Yesterday we were invited out to Universal Studios Hollywood to check out the all new Walking Dead attraction.
The first half of this update contains ZERO spoilers, and is just about the opening ceremony and outside queue. There are warnings before we get into spoiler territory, so feel free to read on.
Written by Gregg Condon
Pictures by Gregg Condon and Kristi Condon
We arrived early in the morning to take on The Walking Dead (and a whole bunch of media people, some who were nicer than others)
After being bumped for being "too tall" we settled in for the opening ceremonies.
Greg Nicotero was on hand to talk about all the great work that went into the attraction.
Some of the cast, past and present (well, mostly past as is the nature of the show)
Suddenly a horde of walkers invades (it was actually pretty awesome, be sure to check it out in our video below)
Didn't see a whole lot of warning signs out, but these guys should give an indication of what's coming
If you thought Walkers were the biggest problem you'd have, you were wrong
Caution: Spoilers Below!!!
We were able to get two videos yesterday (even though we only got to go through the attraction once).
First up is our 360° video ... it's kind of dark but it gives a great idea of the maze. If you have a VR set up be sure to watch it with that, or if not be sure to watch it with headphones as it's also got 360° audio.
Next up is our video of the opening ceremony (complete with walkers and big explosions), some of the queue and of course an HD Walk-Through of the attraction.
Ok, this is your last chance to avoid spoilers, our review starts NOW!!!
Walk-Through attractions have a mixed history at Universal Studios Hollywood. Many of you may remember that the former location of House of Horrors wasn't always a walk-through attraction. It was actually a restaurant called Marvel Mania.
In 1999 this location became a walk-through for the movie Chicken Run. In 2002 this would be replaced by The Mummy Returns: Chamber of Doom which would turn into Van Helsing: Fortress Dracula in 2004. And then finally in 2006 this former restaurant would become House of Horrors.
Along with House of Horrors came many (MANY) different theme overlays for Halloween Horror Nights to make it different than the daytime attraction. Both good, and well, not so good.
All of this history is to kind of lay out what they had to work with in the past when it came to daytime walk-through attractions. Now they have none of those restrictions as The Walking Dead has been built in a building that is brand new and actually built for a Walk-Through attraction. And it really shows.
You start off inside the queue and you are in the hospital from the pilot episode. They don't wait to start freaking you out and the entire inside queue is the hospital. No different themes in each room which is nice.
This of course includes the iconic "Don't Open Dead Inside" door which is amazing.
The large queue area (switchbacks) are also themed to the hospital but it gets you in the mood for "The Walking Dead" with incredible lighting and sound effects.
As you enter the maze you are instantly transported into the world of The Walking Dead. yes, it's similar to an HHN maze, but as good as those are from a technological and themeing standpoint, this attraction raises that bar, and raises it significantly.
Because it's permanent there are no plywood walls, the effects are amazing and the lighting and sound quality are as good if not better than most other permanent attractions.
As you walk through the attraction you are of course greeted by walkers, but due to the size and scope of the attraction you are treated to acted out scenes between walkers and the survivors in locations such as the burning cabin, the prison and more.
And even though it's permanent, you can easily see how they can change things out in subsequent years to add new things from the show.
If you have grown tired of The Walking Dead mazes at HHN we get it, but this is on a completely other level and that we can experience it 365 days a year and get our "Scare Fix" anytime we want is amazing.
One other tidbit I'll add, I'm so glad they decided to skip over the Terminus theme, that was terribly tired and played out from the HHN mazes.
So be sure to check out the attraction after it opens next week, we can't wait to get back and do the walk-through more without having to film it.
Thanks again to Universal Studios Hollywood for having us out, we had an amazing time. You've once again raised the bar and we can't wait to see what you come up with next.
We will have a "general" park update later today or tomorrow.