On Friday night I attended the Eyegore Awards at Universal Studios Hollywood. The event also serves as the official opening of their yearly Halloween Horror Nights extravaganza of mazes, performers and all around seasonally appropriate carnage. I always have fun with this event and I was stoked to see how this year measured up.
So after the awards I took it upon myself to amble around the park and visit the seven unique attractions that comprise the Horror Nights programming. And I’m pleased to say that this year’s set of mazes is even better than last year’s – if you’re making the trek out to the Hollywood version of Halloween Horror Nights, you won’t be disappointed.
As always – you need to go in with a plan. There’s only so much time, and lines are long, so we figured we’d provide you with our personalized guide for the event. This year’s Halloween Horror Nights dates are September 21, 22, 28, 29 and October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 31. Tickets are available here.
Head inside to see which mazes we think you should prioritize and how to plan your evening.
LA LLORONA: LA CAZADORA DE LOS NINOS – Priority Level: HIGHEST
I wasn’t able to make it into the La Llorona maze last year, so I’m not sure how different this one is. What I can say is that this is among the very best of this year’s selections. Not being tied to a popular film franchise or a set of expectations in regard to iconography has really freed Murdy up to create a truly unique maze with a bunch of cool scares. There are some nice giant monsters (repurposed Dream Warriors imagery perhaps?) and plenty of aesthetic surprises.
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE SAW IS THE LAW – Priority Level: HIGH
Another maze that gets it right, especially if you’re a fan of the original film. Seemingly taking no visual cues from the upcoming Texas Chainsaw 3D, the maze mostly sticks to recreating scenes from Tobe Hooper’s 1974 film. The dinner scene is faithfully recreated with convincing live actors, there are some cool out door components and there are lots of Leatherfaces! I think even a few of them even feature the makeup design from TCM2. As a bonus to the experience I’m fairly sure they pump hot-dog water fumes into the maze, the whole place literally smelled like boiling flesh when I was there. Nauseating in a good way.
THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD INSIDE – Priority Level: HIGH
An effective attraction to say the least. If you’re a fan of the show there are a lot of key scenes recreated here with surprising accuracy. But even if you don’t watch the AMC series, there’s something palpable about having hordes of zombies chase you. Even more unsettling are the scattered suicides throughout the place, folks who decided they would rather check out than see what the apocalypse had to offer. You can read their brief notes as you pass by their desiccated remains. Definitely a nice touch.
ALICE COOPER: GOES TO HELL 3D – Priority Level: MEDIUM
While I enjoyed this one, if you’re going to wait a couple of hours in line you might be better off at one of the other mazes. There’s some cool stuff – the 3D interplay with the light and paint in the maze is actually quite effective and there’s a particularly cool segment that features corpulent creatures eating their own intestines. It’s a nice experience but a little bit light on impact and scares. If you have time on your hands, by all means check it out. But if you can only to make it to two or three mazes during your visit, you might want to skip.
WELCOME TO SILENT HILL – Priority Level: MEDIUM
This maze is much better than I thought it would be. I’m not a huge Silent Hill fan but I still found a lot to like. There are plenty of creepy nurses and Pyramid Head creatures (that move impressively fast considering they’re on stilts). If you’re a fan of the games or movies it’s an absolute can’t miss. However, it’s a touch on the brief side. So, once again, if you’re light on time you might wanna keep it in mind for you next visit.
UNIVERSAL MONSTERS REMIX – Priority Level: MEDIUM
I’m stuck on this one. It’s in my favorite maze space in the entire park – where they had the Wolfman maze last year. I’m pretty sure it’s the biggest maze in the park, so if we’re weighing the time spent in line vs. the time spent in the maze – it’s a clear winner. It’s got two entire stories of twists, turns and scares (and a spinning tunnel) so you’re in there for a while. And it’s fun! But it’s a little on the goofy side too. It’s hard to be scary with zombie DJ’s etc…
WALKING DEAD TERROR TRAM – Priority Level: LOW
Unless there’s no line this one is kind of a waste of time (and even then it wastes valuable line time in the other mazes). There’s nothing happening on the tram at all except for a “Walking Dead” ad on the screens in front of you. When the tram stops, you disembark and go through about an 8 minute walk through the Bates Motel/Psycho House portion of the park that is now littered with various walkers and survivors. There are certainly portions of the walk that are kind of cool – there’s nothing terrible here. But in a park full of awesome haunted attractions, this one is the least impressive. And there’s nothing terrifying about the actual tram part.
BUT WAIT… THAT’S NOT ALL!
Halloween Horror Nights isn’t just about the mazes. It’s also about having a night out and seeing the sights, hearing the sounds and smelling the smells. Walking around the park can be a pleasure on its own. While we can’t bring you the sounds and smells – we can try to approximate some of the sights for you. Check out the gallery of photos we took below!