To most people, Christmas is the biggest expense of the year, but not for Moan4stallone. For me it is Halloween. I have been attending haunted houses for what seems like my entire life, whether it’s a baseball stadium that has been converted into a haunted maze or the home of a fellow Halloween lover turned into a haunted manor. But my major expense of the year is Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm.
You may be reading this and thinking, “Tickets aren’t that expensive, right?” You are correct, but they are when you buy the V.I.P. Packages. I am not witting this to brag or sell you an upgrade. I am only offering to you my credibility. In my opinion, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights were the best in years. The “Purge Anarchy” opening ceremony was basically a recycled but tweaked version of last year’s, but it was awesome none the less.
The first maze I partook in was “Dracula Untold,” based on the upcoming film of the same name. It was by far the shortest maze in the park, but it made up for it with a scare per second assault that made me dread the next corner. It was littered with gothic overtones, Nosferatu-like vampires, and an actual Dracula lurking throughout the maze.
Next up, was the Slash inspired “Clowns 3D,” featuring original music by Slash. This maze was average, and just a re-skin of past rock star themed mazes; Ozzy and Alice Cooper come to mind. The music by Slash is not really noticeable, but the 3D is good. The maze was fun and even featureed Simpsons-like “Smellivission.” Because of this I will give this maze a pass.
Next was a tram ride down to the Walking Dead-inspired “Terminus” maze. This is the biggest and busiest maze in the park. Once the tram stops, you are let out and tasked with defending yourself against an onslaught of walkers. This maze is complete with series staples Tanks, Georgia Correctional Prison, and a recreation of Terminus. And of course, there was a broken down RV and trip through the woods for fans of the first couple of seasons.
Being a huge fan of the cult classic John Landis film ” An American Werewolf in London,” I couldn’t wait to thrust myself into the maze of the same name. It did not disappoint. To my surprise, there may actually have been too many werewolves in this maze. It’s not a bad thing, but it seemed like a werewolf was jumping out of every dimly lit corridor. What really won me over were the “werewolf transformation” scenes littered throughout. The actors in this maze really stood out to me and sold their performances.
Next, I was a little disappointed by a slight name change to a certain bar, famous for its sales of a certain product. Sadly since this was an all ages event, the famous Titty Twister Bar was shortened to just “Twister.” Must be under new ownership. Now this maze is based on the recently released television show and not the film, but the show mirrors its source material so closely that it’s not distracting. Right at the entrance is a G-rated but still effective “Cheech Marin” hype man selling services located inside the bar. As I approached the entrance, I spotted none other than the “Gecko brothers” themselves. As I walked through the doors, Seth offered me a drink and flawlessly quoted George Clooney’s “Have a drink on me.” Once inside, the bar scene is slightly disappointing due to the size of the area they were working with. The bar itself is a miniature of what was featured in the film, but did feature a dancing and convincing “Santanico” with her trademark python (seen above). As I walked deeper into the maze I recognized a convincingly recreated back room from the show with a recently turned “Scott” vampire. Also recreated are the Aztec inspired back rooms of the film and show, complete with vampire “Danny Trejo” and vampire “Seth.” What sold me on this maze would have to be the use of music from the film throughout the maze.
The next maze to me felt like the odd man out due to its science fiction roots, but turned out to be my favorite of the night. It is also the biggest maze offered by Universal and took me about 10 minutes to completely walk through. The production values of this maze are by far the best I have ever experienced. Crashed Predator ship? Yes. Face huggers? Yes. Aliens vs Predators? Oh yes. Once you here that trademark Alien scream, you are instantly sucked into the a world where “whoever wins, we lose.” During my ten minutes trapped in this maze, I experienced multiple alien Attacks, saw a recently killed Predator with signature neon green blood, and found some recently hatched Alien eggs, complete with a live birth/chest burst. No spoilers, but there may or may not have been a Queen lurking throughout the maze.
Last but not least was the recently upgraded Syfy “Face Off” inspired maze, formally known as “Monster Remix.” This maze was fun. No scares for the most part, just fun. The whole maze is DJ-ed by a dub/drum-step loving monster, and it sets the mood for this maze perfectly. The creations by Syfy Face Off contestants were amazing and made this maze my fiancé’s favorite of the night.
Out of the four scare zones available, “Skullz” was the weakest, but only because it consisted of two guys on stilts. Maybe the other actors were on break while I walked through, but in past years the lower lot scare zones have always been lacking.
The real standout here, and my personal favorite, was “Dark Christmas,” complete with a Krampus. Google it. For years, my fiancé and I would talk about a Christmas-themed Halloween party, so to see it realized with such attention to detail was breathtaking. Yes, “breathtaking.” The music, decorations, and actors were all top-notch and really sold the theme of a “Tim Burton” and “Clive Barker” inspired North pole.
Also fun, but not quite on the same level as “Dark Christmas,” was the Victorian inspired “Mask-A-Raid.” For fans of the era, I could see this being your favorite scare zone. It is complete with spooky Victorian music and a guillotine. This area was a step up from last year’s “Chucky” themed scare zone.
The last scare zone is also the first one you experience while entering the park: “The Purge Anarchy.” Based on the recently released, awesome film, this scare zone features actors dawning movie-accurate masks and actors carrying always scary and equally loud chainsaws. As with past Halloween Haunts, this one too features a ring master of sorts, and this time she is located in this zone. Loosely based on a character from the film, she was pitch perfect and really set the mood for the zone.
Well that’s about it. Hopefully anyone on the fence about going to this event was convinced by this article. In my opinion, there is no better way to get into the Halloween spirit than to pay to get the crap scared out of you. Not literally, but if it does happen, no worries, there are conveniently placed restrooms all over the park. Thank you and enjoy.
PS – Is Halloween Haunt better than Stallone? Of course not!
Article by contributor Moan4Stallone.
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