that can be found HERE.

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Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando

 7. Penn & Teller

The magical duo have been involved with HHN since the very beginning of event (they appeared in Hollywood’s first year); they’re also rumored to be HUGE HHN fans of both coasts! But it wasn’t until 2012’s Penn & Teller: New(kd) Las Vegas 3-D that the duo not only designed their own house but starred within it as scareactors for select nights. We rumored heavily back in February that the duo were in talks for #HHN26, which never came to fruition, but could they be back for #HHN27 or for some other attraction at Universal Orlando?  The talks are supposedly still happening…

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**Bonus addition** Scarlett Johansson

Though no photographic evidence exists, we have heard from a number of sources that the Black Widow herself visited HHN Orlando for the first time this year. Johansson like thousands of other guests experienced HHN for the first time this year and are sure to be regular future visitors.  Johansson visited in the first week of the event this year on an exclusive RIP tour.  She was in a group of 7 friends that visited under Universal’s radar and not for publicity reasons.  She supposedly posed for no photos and wore a grey hoodie the whole time.  She visited every house and many of the rides but did not catch any of the shows.  She was rumored to have said on the night that The Mummy ride and the Halloween 2 house were her favorite parts of the trip.

So have you spotted any celebrities at HHN Orlando? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear your stories!

If you’d love to see more stories from Halloween Horror Nights, then why not pickup the latest edition of the HHN Survivor’s Guide available from all good bookstore or right here at Amazon.com

HHN Prep Marathon

If you’re a disciple of Halloween Horror Nights, there’s a pretty good bet that you’re anywhere between a moderate-to-hardcore fan of all things horror, particularly of the film variety. Now, if you’re like me – equal parts column A and column B – your ideal HHN experience includes a healthy blend of both original houses and existing IPs. With just over half of this year’s haunts gaining inspiration from the worlds of film and television, there’s no better way to build up anticipation for this year’s (or any year’s) event than by having your very own Pre-HHN Prep Marathon.

Depending on how much time you’ve got to spare and how much viewing you want to do, this marathon list is split into three parts:

  • The Essentials – Obvious picks, but these choices are a must-see before stepping into this year’s event.
  • The Second Tier – Have a few more hours to spare? These are a few more flicks to get you hyped for this year’s HHN.
  • The All-Nighters – Calling in sick on Monday? Well, if you think sleep’s overrated, you can’t go wrong with these picks.

The Essentials

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The Exorcist (1973) – There’s no better place to start our marathon than with what many consider “the scariest movie of all time”. The Exorcist also happens to be the longest movie of the bunch, with the Director’s Cut clocking in at just about 132 minutes. For this viewing, you’ll want to catch the aforementioned Director’s Cut, as this is the only place you’ll see the famous “spider walk”, which is sure to be replicated in this year’s house. Note to first-timers: the opening 45 minutes are a slow crawl, but the payoff is definitely rewarding.

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Halloween II (1981) – Although not officially named after the film, this year’s Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield appears to be a direct adaptation of the sequel to the original Halloween. While the 1978 John Carpenter classic continues to be required viewing for many during the fall season, few are familiar with its sequel. It may not be as ground-breaking as the original, but it’s still a more-than-worthy follow-up and an essential watch before walking into Halloween Horror Nights.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – While there are a number of reboots and sequels in the franchise, this year’s house is based on the 1974 Tobe Hooper original. Therefore, this is the one to watch. Considered at the time as one of the most violent movies ever made, modern audiences will be surprised at just how bloodless and tame the film is by today’s standards.

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Krampus (2015) – How about some Christmas viewing for Halloween? From Michael Dougherty, the director of the underrated Trick-r-Treat (2007), Krampus is required viewing for anyone visiting Halloween Horror Nights this year. It’s a family comedy wrapped in a horror film sprinkled with equal parts Christmas cheer and, well, Halloween horror.

