Rumor: Here’s Johnny Again?

Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Twitter account posted the following strange message yesterday:

We know that pre-production for the event is in full swing and unlike the Orlando Twitter account, Hollywood likes to tease us fans with perfect timed, often incredibly difficult clues for us to try and unravel. Some clues are so impossible that they aren’t even solved to until after the event! And that’s exactly why this one is very strange, as it’s too easy! All three clues point to Kubrick’s The Shining. It was filmed in the late 70s, the carpet is very iconic, the wallpaper has been discussed at length to feature hidden messages (possibly about ancient Indian burial grounds etc) and as for Al Bowlly, well he has two songs that feature in this movie masterpiece.

BUT, for this early in the game, surely this has to be a huge red herring!? And then there’s Warner Bros, who last year kept all their properties for their own event in Burbank. So the likelihood of this property returning to HHN, combined with the fact that it featured only 2 years ago seems to make it unlikely to return. So it’s a puzzle wrapped in an enigma once more! Some people online are drawing conclusions that it could be linking to Netflix’s awesome new show The Haunting of Hill House but that’s a stretch from this one clue. HoHH is very popular, Netflix appear to be good partners of the event after the success of this year’s Stranger Things house and the show does borrow heavily from The Shining; but this is a huge leap right now! There is one possible clue that might throw water on The Shining speculation and that’s hidden in this later clue:

So to roundup, this first maze they’re working on is possibly linked to The Shining and it’s never been to HHN before…interesting times!

If we receive, see or hear anything further we’ll post it on HHNU, so keep your eyes peeled!  Until then, this is just speculation!

So what do you thank? Could it be The Haunting of Hill House or is The Shining returning? Let us know in the comments!

My Top Five Best ScareZone Episodes So Far

The ScareZone Podcast, HHNUnofficial’s sister podcast show has put out some great shows out over the last few years and some of the most highly downloaded episodes have been the interview shows.  With this in mind, I wanted to share with you my favorite shows for you to enjoy!  To listen to these shows now simply visit the Apple Podcast/iTunes app or listen now from the plugin below:

 

Here’s my list:

  1. Eileen Dietz

Eileen popped into the ScareZone Studio a couple of years ago to talk about her Hollywood career but to also discuss her roles in movie The Exorcist which had been a house presented at HHN26.  It was interesting hearing how she played both the Pazuzu (the main demon) and stand-in for Linda Blair.

  1. Leigh Whannell

The creator of SAW and many other iconic horror movies chatted to ScareZone in Episode 46.  He cited how he was literally thrown out of his own maze at HHN Hollywood and was humbled to hear that Chris Ripley thought his movie Dead Silence had made the greatest house ever at Orlando’s HHN.

  1. Gianni Garofalo (The Director)

Gianni was interviewed over a special two-part show (episodes 28 and 29) where he discussed becoming the iconic HHN icon The Director.  The other tales he told about the misadventures he and Dean Karr (the HHN commercials director) were also legendary and so funny; think Weekend at Bernie’s meets American Pie and they even featured a young Jennifer Aniston!

  1. James Keaton (Jack the Clown)

Our buddy James headed to the ScareZone Studio to recount his decades of service at Universal Studios Orlando bringing to life some of the most famous characters and monsters to ever grace the silver screen.  From Beetlejuice to The Grinch he’s played them all, but not forgetting everyone’s favorite icon Jack the Clown!

  1. Julie Zimmerman

Julie is to Halloween Horror Nights what Walt Disney is to Disneyland.  Right back in our very first full-length episode Julie came on to tell us all how it ‘all started with a rat!’

 

What’s your favorite episode of ScareZone?  Let us know in the comments!

 

UOAP Holder Sues Universal Over Historic Issue at HHN

An Universal Annual Passholder from Pasco County is suing Universal Orlando Resort, alleging injury caused due to negligence during Halloween Horror Nights.

