UNIVERSAL STUDIOS - “You Won’t Stand a Chance” – meet Chance, Halloween Horror Night 26 icon. You may remember her from last year. She was Jack the Clown’s assistant. She has been thrown into a cell, where her mind begins to deteriorate – and we are along for the ride. While Jack is away, Chance comes out to play!
Halloween Horror Nights 26 is the biggest one yet. This year, there are 9 houses (the most ever), 5 scare zones, 2 live shows, and a virtual reality experience like nothing that has ever been done before. Our suggestion: arrive early and consider express pass (or even the RIP Tour experience) to see all that HHN26 has to offer.
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The two live shows include the always relevant and funny Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, now in its 25th year; and, Academy of Villains: House of Fear – a dance group from California brings a show that is part dance party/part insane asylum.
The five scare zones include: A Chance in Hell - take a step inside the Chance’s demented mind; Vamp ’55 – think Happy Days meets Twilight; see the spirits left to die at sea in Dead Man’s Wharf – very cool costumes and set design; as well as Lair of the Banshee, and Survive or Die Apocalypse.
We were lucky enough to experience each haunted house, or maze as they are sometimes referred. The great thing about HHN is that the designers bring something to the table for everyone. The houses and scare zones are uniquely different so there is something for everyone (who loves to get scared!). Out of the nine houses, six of them are based on Hollywood movies/popular TV shows and three are original content. Here are our reviews of the nine houses:
American Horror Story
If you’re a fan of the popular FX Show, American Horror Story, then you’ll definitely recognize characters and scenes from Installment 1: Murder House; Installment 4: Freak Show, and Installment 5: Hotel. This house is the ‘uber’ house, which means it’s one of the longer houses you’ll walk through this year. This is a CAN’T MISS house! The designers did a fantastic job bringing the show and characters to life. Even if you are not a fan of the show, the circus/freak show section of the house will ‘freak’ you out.
The Walking Dead
Full disclosure, we’re huge TWD fans; if you find this review slightly biased, we’re #SorryNotSorry. This house encompasses scenes from all six seasons of the hugely popular The Walking Dead. Unfortunately, we do not find out who Negan killed; but you do see plenty of the undead walkers throughout this house. Some of the famous walkers throughout the seasons make an appearance in this house. We don’t want to give too much away – you need some surprises! As a fans of the show, we did get scared and jumped a few times. We also rate this house as a CAN’T MISS.
Probably the most famous scary movie is finally a house at Halloween Horror Nights. The designers definitely had a challenge in front of them because the majority of this movie takes place in one room – Regan’s bedroom. They did a great job of creating different scenarios of entering the room a multitude of different ways. I’m also a fan of any house the designers create which gives the illusion of walking into an actual home. In fact, Google the poster for the Exorcist – the eerie house on the poster is the entrance into this maze. We rate this house as CAN’T MISS. The detail in the house is great – and yes, there is a room with green throw-up. Also, kudos on finding enough scare actors who resemble Linda Blair!
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Here’s another house designed on a famous horror movie – the 1974 version. The maze has you walking through Leatherface’s Texas farmhouse. Aside from the many Leatherfaces that pop out to scare you, what really freaked us out in this house was the constant sound of the chainsaw. This house definitely plays on your sense of sound. This is another TOP NOTCH maze at HHN26.
Get your cameras ready because the entrance into this house is a photo opp. When you enter this house, you actually enter through a closet (very creative!). This house takes place after the previous Halloween house ended and now you enter the world of Halloween II. The detail in this house is fantastic. You will definitely see many Michael Myers roaming through this house (we did jump a few times). Towards the end, you walk through a ‘burnt-out’ hallway – kudos to the design team for this. Very cool effect. This is another TOP NOTCH maze at HHN26.
This is overwhelmingly one of our favorite houses at HHN26! If you’re a fan of Christmas, don’t miss this house. This house plays on your sense of smell with the scent of gingerbread in several rooms. If you haven’t seen the movie, Krampus is the Bavarian folklore that is the opposite of Saint Nicholas – he ‘takes’ versus ‘gives’ during the holiday season. This house has Krampus’ demons and evil elves jumping out to scare you. We were impressed with the detail throughout this house (gave me some ideas for Christmas, actually). We rate this as a CAN’T MISS house.
Lunatics Playground 3D
This is the icon house – the mind of Chance. This is a 3D house with a lot of strobe lights. Perhaps even more than last year’s version. We found this house more challenging then scary. Challenging because there were times when you just wanted to find a way out – it was sensory overload. We rate this house as VERY GOOD and would suggest that if you get motion sickness or get dizzy spells, you may want to avoid this house. This is the only house to have a vortex.
This is one of the original houses. It tells the story of a town that thrived during the 1849 gold rush but greed consumed the town and everyone in it. While you walk thru this dead, old West town, you see bodies and the ghosts left behind. There is a lot of flashes in this maze because the town only appears when there is a storm. We rate this house as VERY GOOD. Great concept for an original houses – and who doesn’t love a good ghost story.
Tomb of the Ancients
The last and final house is a CAN’T MISS and is another original house. This house does play on your sense of surroundings because there are rooms that are cramped. In fact, if you get claustrophobic, you may find this house slightly challenging in parts. The story is about ancient giants who once roamed the earth but were buried underground by humans. The giants awaken while you play the part of archeologist and walk through a maze of the underground. We were impressed with the design as it felt like you were walking through actual caves. The costumes were on point too.
The Repository – a virtual reality experience. *This wasn’t open yet for review and is an add-on, on top of the price of admission. It’s scheduled to open on September 29th.