It is that time of year again! The color changing leaves, fresh autumn smell, harvesting the pumpkins, pumpkin everything, to say the least, and of course, zombies, ghosts, the horror, the spooky, and the Halloween! Each year, Southern California attracts hundreds of thousands of guests and fans throughout theme parks, mazes, haunted houses, and other Halloween themed events to get their scares and screams out! It seems Monsters, Inc was not the only company collecting screams. This year I had the wonderful chance to return to Universal Studios, Hollywood for their annual Halloween Horror Nights! The last time I had the opportunity was in 2011, when the park featured mazes and haunts from feature films such as Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Psycho. For 2014, Universal Studios brought the onslaught of Horror for a total of seven mazes; from themes such as Alien vs. Predator, The Walking Dead, and American Werewolf in London. The night is full of fun, scares, laughs, screams, sometimes cries, and all together an incredible night. I surprised my girlfriend this year for her birthday, which was on Friday as well, and we set out to Universal’s HHN! The park closes down and reopens for HHN guests, when regular admittance is 7:00 pm, while VIP admittance is 6:00 pm. However, I found it interesting and useful that the park allows regular-attendees early access as well if you enter through a side gate to make the Terror Tram (Studio Tour Tram) your first ride. But the best part, this line is not really ‘cut-off’ or separated from the park, so you are essentially free to roam to any part of the park! That was pretty awesome, as we entered the park at 6:15 instead of what seemed to be a 7:00 opening. We made our way down to the lower lot where Jurassic Park, The Mummy, and the [fairly] new Transformers rides are located. Also down below, the mazes include The Walking Dead, AVP: Aliens vs Predator, From Dusk Till Dawn, An American Werewolf in London, and Clowns 3D: Music by Slash; [the lower lot also featured one of five scare zones, this location holding The Walking Dead scare zone.] Our first stop was AVP, which in order to get to, you go through The Walking Dead scare zone, through tunnels, broken down cars, gated areas, and a few stairs and hills. Luckily our AVP wait was only 10 minutes, as well as the other mazes; soon after, the wait shot up to over 115 minutes for the popular mazes! AVP was a pretty fun maze; cool Alien props of the face-huggers, broken containment shells as well as some with face-huggers in them; a cool entrance of a crashed ship; as well as in the beginning, the Predator from the end of AVP, with a burst chest and the glowing green blood everywhere! Throughout the maze, Aliens and Predators would burst through windows and doors, while face-huggers slammed against windows, and a few spots where real actors were being attacked or some fake bodies either skinned or already being eaten alive! Towards the end, the Queen rests against the wall waiting for dinner (you) to arrive! Overall, however, I was a bit disappointed with this maze; After watching videos of the AVP maze in Universal Orland0 (here) it is clear that Universal Hollywood is not up to par whatsoever (Hollywood video here) You would think being the ‘movie capital’ Hollywood would have the better mazes with more interactions and features, but, oh well, at least we got an AVP maze!
Next up we had The Walking Dead maze which is right next to AVP; this was set up to the prison scenario as in Season 3 and 4. It was overall a very well designed and fun area! Walkers at every corner, bodies being eaten, crashed cars burning areas and everything you would want in a Walking Dead maze! Not much to say, let alone complain about this one, but definitely an attraction NOT to miss for fans of The Walking Dead or simply fans of zombies! The only ‘confusing’ thing I would say, is the initial walk down to the maze, there are signs for Terminus as well as inside the maze, different sections relating to Terminus . . . so it seems they mashed the two when I personally would have liked just one or the other. After the first two mazes, we set way for the Transformers: 3D ride, as well as Jurassic Park, the classic and favorited ride in Universal Studios! This was our first time on Transformers, and overall I give it a 9/10! Fun filled ride hunting down and battling Decepticons, sitting/riding in a random autobot (well not random, but I forgot the name). It is an actual roller-coaster like ride, similar to The Mummy, but with the Simpsons ride feel as it goes through different animated and film screens along with built sets. Throughout the bottom-lot, costumed walkers roamed the area, on stilts, they were dressed in goat-like and other cattle like creatures! Full gowns, masks, and amazing stilt-walking skills! They were not so much as scary but more fun to watch and run around with.