The case has just been lodged with the Orange County Clerk but dates back to HHN24. Cast your minds back to HHN in 2014, that was the year of Aliens Vs Predator, Dollhouse of the Damned and the very first time the franchise of Halloween was presented at the event.

According to court files, Jessica Mattox Wilson filed a complaint back in October to the Court against Universal City Development Partners Ltd, who trade as Universal Orlando Resort, alleging that the event organizer of Halloween Horror Nights failed to keep its premises in a reasonably safe condition back on one night in 2014.

According to the complaint, she and others were attending the event on October 31st, 2014, where she Wilson tripped on a steel tree grate portion of the sidewalk, which subsequently collapsed. Wilson had apparently been invited to the event by Universal as a business invitee. Apparently, she and others were walking between houses when she decided to take a bathroom break. Walking to the nearest bathroom she crossed the sidewalk where a tree grate cover was located and the grate gave way, locking her foot into the grate and slamming her person onto the concrete below.

The suit says Wilson sustained “severe, extensive, and permanent bodily injuries, resulting in pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and expenses for hospitalization, medical, nursing, physical therapy care and treatment”. She alleges the tree grate was broken and that Universal have a duty of care to ensure maintenance of such items to prevent accidents. The plaintiff alleges Universal Orlando Resort failed to provide a safe place for its invitees due to this one tree grate and had failed to warn the plaintiff and others of the unsafe, defective and dangerous condition that it was in.

She alleges that her injuries were so bad that the UOAP passholder passes that her and her immediate family own have been wasted as none of them were able to use them for the rest of their respective durations. She is currently demanding a trial by jury and damages exceeding $15,000. She is also representing herself at court as the case is currently continuing.

We will bring you more information on this as we hear it…

For more information visit the Orange County Court Clerk’s Record Office.

HHN Secures First IP for HHN29

News came last night that Universal have apparently just locked in their first IP property for the 2019 edition of HHN.

Obviously, we’re not told yet what it is yet but it was teased via Universal’s John Murdy on the official Hollywood HHN handle on Twitter:

A nice and early property in the bag is great as now the idea can be worked on and developed in time for HHN29 / HHN2019.

But what could this property be? Rumors are swirling at the moment and many are speculating that after last year’s absence of Warner Bros and Fox properties at HHN that this trend could continue.

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Horror Made Here exclusively used properties from Warner Bros, New Line Cinema and DC to fill their streets and mazes

Why are these properties supposedly not in contention? Well it’s only speculation but last year Warner Bros held their own event, Horror Made Here in Burbank, California. Many commentators said at the time that perhaps they wanted to hold onto their own properties for exclusive use to really kick their new event off in style, plus HHN Hollywood is only a short car ride away. And as for Fox, well who knows what’s happening there, Disney are buying Fox and I’m sure they’d love their Central Florida competitors using their newly acquired properties…

So if we assume Warner Bros and Fox are off-the-table, what properties could be coming to HHN? There is one property that’s been speculated about for years and we know HHN takes years to secure the best properties!  We also know that the gentleman behind this franchise has a long association with HHN (read more here and here) and he

That property is rumored to be HellraiserHHNU first broke the rumors back in 2017 when a number of factors pointed to possible meetings being held to discuss the potential use of the franchise at HHN. To read our original article from Chris Ripley click HERE.

But there’s more clues… On the latest edition of Universal After Dark Chris Ripley, Boston White and the team discussed these clues and what it could mean for HHN29. Click HERE to listen now.

One of these clues we’ll share with you now…

Look closely at this recently posted photo by HHN’s Mike Aiello. Those DVDs are all in alphabetical order, except the ones at the end where we can assume are all ones that have been recently watched or maybe newly acquired (the tweet refers to this)… there sure are a few Hellraiser ones there! But surely this is just a coincidence right? Remember, everything is just a speculative rumor until Universal confirms the line-up next year!

