Happy Tuesday everybody and welcome to another amazing Park Journey update!
Today we're heading to Universal Studios Hollywood to check out the progress on Super Nintendo World and a few other things around the park. I'll also give my final thoughts on HHN 2021.
Written by Gregg Condon
This past Thursday we were invited out to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood to take in our first full-fledged Halloween event in almost 2 years. In fact, it had been 676 days since the last night of Horror Nights in 2019. I think we can all agree that was far too long. And it was great to be back.
In this review we'll not only share our pics and video from opening night along with our initial maze rankings, but also a bit from our visit on Sunday where we used our Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Survival Guide. Did it work? You'll just have to read on to find out. :)
Written by Gregg Condon
Despite a few returning mazes, a rarity for Halloween Horror Nights, this years line-up of mazes is truly great, with no truly "bad" mazes, and a couple that are destined to be classics.
Bride of Frankenstein LIVES
On both Thursday and Sunday, this was pretty much everybody in our groups favorite maze. The concept of a sequel to one of the classic monster movies is amazing, and the story is fleshed out (pun intended), well told and the talent in here is amazing. Set design is top notch, and the creature/Bride actors are stellar all the way around. Now if we could just get the Slash soundtracks on vinyl.
The Haunting of Hill House
Not a literal retelling of the series, which wouldn't work in a maze, but more being inside Hill House, which is pretty freaky anyway. A rather dark maze with scattered scares, this one isn't about jump scares, but about the creepyness of the entire house. And it works.
I'll admit to being a bit disappointed in The Exorcist when it was a maze in 2016. It was very repetitive, and the room scenes just didn't tell the story well enough. To be fair, this has to be one of the hardest movies to translate to a maze. However, in 2020 the maze has a new location, in a soundstage, which gives them more room to do more. And they have. This years maze tells the story very well and has some great jump scares throughout. Not to be missed.
The Curse of Pandora's Box
Not the 2019 maze we would have picked to come back (give us Killer Klowns or Holidayz in Hell), that said, Pandora's Box is a ton of fun, the talent in here is great and the scenery and lighting is spectacular.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Another returning maze, this one has fixed a few things from the 2019 maze and it definitely works as one of the better "Halloween" mazes in recent years. Still a bit disappointing they didn't go with the new Halloween Kills, but a repeat of Michael Myers is better than no Michael Myers.
Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge
The Terror Tram is back, with a bit of a new route through the War of the Worlds sets and lots of Purging going on. This has always been about the unique experience of getting to walk through a part of the backlot and see the Bates Motel and Psycho House up close. The Purge is definitely a fun theme this year (if you haven't seen the new Purge movie, check it out, it's the best since the first one and very timely).
That said, I felt that they rushed everybody through this experience a bit too much this year. I realize they need to get people through the experience, but I'd like to actually enjoy it. Especially on Sunday, the tram only had a 5 minute wait most of the night, plenty of time to let people just take their time and enjoy this awesome experience.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
I'll admit to two things here. 1) Texas Chainsaw Massacre is my least favorite Horror Franchise. It just never did anything for me. 2) This maze was MUCH better on Sunday than it was on Thursday. That said, we've seen all of this before. It's still fun, and if you like Leatherface you're going to enjoy this one. But definitely wouldn't mind seeing them give this franchise a break for a few years.
Side Note: Why is it the maze in this location always has the longest lines? Is it a capacity thing? Every year, without fail there's something about this location.
The Walking Dead
Something has to be last, and of course it's The Walking Dead. Nothing really different in here from it's closure in early 2020. Not even the facade has been put back up. But it was nice to go through this attraction again even if there are no changes, and it increases the capacity of the event which is a positive.
Once again, overall we are pleased with this years mazes. And since we have the Frequent Fear we'll be experiencing all of them a few more times, and we may feel differently in another month and a half.
But the mazes aren't all there is at this years event. Let's check out the rest of HHN Hollywood.
Dia De Los Muertos
Typically the Universal Plaza is used as an extended queue for the Parisian Courtyard maze. Not this year, it's been transformed into Dia De Los Muertos. It's lively and fun, there is a bar and food and places to sit and relax. Definitely needed!
There's even some fun animatronics that do a fun show. I think there is more than one, we'll definitely have to check next time we're at HHN.
There's a lot of really great Merchandise this year. Probably more than any other year. We got a few things this weekend, we'll surely be getting more.
Sunday Night Visit
Sunday Night we headed back to visit with our Frequent Fear Passes. This is the second year we've gotten the Frequent Fear Pass after loving it so much in 2019. Universal Hollywood is one of the easier parks for us to get to and it's nice to just pop in for a few hours and not have to feel like we have to do everything in one night.
That said, using our Survival Guide, we did manage to do pretty much everything in one night.
We did a Twitter thread during our visit that you can see below.
Alright, that's going to wrap it up for our opening weekend update and review. We hope you enjoyed! Did you visit HHN this past weekend? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
We'll be back in a couple of weeks for more fun, and of course, we'll be doing a late-night visit at some point for Chainsaw Chaseout!
