Posts Tagged ‘HHN’

SATURDAY SIX Special Edition: A First Timer’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Horror Nights

by on November 1, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a special one as we present: A First Timer’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Horror Nights. Today is the last day of Halloween Horror Nights, the Universal Orlando Resort’s signature event, and one of the absolute best reasons to plan a vacation to Orlando this time of year. 2015′s HHN looks to be even better as it will be the 25th anniversary, and we already know that HHN icon Jack Schimdt will be returning. While many guests are used to the offerings of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, there are more than a few who are skittish about putting their foot into HHN to test the water. So I reached out to Joseph Matt of Parkscope.net, as he recently returned from his first ever HHN, and he is here to share six tips he learned from the experience. Take it away Joe….

A First Timer’s Guide to Surviving Halloween Horror Nights

[Horror] shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.” -Clive Barker

Halloween Horror Nights is intimidating. For my first year to HHN I was a little nervous, and it didn’t help that several Orlando blogs, Orlando United, and my friends had hyped up the event to a point where #OperationScareJoe became a ‘thing.’ However, my anxieties and worries were largely unfounded. I had a blast, and cannot wait to go back for more HHN. As this year’s event closes this weekend, I will cover my top tips to surviving the event next year.

1.) Pick Several Nights and Split Them With a Day in the Parks

Eight houses, four scare zones, several open attractions, and two shows. Easy as pie, right? Wrong. During my trip The Walking Dead never dipped below 90 minutes and John Carpenter’s Halloween hovered at 60 minutes. How does one beat this? Pick multiple nights to attend and split that with a day visit to the parks.

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Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. (photo by Hate to Fly)

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons Halloween Horror Nights is Better than Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

by on October 11, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons Halloween Horror Nights is Better than Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Now, before we start, this is not an article that’s trying to sell you on the idea that MNSSHP is not good, as we wrote several weeks ago that we love it, and it’s definitely the best Halloween event in town that you can bring the whole family to. That said, Halloween Horror Nights brings some elements to the table, which Disney could learn from in terms of over delivering to its guests. While HHN may not be for everyone, if you are a regular reader of the Saturday Six it’s probably for you and today we’ll look at the reasons why. Please remember that clicking on any picture will open it up in full size, and let’s count ‘em down…

# 6 –  A night at HHN is completely different than any other experience you’ve had at Universal Studios Florida

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Mel’s Drive-In becomes Mel’s DIE-In for HHN. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

For anyone who has gone to MNSSHP you know that the one of the bigger differences between a party night and any other night is how well Main Street, U.S.A. is decorated. Unfortunately, outside of The Haunted Mansion, that’s where the level of theming stops. All the lands of the park are the same (albeit with wonderful candy stations) and all of the attractions are the same, just with less people going on them. That’s where I find the value in a MNSSHP ticket. You can do all the E-Ticket rides like Space Mountain and Big Thunder without having to worry about FP+ or standby lines as almost everything is a walk-on. Halloween Horror Nights on the other hand completely changes the dynamic of Universal Studios Florida. There are scare zones and seemingly hundreds of scare actors thoughout the entire park along with 8 haunted houses, none of which are available to non-party going guests.

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Observations from Halloween Horror Nights and Updated HHN24 Touring Plans

by on October 8, 2014

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Plan your Nights of Horror with our updated HHN24 touring plans (photos by Seth Kubersky).

Halloween in still three weeks away, but Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 24 is well underway, and as always the event — and therefore our HHN24 touring plan — is ever evolving. After experiencing the rain-soaked chaos of opening night, I returned on a precipitation-free Thursday without the benefit of an RIP guided tour or Express Passes.

The good news is that I was able to experience all 8 haunted houses, and both shows, before the evening ended even without those extra-cost line-cutting perks, but it wan’t easy. To update my previously published Halloween Horror Nights Survival Guide, here’s a summary of my recent observations, followed by an improved edition of my HHN24 touring plans to plot your escape from the evil of overstuffed queues.

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Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream: A Primer

by on August 29, 2014

Ed. – if it’s August, it must be Halloween in Central Florida. Today we’re running articles on Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, along with this one on Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-O-Scream.

Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream 2014

Hello, tender lumplings everywhere! If you believe that life’s no fun without a good scare, chances are you’re a big fan of Halloween. Luckily for you, Florida is one of the best places to enjoy the Halloween season, and I’m not just saying that because literally anything is better than back home in Canada, where all the kids have to wear parkas over their costumes. (If you look at my childhood photo album, you might assume every year I was a skier. I was a fairy princess, curse you!) In fact, two of the biggest Halloween events happen less than an hour away from each other… Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-o-Scream, and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights

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Universal Announces Return of “The Walking Dead” to Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights 24

by on June 11, 2014

HHN1Halloween Horror Nights 24 at the Universal Orlando Resort started off with a bang as it was announced that AMC’s The Walking Dead would return to the nation’s premier haunted experience for the third straight year. A ratings juggernaut for AMC, season 4 of The Walking Dead premiered in October of 2013 with a shocking 16 Million viewers and continued its popularity until the season finale in March of 2014, which also set a ratings record for season finales (breaking its own record set at the end of season 3).

In 2012, The Walking Dead made its debut at Halloween Horror Nights 22, with a haunted maze that used no characters from the popular television show. For HHN 23, not only did The Walking Dead have a bigger maze, but the entire park was filled with scare zones set to themes established by the television show. In addition, several characters from the show (such as Michonne’s walkers) were used in the scare zones and maze, making the experience much more immersive for fans of the show.