But if you want to know the true identity of the property that’s just been secured you then need to watch this video!!  😆 😆 😆

So there you have it, a nice bit of early speculation to kick-off the beginning of the HHN rumor season. Are we right though? Let’s us know your thoughts and let us know which properties you’d love to see at HHN29!

Rumor: Are Universal Considering Bringing Back Bill & Ted?

We’ve heard some rumblings here at HHNU HQ that Universal might be considering bringing back the bodacious duo, Bill and Ted. Nothing concrete has cropped up, it is after all so very early but plans are always afoot for the next HHN…

The rumor seems to be springing from a few of our sources that say that although there are no current plans for them return, it does appear that they surely can’t be fully “off the table” just yet.

The rumors we have received in this regard over the last few weeks seem to have been given a small amount of credence by the fact that the annual HHN surveys have been released to all those that had signed up to them. And the interesting thing about this is that they pose the following interesting question:

In my mind the above question has a simple answer but truly they can’t be wholly compared, but it weird that this question should crop up right in the midst of these rumors. Personally, I can’t see them coming back, in at least the short term anyhow.

But there could be bad news for the fans that wanna see Bill and Ted back in the Fear Factor/Wild West Show Building as it appears the Fear Factor Show has again been put on hiatus. These were taken yesterday:

Could this be the beginning of the end for this show or could it be that this show building is about to go away for rumored further expansions?  Apparently, it closed in August for HHN28 and has never reopened…

On this and Bill and Ted we surely don’t know just yet but be sure to keep your eyes on HHNU as we bring you the latest news and rumors for HHN29.

Would you welcome the dudes back? Or do you think they should remain apart of the event’s past? Let us know!

Scooby-Doo Goes All Horror!

We all remember as kids watching Scooby-Doo and how each week some comedic caper would ensue but what would happen if Scoob’ and the gang instead of unmasking disgruntled fair ground owners and instead came face to face with some of horror’s greatest foes?  Well Travis Falligant has the answer!  Since 2014 he has been producing a series of mashups featuring the classic artwork of these beloved classic cartoons but with a modern horror twist.  And this year he has expanded his work to include many more horror icons, many of which featured at HHN28.

If you’re interested in his work he sells a number of different items via his official site HERE.

Below we have selected some of the best works that feature connections to HHN:

 

Why you need to be a UOAP (Annual Passholder) for HHN29!

We get a lot of people ask us at HHNU what are the top tips for HHN or how to pre-plan for the next HHN. And the list is vast but one of the best tips surely has to now be, to become an annual passholder. Here’s why we think this:

  • Exclusive access and early entries

For HHN28, UOAPers got early access on four select event nights and a specially dedicated entrance just for this (note: all of which had to be pre-booked).

  • Free nights

Premier Passholders got one night of Halloween Horror Nights included with their Annual Passes. Nights had to be specially chosen prior to the event but getting one free night is super awesome.

  • Exclusive deals on hotel stays

UOAPs get special deals with the onsite hotels that aren’t available to the general public.

  • Parking!!!

According to research we have undertaken, the average UOAPer goes to HHN some 12 nights. If you have the Preferred or Premier passes and drive to the event and want to park in the preferred spaces some 12 times that’s a total saving of $360! That’s a huge saving!

  • Even more discounts!!

Discounted HHN Tickets: Passholders saved up to $58 on select nights for 1-night tickets or Frequent Fear Passes, some 23 nights, for less than the price of one when you bought online.

R.I.P. Tour Discounts for Premier and Preferred Passholders saved 10%, and Power Passholders saved 5%; which is a lot as these tours can be expensive!

Preferred, Power and Seasonal Passholders got a 10% discount, while Premier Passholders enjoy a 15% discount on all food items on select nights at HHN28.

  • Free buttons

Okay, so this one is a bit tenuous but if you collect the UOAP buttons there was one released for HHN28 that was just for UOAPers. Likewise, there was a number of shirts and pins that were for passholders only.

Now these perks are always subject to change, and they might be totally different for HHN29 but we think it’s a good tip to be a passholder at Universal Orlando.

