It’s that spooky time of year again, and we eagerly made our way to Universal Studios Hollywood for their Halloween Horror Nights event. In case you haven’t heard of Horror Nights, it is a special evening event that transforms the movie studio and theme park into a collection of monsters, haunted houses, and more all waiting to scare park guests. The first part of our night was taken up by the annual red carpet walk, where numerous celebrities made their way into a gala. Checkout some of the celebrities walking the carpet below in the photo gallery.
After the red carpet, we were escorted through three haunted houses in order to film our walk through videos. The first maze on our list was The Shining. This maze was terrific, hitting several cinematic moments from the horror classic. One thing that did bother me was that it fell victim to a recent trend in Horror Nights’ mazes – monster characters peering down onto guests from large rectangular holes in the walls. This is fine now and then but it seemed like all the new mazes have these in overabundance – so much that it kind of got to an “alright already” point. I would rather see monsters walk right up next to me – but, I digress.
Unfortunately, there still is no transportation for guests looking to get down into the backlot for the three mazes located therein (aside from disabled transport). Be warned that, from Transformers: The Ride, it is a .35 mile walk each way so be prepared with some comfy shoes. Also, they still route guests through a psychedelically-lit Toxic Tunnel that is very uncomfortable to walk through. This part of Halloween Horror Nights I could do without – it is just headache-inducing and simply not scary. Once you get down into the backlot, however, you get the chance to experience several haunted houses: Ash vs Evil Dead, SAW, and American Horror Story. Also located on the backlot is their Urban Inferno scare zone. It is a small, maze-like zone but featured some amazingly hellish visuals, loads of victims, and horrifying demons to contend with.
Once we arrived in the backlot, we got the chance to go through the SAW and American Horror Story mazes. SAW was a treat as, right before we were escorted in, actor Tobin Bell (SAW, SAW II, SAW III,….) who played Jigsaw went in to much fanfare. SAW is loaded with victim characters in traps of all manner of diabolical design – many from the various SAW films. American Horror Story focused on the Roanoke season and featured a number of the show’s memorable monsters – from the nurses to the pig man and even The Butcher – although I didn’t think she was used enough. Ash vs Evil Dead was a moderately-entertaining haunted house, with the most memorable moment being a large deadite puppet of Henrietta Knowlby from the original Evil Dead film. This puppet was a real sight and worth walking through the maze for – even if the rest of the haunted house was so-so.
I do applaud Universal Studios for cutting back on the foul fog smells this year. At past Halloween Horror Nights visits, many of the mazes just continuously stank of fecal matter, vomit, and more. This year, the fog smells are much more smartly-utilized and, while still foul at times, make a lot more sense given the haunted house’s narrative.
When we were hungry, we decided to eat at the Italian food place located within the Springfield area of the park. At past Horror Nights events, this place yielded good plates of pasta, lasagna, and a lot more. I was somewhat disappointed to find out that they converted over to a cutdown menu for this year’s event. The pizza and garlic bread are still good, mind you, but good luck finding a place to eat your food. They have taken away the dining area of the food place to create a beer garden, which was filled to the brim with people. We had to make our way across the street and wait for a table above Moe’s Tavern.
This year’s Jabbawockeez show is, as always, stunning and entertaining, with their dance skills on full display. During your visit to Halloween Horror Nights, make sure you attend one of their showtimes.
The Terror Tram is still suffering from some bottlenecks in many areas. This year, the tram has been taken over by murderous, possessed Good Guy doll Chucky – voiced by Brad Dourif! Dourif, for those that don’t know, is the voice of Chucky from all the Child’s Play films. The tram walking experience starts out really good, with a trip through numerous scenes featuring the “Titans of Terror”, consisting of Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface. Unfortunately, at several moments throughout the walking tour, things get backed up and we just started wondering if there was a way back to the trams. Unfortunately, there wasn’t, so we gritted our teeth and pushed on. With as cool as some of the moments are on the tram experience, we were glad to be heading back to the theme park.
The Walking Dead Attraction is also going for Halloween Horror Nights, albeit with more monsters located within. The walk-through experience is a great look into the world of AMC’s The Walking Dead and guests will travel through several sets inspired by the series.
My biggest wish for Universal Studios Hollywood is that the workout a deal with Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling to open up The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for the Halloween event. It would be great to see Halloween theming in the area – perhaps even with Death Eater attacks!
Overall, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event is a lot of fun, but make sure you purchase the more expensive front of the line ticket if you plan to visit on Friday or Saturday nights. If you don’t, you’ll not get the chance to experience everything. Halloween Horror Nights takes place various days throughout October – find ticket information and more at their official website.