My Review of Universal Studios “Halloween Horror Nights 23” of 2013
Having gone two years ago, I knew what I was in for and I was super excited to get scared! We went this past week, Thursday, September 26th, 2013. The reason the date is highlighted is to help you understand how to prepare for this year, and years to come. Here is my review of this awesome event, enjoy!
First off, we decided to go and play in both Universal Parks during the day so we got free parking with the Annual Pass. (Parking for HHN is $16 so we wanted to avoid it, wasn’t sure if AP holders would have to pay for it or not). We got there at Noon and were parked on the E.T. level, the first and ground level, and the other levels were empty when we were riding the escalators up to the main walk in area. I am assuming because the Parks closed at 5 p.m., because of HHN, attendance would be low.
We enjoyed a quiet “Islands of Adventure” and walked right onto the Harry Potter ride, had no problem getting a table at “Three Broomsticks” for lunch- even ordered with no wait. Walking out of the Park, Kyra and Stephen were able to walk right on “The Hulk” which they said was unheard of- in other words, if you would like to play at the Universal Parks during September before HHN, enjoy it with no waits.
A walk over to “Universal Studios” to pick up our tickets, we were inside the gates at 3:00 p.m. with no problems. We avoided the long lines of Security for HHN, as we saw them setting up when we were heading in. A stroll to “Springfield” where I hadn’t been yet, it was a nice relaxing moment before the scares were about to begin. P.S. A visit to Moes will get you a “Flaming Moe” which is a non-alcoholic orange drink that has dry ice in the bottom to make the drink smoke. It is “Fanta” and it is a cute drink, but nothing for if you are REALLY thirsty- you don’t get too much, but you do get to keep the glass. They will wash it out for you to take home.
I had been told there were “holding areas” for Halloween Horror Nights for those who were already in the Park and had a ticket for HHN. Instead of having to leave the park and re-enter to use the HHN ticket, you go to one of two holding areas and they scan your ticket and give you a bracelet- similar to Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party set up when you are already in Magic Kingdom. The difference is that when you do it at Universal Studios, you get a jump on the public. Some of the houses open early, so you can go through the houses before the event has even opened for those waiting in line outside the turnstiles at 6:30 p.m. In other words, be in the Park before 4:30, get in a holding area, and you will get ahead big time.
Case and point- we got our wristbands around 4:45 p.m (In the Woody Woodpecker area).. then got in a line that was started for “The Walking Dead” house (located behind the Barney and Curious George areas). You want to hit this house or the Urban Legends one because they are literally feet from where you are being held, so grab them first. After the small wait, and the “real” queue area opening up, our line filled in and everyone was respectful – no line jumping and everyone just followed the flow. The house opened up at 5:45 p.m. and we were super pumped. Again, we were getting access before the Event was even technically started, so it was a huge bonus for us.
“The Walking Dead” house was SUPERB!! I am a HUGE fan of the show, so for me it was like walking through the show. They had the aquariums full of walker heads and you got to walk through the Prison, with a mess of Walkers ready to get you at the end. I loved the details, and besides it being VERY loud, it didn’t FREAK me out, it just gave me a few jumps. If you love the comics or the show, you are going to LOVE this! In fact, all of the streets this year were “Walking Dead” so it was a “Walker” kind of night!
Since we now had our adrenaline up, there was no time like the present to hit another home. The next house was “La Llrona” and I will admit, this one had me a bit on edge because of the premise- this woman drowned her own children and wants you to feel her pain from it. As a Mom, like many are, that didn’t sit well with me. BUT I came to be scared, so I just went into it with and inside we went. Now, we went during the day so we did have to get out eyes to adjust from the bright sun to the dark house, but when being scared, lighting really doesn’t matter after awhile. I enjoyed the house very much, but it seemed like a lot of chaos. It got hard to enjoy the storyline when you are being screamed at every other second, but that’s part of the territory.
Having now done two houses before 6:00, we were feeling pretty good. We headed to the third, which was “Afterlife” and this one we did get in line for early, but didn’t officially open until 6:30 p.m. Still three houses before the Event opened was pretty good. This is a 3-D house, meaning they hand out paper 3D glasses. Now, I don’t have a strong head for these things – it’s a motion sickness thing. So I did NOT wear my glasses in this house, but the kids did. It was trippy and the story line was about a man who killed 22 people and they come back to get him in the afterlife and how they get their revenge. The rooms were cool, with lots of neon everywhere. There is a tunnel you have to walk through in the end and I thought I was done for there, I just looked down at the bridge and focused on that and got out just fine. I can say because I get motion sickness, this was my least favorite house. P.S. You can see the house just fine WITHOUT wearing the glasses.
We didn’t head to any rides, since we were more there for the Event. Our thinking was since it was still early we should try to hit as many houses as possible. “Evil Dead” was around the corner past the new Harry Potter construction, keeping us going counter clockwise to what the crowds coming in the Park would probably be doing. The wait time was at 15 minutes when we got in line at about 7:00 p.m. The lines wrap around the buildings, and honestly they went fairly fast. We never stood still much, which helped the momentum of hitting one after another, and of course our adrenaline. “Evil Dead” was definitely gruesome and gory and of the three we had hit so far, this one got me several times. I jumped, I screamed, and I had a feeling as the night went on, it would just keep getting more intense.