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American Horror Story (Pilot Episodes for Seasons 1, 4, and 5) – While our first (and surely not last) AHS house may possibly include bits from all five (now six) seasons of the FX series, the focus appears to be on the stories and characters seen in seasons one (Murder House), four (Freak Show), and five (Hotel). While viewing of all three full seasons is encouraged, it’s not required. All you need is a taste of the terror and HHN’s haunt will provide the full meal.

The Second Tier

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Halloween (1978) – It wouldn’t be Halloween without Halloween. Although it may seem like an obvious pick, make sure to pop this one in before watching Halloween II, as both films are set during the same day, with the sequel beginning exactly where the original ends.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) – This remake surely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I won’t even go so far as to say the film is “good”, but if this Michael Bay-produced reboot does anything right, it’s upping the ante in terms of gratuitous violence and bloodshed. If this movie doesn’t make you want to immediately go take a shower, I don’t know what will.

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The Walking Dead (Pilot Episode) – Rick without a beard. Pre-pubescent Carl. Remember Shane? Let’s go all the way back to where it all began for the AMC monster hit. All the way back to before we started referring to zombies as “walkers”.

The All-Nighters

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My Bloody Valentine (1981) – This one’s a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. Based on early reactions to HHN 26, the runaway sleeper success of this year’s event appears to be Tomb of the Ancients. Our very own “scottyrif” ranked it as his #1 house of the year. While not based on an existing IP, the first image that came to mind when researching the theme of the house was the killer miner from this 1981 film. In a nutshell, My Bloody Valentine is a slasher flick set in a small mining town featuring a central killer dressed in mining gear. I said it was a stretch.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) – Unlike Halloween II, this film has just about nothing to do with its original. This sequel, also directed by Tobe Hooper, is as disturbing as it is hilarious. Anyone who’s watched this one would probably agree that the less said the better. Anyone who HASN’T watched this should be prepared for a few “WTF” moments. I mean, just look at the poster!

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The Walking Dead (Season 1) – Now that we’ve watched the pilot, why not continue with the remaining five episodes of the first season of the AMC hit? To think, only six episodes were ordered for the first season to gauge whether or not the show would be a success.

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American Horror Story (Seasons 1, 4, and 5) – We’ve come this far, so why not add three more seasons of television to the marathon? I said they weren’t essential viewing, but if you’ve got the time, you can’t go wrong with the basis for this year’s American Horror Story house.

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Jaws (1975) – As one of the greatest movies of all time and the inspiration for one of the greatest theme park rides of all time, there’s no better way to end the night (or weekend, at this point) than with Universal history. With the Dead Man’s Wharf scare zone having a nautical haunted harbor theme, it’s not that far of a stretch to get feelings of nostalgia for the now absent classic Universal Studios ride. Besides, do you really need a reason to re-watch Jaws?

Anything missing from the list? What would you add? Feel free to let us know and happy viewing!

-Freddy

Roaming Hordes at HHN26

Last year saw the return of the roaming hordes around the park, all three of which wielding chainsaws. The hordes are to return this year, so let’s dive into what we will see terrorizing the streets this year. But first thing is first….

What is a roaming horde?

At Halloween Horror Nights, a roaming horde is a group of scareactors prowling the streets that are not listed on the map, and most of the time not even mentioned as being on the streets at all. The most infamous roaming horde is the “Chainsaw Drill Team,” wearing flannel shirts covered in blood, torn jeans, bandanas, and the classic orange and grey chainsaw. They have made their return many a time to horror nights over the years, and are practically a staple in the event’s history and lore. Not all roaming hordes carry chainsaws, but more often than not, they do.

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The Chainsaw Drill Team in their most classic appearance, dawning flannel shirts, denim jeans, and bandanas.
Over the years, the chainsaw drill team has seen a few make overs. From Army Bootcamps to tall men in trench coats with faces painted white with large spades, the chainsaw drill team has really evolved since their first appearance.

