I thought I’d get my next post on now that I’ve partially recovered from the jet lag. Friday morning I came back from Orlando, FL. It’s been labelled as my last family holiday and to be honest, it probably is, at least for a few years. Now, luckily, we’re no strangers to Orlando as we’ve all been multiple times. We’ve been really lucky as a family to be able to go as frequently as we have and to do/see as much as we have there. What I look forward to most when we visit Orlando during the September/October months is Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Haunted houses, the horror genre and Halloween events are a big passion of mine. We’ve been to HHN at Universal 3 times & each time it’s been great. The first time I visited I was probably around 12/13 and it was that visit that sparked an interest & subsequently resulted in me working at Farmaggedon (a much smaller, UK version of HHN). So I’m going to talk about a couple of the houses & scarezones on this post. I won’t cover them all as there were 9 houses and 6 scare zones so I’ll just cover my favourites. Here’s a map of the theme park:
The red parts are the haunted houses, which as you can see, are themed. Some are based on films (for example; The Shining) and some are just made up (Scarecrow The Reaping).
I was really excited for this house with it being such an iconic film and a staple film for any Horror fan. Now I must say that the house itself was well set out. It was early in the evening when we entered this house and I’m not sure if it was the lighting in the house itself or just natural light but the house felt a little too light which made it easier to spot upcoming scares. I also think that with film based houses the quality of the house really depends on the type of horror film i.e. Whether it’s a gorey & jumpy film itself or not. Now for me, The Shining doesn’t translate well into the house because the film is more psychological so it’s fair to say I was a little underwhelmed by it.
Scarecrow The Reaping
Now this was really fantastic. Just like with film based houses struggling to translate well into houses, created themes translate much better because it’s made up so you can do whatever you like.
As you can kind of see on the picture (and you can deduce from the name) the theme/setting for this house is that of a farmhouse setting. Imagine cornrows & wooden buildings. It was a labyrinth of entwining tunnels coupled with multiple scares. Unlike other houses where you get one scare and maybe a short break until the next corner when the next scare comes, Scarecrow does well to have multiple scares hit you within a matter of seconds. Most of the actors in the house had very similar costumes, and yep you guessed it, they were scarecrows. There were a few burnt-looking monsters in there too but with this being a very low ceiling type of house it was very dark so I could be mistaken. Definitely my favourite house as it was aesthetically very good but more importantly, the scares were superb.
We went into this house after we’d experienced Scarecrow The Reaping so Dead Waters was always up against it in my opinion for the title of “best haunted house” but I tried to go into it with an open mind. The backstory to this house was that you were entering a swamp filled with zombies that were out to get you as they were being controlled by some kind of witch doctor. The setting when enter does well to make you feel like you’re still outside, entering a swamp. You walk down a dirt path, fences either side with all sorts of swamp looking plants & animals behind them. It’s a sunken steamboat you enter next, half submerged in the swampy depths. Aesthetically it was brilliant and the floor in the first part of the boat is on an angle so you need to walk almost side on, creating that sense that you’re actually entering a boat that’s half sunken. The costumes in this house was what I assume were the former staff & guests on the boat as a lot of zombies had either dinner jackets on or sailors outfits. The scares in this house were good and also came at you thick and fast without must time between each of them. This was probably my 2nd favourite house. Not good enough to take the top spot from Scarecrow The Reaping.
The scarezones this year I felt were a lot weaker than previous years. I don’t know if it’s because I’m older now but they seemed less intimidating. The best scare zone for me was actually Trick or Treat which is based in the Central Park imitation walkway. There’s lots of lanterns & pumpkins lighting up the “tunnel of trees” walkway.
The monsters lurking in here are a combination of made up creature and twisted fairytales. Highlighted perfectly by the following popular princesses:
You may have noticed I said there were 6 scarezones but there’s only 5 highlighted on the map. Well there seemed to be a hidden scarezone this time; clowns with chainsaws. Chainsaws & clowns generally get the best scares at events like this so it’s a smart move to mix the two together.
Some more pictures from around the event:
All in all this year’s Halloween Horror Nights was the best one I’ve been to. Maybe not for actual fear but a mix of some really good houses with good scares and also being older and therefore being able to appreciate the aesthetics a little bit more.
That’s all for this post really, just a little insight into just one part of my holiday.