Last night I had the chance to attend the employee preview/dress rehearsal for Halloween Horror Nights 23. This year features eight houses and one massive scare zone featuring scenes and characters from The Walking Dead on AMC throughout the entire park. Here are my quick recommendations/first impressions of the event:
- Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City – This was the first house I hit for the night. This house was a complete and total geekout. If you are a fan of the Resident Evil video game franchise at all, you will find this house more exciting than haunting. The house features characters and scenes from throughout the Resident Evil franchise, and even a few easter eggs if you are paying attention.
- Urban Legends: La Llorona – If you are terrified of little children spirits, this is the house for you. This house was fantastically themed both inside and outside on the facade. The facade made you feel like you were in Mexico. Universal Creative did a fantastic job with the theme of this house. It even rains in the house! All in all, this house had a very creepy feeling to it and I enjoyed it.
- American Werewolf in London – This house was perhaps one of my favorite of the night. The theming was fantastic, the scareactors were on par, and the puppets were unbelievable! I don’t think I heard as many screams as I did from these new Werewolf puppets throughout the maze. They were amazing. This house is a MUST!
- Cabin in the Woods – This house was my close second favorite for the night. If you are fan of the movie, you are going to love this house. From the purge scene in the movie to the elevator scene, Universal Creative did a fantastic job in recreating these scenes straight from the movie. Just a little word, when you are in the last scene, look up and to the left for a little easter egg.
- The Walking Dead – No Safe Haven – Fantastic sets, what do you expect from a haunted house based on a hit show? The scares were there. A lot of little Easter eggs if you are a fan of the show, so be sure to pay attention as you are going through the maze. The finale scene was amazing and even got me scared.
- Havok: Derailed – This house was the biggest disappointment for me for the night. The atmosphere was there, the sets were amazing, as were the special effects. I felt like a lot of the scareactors were confused as I walked through the house though. Some of them were just standing around doing nothing. I think with some work, this house could be great. But I did feel that this house needed the most work of them all.
- Afterlife – Death’s Vengeance – This house is the 3D funhouse of the year. You get 3D glasses before entering the house and are utilized in certain special effects throughout the maze. I personally have gotten bored of the 3D effect over the years, but found this house enjoyable for some reason. The effects were really well done and seemed to help with the scares a lot. Not just silly 3D effects. This was not a fantastic house, but I did enjoy it.
Unfortunately I did not make it to the Evil Dead house due to time, so no mini-review for it. Although I did hear some pretty positive things from it throughout the night on Twitter and hearsay throughout the park.
So there you have it. Overall I really enjoyed the layout this year in the scarezones. The sets are amazing, straight from The Walking Dead series to the streets of Universal Studios Florida. And a little tip, be sure to hang out around the burning barn and watch the truck full of walkers and other little surprises throughout the park.
The employee preview is basically a technical rehearsal for Universal to work out the kinks. I felt like the energy was great and it is looking to be another fantastic Halloween Horror Nights this year.
I will be posting a video of the scare zones throughout the park later tonight. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @thrillgeek and on Facebook at facebook.com/thrillgeek for all sorts of HHN 23 goodness.