So it makes total sense! The best way to prep for HHN29 is to become a Universal Orlando Passholder! Click here to join now!

Are you a UOAPer? Did you manage to get big savings on HHN28? Let us know!

THE UPSIDE DOWN OPENS FOR ONE STRANGE DAY…

For the first time ever, Universal Orlando Resort will give guests the opportunity to brave an entire, fear-filled Halloween Horror Nights haunted house during the day, after the event has closed.

On November 6, the Upside Down will return to Universal Studios Florida as the incredibly-popular “Stranger Things” haunted house returns for one day to commemorate the anniversary of Will Byers’ disappearance in the critically-acclaimed Netflix series.

Guests will walk in the footsteps of Will as they encounter iconic scenes, characters and environments from the first season of the series – including the menacing Hawkins National Laboratory, the Byers home adorned with an erratic display of flashing Christmas lights and the predatory Demogorgon…which will stalk their every move.

Guests will also be able to enjoy foods and beverages inspired by Netflix’s “Stranger Things” at select locations within Universal Studios on November 6, including San Francisco Pastry Company, Beverly Hills Boulangerie and a special Benny’s Burgers food tent.

The “Stranger Things” haunted house will open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6, and access is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida or with an Annual or Seasonal Pass.  Passholders will also get access to the haunted house’s Express line by showing their valid pass at the entrance to the house.

The “Stranger Things” haunted house may be too intense for guests under 13. To purchase park tickets, including Annual Passes which are now available with up to six months FREE, visit www.universalorlando.com.

Why wasn’t the new Halloween (2018) movie included at HHN28? And is there a BIG hidden clue for HHN29?

It’s the one question we have been asked over and over: why was this global powerhouse of a movie, Halloween 2018, not included in the HHN28 line-up?  Officially, there is no answer as to why it is absent from the house line-up as for many years Universal has sort to use the event to cross-promote the main studio’s releases and being that this movie is a Universal release many commentators and fans wrongly assumed the picture would be included at HHN28.  So as to the reasoning behind the decision, we first have to look at what we got instead…

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We did get Michael Myers but not in his recent incarnation but in his 1988 edition of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which arguably is a better fit for the overarching 1980s theme that we have enjoyed at the event.  Fans have argued that this house must have been ‘quickly’ or ‘retroactively’ fitted into the Shrek Theater due to a supposed late decision to not have the new movie at HHN28.  This theory does not stack up and there are twofold possible reasons for this.  Firstly, the Shrek Theater is an awkward space to design a haunted house around, you have to keep most of the Shrek show elements in place as they were not designed to be readily removed.  You have to ensure whatever is built in there can be swiftly removed without much damage to the Shrek attraction and you then have to ensure that the house is struck pretty quickly to allow for the holiday crowds later on in the year.  All of which ensures that whatever house is designed for Shrek has to be properly designed and considered to fit these unique requirements.

The second point builds on this, as the house is presented in the Shrek Theater this by no means a rush job.  This is a house that was built with care and attention to detail.  HHN have had hastily built houses in the past whether they be from scratch such as HHN22’s House of Horrors or quickly retrofitted such as The Purge house from HHN25; this house is definitely not of these standards.  This is a successful house that not only packs the scares and faithfully tells the story of the movie but is also meets all of the requirements of the above.  Art and Design’s Patrick Braillard also told Bloody Disgusting that this house had been in production for a long time, so it would appear that Halloween 2018 was never really on the cards for HHN28.

So we can with some safety, assume that Halloween 4 was selected near the beginning of the design period along with the other houses we have enjoyed this year.  That said, why might the decision had been taken so early on to not included this horror smash hit at the event?

