After attending nearly every weekend of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) during the 2019 season, on November 2, 2019, I attended the final evening of HHN Year 29, opening and closing the night with my favorite house this year, Universal Monsters, and it was an unforgettable evening. In this blog post, I will share my thoughts on the entire 2019 run, closing out with a recap of the eventful final evening.
HHN 29 featured:
- 10 Haunted Houses/Mazes:
- 4 Original Houses: Graveyard Games, Yeti: Terror of the Yukon, Nightingales Blood Pit, Depths of Fear
- 6 Intellectual Property Houses: Universal Monsters, Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, Us, House of 1000 Corpses, Killer Klowns from Outer Space
- 6 Scare Zones:
- Anarch-Cade, Vanity Ball, Vikings Undead, Zombieland Double Tap, Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe
- 2 Shows:
- Academy of Villains: Altered States and Halloween Marathon of Mayhem
- Several Special Tours and Experiences:
- Unmasking the Horror Tours (3 house or 6 house – we did the 6 house tour and will talk about that below), Scare Actor Dining, RIP Tour and more
- Specialty Food and Drinks:
- Pizza fries, S’mores fries, potstickers, craft beer, specialty cocktails and more
- Awesome Merchandise:
- Themed to the houses, zones and shows (I purchased the house shirt, the IP shirt, an Academy of Villains shirt and all four collectable blinking cups
(A quick note about the sound design of HHN29 – I loved it! Each zone was immersive, dance-able, loud and totally jamming!)
First, the Houses:
- Universal Monsters = #1 favorite house! Every single scene, every single monster, just incredible. From the moment you walk in and feel the mist of a light rain as you walk through a dark forest before entering a stone building with the word TALBOT carved above the entryway, you are completely immersed into the world of Universal Monsters! This house was everything I personally want in a Universal haunted house, tying in the classic genre-making films and characters. I wanted to cheer for Phantom every time, Dracula is one of my all-time favorite monsters and I almost fainted from excited each time he called for the Monsters to devour us! “Devour them! Devour them all!” The Phantom, Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolfman, Bride of Frankenstein, Hunchback of Notre Dame and more of the great classic monsters of our time were represented in gorgeous scenes.
- Ghostbusters, Graveyard Games, Yeti = all tied for second favorite, all amazing! A few standouts: The snow falling on you as you enter Shadow Creek Camp, the Yeti arm swiping down from above you as you are distracted by the massive, impressive Yeti above you, the punk in the graveyard calling you a dork and glowing spirits in the graveyard, and of course, all the iconic scenes from Ghostbusters.
- Honorable mentions:
- Us: on one night, we were pulsed and walked through basically all alone – this was an INCREDIBLE experience and I wish they had kept this up, but I understand capacity prevents this from being a regular occurence – it did make for a completely unique, unsettling and memorable walk-through
- Nightingales: I did this house on my first and last night and wow, the difference was palpable! It was great both time, but the last night they BROUGHT IT and got me with several scares! Well done!
- All of the houses were great fun, it was so cool to watch the changes over time as the event adjusted and shifted. Everyone killed it!
Now, the Scare Zones:
- The first zone you encounter when you enter the park is Anarch-Cade; it is visually stunning, the music is dreamy, mood-creating, dark & loud synth pop, bringing you into the atmosphere of a bizarre, 80s/futuristic world! Stunning, it’s a perfect entry-way zone, just wish it would have had more space as it was a bit small.
- Vanity Ball was jaw-dropping, I loved it! It reminded me of a dystopian future and it immediately brought to mind the Doctor Who episode, “The End of the World.” The runway and constant spieling to guests and “patients,” the disturbing doctor waiting for his next patients, and the works of art roaming the zone, made for a story-based and really cool experiential zone.
- I enjoyed all three remaining zones, Vikings Undead, Zombieland Double Tap and Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe, with their cool roaming scares, photo opportunities, &a the most striking part of the open areas of HHN this year – THE MUSIC!
2019’s Visually Stunning and Musically Satisfying Shows:
- Academy of Villains: Altered States: This show grew on me from the first night to the last. By my 2nd time seeing it, I sang along to every song, and by my third time, I was dancing, clapping, jamming and looking forward to the next show… and the next.. and the next! I made sure to be at the very last performance on the very last night of HHN 29, if that gives you any idea of how much I loved this show!
- Halloween Marathon of Mayhem: A light show on the lake, with projections displayed over synchronized fountains, lots of pumping music and dialogue, and featuring sights and sounds from \Ghostbusters, Universal Monsters, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Stranger Things.
6-House Unmasking the Horror Tour:
We took the 6-house Unmasking the Horror Tour, which featured daytime walk-throughs of: House of 1000 Corpses, Depths of Fear, Nightingales Blood Pit, Stranger Things, Yeti and Ghosbusters. We got to see how the effects and puppets worked, some of the easter eggs and details that guests will probably never see, and were allowed to take a few incredible photo opportunities (we did not tour the Us house, but we were allowed to take a photo in front of the facade):
Food and Drink:
Now, on to the food – pizza fries are a delicious treat, but heavy and not something I could eat every day (nor something you are intended to eat every day). I’ll definitely be cooking some of these up at home until they are back! I didn’t try s’mores fries as they didn’t appeal to me, but I heard mixed reactions. I had the potstickers twice and they were good and different, but too many chips, not enough pot stickers. I enjoyed that Miami Weiss was a craft beer this year, and apparently so did many others, as they were sold out by the last evening! I collected all four of the collectible cups this year and loved walking around the foggy scare zones with them! It adds to the fun.
The designs this year were so well themed, so colorful and really captured the 80s/retro/fantasy futuristic feel of this year! I purchased the house shirt, the white collared shirt and a long-sleeved Academy of Villains shirt.
All in all, 2019 was a fun, highly themed, power-packed, musical year, and I loved the 80s theme, original houses and new shows! I am highly excited for Halloween Horror Nights 30th anniversary in 2020 – and I’ll be sure to add express to my pass!
Thank you to the cast, crew, scare actors, performers, organizers and everyone involved with another great year of Halloween Horror Nights, and thank you to Universal Orlando for continuing to support this world-class event! See you next year for more screams and thrills!
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