Well, it's that time of year again, where the fog rolls in, the monsters come out, and that one guy makes a mad face on every single one of our Halloween related posts on Facebook.
Also known as the most wonderful time of the year!!
Click any of the pictures in this update to see a larger version
As always, we made two visits to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood during opening weekend, media night (thank you again Universal for having us out, it's never lost on us what a privilege it is) and the first Sunday of the event using our Frequent Fear Passes.
On Sunday we used Early Entry and our Halloween Horror Nights Survival Guide which did receive some updates.
In this update we'll be walking you through the houses, terror tram, scare zones, one of the two shows, and our general thoughts on this years event. We've got a lot of pics and videos to get to, so we better get right into it!
Before we do, be sure to Click Here for all of the HHN Hollywood information including tickets, Express passes, RIP, Early Entry, Hours and much more.
This year there are 8 Haunted Houses, 3 Scare Zones, 2 Shows and the Terror Tram, which features one of the more creepy (but fun) themes in the history of the event.
Also, for the first time there are character photo ops from former HHN characters like The Bride from 2021's Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Pop-Culture icons like David S. Pumpkins from SNL.
Let's get into the houses, we've got pictures and videos of each.
It goes without saying that there are SPOILERS AHEAD, so if you'd like to walk into the event with no spoilers, well, you know what to do.
Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count
Those of us who have been going to HHN Hollywood for awhile know that Chucky has been featured at the event previously, in the old Universal Monsters permanent maze, as the host of the Terror Tram, and elsewhere at the event.
But Chucky has never had his own Haunted House at the event, he knows it, and he's not happy about it. He's also not happy that Universal Studios doesn't actually kill people in their houses. So this year he's out to fix that.
After our Tour of Chucky and Universal Monsters a couple of weeks back, Chucky quickly became my most anticipated house of 2023, and both opening night and Sunday, it exceeded those expectations. This may be the most "fun" house the event has ever done. It's not particularly scary, you aren't going to get a lot of jump scares, just like the Childs Play/Chucky Movies and Shows.
Of course, with this amazing AA technology they've now pulled off in a house, one can't help but think what other houses they could do. Gremlins? Mars Attacks? We can only hope.
Universal Monsters: Unmasked
A return of the Universal Monsters house, we personally hope they never stop doing these. This years house features The Phantom of the Opera, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as some special guests in the house.
While this house may not feature the more popular universal monsters, it is a lot of fun, tells a fantastic self-contained story and the talent in here is amazing.
The house starts off in Catacombs, and if you've seen pictures of the Catacombs in Paris, you'll definitely see the inspiration here. Some of the biggest show scenes in this house feature The Phantom in his lair, and Quasimodo giving Frollo what he deserves.
Once again, the actors in each of these large scenes plays their role to perfection. It's hard to state how much practice and discipline it takes to play the same scene over and over, every 30 seconds, for hours every night. And the actors in this house are to be commended for telling the story of these misunderstood Universal Monsters.
Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America
Speaking of Monsters, this years event features not one, but two Monster houses, but they couldn't be more different.
Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America may be the most beautiful house HHN has ever created. The sets in here are handled with such care and detail, and just like Universal Monsters, the story is told in such a way that even if you have no knowledge of the source material, you can understand what's going on.
That being said, this is a house that almost demands multiple walkthroughs, I've been through 3 times already this year and I've seen new details every time. And I have no doubt that will continue through the rest of Halloween Horror Nights.
According to John Murdy on our tour, there will be a Latin America themed house in this location for the foreseeable future as it blends in with the nearby Día De Los Muertos area, which also means the scare zone outside of the house will continue to be amazing. But more on that later.
Evil Dead Rise
Let's close out the houses on the upper lot with Evil Dead Rise. Most of the comments I've seen online have been "that house reminds me of the Hollywood Hotel house from last year". There is actually a reason for that. It is essentially the same house.
It was supposed to be Evil Dead Rise last year, but the movie got amazing test scores so was moved to this year so it could be in theaters. And so they had to come up with a new theme for a house that was already designed, and presumably built.
That being said, you shouldn't sleep on this house, or on Evil Dead Rise the film, both are fantastic and well worth your time. I'm a huge fan of the Evil Dead franchise and all of the houses they've done at HHN, and this one is no different.
Like with Hollywood Hotel last year, I do think this house is almost "too big" which makes it hard for the talent to reset, but the set pieces are fantastic and we loved this house the two times we've been through so far.
Let's move down to the lower lot and start off with the house from a film that's not even out yet, Exorcist Believer. I will say, this house definitely makes me want to see the film even more now. I will also say that this house definitely marks the return of the "HHN Smells". You may want to become a mouth breather for this one.