Thanks for reading! See you in the fog!
Every year Halloween Horror Nights seems to get bigger and bigger, and so do the crowds.
Below you will find some of our tips for making the most out of your Halloween Horror Nights experience. Some do's and don'ts and most importantly, what should be your "plan of attack" for the night.
You can also check out the HHN site for more information on tickets, hours, etc.
September: 9-12, 16-19, 23-26, 30
October: 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-31
If you want a bit more info about this years event, check out a pair of HHN panels from Midsummer Scream's Awaken the Spirits from a few weeks back.
Early Entry Attractions
The line-up for this years Early Entry attractions. Early Entry begins at 6:00pm every night.
Recommended Maze Order
We HIGHLY RECOMMEND you get to the park for Early Entry! This gives you your best chance to experience all of the attractions without Front of the Line.
Front of the Line tip: If lines are short when you get to the a particular attraction (or if you are there for Early Entry) DO NOT use your Front of the Line Pass early in the evening. Go through once in the stand-by line and then use your Front of the Line later in the evening. This way you get two trips through each Maze. With no backlot this year, getting back to a favorite maze will be rather easy.
Early Entry: As mentioned above, early entry will begin at 6:00pm. Since the Exorcist is available, it's in a soundstage (which means it's dark) you should definitely head here first. This will definitely be one of the more popular mazes of 2021.
No Early Entry: If you do not get there in time for early entry but are there at opening check the wait time for the Lower Lot Mazes. If they are 45 minutes or more, head to the Curious George Mazes first. The line will be there all night. Better to wait in some shorter lines and come back and wait for The Exorcist and Texas Chainsaw Massacre later.
Texas Chainsaw Massare
Early Entry: If you did early Entry, you should be through The Exorcist before 6:30 (we were out at 6:13 our first visit using this guide). This should give you plenty of time for a walk through of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Once you're done, head to the upper lot. If you want to ride Jurassic World, Mummy or Transformers, we recommend coming back down later in the evening once your Haunted attractions are done.
Note: For some reason, the maze in this location is ALWAYS one of the longest waits of the night, no matter what the theme is. That is certainly the case this year. Not sure if it's capacity or what. But depending on what time you get out of Exorcist, you may want to skip this and head upstairs. The wait time always seems longer than the posted time.
Haunting of Hill House and Pandora's Box
If you did early Entry, you should be getting to Hill House and Pandora's around 7:00pm. While the 7:00pm crowd is heading to the lower lot, you should head to the Curious George mazes.
Note: we did reverse the order of these two mazes and Terror Tram after opening night. Terror Tram was about 30-45 minutes consistently all night, while both of these got to be pretty long waits.
Front of the Line Tip: If you happen to get here and the lines or short (30 minutes or less), go through the Stand-By line and then use your Front of the Line so you get to experience each maze twice.
After Hill House and Pandora you may need to take a break and get a snack. This is a good time to do it. Grab something in Springfield or Wizarding World before heading to the Terror Tram. Also, to note, both Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff were 5 minute waits all night on opening night. This isn't likely to be the case every night, but just a heads up.
Front of the Line Tip: If the line is relatively short, 30 minutes or less, you CAN go through the stand-by line and use your Front of the Line later. But remember, this experience generally takes 30-45 minutes from beginning to end and closes early, so you may not have time to do it twice. Plus, there's a LOT of walking on this one. =)
After getting through the Terror Tram, hang a left and head back towards the front of the park and face off against Michael Myers. By this time of the night most of the crowds will be on the lower lot or terror tram.
Front of the Line Tip: Just like before, if the stand-by line is relatively short (30 minutes or less) go through the stand-by line and then you can head to Haddonfield one last time on your way out.
The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and The Walking Dead
It's getting late in the evening, you're tired, but you still have two mazes left to go. But that's ok, they are right next to each other. On Opening Night Bride of Frankenstein was super short after 10:00pm. And this one is NOT to be missed. In fact, you may want to do it more than once. Or 5 times. Walking Dead didn't have anything new, but did have new effects.
Front of the Line Tip: Just like before, if the stand-by line is relatively short (30 minutes or less) go through the stand-by line and then you can visit The Bride again. You can follow the same logic for The Walking Dead if you really missed it and need to go through twice.
This year, the event has some special food offerings both on the Lower Lot and in the Minions Cafe. We will definitely be trying some of these on opening night and will post those pictures on Friday.
Like the last few years, there is only one show at HHN this year. Once we get showtimes we'll update this with recommended times to go.
Once you have completed all the mazes you can hang around the scare zones and watch the talent, check the wait board to see if there are any short maze or ride lines or if you have a Front of the Line Pass use up any trips you haven't already.
Do some shopping, grab a t-shirt, hang out in the scare zones and drive home safely.
If you are at the event until it closes you may get to experience the amazing "Chainsaw Chase-Out". It's a great HHN tradition, and one of our absolute favorite things at ANY event.
Alright, that'll do it for this years Survival Guide. We will be attending 2 nights over the first weekend (once with Front of the Line and once without) so we'll be updating this for sure early next week.
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