Rex and I have returned from Orlando, FL for our 15th straight Halloween Horror Nights at the Universal Orlando Resort. Oh goodness, how things have changed. You see this photo below? That is a 2003 photo of Rex inside Seuss Landing after IOA had closed waiting for Halloween Horror Nights 13 to begin. You see all those other people around him? Yeah, me either. There weren’t any. The event has become a money machine and the attendance is simply phenomenal. Rex and I used to eat at Finnegans inside Universal Studios before the “Stay and Scream” people were released and there would be a dozen people in there with us. Now, you have to wait in long lines and sit at tables with other people just to get a seat. It’s incredible.
This year’s event was the first time RexandtheBeast.com experienced opening night. Hurricane Irma had come through the area just a few days before and that would have an impact on the park’s ability to offer the full-scale event on opening night. Most noticeable were the absence of the Academy of Villians show and the lack of set pieces for a few of the scarezones.
So, let’s get to it. Below are brief reviews of the houses in the order listed on the official HHN website.
Rex and I found ourselves in the minority as we expressed our disappointment with The Shining. We both have a deep love for the film (and Rex is especially a die-hard Stephen King fan), so we were excited about the house and Universal’s ability to create the magic of the silver screen. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work. Apart from some nice set design, the house was laid out poorly, ineffectively used the movie’s most iconic moments, and in some ways, was just cheesy. I give the creators credit for attempting to recreate the famous elevator scene, but the final result was a laughable miniature set with some spewing blood coming out one side of the elevator door. Nice try, but no cigar.
2 out of 4 Stars
Saw: The Games of Jigsaw
We enjoyed this house, although it is one whose concept we have seen many times before. The spectator is led through one torture scene after another with rather bloody and grisly results. Good effects, some decent scares, and plenty of torture porn.
2.5 out of 4 Stars
American Horror Story: Volume 2
This was the surprise hit of the night for me and Rex. Neither of us have stayed current with American Horror Story, so we had no idea what was going on. But it didn’t matter. The house was so well designed that it looked beautiful and provided some nice scares. Much better than Volume 1 at HHN 26. Extra points for the creepy baby powder room. Yikes!
3.5 out of 4 Stars
Horrors of Blumhouse
The biggest complaint we had with this house is the incredibly short duration for each film represented, which means one thing: Trying to put too much in one house doesn’t work.
1 out of 4 Stars
Ash vs. Evil Dead
This was the “fun” house of the night with some classic “Ash” sound bytes and all kinds of crazy demon fun. We had smiles on our faces from beginning to end.
3 out of 4 Stars
This house is why Rex and the Beast keep coming back to HHN. Absolutely superb. A breathtaking facade of a wrecked riverboat leads to an entrance with uneven floors, just like an old school funhouse. From there, the design, art, and thrills are non-stop. When it comes to original houses, this one skyrocketed toward the top of the list for the best of all time.
4 out of 4 Stars
Bungee cord demon things jumping down at you might sound a bit cheesy, but they sure aren’t. This house works on all levels and is gorgeous to look at.
3 out of 4 Stars
Scarecrow the Reaping
I had high hopes for this house, and although it was fun and had the classic atmosphere of windmills, corn, and fall, something was missing. Nevertheless, we still give it a thumbs up and feel like we might have went through during an “off” cast.
2.5 out of 4 Stars.
We liked Hive more than other folks and I found the sets to be well done and the vampires to be pretty creepy, especially with their glowing eyes. A good house.
2. 5 out of 4 Stars
Halloween Horror Nights 27 marks the end of the popular “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.” For RATB, there is no love loss. We didn’t care for the show at all. But, they went out with a decent script that showed Bill and Ted as the one redeeming aspect of pop culture, so the world was saved. Excellent!
Overall, it was another great year at HHN. As always, we are now counting the days till HHN 28.