I definitely found the second half of this house to be far stronger than the first, which now that I think of it is pretty on-par with Exorcist houses and movies. You've got your set up, and then your payoff.
This house is far worth your time, and it will be interesting to come back into this one after the movie is out.
Holidayz in Hell
Let's move right next door to The Exorcist and take a trip back to Holidayz in Hell. Back after a couple of years off, the house is just as fun and creepy as it was in 2019.
Hard to believe this started off as "Dark Christmas" all the way back in 2014 and then a scare zone in 2018, before becoming a full-fledged house in 2019.
There are definitely a few additions to the house this year, at least there seemed to be. This was my favorite house in 2019 and it is definitely one of my favorites from this year so far. It's such a fun and inventive theme.
Wondering if this will make it's way to Orlando at some point, I know the fans out there have been asking for it.
Stranger Things 4
Alright, you've waited long enough, let's conclude our walkthrough of HHN Houses with what could possibly be the two most popular houses in the history of the event. Stranger Things 4 continues the story of our favorite kids from Hawkins as they journey into the Upside Down once again.
This is the third Stranger Things house at HHN and it may be my favorite one so far. The sets in this one are absolutely spectacular. On Thursday it felt as if the ending was a bit abrupt, but I didn't feel that way on Sunday.
The Last of Us
The last house of HHN 2023 is The Last of Us, based on the popular Playstation video game. And we do mean VERY popular. This might be the most popular house at this years event so if you don't have express or get there for early entry, you are going to wait.
I have yet to finish the game, but they've really brought it to life here.
The actors in this house are to be commended for bringing the characters of Joel and Ellie to life and really telling the story of The Last of Us.
These two houses are VERY popular, so be sure you're using Early Entry and our Survival Guide
Back this year is the Terror Tram, with maybe the most ridiculous theme they've ever had, Exterminatorz. In this Universal Studios Hollywood exclusive, Larry Larva invites you to the Universal Backlot where his billions of bugs are waiting to exterminate all the humans.
If you've done the Terror Tram before, you pretty much know what to expect, but this years theme is very fun, has some great acting, and Larry Larva is just a hoot.
Also back this year is the Nope and Us set, so the Terror Tram is a bit longer again.
This had very low waits opening weekend, but it's definitely worth your time even if you've done the Terror Tram before.
There are three scare zones at HHN Hollywood 2023, Terror De Las Mommias (French Street), Toyz (NY Street) and Ghostz (Front Gate).
All are super fun and definitely creepy. If you've done HHN Hollywood in the past you pretty much know what to expect from the two scare zones at the front of the park. But there is a show in the Toyz scare zone (under the fire) that they do a few times a night.
Terror De Las Mommias is a continuation of the Monstruos house, and features some of the most amazing lighting and artwork we've ever seen at Halloween Horror Nights.
While not technically a scare zone, the Death Eaters are back in Wizarding World. Filled with fire and excellent lighting, this is definitely worth a walk-through or two during your visit.
HHN 2023 Features two shows, The Purge: Dangerous Waters and Blumhouse Behind The Screams.
We did not get a chance to visit Blumhouse Behind The Screams opening weekend but will make it a point to this upcoming weekend.
The Purge Dangerous Waters is a return of an HHN show in the Waterworld theater. If you were lucky enough to have seen the former Slaughterworld, or have seen videos, you'll know that show was very tongue-in-cheek. The Purge is not.
That said, the show is a lot of fun and definitely worth your time.
Lastly, let's take a look at some food, well, one food. We admittedly did not eat much opening weekend, but here are some pics of a few menus and food places/bars around the park. We will definitely get into the food part of HHN, but that may need to be it's own update.
That's going to wrap it up for our opening weekend coverage of Halloween Horror Nights. We hope you enjoyed!
This is definitely a strong year for this event, there is not one weak spot of the entire event other than some operational changes that I'm sure they'll make prior to the second weekend. We can't wait to get back and visit more with our Frequent Fear Pass!
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!
This past weekend we headed out to Universal Studios Hollywood for a few hours of fun, breakfast in Wizarding World and of course to check out the progress on Super Nintendo World and Halloween Horror Nights prep.
It was an unseasonably cool day in the park (cool for SoCal is in the 70's) but for mid-August, very out of the ordinary. Let's hope the cool weather sticks around for Haunt Season. But we all know another heat wave is coming.
Let's head into the park to see what's going on. We've got pics and/or video for you this week!
Written by Gregg Condon