Universal says that for HHN 24 The Walking Dead will have the biggest house of the entire event and will use more scare actors than ever before. The official HHN 24 twitter feed has been dropping hints of what we can expect to see, including:

Almost every major environment in season 4 will be featured. Prison for a small portion. The big spot and its parking lot. The moonshine shack, the country club, the tunnel… Terminus. – Mike Aiello, HHN Creative Director

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Afternoon Abominations: Halloween Horror Nights 23 Unmasking the Horror (Resident Evil, An American Werewolf in London, and Evil Dead)

by on October 29, 2013

We’re continuing our review of the Unmasking the Horror tour, a lights on tour of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) houses. Our Morning Menace tour included La Llorona, The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven, and The Cabin in the Woods. After a brief lunch, our tour picked up at 2:30PM for Afternoon Abominations and our first stop would be at Resident Evil: Escape From Raccoon City.

Throughout the tour we were shown little details that we never saw the night before when we toured all the houses as part of HHN. It is either too dark or we just didn’t have enough time to see everything with all the action going on around us. For example, in the opening room to Resident Evil, we never noticed this tribute to the Nightmare of Elm St. franchise that is off to the side.

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This particular street leads the nation in nightmares. A close second is SR 535 in Orlando.

Remember, you can click on any photo to see the full size original.

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Morning Menace: Halloween Horror Nights 23 Unmasking the Horror Review (La Llorona, The Walking Dead, and The Cabin in the Woods)

by on October 25, 2013

As a big fan of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights event, I knew after going in 2012 that I wanted to take a lights on tour of the houses as part of the Unmasking the Horror VIP tours. This year Universal broke up their tours into two sessions. The Morning Menace tour started at 10:30AM while the Afternoon Abominations tour started at 2:00PM. Each tour cost $59.99 per person-per tour, or $99.99 if you did both tours. Myself, Brandon Glover from the Universal NOW! podcast, and friend of the show Zeus Navarro signed up for both sessions.

To start the day we were directed to check in “promptly” at 10:00AM at the VIP check in lobby located next to the guest services windows at the front of Universal Studios Florida (USF). We were checking out the Royal Pacific Resort that morning and ended up running a little late, arriving at about 10:20. There was an interesting directory outside the main door with some great tributes to the history of Universal including Lew Wasserman (who has a statue in the New York section of the park and was a key figure in getting USF built) and “Leonidas Chaney,” who we know better as Lon Chaney and one of the most iconic horror movie actors of all time.

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Sign outside VIP check in at Universal Studios Florida

(Remember you can click on any picture to see the full size version of it.)

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Ultimate Halloween Horror Nights 23 Touring Plan

by on October 15, 2013

We’re heading into the home stretch of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 23, and if you plan on facing the undead hordes you’ll need a good plan now more than ever. Luckily for you, we’ve been on the ground every weekend of the event so far, and have recorded over 300 pieces of wait-time data for the haunted houses.

Here’s the final result: field-tested touring plans, designed to help you tackle all eight mazes in a single evening without the use of extra-cost express passes — provided you pick the right night to attend (Wednesday or Thursday are best, Saturdays are worst, and Sunday can be surprisingly busy), arrive early, and stay late.

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Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort: October 6, 2013

by on October 9, 2013

For this edition of “Observations” from the Universal Orlando Resort,  I’m going to take a page out of the format that blogger Guy Selga uses instead of the one I have used for previous observations pieces on Disney’s Night of Joy or an August weekend at Universal. They say a picture says a thousand words, but I counter that with “a review of a Transformers action figure can also be 1,000 words.” However, let’s see where conventional wisdom gets us. (Remember that you can click on any picture to view it full size)

While walking through CityWalk on our way to the parks, the first thing we noticed was that the Endangered Species store has already become extinct. Construction walls are set up outside and the place has been gutted. This area now joins the old Pastamore Market counter service location and Latin Quarter as locations being completely remodeled. Word is the Endangered Species space will be used for Starbucks (which would move from the second level of CityWalk), the Pastamore location will become a new Red Oven brick oven pizza place, and Latin Quarter is rumored to be a new Mexican-themed dining restaurant.

EndangeredSpecies

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REVISED Halloween Horror Nights XXIII Touring Plan

by on September 26, 2013

On 9/20/2013, the 23rd annual edition of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights unleashed its undead hordes upon horror-hungry fans who have made HHN the nation's most popular and industry-awarded haunted theme park event. Touring Plans researchers have attended all event nights so far to capture data on attraction wait times in order to present this updated itinerary, and we'll continue to improve our advice with new information throughout the month.

Originally a locals-friendly filler during a normally slow season, Universal Studios Florida's Halloween celebration has grown so famous that the 27 event nights between 9/20 and 11/2 will provide a sizable percentage of USF's annual attendance statistics. Much like visiting any of Orlando's theme parks during a peak holiday season, an evening at HHN can be tremendous fun if you go in with a solid plan and sane expectations; without those things…well, you might be better off eaten by zombies…

With only two nights worth of wait time data to analyze, it's impossible to craft an HHN touring plan with the same precision we do for daytime visits. Operational tweaks will continue to be made throughout the event, so the crowd patterns observed during this year's initial operating nights aren't guaranteed to persist. However, thanks to years of experience with HHN (I've attended every edition since 1996) we can extrapolate the opening weekend info to update our preliminary touring plan into a multi-pronged strategy for tackling Universal's elaborate (and infamously long-queued) haunted mazes.

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