“Stranger Things” is a main attraction at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Hollywood and Singapore. Fans from around the world are coming to get scared by the demogorgon, so the designers of the maze knew they had to deliver. On TV, the demogorgon is a CGI creature. To cast real-life demogorgons, they had strict criteria.
“We cast performers that are well over 6’ tall, a minimum of 6’3,” David Hughes, manager of the scenic department and designers at Universal Orlando said. “We gave them lifts so they can be taller. Then we have the mask itself, which is the flowering head, that added another eight inches. So they can be anywhere from 7.5 to even possibly eight feet tall. So those were the full-bodied costume characters.”
You’ll only see those tall performers for a second when they jump out and scare you, so a stationary head is fine for that effect. Still, Hughes wanted to present the opening face of the demogorgon in other areas of the maze.
“We wanted to make sure we can deliver that as well so we have coming out of what we call ‘boo holes’, we have puppeteered flowering heads,” Hughes continued.
“So that that character, the demogorgon, can burst through the hole with the mouth closed and the maw closed and then it flowers open with either an air burst or a water burst and a loud screech. So it brings the character to life in a different way than our full-bodied characters can be.”
Even for performers over 6’3”, the demogorgon costume is not exactly one size fits all. Patrick Braillard, creative development show director for Universal Orlando, explained.
“Certain accommodations need to be made for torso length and leg length and arm length,” Braillard said. “It was very important to us to make sure that as far as the body size of our performers were concerned, we got them all as close to each other as humanly possible. The window of our normal height ranges is everything from 4’10” and up and various build sizes. For this character it needed to be a minimum of 6’3” to 6’6” And they needed to be very, very skinny so that they could fit into the mold of what is that character.”
Portions of the demogorgon costume stretch so that different body types can fill them out.
“That’s why with the flex suit, there was flexibility that if one person has a larger stomach or larger hips, it still fits,” Hughes said. “It wasn’t so restricting that only one person could wear that particular costume.”
Even though it’s October, Orlando, Florida is still hot. Wearing a full demogorgon costume is brutal, but they have experience keeping their performers comfortable in full costumes.
“Given the years of experience our costumers have here at universal, we have characters out in the park in the Florida sun,” Hughes said. “They build muscles suits for other characters that are beathable. They can withstand the heat so the performers can withstand the heat. They kind of started with that philosophy and tailored it to the demogorgon.”
Halloween Horror Nights continues through the first weekend of November. GET TICKETS HERE.