The new Halloween movie is currently being VERY successful.  It’s breaking records from the revenues it is driving for its genre and demographics.  These sorts of returns can be very precarious as the genre can be very unforgiving.  For as many horror movie successes there have been over the years there have also been lots of very misses that fall into obscurity and even some large franchise failures such as Universal’s own stalled franchise The Dark Universe.  Carefully placed marketing and strong hold on leaks would all be in order to ensure the movie would be a success (and for those that have seen it, there are several significant story twists that would ruin the movie if they were leaked ahead of time!).  Perhaps the need to keep secrecy of the script outweighed the desire to bring the movie to HHN28?

Apparently too, there were a number of delays in the production.  According to Bloody Disgusting, the production wrapped principle photography in February this year and then due to a number of slightly varying test screenings, the production decided to undertake a number of last minute reshoots in June and July.  This was compounded further as apparently the musical score was delayed as well.  As we can all appreciate, HHN is a year round occupation for USF’s busy Art and Design Team so it is likely that a production with principal photography as late as January 2018 would have meant that A&D would have nothing to work from to until the summer of 2018 which is way too late for them design their house; especially as Universal Orlando is seen as the best of the best in terms of working to create real world environments from popular movies – that’s something that cannot be rushed.  Perhaps USF didn’t feel this risk was worth pursuing, especially when you consider that Universal starts working on the coming year’s HHN some 12 to 18 months (or more) before the event begins!  So in order to maintain these world-class standards, designing a house for this movie in a matter of mere months probably wasn’t achievable.

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The final precedent we must consider is The Wolfman debacle of HHN19.  The Wolfman movie was supposed to be another attempt for Universal to re-energize their popular classic monsters franchise.  It was originally scheduled for release at the beginning of HHN19 and even run cross marketing trailers where HHN19 was publicized along with the movie.  However, this would not come to fruition as the movie’s production was besieged with delays which resulted in it missing the start of HHN19’s run which began on September 25 and the final movie would not be released until long after HHN19’s run in February of 2010.  HHN played no part in the movie’s delay or the subsequent fact that the movie by many accounts was a giant flop for the studio.  However, having the movie at HHN19 enabled everyone to attend the event and see the whole of the film’s story way before it would hit theaters.  As an aside, it is testament for the professionalism of USF’s Art and Design Team is such that this house is actually one of my many all-time favorite houses at HHN!  With the delays that have been seen for the Halloween production it would have been a risk to have the production made into a HHN when the movie was still actively in production and nobody would want another Wolfman.

Commercially, much of the past Halloween houses could be reused which is a bonus but the single largest issue that might have been for the house to come to HHN would be the release date.  HHN28 began on September 14 whereas the movie was not released until October 19.  In order to build that anticipation and to prevent the storyline leaks, it would hardly be a good decision for Universal to have the house open up on both coasts long before the movie is released in theaters.  Combine this with how successful HHN28 has been and how many additional people have crowded into the event, this could have seriously affected the release of the movie.  Plus changing the story of the house to omit the twists would just be a non-starting idea.

Then there’s this WEIRD Easter Egg…

We were informed at the HHNU HQ that there was this very strange occurrence within the picture that sheds some confusion on the above.  The below photo was sent in to us, so to investigate we had to go see the movie again to ensure.  So where is this strange addition?  Basically, at the very end of the credits, the very end, the screens goes dark and you start to hear Michael Myers begin breathing behind his mask.  The kind of breathing that would suggest he has stopped breathing before and has now been reawakened – right when this audio plays to the audience the below Universal Parks and Resort logo appears.  Is this Easter egg suggesting that Myers will return for another movie?  Or as it appears over the Universal Parks and Resorts logo is it suggesting that Myers will return but only HHN29?  Nobody knows for sure, but with the phenomenal success of the new Halloween movie there must be active discussions going on right now to finally bring this awesome movie to the next HHN!

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You have to wait right to end to see this Easter egg!  Photo courtsey of Phil McD

 

The same logo can be seen below on the official HHN website…

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What would you like to see at HHN29?  Do you think Halloween 2018 will be at HHN29?  Does this Easter egg suggest Halloween 2018 for HHN29?  Let us know in the comments!