We were trying to decide whether to eat dinner or hit one more house, and the “American Werewolf in Paris” won out with only a 20 minute wait, we got right in line and I would say it was truly 20 minutes. Don’t let the long lines freak you out, they move quickly as most are almost sprinting through the houses. The only time they really stop is when the “E-Pass” people are coming through. And yes, we almost did buy the pass, but when our ticket was only $38 to get in, paying another $50 to fastpass the lines seemed way to steep. We knew we could do everything we wanted in the time allotted, and spoiler alert, we did!
Onto “American Werewolf” where I screamed for my life!! The details were crazy good, I am talking that werewolf was super realistic and VERY MUCH in your face. The transformation of the man to wolf, the scenes, it was incredible and very easy to follow along with the story line. For some of us, like me, don’t know every detail of the movie, game, or show- so when you can follow along while still getting a good scare, its pretty fun!
Being scared takes a lot of energy out of you, and since we had been going all day, we needed to sit and chill for awhile. So after fighting off a large group of Walkers we headed to Mel’s Diner for some chicken nuggets and burgers. Nothing felt better than sitting for awhile and eating, but as I was looking up from posting a picture on my phone, a Walker had made her way into the Diner and scared Stephen pretty good- so heads up- they are everywhere!
At this point we had eaten and were at about 8:30. We decided to hang out in the Streets for awhile and see all the action before heading on over to the “Bill and Ted” show in the far back corner of the Park. We got to walk through Herchels Barn where it was on fire with Walkers everywhere, they had the famous Walker from the first season who is crawling on the ground, and the Walker in the Well from the Farm. I wasn’t scared by any of that stuff, but man was it fun to watch others get spooked by it. Half the fun of this event is people watching!
We got in line for “Bill and Ted” at 9:30 and were sitting by 9:45 for the 10:00 show. This was their THIRD show of the evening, and it did fill up, but get there early and you are good to go. I LOVE this show, even though it is VERY “R” it is a great chuckle on all of the Pop Culture from the past year. The actors, singers, and dancers did a GREAT job and we really enjoy it- definitely a NOT MISS!
Once we got out of the show, we had an hour and a half (until Midnight) to get two houses done before heading home. We had “Resident Evil” and “Cabin in the Woods” to contend with. Now, I had stupidly watched “Cabin in the Woods” last week to get ready for it, but HOLY CRUD, I was not ready for it at all. This house, BY FAR, was my scariest of the Event! We waited 30 minutes total ( I clocked this one for curiosity sake) and this line seemed to go the slowest. They sold the “blood bags” in line, but no water or other beverages and at this point of the night, we were quite sweaty in the humidity- they should seriously make deodorant for being scared! Stephen had to get out of line to go to the main road to get water, and then an employee walked him back to us in line. Just let them know if you need to jump out for something so they don’t think you are cutting. All I can say about this house is “WOW!!” Every monster, creature, creepy kid, creepy person, gore- you name it, it has it! It followed the movie PERFECTLY, even down to the elevator bell ringing that it was going to open…trust me, you don’t want to know what was in there.
Last but not least, “Resident Evil” had only a 15 minute wait at 11:30 p.m. so we decided to end our evening with it. Now, I don’t play the game, but Stephen has, and he loved it! I didn’t think it was all that scary, but they did a cool thing in the middle of it where they had the word “PAUSE” on the wall and everything was stopped. Because I didn’t know much about it, I didn’t really care for it either way.
We were walking out of the Park around Midnight, along with the other droves of people. The Walkers were gone as we walked out, but I think they should have them at the exit staring at you as you leave- it would be a cool send off. So to wrap things up:
*We didn’t need an “E-Pass” because we got inside the Park early and got three houses done before the official time of the Event.
*The crowds were low last night, again on Thursday, September 26th, 2013. The streets were never crowded and you could easily walk around with no problem.
*The highest wait time we saw was around 9 p.m. for 50 mins at the “Evil Dead” house.
*Most lines have water and soda for sale while you are waiting.
*The “Walkers” go everywhere, even in the bathrooms I hear, so don’t think anywhere is safe.
*We hit all but one house because we were told “Havoc” wasn’t all that great so we didn’t bother with it.
*We did our favorites first so that if we ran out of time, we wouldn’t feel like we missed out on anything.
*There are two shows, we only saw “Bill and Ted’s”- our party wasn’t big on the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
*I never waited in line at the Restrooms- hey- this is huge on nights like these!
*We LOVED “The Walking Dead” everywhere, especially the theme music being repeated! Have fun with them, it’s really cool what they come up with for all the different areas.
*The Ride lines were always empty, so I guess it’s a good time to hit rides if you have time or you chicken out on the other stuff.
My recommendations for anyone looking to go is to go in September- enjoy the low crowds, get in the Park early to get a jump in the public, and have a great time!!
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