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The teams make for effective scares with their weapons of choice, and even occasionally chase guests when they’re scared enough. Trying to avoid these actors only make them more interested in terrifying you, so the last thing you should do is walk in a diagonal line attempting to avoid them. They can tell you’re afraid.

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The Chainsaw “Boot Camp” team

Their saws are loud, and they often swing them at guests feet and legs, and can occasionally be seen scratching them against the pavement, making a dreadful noise. Of course with any chainsaws seen at HHN, the chains have been removed, therefore making the weapons harmless. This doesn’t stop people from being terrified of them, though.

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The Escaped Female Convicts
The most recent makeover of the chainsaw drill team was at last year’s HHN25, which put them in clown outfits and set them loose in the Simpson’s “Springfield” area of the park. This troop was very successful and scared guests relentlessly.

HHN26 to have FOUR roaming hordes!

Many of our reliable sources have informed us that there will be roaming hordes at this year’s event, in fact there will be an astounding four of them all around the park, all of which carrying chainsaws! Let’s dive right into what characters these hordes will consist of, shall we?

Japanese Geishas

Japanese Geishas will be hiding in Sting Alley, which is an alleyway in the Manhattan area of the park.

For those that don’t know, a Geisha is a Japanese woman with white face paint and wearing a colorful kimono, considered to be beautiful within Japanese society. They are often seen with umbrellas or hand fans.

But we are talking about Halloween Horror Nights here. They most definitely won’t appear as nice and approachable as the photos above. The Geishas we are to see at HHN26 will be much more sinister, covered in blood, dawning weapons, and seeking vengeance. Something happened in these Geisha’s past, a betrayal of sorts, that caused them to become enraged and eager to kill.

Chainsaw Wielding Hillbillies

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These hillbillies gone mad will be found at the entrance of the Simpsons ride, wearing overalls, straw hats, and pieces of wheat in their teeth. They are eager to chop you up and feed you to their swine, so you better run!

Scarecrows

To be seen between the transformers ride and Mel’s Drive In, these scarecrows are tired of protecting the crops of their farmers, so much so that they have found themselves a handful of chainsaws and are looking for revenge on the humans that neglected to give them a brain!

Demented Cheerleaders

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Between Central Park and the Kwik-E-Mart in Springfield, these cheerleaders really let their popularity get to them! They can’t stand the thought of you having more friends than them, and they will make sure you learn your lesson with a swift swing of their saw’s blade!

Practically nowhere will be safe this year!

There have been a handful of Horror Nights seasons that claimed to have no safe areas, but this was never completely true, but with this year’s line up of an unheard of four roaming hordes, this year may be the first year where we can confidently say there will be no areas that you will feel safe.

Are you excited to see Geishas, cheerleaders, hillbillies, and scarecrows roaming the park this year?! Let us know in the comments!

 

Scarezone update 8/25!

Another update on the progress of scarezone decoration for you guys…..

We visited the park today to check out the scarezone props and set pieces as the days grow closer and closer to opening night. There isn’t much pulp to this article today, mostly photos. Enjoy!

Dead Man’s Wharf is Getting Very Decorated

The boat that we showed you guys a week ago is getting a crazy makeover and it is looking fantastic!

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In addition to all the new nautical decorations added to the shipwreck, they have also added barrels, nets, a lifeboat, crab traps, and lobster traps to the other end of the scarezone. Note that some of the pieces are covered in tarps. This means that under those tarps are dead bodies and gorey remains that can’t be shown to day guests due to their graphic nature.

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A Chance in Hell gets Stages

Evidence of the “A chance in Hell” scarezone are finally starting to pop up, currently in the form of four stages with red velvet curtains and a large dangling theater proscenium above. There are three stages on the Shrek 4-D side, and one on the Minion Mayhem side. We speculate that Chance herself may stand on one of these stages during the event. The proscenium is the same design as that of the logo for this year’s event.

