Sometimes life throws you a curve ball ... and such is the case that led up to this trip report. When you have to put things aside for awhile or experience things differently than you ever had before.
But on the flip side, sometimes when you have to do things a bit differently it gives you a chance to do a different kind of report if you're a blogger, and this is absolutely that kind of report.
Written by Gregg Condon
Some of you already know this, but for those that don't, in August my wife Kristi had to have major back surgery, her fourth major back surgery since 2008. Which has meant a big change in our theme park going life and which meant a HUGE change in our 2016 Haunt Season. So much so that it necessitated a cancellation of our first trip to HHN Orlando and Howl-O-Scream this October (don't worry, plans are already being made to go next October).
This also meant that our SoCal Haunt Season was very different, one of us couldn't do, well, anything and one of us felt incredibly guilty for doing things. Such is the nature of almost 21 years of marriage.
But, as luck has it, Universal Hollywood extended their event for the second time this year which meant that she was well enough to go to the event, but would have to do so in a wheelchair. Not only due to the walking, but to help control any scary "jerky" motions in mazes.
So hopefully this report will be beneficial to somebody who may want to do HHN 2017 but has otherwise been wondering if they can do so. So we'll DEFINITELY be re-running this update next October, well, September. ;)
I'll also point out that we did attend Fright Fest in October but at the time it was kind of a "test" so we only did the Scare Zones and Aftermath 2. But all indications are that that event and I'm sure every other theme park event would be just as awesome to navigate for somebody in a wheelchair.
Once we arrived at the park we picked up our Front of the Line passes and headed into the park. You don't need to have a Front of the Line pass to do the event in a Wheelchair, they will simply give you a return time at each maze, but we were able to get Front of the Line passes at the last minute, so we did. And it made the night awesome.
Our first stop of the night was Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and if you saw our initial HHN review you'll remember this was down at the bottom of the list. Not so much this time. Such is the curse of going on opening night as you'll see in this report.
We had a great time in this maze and because I was pushing her and not worrying about picture taking and filming I got to enjoy the maze and see all of the amazing detail in all of them.
Next up was The Walking Dead which we've of course done before, which also turned out to be the easiest maze to navigate due to it's permanent nature. It was also the only time ALL NIGHT that I ran over somebody's foot (one of the security guards in the maze). Sorry about that.
Because it was the last night of HHN they were running a test and had Wizarding World open. Because we hadn't tried the hot Butterbeer yet, well, duh, we had to spend some time having Butterbeer and dessert because we didn't think Butterbeer would go very well with Fish n Chips. Grandma would be proud that we had dessert first.
One of the other HHN experiences that was kind of low on our list from opening night was Terror Tram. First off, the tram attendants are AMAZING when it comes to guests in wheelchairs. So HUGE kudos to all of them.
The other thing we noticed very early in the night were the monsters were actively going after Kristi. A LOT. I can't count how many times she got her "throat slit" during our night, but it was at least 25-30.
The Terror Tram also produced the best "scare" we had at any event all year. We were going through one of the "rooms" and came out and got bombarded by chainsaws from three different directions. It was amazing. Too bad we weren't filming.
After a quick dinner in Springfield we made our way downstairs. Because Kristi is mobile enough to use the Starway we went that route to leave the shuttle for those who aren't able to transfer out. It was interesting taking an empty wheelchair down but after the first level we had no problems.
Down on the backlot mazes we were able to do Krampus and Freddy vs Jason 2 times each, both were AMAZING and FvJ in particular was so much more improved than opening night. So much so that it was probably my second favorite maze of the night, after Krampus.
AHS was also really solid again, but I really would love to see them just limit it to one season of the show. I'd love to see it come back and go that route in 2017.
After a quick break down on the lower lot we made our way through Exorcist, and this was the only maze all night I actually ran into a wall pushing the wheelchair. It's just REALLY dark in this maze and I literally had no idea where I was going. But it was funny and we all laughed.
Oh, and the maze was of course amazing.
Last but not least was Halloween which was, duh, amazing.
Going up the starway with the Wheelchair was significantly easier than going down.
We spent some time going through The Purge which was literally on fire that night, being the last night there's just a different kind of energy, this is true for all Halloween events.
