Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights opened last night in Hollywood. It’s my favorite Halloween event (which is saying a lot given how many of them there are now) so naturally I hit it up and made sure to power through all of the mazes like a champ! It was, as always, a blast.
However, like any other year you’re going to need a plan going in. There’s only so much time, and lines are long, so we figured we’d provide you with our personalized guide for the event. That way you can be sure to maximize your time! Please note that this is for the Hollywood edition only – perhaps David Harley will write in with some Orlando action?
The active dates are September 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, October 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31 and November 1, 2. Get tickets here.
UNIVERSAL MONSTERS REMIX – Priority Level: HIGHEST
Sure this attraction doesn’t technically have anything “new” to offer, it’s not like the Evil Dead maze where you’re getting some of the freshest kills in Hollywood, but it’s still great. You get almost every classic Universal monster plus a few contemporary ones (I spotted a few Chucky’s running around). It’s also the longest maze by far, which means you get a lot of added value when weighted against the amount of time you spend in line. Bonus? The lines for this aren’t too long – at least not when compared to the epic queue for the Insidious maze.
Last year this maze got a “medium” ranking, but for some reason it felt like they stepped it up a notch this time around. I had a lot of fun, it seemed gorier and again – it was a very small line.
EVIL DEAD: BOOK OF THE DEAD – Priority Level: HIGH
Most of the mazes this year are on the lower level of the park, down the escalators (only “El Cucuy” and “Monsters Remix” – along with The Purge scare zone are up top). Out of these I’d say the Evil Dead maze is probably your highest priority. Even if you didn’t love the remake (I still dig it) you have to admit that the kills are top notch and that the practical effects were amazing. HHN Creative Director John Murdy told me that this was the most difficult maze to render in terms of the gore, and it’s easy to see why. There’s some outstanding splatter on display here. Yes, the line is long – but if you’re at HHN and you only have time for 3 mazes – resign yourself to it and enjoy the show. Get to this one early to avoid queue swelling.
EL CUCUY: THE BOOGEYMAN – Priority Level: HIGH
I really liked this one quite a bit. Sort of subbing in for “La Llorona” this year, this original attraction features some cool Danny Trejo flavor and a lot of original designs. I think one of the reasons I’m attracted to these original mazes is because, since they’re not based on a movie I’ve already seen, they’re full of surprises. There were some great costumes, kills and designs and they all came out of left field. Not a long maze at all, but the short line makes up for it. Plus? The Trejo flavor.
INSIDIOUS: INTO THE FURTHER – Priority Level: MEDIUM
If you’re a fan of the Insidious films you really can’t go wrong here, seeing as the great pains they took to recreate the world of The Further really paid off. It gets dark and freaky and you’ll recognize a lot of the denizens. However, if you’re not a huge fan of the films you might want to head somewhere else. I say that not based on the quality of the maze, but the fact that it easily had the longest lines of the night. The posted times were at least 120 minutes, which means more like 160 in real time. If you get here early and the line is small though, go for it!
THE WALKING DEAD: NO SAFE HAVEN – Priority Level: MEDIUM
Much different than last year’s “Walking Dead” maze. Here you take a tram down into the deeper recesses of the backlot, where the undead roam streets that will be preternaturally familiar to anyone who’s seen a Universal film shot on the lot. This isn’t the longest maze in the world but it’s got a lot of great zombie action, gore and a fitting sense of despair. Again, the lines for the stuff on the lower level can get lengthy – but this is a worthwhile attraction.
BLACK SABBATH: 13 – 3D – Priority Level: MEDIUM
It seems like every year there’s a 3D heavy metal themed maze and 2013 was no exception. This maze is located on the backlot right next to “Walking Dead: No Safe Haven” and the line situation can be kind of confusing, but the queue for this one didn’t seem as bad. However, whether or not you should enter this maze depends entirely on your proclivity for that 3D painted world you’ve seen before (like last year’s “Alice Cooper: Goes To Hell 3D”), this is similar territory. There are some great designs based on the band’s songs, but you have to like the neon 3D stuff. I happen to like the neon 3D stuff, so I was cool with it.
TERROR TRAM: INVADED BY THE WALKING DEAD – Priority Level: LOW
While this tram goes into a completely different location than last year (a cityscape rather than Norman Bates’ house and the Bates Motel), it’s all too brief. Maybe I’m just not into trams (I gave last year’s Tram a low ranking as well)? Conversely, if you did like last year’s tram, by all means hit it up.
The characters from The Purge running around the upper level of the park was a nice touch! A little more menacing than the normal costumes you see from year to year. Also, I never thought I’d see a Purge cage dancer but life is for living, right?