Heading back up to the top lot, we merged over to The Simpsons Ride, (an all time favorite, yet I am still saddened that E.T. was removed!) So far lines have been short and no issues there! A quick stop through the Kwik-E-Mart for a look around then it was off to The Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride! This was the longest line of the night et, almost an hour waiting, but totally worth it for a first time rider! I love the outdoor displays and design, as posters were set up to resemble a WWII style propaganda to join “Gru’s Army” as a minion. Prior to boarding the ride, a another waiting area is set to resemble Gru’s living room, and large screens above the doors to show Gru introducing you to the start of the ride! Riders are placed in separate cars similar to The Simpsons, BUT all the cars are in one room and it is just like the old Terminator Ride (another I am saddened to see gone). Again, I would give this ride a 9/10, it is fun, cute, silly, if you are a fan of Despicable Me than you will love it; only complaint here is that it is just too short of a ride!!
Throughout the rest of the park, we encountered a few more ‘scare zones’; as mentioned before, The Walking Dead zone is in the lower lot, and the upper lot has the Masquerade theme and Dark Christmas themed zones. The masquerade is a victorian style scare zone; ol’ wigs, englishman, women in large gowns showing the enormous hips, hangings and an ol’ dinner table full of dead diners! Then the ‘Dark Christmas’ theme, my personal favorite of the scare zones! Evil creepy elves, Santas, Mrs. Clauses, zombie reindeer, evil giant nutcrackers, and more! It is a step-up from a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ style, but so much fun to be around! It truly is a “nightmare” before Christmas! The main entrance, well almost to that, had a Purge themed scare zone; I am not fully familiar with the Purge films, but there was a ‘spokeswoman’ on a stage of bodies, with masked men running around chasing you with chainsaws! And of course, bodies, bodies, and more, bodies.
The last three mazes we went through this night were Sci Fi’s Face/Off, From Dusk Till Dawn, and Dracula. From Dusk is actually a tv show (who knew? I did not!) and they had scenes playing on a screen outside the building and a few actors who would go through the lines reenacting scenes from the show too. The maze itself is in essentially a strip club called ‘Twister’ with creepy bloody strippers and strip-club-attendees attacking you. Then the Dracula attraction was a bit more pleasant; essentially vampires and ghouls and goblins jumping out chasing you throughout Dracula’s mansion area. . . BUT Face/Off was absolutely incredible!! One of my favorite attractions for the night, and I am so glad Universal Studios brought this theme into the 2014 HHN! From Sci Fi’s hit television series, Face/Off brings makeup artists in a competition to design, build, paint, mold, scrap together the best creatures, monsters, beasts, aliens, any sic-fi related being! And all the previous designs were brought into this maze! Each creature had their own theme, then before exiting, it becomes a giant rave with strobe lights, heavy EDM music, and a big ol’ party! Definitely the mazy to hit on the way out to end the night on a good, I mean, great note! As for the rest of the night’s adventures, I was happy and surprised to see Star Wars merch in the gift shop( including the awesome Yoda Jedi-training back pack!!), snagged the giant Lard Lad’s Donut from the Kwik-E-Mart, and found some cool Minion displays, tried on Arnie’s jacket from Terminator 2, as well as won some Minion plushes for my girlfriend!! I also included a photo of the wait times to show how much the wait had increased early in the night. (My apologies for this and other blurry photos, it is hard to snap good photos on an iPhone when running through a theme park!) This night was not just a fun filled, Halloween adventure night, but also a night for my girlfriend’s birthday! Shoutout to Mayra, my beautiful churro (yes I’m cheesier than nachos) hope you enjoyed it babe! And hope all my followers and readers also enjoyed the post and get a chance to visit the park!