Is HHN28 Slicing a Chunk Out of MNSSHP’s Market?

A rumor came into the HHNU Office this week that might point to HHN taking more of a market share in the night-time entertainment offerings of the Central Florida theme parks.  Namely, that HHN is attracting more people to their event who would otherwise had gone to Disney’s night-time hard ticketed event ‘Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween’ Parties.

The evidence for this is scarce as the parks don’t formally report attendance for these night-time parties but if you dig around enough there is another evidence to show that HHN must be experiencing huge attendance bumps whereas Disney might just be doing the same or less business than last year.

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Your prices are scary Disney but that’s all!

MNSSHP has sold out twice this season with October 4 and 31.  Whereas last year one date in September sold out as early as August and then a further five nights sold out throughout October.  This was on top off alleged reports that Disney might have increased the number of tickets they were offering to the public.

So why is this year possibly quieter for Disney?  If we take the MNSSHP event as the reason, we can say that not much is exactly new at the now 20+ years old event. The Boo-to-You Parade, Hallowishes and Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular have all been around for a few years now and have hardly been updated in this time.  And whereas the candy has improved, the merchandise is slightly better (maybe?) and they’ve added actors into the Pirates ride (Note: the actors aren’t scary or funny so what is their point?), these are all still not massive jumps forward but one item that has significant increased in this time and that’s the price!  The price in 2014 was $62 + tax, whereas now it is $126.74 for a Saturday night, the price has virtually doubled in cost in the space of only a few years but we can hardly say the entertainment and offerings have increased by double!

A new take on the Party by our pal Derek Burgan…

Comparing the Florida MNSSSHP to the Californian version at Disneyland is hard as the Californian version has special experiences that run all day for the daytime guests too, namely: The Nightmare Before Christmas overlay at The Haunted Mansion or the terrifying Halloween redo of Space Mountain with Ghost Galaxy – all of which are missing in Florida.  And then if to save further costs it appears Disney is quietly dropping the ‘Not-So-Scary’ portion of the name by now sharing the marketing budget with Disneyland’s event and calling it simply ‘Mickey’s Halloween Party’.  Changing the name just to save money on marketing is very ‘poor show’. Disney marketing trying to be ‘scary’…

Ticket windows outside Epcot right now:

But it’s not all Disney’s fault!  HHN28 is AWESOME and if you include the show and all the scarezones, there’s 16 brand new attractions for you to enjoy.  And whereas Disney has more than doubled the cost of their event tickets in 3 years, HHN has increased between $10 to £28 (depends on the ticket), which is merely inflationary at best.  And there’s more houses now than ever before!

Then there’s Stranger Things.  The hit genre defying Netflix original series that is a hit with all age ranges and appeals to wider demographic than say just the Halloween franchise.  This alone will be bringing in people from all different age groups and fandoms that perhaps had never tried HHN before.  And whereas houses like Dead Exposure and Seeds of Extinction are genuinely terrifying experiences, other offerings such as the Killer Klowns scarezone and the Academy of Villains are downright fun experiences. Combine these with the open rides and there’s more than enough for younger people or people who don’t want to be ‘scared witless’ to do.

And the final piece of evidence is overwhelming, in that for the first time in my knowledge, HHN has been selling out on select nights.  Universal doesn’t need to restrict attendance numbers in order for people to have fun or experience the rides; people aren’t there to ride Transformers!  Whereas at Disney they do, as having shorter lines for the rides at the Magic Kingdom was one of the big draws for many people in attending MNSSHP.  So for HHN to sell-out on select nights, basing that on day-time attendance limits, shows that HHN28 must not only being doing record business for Universal but they must also be taking a huge slice out of Disney’s night-time market too!  Add in the extra nights that have been added to the HHN calendar and it all adds up!

The new normal for HHN…?

What are your experiences with HHN and MNSSHP?  Let us know in the comments!

Cover photo by Meg