BY ALEXANDRA SANSONE
Halloween Horror Nights is the place to be for those who love the scary side of the spooky season. With detailed sets, talented actors and special effects makeup that is out of this world, there is usually little to complain about aside from the arm and leg it costs to attend. But, the scares were seemingly not enough, as the 29th annual Halloween Horror Nights left something to be desired.
The theme park’s haunted houses were inspired by productions like “Ghostbusters,” “Stranger Things,” “House of 1000 Corpses” and “Us.” There is no question of whether Universal Studios knows how to decorate. Scattered throughout the park, the houses were phenomenally staged. The spaces were creatively used and the houses were beautifully decorated, in a haunting manner of course. But the one thing that makes a scare so great is the element of surprise, which was surprisingly absent.
Efforts to make the extremely long lines shorter than they seemed ruined what was supposed to be a haunting experience for some attendees. To keep the lines moving, people entered the houses at a near-continuous rate. If you got lucky, you were able to go through the house as intended and were surprised at all of the scare points. If you weren’t, like me, you saw the scares happen from farther back in the house, or heard the screams of the people in front of you. Meaning, you already knew what was coming and had to see the actors reset the scares and watch them all over again.
Much more was expected of the event and it almost didn’t seem worth staying up that late.
It’s a catch-22. On the one hand, if they don’t keep the lines moving, the park is subjected to criticisms of long waits and has to face grumpy customers. On the other, operating as they do risks ruining the scare factor for others. Perhaps the best way to solve these issues is to limit the ticket sales for Halloween Horror Nights. By doing so, they can still allow people to come for all the dates the event runs while also making the experience more enjoyable for those who attend.
Despite the lack of fear that coursed through my veins throughout the evening, there was a feeling of awe towards those working there. The actors were striking. Their makeup was realistic and, those who were supposed to, really looked as if they were on the verge of death.
As the ghastly looking actors roamed the park’s five scare zones, they worked hard to keep everyone on their toes. Where the element of surprise was absent in the haunted houses, it was certainly made up for in the surrounding areas of the park. Perhaps it was because it’s easier to catch someone off guard and really freak them out while they are focused on talking to their friends, but still, the scare zones were an exciting place to be. Their actors can work off of people’s reactions and gauge what will truly scare their socks off.
At the end of the night, it was all mediocre. Much more was expected of the event and it almost didn’t seem worth staying up that late. Aspects of the night were outstanding, like the actors’ makeup and the scenery built throughout the park. But the evening could have done well with some more cohesion from one scary aspect to another to immerse their audience more fully into the spooky nature of the event. If you’re easily startled, then you may be satisfied with your ticket purchase. But for those with a higher tolerance for frightful scenes, you may want to reconsider attending Halloween Horror Nights 2019.
- Great makeup
- Frightful scare zones
- Too crowded
- The element of surprise was lost
Photo courtesy of Halloween Horror Nights