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Survive Or Die: Apocalypse Recieves More Details

Lots more scrap metal, grapevines, and nets have been added throughout the Manhattan area for this scarezone, but the most notable is the decrepit car that we showed you guys a bit of last week. It now has even more vegetation in it, and even has a tree growing out of it’s moonroof!

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Besides the car receiving further treatment, many details have been added here and there to the two watchtowers and oxygen machine tower, like gas masks, amongst other things.

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First Signs of Vamp ’55 Scarezone Finally Appear

Banners for the parade in this scarezone have shown their face. The parade is for a local High School celebrating pride for their school and sports team, “The Suns.” Although they are literally the only thing added for the Vampire scarezone on Hollywood Boulevard, it’s more than nothing.

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Do you like how the scarezones are shaping up? Let us know in the comments here and on our Facebook page!

The Twisted Tales Of Fx’s Critically Acclaimed “American Horror Story” Franchise Comes To Life At HHN

 

One of the most horrifying and wickedly gruesome shows in television history is bleeding off the screen and into your nightmares.

American Horror Story, FX’s critically-acclaimed, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning television series that has terrorized viewers for five suspenseful installments, will come to life at “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, beginning Friday, September 16.

Three chapters of American Horror Story will haunt the nation’s best, most intense Halloween event in all-new frightening mazes. Guests will embark on a terrifying journey to become the next doomed residents of Murder House from Installment 1, tortured performers in the disturbing and twisted Freak Show from Installment 4, and victims of the otherworldly, death-dealing Hotel from Installment 5.

For the first time ever, guests will venture through Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking horror anthology, encountering a plethora of iconic scenes and memorable characters designed to jolt them to their very core. Twisted scenes from Murder House will unleash the evil spirits that possess the Harmon estate, spiraling guests through decades of the tortured dead who previously resided there. In Freak Show, guests will join a troupe of biological misfits in a sinister sideshow where they’ll be stalked by the murderous and deformed Twisty the Clown. Finally, guests will succumb to the warped desires of The Countess after checking in to the haunted Hotel Cortez, conceived from the beginning as a torture chamber for its customers.

“American Horror Story is one of the most disturbing television shows ever produced, and with such perverse storylines unfolding with each installment, Halloween Horror Nights is undoubtedly the only place that could create a living version of the nightmares that Ryan Murphy dreams up,” said John Murdy, Creative Director at Universal Studios Hollywood and Executive Producer of Halloween Horror Nights. “Plus, as a fan favorite, ‘American Horror Story’ has been the number one requested maze from our guests and we’re excited to let them know that we listened to them and are bringing ‘American Horror Story’ to life.”

“‘American Horror Story’ is engaging for so many reasons, one of them being the fantastic way each installment of the series reveals completely new characters and stories for its viewers,” said Michael Aiello, Director of Entertainment Creative Development for Universal Orlando Resort. “It’s that constant evolution that makes this popular series a perfect fit for Halloween Horror Nights – and we can’t wait for our guests to experience some of the horror they’ve seen on the show.”

“20th Century Fox Consumer Products is thrilled to team once again with Universal Studios to premiere visionary Ryan Murphy’s groundbreaking series, ‘American Horror Story’ through an all-new Halloween Horror Night maze,” said Greg Lombardo, SVP of Global Live and Location Based Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Consumer Products. “The attraction – which showcases multiple chapters from the acclaimed FX anthology – offers a chilling live-action thrill and simultaneously complements the series highly anticipated premiere on September 14th.”

Captivating – and shocking – viewers since its debut in 2011, “American Horror Story” has won 13 Emmys, two Golden Globes, four Critics’ Choice Awards and one People’s Choice Award. “American Horror Story” 6 begins September 14 on FX.

Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 25 years, guests from around the world have visited “Halloween Horror Nights” in Orlando and Hollywood to become victims inside their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing “scare-actors” lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on anything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.

Additional details about Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will be revealed soon. For more information about Halloween Horror Nights at either Universal Orlando Resort or Universal Studios Hollywood, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com.

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