Man was this year different than the last by a long shot. It’s the things you learn by doing this thing year after year. I can’t afford it more than once myself, but dammit, one of these days I’ll be a multiple attendant to this lovely event. I think that as this thing grows and more people are interested in working on this event, it’ll claim the top spot of themed Halloween events for years to come. I have plenty more to say about this year as a whole farther south of this post, but for now, let’s get to the juicy bits and walk through some spooky houses!
(Second verse, same as the first from this post to last. These are in order from my least to most favorite houses of the night.)
From Dusk Till Dawn – Leading the pack at the bottom of this list was the first house done that night, From Dusk Till Dawn. A lot was put into the detail and Easter eggs for this house and was really well done, mostly for those who managed to check out the TV series like myself. For the most part, this house is fairly kinetic, in your face, and pretty fun. However, about halfway through the maze, there wasn’t much in the way of scares and broke the pace and energy that was present throughout the rest of the house. Still, a solid haunt that I think greatly benefits for big fans of the original movie, but mainly the TV series.
The Walking Dead: End of the Line – Possibly the biggest disappointment of the night was The Walking Dead: End of the Line for me. It could have to do with setting my expectations too high with all the promise of this house biggest the largest in HHN history had in my mind, me not being the most enthusiastic of Walking Dead fans, or just being a near zombie myself from the standing and walking endured that night. I couldn’t tell you, but for the most part, everything from season 4 of the show was incorporated into this maze, just not totally in the way I had hoped for. Being the end of the night, I’m sure there wasn’t nearly as many actors as there are at any other point in the night, but it sure could have used them to make for a more panicked type of atmosphere. This seemed more of a Wizarding World equivalent for Walking Dead fans, which I admired on that level, but when it came down to bringing the horror in the Halloween Horror Nights name, this just didn’t do it for me.
Alien vs. Predator – A clear winner in terms of properties on the other hand, was Alien vs. Predator. It seemed to be what I thought From Dusk Til Dawn could be at it’s full potential, plenty of action going on throughout, Easter eggs and jump scares a plenty, and a whole lot of frantic fun. Not being a fan of either series, (I mean how could you if you haven’t seen any of their movies?) I really didn’t have much of anything to expect here except what Universal Creative could do with their Alien puppets, and boy did they deliver. I’d have so much fun if I had managed to be under control of those things, they’re movements are so lifelike, yet have features that just make them alien enough and creepy, that they’re so super effective with the scares. The only thing that I’d have to bring up is that the VS. in the title really should have been changed to AND, mainly because there really isn’t much of a fight going on between the two creatures. Though, I can’t complain too much, this was one of the better IPs of the night and I can’t wait for another year of Universal puppetry.
Roanoke: Cannibal Colony – It’s funny that the lowest ranked on my anticipation list turns out to be in the top three of the best houses I ventured through this year. Hey, I’m just as surprised as anyone else quite frankly, and all that comes down to was…because this actually scared me a few times inside Roanoke: Cannibal Colony. A few misdirected scares that I was sure to miss out on had me literally hopping out from one scene to the other. I loved it. This house was all too much fun and creepy and I’m sitting here gushing about it because I had no idea that I would come out of this with near polar opposite reaction a had at this house just on face value! Again I feel the need to nitpick, this one wasn’t perfect as much as I had fun. I can hardly remember a few scenes near the end because it had gotten so dark. I probably missed the perfect opportunity for some fun jumps and screams. Not too much to rail on, in the long run. This was but a taste that brought me around to what Universal Creative is capable of doing when left to their own devices.
Dollhouse of the Damned – Arguably the best original house by far this year, was Dollhouse of the Damned. From the sets, to the actors, the various dolls, stuffed animals, and other sort of figures strewn about, down to even the smells pumped in here. Yeah, there were smells that added to the creep and eerie factor in this haunt and made for the most memorable rooms in this thing. Universal Creative took to the idea of a life sized dollhouse gone bad and ran all the way home with it like Charlie Bucket and the Golden Ticket. I really don’t have a nitpick with this house because was just that damn good. One of the first stops and must do houses that you should have been seen to be believed this year.
Halloween – Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper Halloween Horror Nights 24 review without setting the king’s crown of the year squarely on top of the head of Halloween. Aside from the originals, all the heart and soul that Universal Creative has for HHN cranked up to 11 and poured all over this house. If there was a Wizarding World equivalent to houses this year, the first would be Hogsmeade over at The Walking Dead, and here would be my Diagon Alley complete with Hogwarts Express at Halloween. There was nothing that would go untouched from John Carpenter’s unmatched slasher classic and thrown in here. But not randomly, all put in place where it should be, flowing perfectly and in tune. From full scale sets, costumes, recreations, some more Easter eggs to from other films in the franchise, to even sound bites, this was the king of the castle of Halloween Horror Nights 24. And that isn’t too hard to believe with, even on a slow night, wait times creeping up to over 3 hours!
Now, on to the scarezones!
Wait…what’s that? I don’t feel capable of reviewing the scarezones? Why the hell not?! Oh. Well…Hmm. Oh, right there was a reason the title was written the way it was.
So, I called this a review-ish post for a reason. I feel that as this event grows, and especially if it’s any bigger than it was last year (Oh please God, don’t let it be), then two nights to soak everything in is essential for an accurate review. Let me explain.
Last year I was able to experience every scarezone and mini-show in the park, as well as walk through every house and even do one twice! In comparison to this year, I got through 5 houses, missed a scarezone, and hardly had time to absorb myself in the other scarezones like I had the chance to do previously. With that, I took it to review what I got to experience fully and take from that my impression on this year as a whole and the what the future looks to bring. So with that said I’m sorry that I couldn’t let you know how the scarezones worked and were incoproated with the feel of this year’s event, but I do have a bit more to say before I wrap up.
To start, I have to applaud Universal Creative and all the team members and cast involved on the houses this year. As many gripes I had with what I got to see this year, they all had their really fun elements and none I could say were bad at all. Everyone inside looked to be having a great time and that rubbed off significantly on me by the night’s end. And to end, I felt that crowd control is a huge problem. Not that there was anyone rude or nasty in the lines I was in, in fact, everyone was pretty cool and respectable of each other. No, I mean just the amount of people that were there that night was worrisome to me. From what I got to do this year compared to last year both came down to not having a Express Pass, which by regular lines once per go round. I didn’t need one last year, but desperately needed one this time, but seeing how much that adds on to regular admission is a huge bee in my bonnet. Particularly, the night I went being a non-peak night and expecting it to be slow, I can’t imagine doing this on a peak night with the park at capacity.
With Halloween Horror Nights turning 25, rumors are circulating that this will see the return of all original HHN icon to the event and eliminating the use of IP, if for just one year. I’m hoping that this is true to deter the massive amount of people that rushed in to see the huge names of Halloween, Alien vs. Predator, and The Walking Dead come to life this year. I know this seems like I’m throwing a fit because I didn’t get my way, but I’m sure there are plenty of die hard fans that would agree with me. Either that, or just expand the darned thing already. It’s becoming more of an unruly monster that you can’t control and you need to let it out of its cage to stretch. But don’t worry, I’ll definitely be back next year, not having learned a thing from what I just wrote!
Seemingly not 2 spooky 4 me,