Being one of the most celebrated movie studios in the world would cause one to expect big things when Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights offers a two-month Halloween attraction event based on the studio’s own movies and TV franchises. And while they could step up the game in certain areas, there’s definitely a lot of fun to be had by all who want to get their spooky on.
With 8 (mostly) new mazes, a brand-new themed Terror Tram, and a Behind-the-Scenes glimpse at Blumhouses’ biggest theatrical hits, this year promised to be like no other. And they were right!
There were three original scare zones, including “El Terror de las Momias,” which had creepy roamers and chaotic chainsaw wielders chasing after unsuspecting guests. There was a new water show called “The Purge: Dangerous Waters,” which brings the gloomy and deadly film franchise to horrific life, and of course, beverages, snacks, and music in every direction.
Mazes sure to attract horror fans include one based on HBO’s The Last of Us, Netflix’s Stranger Things, Season 4, the recent hit Evil Dead Rise, “SyFy/Peacock’s popular Chucky maze called “Chucky: The Ultimate Kill Count,” and one based on the as-yet-to-be-released The Exorcist: Believer.
The best out of this bunch was for sure Chucky, as the bratty and foul-mouthed doll wreaked havoc in front of those creeping through the maze. Evil Dead Rise was big on jump scares and creepy walk-through sets based on the film, and The Last of Us brought out many of the stalkers, clickers, bloaters, and scramblers.
The Exorcist: Believer was interesting, but since the film hasn’t been released yet, it acted as more of a frantic trailer for the new legacy sequel.
One of the more creative and fun mazes was “Universal Monsters: Unmasked,” which brought to life some of Universal’s most classic characters that hide their true faces under masks or transformations. The Masque of the Red Death, the Wolfman, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, as well as the Phantom of the Opera, all made grand, grotesque appearances.
Also new was “Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America,” which featured horror folktales rarely seen in America. This was fun and made me want to look up some of their scarier legends.
The returning “Holidayz in Hell” ruins all your favorite holidays with psychotic rabbits, leprechauns, turkeys, and a really bad Santa.
“Terror Tram: The Extermintorz” had unsuspecting Tram passengers getting attacked by human-sized bugs who wanted to exterminate the human race in retaliation for all of our years of bug sprays and squashing. It included a walk-through “Jupiter’s Claim” from Jordan Peele’s Nope as well as an appearance by the knife-wielding crazy folks from Us.
“Blumhouse: Behind the Screams” was temporarily closed when we had time to partake, but it promises to showcase props and costume displays from their recent horror hits.
We didn’t have time to do “The Purge: Dangerous Waters” as it does take a while to walk the park and partake in the revelry.
The few gripes I have are that the wait times can be outrageous for those who don’t get an Express Pass. The Last of Us boasted a three-hour wait time at one point, and others were anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes. To do the whole event, you’d need multiple nights to get through everything.
Also, Universal could stand to avoid department store masks and random leftover mannequins with bad wigs as “scary” characters. Taking the time to do real prosthetic makeup and better live special effects would do wonders in amping up the scares and the quality.
That said, who doesn’t love a good, haunted house and to jump out of their skins at creatures that pop out at you just inches from your face? Most horror fans do, and you’ll get that in spades. In addition? Most of the rides have no wait time, so it’s easy to pop on “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” (we did it twice in a row with zero wait), “Transformers,” and “The Mummy.”
There are also many admission options depending on how big your pocketbook or wallet is, from the premium “R.I.P. Tour,” Early Access Tickets, Express passes, and Frequent Fear passes that get you in multiple nights.
This fun event is sure to get you in the Halloween spirit, and it runs select nights from Thursday, September 7, through Tuesday, October 31.