From a haunted wharf stuffed with undead fishermen to a post-apocalyptic subway teeming with hungry mutants, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is amping up the phobia this yr like by no means earlier than. But what must you do for those who’re afraid to attend Halloween occasions however are extra fearful of the FOMO you will really feel for those who miss out?
It’s comprehensible to be hesitant to attend an occasion designed purely to scare. Still, annually HHN proves to be thrillingly enjoyable, even for the scaredy cats. As two theme park journalists who attend yearly, we run at reverse ends of the spectrum — one right here for the jump-scares, one hiding behind her husband via every attraction. But, on the finish of an evening spent at HHN, we each all the time appear to have had the identical quantity of enjoyable … and to have misplaced our voices from screaming.
So what’s a timid individual to do in the event that they’re headed to HHN? Lora Sauls, senior supervisor of the artistic growth group and present course at Universal Orlando Resort, and Matt Flood, a senior present director, are two of the masterminds behind this yr’s occasion.
“I have one good tip I gave my niece, who was a scaredy cat the first time she came to HHN,” says Sauls. “Don’t act like a scaredy cat. It’s a good tip — you act [afraid] all night and you’re a sure target. You’ve gotta act confident. Even if you don’t feel it inside, you have to project it on the outside.”
Flood reminds that HHN is meant to be enjoyable. “When you get scared and have that moment of screaming, the laugh comes soon after,” Flood says. “That’s the thing you always have to remember. You’re going to feel [scared] but let yourself go. It becomes an adrenaline rush the whole night.”
It’s additionally useful to get conversant in the content material of every home earlier than visiting: They handle various kinds of fears — from bugs (which can be triggering for these with entomophobia) to straight-up-terrifying jump-scares.
“What I feel is the scariest might not be what you feel is the scariest,” Sauls shares.
If all else fails, you’ll be able to depend on your “scream squad,” Universal’s time period for a gaggle of HHN-goers who stick collectively in solidarity all through the evening. HHN creators say there’s power in numbers, including they’ve their personal scream squad, regardless of being those who created the thrills.
“We have the smacker, the skeptic, the couple … I think our creative development group is pretty much a scream squad,” Sauls tells Yahoo Life. She believes visiting HHN with a gaggle of buddies may very well be one of the best ways to sort out any fears: After all, somebody can be charged with main the group into every home.
It’s additionally good to grasp the principle parts of the occasion. While you’ll be able to’t assist recognizing spooky characters in one of many many themed “scare zones” arrange on the walkways all through the park, you can keep away from a home reported to be particularly scary. And, the scares aren’t the one a part of the occasion: there are Halloween-themed reveals, scrumptious meals and drinks and HHN-themed merchandise to be explored as properly.
The haunted homes
The 10 haunted homes at HHN are a mix of collaborations with Hollywood movies and unique mental properties straight from the minds of Universal’s artistic groups.
Bringing the homes to life begins greater than a yr earlier than the occasion with ideas and sketch-ups. HHN’s design staff consists of costume, scenic, make-up and prosthetic designers and a present manufacturing staff. The homes really feel such as you’re stepping onto a film set, and plenty of are positioned in precise working sound levels for movie and tv.
“What’s going to make for a diverse slate for our fans?” asks Sauls. “All 10 houses can’t be slasher houses — we want to make sure everyone has something they like.”
This yr’s homes vary from the thematically lovely, just like the eerie Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake, to those who will downright frighten you, like Flood’s favourite, Halloween.
“The experience of walking through the film feels like I’m actually in those scenes,” Flood shares about this yr’s imagining of the 1978 John Carpenter movie. “It feels extremely chronological so that you are the one being stalked by Michael Myers.”
After a number of instances via the Halloween home, we are able to concur. The jump-scares have been intense, and it ranked as one of many scariest homes of the occasion. In The Horrors of Blumhouse, we screamed ourselves hoarse working from likenesses of the scary Grabber from The Black Phone. Even as HHN professionals, these two homes weren’t for the faint of coronary heart.
Some homes depend on kitsch, just like the ’50’s-themed Bugs: Eaten Alive, or gore, just like the blood-fueled, musically-driven The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare, a collaboration between Universal and the globally-recognized artist.
“This is an interactive, immersive experience where you actually feel people coming at you,” says Flood of the homes. “It’s nice and close.”
The scare zones
For these trying to dip their toe into the world of HHN, the homes might be prevented by simply having fun with the 5 scare zones unfold all through the park. Each is wealthy in backstory and whereas they’re residence to their very own scare-actors (HHN’s time period for the actors who painting the spooky characters), it by some means feels much less haunting than the constraints of a dimly-lit home.
The Horrors of Halloween invitations company to come back face-to-face with an icon of the occasion, the Pumpkin Lord. And, one of the vital spectacular zones this yr is Sweet Revenge, a daunting ’50s Halloween parade that goes terribly incorrect.
HHN affords two reveals that depend on all treats and no tips — good for the scaredy cat. Ghoulish! A Halloween Tale takes over the Universal Studios Lagoon for a shocking mixture of water and projection know-how synchronized to music.
Halloween Nightmare Fuel Wildfire is an exhilarating stage present that mixes dance performances and acrobatics with upbeat rock and steel music.
The meals and drinks
It’s completely doable to spend a night at HHN simply having fun with the culinary creations. Over 75 dishes and cocktails have been created only for the occasion, with many enjoying into the horror theme, like an adorably-delicious Pepperoni Pizza Skull.
Event classics have additionally returned, like Pizza Fries and Twisted Taters. And, after all, there are many wickedly yummy cocktails to quench your thirst (and tame your fears,) just like the fall-appropriate Pumpkin Gingersnap Punch.
The presence of snacks and alcohol additional provides to the general vibe. HHN is like attending one of the best, most-elaborate Halloween celebration ever — and plenty of who attend even costume the half.
The tribute retailer
The tribute retailer has turn out to be a Universal Orlando occasion fixture. Part experiential exhibit, half retailer, it homes a number of distinctly-themed rooms. Highlights embody hidden Easter eggs serving as homages to previous occasions and a confectionary store … with much more themed treats.
All issues thought-about, HHN is a multi-level theatrical occasion devoted to celebrating all issues that go bump within the evening. Taking a step again to understand the artistry, appearing and costume design that go into the evening could make it far more palatable.
At the tip of the night, it is essential to recollect HHN is managed chaos. By buying a ticket to this after-hours occasion, you are giving Universal Orlando permission to scare you in an surroundings you’ll be able to belief can also be extraordinarily protected.
Unless, like one in all us, you journey and fall over props on this yr’s The Black Phone-themed haunted home whereas working from Ethan Hawke’s likeness. In our protection, that home was the scariest.
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