Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights 25 Wrap Up
This coming weekend marks the end of another incredible year of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. As the days wind down, we wanted to take a moment to call out some of our favorite things from our 22 days (and counting) of attending the event.
3. Body Collectors – Recollections: This is the only house through the entire event that we never experienced missing actors or scares in key spots, which made this the most consistent night after night. Body Collectors was also one of the most violent houses this year, which went a long way with intimidation scares. It was a joy every night to experience this house, from the gorgeous opening facade to the hidden Easter eggs inside.
2. Freddy vs. Jason: Much like last year’s Halloween house, this was a dream come true with the biggest iconic characters in horror coming to life in front of you. This house was exceptional in design as it took the guest through historical landscapes from both franchises and then ended in familiar fight sequences from the epic battle movie. The actors playing Jason in this house were spot on in height and size and were perfect foils to the campy, yet scary Freddy.
1. Jack Presents: 25 Years Of Monsters And Mayhem: As a fan of HHN history, this house was perfect from beginning to end. While it seemed to have an awkward start to the season with Jack missing his mask/hair, the house remained consistent with scares and always provided a smile through each scene. 25 Years also gave us our new breakout star of the year, HHN Bear. Who knew that starting a chant would take off so well in having the bear be a big living Easter egg focus now. (Chant his name….he will dance). The classic Universal Monsters in this house were a treat every visit, and I’d love to see them featured in another standalone house in the near future.
Best Scare Zones
3. Psychoscareapy – Unleashed: This scare zone was more fun than scary (more on scary zones later), and was a pleasure to walk through every night. Aside from a few actors here, it seemed like everything changed during each visit and you never knew what to expect when walking through. The actors did an incredible job of bringing mischievous insanity to each set.
2. All Nite Die-In – Double Feature: It’s hard to rate this zone as it’s really 2 zones baked into one area, depending on the cast set (color v black & white). This zone was a living museum for horror fans as it included horror icons from classic to current films and included something for everyone. The makeup and character performances were perfect in this zone, despite so many fans asking for actors to stop for pictures (as we are guilty ourselves).
- Icons – HHN: As the event celebrates 25 years this year, this zone gets the top nod as it contained icons from most prior events. Similar in nature to Jack’s 25 Years house, this zone provides even HHN newbies the opportunity to get acclimated to the icons that Halloween Horror Nights was built on. Including “kill shows” for each icon was a brilliant move that allowed guests to see how the icons came to be.
Scariest Scare Zones
3. Scary Tales – Screampunk: What seems harmless enough at face value is indeed creepy and scary when the lights go out. We did not experience one night where we didn’t find guests screaming and running out of this zone. The characters were creepy and the actors did amazing work with the limited space that they had to work with.
2. Roaming Clowns: While not an official set zone, the clowns invaded the Springfield area this year and provided more menacing scares than almost anyone else. This roaming horde combined 2 of the most feared things at HHN: clowns and chainsaws…that’s like chocolate and peanut butter for horror fans.
- Evil’s Roots: Can Groot, Shrek, Ram Man, Pumpkin Man, and Man as Bush be scary? Hell yeah, they can. This was the one zone that we were literally terrified about walking through every night as something was always scaring us. Man as Bush wins the award of being the scariest zone actor of the year for sure. Of note…Ram Man….what happened? We didn’t see you enough and you could have been the next HHN Bear!
3. Scurvy the Green Clown: Night after night, this ringleader rallied the clown troops and instilled fear in many folks passing by the back of the park. We were lucky enough to capture his rally call multiple times and while it provided some humor, the resulting screams from the surrounding area were amazing.
2. Dr. Frankenstein: You’d be hard pressed to find the good doctor outside of his character each night as he welcomed us to his lab. While he was not the scariest of the actors this year, his persona and ability to stay in character were remarkable and a genuine pleasure to watch.
- The Usher: This is a bit tricky as multiple folks portray The Usher on a rotating basis, but The Usher featured in our picture to the right is our hands down winner for male scareactor of the year. While most of his expressions were silent and done through pantomiming, his messages were received loud and clear. The Usher delivered equal amounts of creepiness, scariness, and humor and was an amazing treat every time we visited him. The Usher’s kill sequence was easily the best of the Icons zone as well and his crowd interaction leading up to and following the kill event were worth the price of admission alone.
3. Bride of Frankenstein: As mentioned above, this zone did a marvelous job at remaining in character throughout the event and the Bride of Frankenstein is a perfect example of character perfection. We did not see a smile or any facial expressions outside of a blank monster stare in any of our visits. The Bride was a treat to watch as she systematically paced the zone on her reanimated legs.
2. La Llorona: As with The Usher, La Llorona had 2 actors playing this role, depending on cast shift. The actress pictured to the left was the perfect mix of insanity and scariness as she shrieked in horror while looking for her lost children. We experienced multiple people running through the entire Icons zone based on her interactions as well as children brought to tears as a result of her masterful work.
- Carrie: It was an incredible treat to see the bloody prom queen, Carrie, inserted in the Die-In scare zone. Carrie never broke character and her dead ahead stare was an incredible distraction that led to many scares. Carrie’s method acting was incredibly impressive, with not once breaking character through her long sets.
3. Costume Contest – Psychoscareapy: This mini show was a pleasure to watch nightly as each set included the right amount of scripted madness, improvisation and over the top acting that was enhanced with certain casting combinations.
2. The Usher Kill – Icons: While the script is hard coded (voiced over), the actors playing the Usher made this show their own with ad libbing before and after each voiced over sequence. Of particular note, when one Usher licks the glass window to mop up the blood, there are always joyous squeamish “ohhhhhs” coming from the crowd.
- The Carnage Returns: Jack’s show delivers the good each and every night, with a perfect blend of set kills, scripted insults and ad hoc verbiage delivered by masters of the game. This show was the perfect solution to ADD, with loud music, dancing, and gore.
We don’t know anyone that has left HHN25 without at least humming “Kill The Band” from Junkie XL. This song was a standout in a sea of well scored carnival and action themed selections.
Halloween Horror Nights 25 was an incredible mix of established Universal ground up properties as well as IP houses and will be a hard task to exceed next year. We are anxious to see what comes next in our favorite annual attraction and look forward to covering the event well again next year.
Did our selections match yours? Did we get anything wrong? Let us know in the comments below.
Our video playlist from HHN25 is below as well as our pictures from the event.