I really hope they bring the concept of the "Gauntlet of Fear" back in 2017. It was a test that worked out REALLY well and everybody seemed to enjoy it. I just hope the theme is something actually "horror" based next year. Would be a GREAT fit for the Shawn of the Dead scarezone again (hint, hint).
Overall our night of going to HHN in a Wheelchair was a VERY positive experience. There were only a couple of times we got stuck or ran into lots of hanging corpses (FvJ) but all of the staff in every maze, in every line, at the tram was amazing. You can tell that HHN and Universal goes above and beyond when it comes to taking care of all their guests.
And because in some mazes there were parts where I literally couldn't see in front of me, it turned out monsters were kind of waiting for us, which was of course amazing.
Yes, parks are required to be accessible due to the ADA but you can tell Universal has taken special care to go even beyond that. And it's very much appreciated.
Thanks for reading and we hope this report will help some of you as you make plans for next years Halloween season.
Today it's time to take a look at the goings on at Universal Studios Hollywood as they prepare for Halloween Horror Nights which begins in just, wait, 9 days? Wow.
It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend in Southern California (VERY fall-like, well for us) so we'll also share some pictures of the park courtesy of Matt.
Pictures by Matthew Nelson
Written by Gregg Condon
What better way to start off a Universal Studios Hollywood update than in Hogsmeade?
I'm not an Owl ...
No sign of Yakko, Wakko and Dot ...
Let's take the Starway down for a look at the lower lot ... raise your hand if you have kind of forgotten there is a Lower Lot at Universal Studios Hollywood since about April. =)
From up here the Exorcist doesn't look very scary.
Not sure I've ever been so excited for a maze ... ever.
Even though it was very cool for Labor Day Weekend, it was still warm enough for a trip through Jurassic Park
This one is happy to see you
The Studio Tour is a must do of course ...
Construction on the all new Halloween Maze is going along quite nicely.
Due to filming on the backlot we weren't able to get any shots of the mazes that will be down here, but still plenty of activity going on.
Look for this in a Movie/TV Show/Commercial/Music Video (those are apparently still a thing) near you ...
These are how they keep you locked up for HHN ...
Just time for a quick bite ...
More HHN Prep ...
It's too bad they couldn't somehow incorporate this in to HHN
What's up Orlando ...
Doesn't look too Psycho to me
Lots of work going on for the Terror Tram. Some kind of facade here and lots of stuff to walk through. Yay!!
Just wish we could have the fire back
Work on the humongous new soundstages is progressing quite nicely. Or just chilling on break.
It's just too bad John and crew couldn't have gotten one year of HHN use out of these soundstages before they are put to use. Could you imagine the amazing pair of mazes they could have had here?
Speaking of amazing mazes ...
Thankfully since the attraction has opened there's been no toning down of the scares ... in fact, we've heard it's gotten even scarier, which is awesome.
And we'll leave you with one of the amazing performers at the park. They truly are the best.
Since Halloween Horror Nights starts next week that means we'll have our world famous HHN Strategy Guide up early next week. Well, maybe not World Famous ... LA famous? ... Internet Famous? ... well, it's famous somewhere if only in our own mind.
So be sure to check back for that next week.
After The Walking Dead premiere yesterday we decided to spend some time at the park because we could, and we had taken the day off. (if you missed our coverage of The Walking Dead check it out here)
Written by Gregg Condon
Below is a quick update from the park including some HHN preparation pics as well as some work going on near Transformers for a new attraction that everybody knows about but isn't announced yet so we'll call it "The Public Death of Wild Animals" (that's opposite of what it is right? ;) )
A busy park without AP's ... imagine that. =)
Down on the lower lot work is already going on for HHN
The spot for "The Public Death of Wild Animals" ...
The new soundstages near the Metro Sets are HUGE and coming along quite nicely.
Maze at the Metro sets ... from looking at this facade we are about 95% we have this one figured out.
Since Universal Florida decided to send out their humidity since they are mad that Universal Hollywood got The Walking Dead, we needed some yummy refreshments in the afternoon at one of our favorite spots in the park.
We hadn't seen Waterworld in about 10 years, so we were overdue
Alright, that's going to wrap it up for this update. We're probably about another month or so away from getting our Annual Passes again and resuming regular park updates but we hope this one is enough to hold you over in the meantime.