The Walking Dead walk through attraction, the latest feather in Universal Studios Hollywood’s cap, is scheduled to open on July 4. However, we were among the lucky few to get access the attraction at a recent park media event which saw several members of the AMC show’s cast and crew in attendance. As alluded to, The Walking Dead attraction is based on AMC’s hit series, The Walking Dead, which is based on Robert Kirkman’s amazing comic series, The Walking Dead. No, this just isn’t a grab for Google search terms, there is just a lot of The Walking Dead zombie goodness to go through.
The Walking Dead walk through attraction can best be described as a Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights maze taken to “11”. The sets, props, and animatronics are all outstanding and look like they belong on the set of the television show. The starting cue area of the attraction was populated by Negan’s goons – however I am unsure as to how many of the actors will be on-site during actual operating hours.
A big positive aspect of the attraction was that guests are permitted into the experience in groups of about 5 people at one time. The attendants space the small groups out just enough so that each one gets an individual experience. Hopefully they can continue this when crowds get larger. I have found that a cattle call of guests can ruin an attraction like this – especially one that features tight corridors and timed effects/scares. Smaller groups also help make the attraction more intimate – it feels like your group’s personal story of the zombie apocalypse instead of just an animatronic museum to walk five feet, look, and repeat ad nauseam. With these group sizes, you ARE part of the experience.
Also used, albeit with way more restraint than in the park’s Horror Nights mazes, are some smell effects! Again – they are sparingly used to a much greater effect in The Walking Dead attraction, which I appreciate. I have always felt Horror Nights mazes rely on those scents too much, but I digress…
After going through the gauntlet of Negan’s goons, you end up in the Harrison County Hospital featured in The Walking Dead’s pilot episode (where Rick wakes up, confused and hurt). From there, it is a very cool walk down memory lane – going sequentially though the (so far) six seasons of the AMC show. You will visit several of the show’s major locations – all made real by some seriously talented craftsmen. The prison, Arno Farms, and a lot more are featured so look sharp for little Easter Eggs planted about the various sets you’ll walk through.
A big question we kept wondering was what would happen to the attraction during the park’s annual Halloween season Horror Nights event? Would it become a maze or would it stay the same. It appears as though that the attraction will get additional set pieces, live-actor talent, etc to ratchet it to an even scarier level! This is a brilliant move by Universal Studios and I can’t wait to experience it first-hand when the scary season comes around. Does this mean that the attraction will take the place of any other The Walking Dead experience for Halloween Horror Nights? Time will tell.
Speaking of live actors – yes, there are definitely live actors portraying both the living, the dead, and the walking dead inside the attraction. However, more of the scares and gimmicks come from some amazing animatronics than a traditional haunted house with live monsters around every corner. This smaller amount of live actors does not detract from the experience, however, as the actors that are in the walk through attraction are used to great effect and, as I mentioned, the animatronics and props are incredible.
Overall, The Walking Dead walk through attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood is a terrific addition to the park and shows off a lot of elements from the AMC television show which fans will love. I definitely recommend checking The Walking Dead attraction out when it opens on July 4, it is a scary and fun romp through an amazing television show brought to life all around you.