Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: HHN 16 Trip Review

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

HHN 16 Trip Review

Last Friday night, my brother Rex and I set out to Universal Studios to experience our annual trip to Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). We look forward to this every year. My sister and brother-in-law were not able to make it this year (hopefully next year), so it was just the two of us.

We arrived at the park in plenty of time, around 3:30 pm, so we went over to Islands of Adventure first to grab the greatest lunch on the planet at Captain America's Diner (see pic below of our yummy hamburgers). This place really does feel like home away from home. After a quick discussion on the sovereignty of God in Cap's, we headed on over to Universal Studios where we would basically hang out until the park officially closed at 5:30 pm and then re-opened at 7:00 pm for HHN. Now, here is the deal. If you are already in the park with a normal Universal admission ticket, you can just stay in the park and wait for HHN to open. They have "holding areas" for HHN ticket holders who were already in the park. The cool thing is that they let us go a few minutes before the outside gate opens, so we are able to get to a couple of the haunted houses before the crowd gets to them.

So, after a quick ride on The Mummy, we strolled around the park and ended up at Mel's Drive In where we took some pretty funny pictures. You can see one of those from my previous post. We scoped out a few of the scare zones to see how they looked in the daylight, and then made our way to the "holding area" to anxiously await our release into the houses. I will say that during our waiting period inside the park, people were paying close attention to Rex's shirt, which was a HHN 14 shirt. One guy even came from across the street to see it, and then asked us about all these other haunted attractions as if we were the experts on the subject. (which we of course are). Apparently Rex lucked out and bought some weird limited addition shirt or something because even the cast members (to steal a Disney term) were acting like they had never seen it.

Finally, we were given the green light and we set out to our first haunted house which was called "Screamhouse resurrection." This house featured a character called The Caretaker, which I think is my favorite character of the bunch. It was a good start and ended up being my 2nd favorite house of the night. After that, we went to "All Nite Die In" which was the best house of the night. It featured rooms from famous horror movies, including a spooky room from The Ring and Hellraiser. I was impressed that HHN was utilizing music within the scares of their houses this year and not just spooky background music. I have been saying for years that this was needed in haunted houses. The creators of HHN probably read The Beast's Lair and were paying attention. Just kidding.

After our first two houses, things started to go downhill in terms of quality of houses, but not in our fun. I was so excited about the Psycho haunted house, themed after one of my favorite movies. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the worst house of the night. Perhaps the coolest thing each year at HHN is what is called "Scarezones." These are not houses, but areas throughout the park that you have to walk through in order to get to the houses. The section off 4 or 5 areas and theme them. The best this year was "Deadtropolis" where zombies were walking around the streets with everyone else. There was also a "harvest of souls" where scary dudes in pumpkin heads were conjuring up some good scares. And lets don't forget "Blood Masquerade" where there were a couple of LV's.

The surprise hit of the night, however, was our viewing of the "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Show." Don't ask me why HHN is still using the way out of date Bill and Ted from the 80's, but it worked! This thing was hilarious. The show consists basically of characters from movies of this past year coming out and interacting with the audience through music and dialogue. There was Superman, Jack Sparrow, Lex Luther, Davey Jones, Samuel Jackson's character from Snakes on a Plane (which was hilarious), Tom Cruise, Magneto, and an incredibly funny portrayal of David Hasselhoff. This was my first viewing of the show because I am typically not a show kind of guy, but we will definitely be making this a staple of HHN for years to come.

Over all, the experience was great as always. If nothing else, Universal knows how to create a great atmosphere that is just fun to be in the middle of. But the story doesn't end there.

Rex and I had found through our trust Screamscape.com source that a new haunted attraction was going to be in Orlando this year called Nights of Terror. This was a 4 house event that was completely removed from Universal and was located on I-Drive. The website made it sound great, so we were anxious to check out another haunt in Orlando while we were there and see how it compared to HHN. Well, I won't waste too much time here with this review. Let me just say that I can't remember a time when I was more disappointed. Shocked is really the better word. These were simply the worst houses I have ever been in. I used to make haunted houses for trick or treaters when I was in high school and they were seriously better than these things. It was almost like we were in the twilight zone. Nobody was there except us. We had to wait for more people to show up before we could go into the houses. It was just awful. The actors were completely out of character. One girl, dressed as a zombie, was talking to another girl about orientation at work the next day. What in the world? Rex and I were glad we went just to experience how bad it was.

But that is basically it. Can't wait till next year and another great trip.


Anonymous rexwilder said...

There is something impressive about the atmosphere that Universal can create. A great time, great time.

October 18, 2006 11:57 AM  

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