By Giovanna Brasolin
Haunted houses, demogorgons, creepy clowns, zombies, pumpkin heads and much more can be found at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. Every year, the theme park hosts Halloween Horror Nights from mid-September to the start of November. This year’s dates are from Sept. 14 to Nov. 3.
Arriving at the park, a different vibe can be sensed almost instantly, paired with the fact that the park isn’t as well-lit as it normally is, and the sound of horror music fills the air, but that’s not even the scary part. People dressed up in creepy costumes, holding knives or chainsaws, sneak up on those who show signs of fear.
There was a bit of a twist this year due to the creation of a haunted house based on the popular Netflix show, Stranger Things. The show’s plot is centered around a girl with supernatural powers named Eleven, who befriends a group of boys and tries to uncover all the mysteries that goes on in the fictitious town of Hawkins after the disappearance of boy named Will.
Being the main attraction of the event, the expectations for Stranger Things were high and were fortunately met. The recreation of iconic scenes were able to put fans inside Hawkins, especially in Will’s house and the upside down, which would give off the feeling of truly being there in a brand-new experience. An unexpected moment was when rock music from the original soundtrack filled the air as people are going through the house’s kitchen, giving everyone’s heart a break from the scare. Another moment was when Eleven was staring at the other wall, which made the illusion she was looking straight at people passing through and preparing to do something to them with her powers, which was fascinating.
Despite meeting the expectations, one aspect that could be improved upon is the lack of change in the appearance of characters, making it very predictable. There were great changes of scenery, but since there is only one type of monster in the story, the creators of the haunted house made sure to be loyal to that, having the demogorgons popping up from both sides every step of the way, giving everyone’s heart a jump start. Even though it’s supposed to be scary, fans would surely like to see other characters, too.
In events such as Halloween Horror Nights, haunted houses are a must and that’s why the wait times for each of them range from 40 minutes to two hours. Being the main attraction, Stranger Things has a long wait time from the moment the event begins until the gates close, ranging from 90-120 minutes. So, it’s always good to check the wait times through Universal’s mobile app to make sure you go to every attraction you plan on going.
Seeds of Extinction is another great haunted house, taking place in a world where humanity became extinct due to a cataclysmic meteor and the only living things are monstrous forms. Those forms jump from the most unexpected directions and hidden places, leaving no time for anyone to think or even breath. Besides that, there’s wind jets and water dripping when you least expect, adding to the whole experience of already being in a pitch-black maze. The scenery is interesting as the maze is set up to resemble a forest, so you’ll feel like you’re walking through the wilderness. The theme of it was well developed and is similar to what comes to mind when asked about a post-apocalyptic world.
Even though both Stranger Things and Seeds of Extinct were able to exceed my expectations, the best haunted house was by far, Dead Exposure: Patient Zero. Being the darkest of all, Dead Exposure: Patient Zero makes your heart race from beginning to end, especially when zombies appear by your side through the whole maze. One moment you get inside a subway train and the next, you can see that the whole train is full of zombies coming your way. Then, flashing lights reveal lines of zombies standing inches away from you and if that’s not creepy enough, they’re also staring right at you. However, the best and scariest part of all is when the scenery changes to display a bathroom with white bloody walls, dead bodies on the ground and a very creepy bloody zombie before your eyes.
For those who either get scared easily or simply can’t stand horror, staying away from haunted houses would be the best idea. You can rest assured you’ll still be able to enjoy your visit to Universal Studios to the fullest, as some of the rides are open, including: Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It, Transformers: The Ride-3D, The Revenge of The Mummy, Fast & Furious Supercharged, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Escape from Gringotts and Men in Black: Alien Attack. The best part is that the wait time for each is only about a 10 to 30 minutes.
Whether you love horror or not, Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is the best place to be around Halloween time as it has attractions for everyone. Confronting childhood fears and making memories in such a production is an experience like no other, especially when it comes to this beloved holiday.
Giovanna Brasolin can be reached at email@example.com