I was lucky enough to score a free ticket this year to a preview night, and, even though I went alone, I had a lot of fun. The mazes aren’t so much “mazes” as roped-off paths through buildings, from which you can neither deviate nor go backward. Also, because there was pressure from guests behind me to keep moving, often times I watched as ghouls and such scared the s**** out of people in front of me, but left me anticipating the scare. At first this frustrated me and I attempted, to no avail, to distance myself from the other patrons and be a loner. Quickly, though, I realized only half the fun was being scared and the other half was watching other, more dramatic, people be really scared! Not to mention, Universal goes a fair distance to hang heavy draperies between rooms to cut down on the anticipation factor, and, also, those “mazes” are so packed with people trying their hardest to scare you, you’re gonna get it a few times at least. And, you’re going to have a blast.
There were a few standout rooms I’d like to mention: the plastic-wrapped bodies hanging from meat hooks in the The Wolfman: The Curse of Talbot Hall maze really got to me. They’ve obviously mastered the “jump out and scare the pants off you” thing, but entering this room, pushing through these heavy, lifeless, blood-soaked, plastic-wrapped bodies, and feeling the weight as you slip past them, it just completely succeeded in the attempt to make me deeply uncomfortable. Bravo! Also, the Rob Zombie House of 1000 Corpses 3-D “maze” was pretty great, too, with 3-D paint splattered all over the place, making it utterly disorienting and the scares that much more effective. The terror tram was Stab 8/Scream 4-themed and great for its theatrics, mixing a healthy dose of shocks and gore.
At the end of the night, I had a limited amount of time and had to choose between the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure (which I knew nothing about) and seeing the last two mazes, Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare and Eli Roth’s Hostel: Hunting Season. My sense of loyalty to the Wyld Stallynz and my curiosity got the better of me, and I chose to see the Bill and Ted show, though, I really wish I hadn’t. First off, it is a show. Not inherently bad, but it wasn’t an attempt at being scary or anything; it was a semi-funny variety/exploitation show. I guess they do themes every year, and this year it was summer blockbuster/Navy Seal Team 6. Osama Bin Laden was the villain and the butt of many jokes, which just felt wrong, but nothing was sacred. Parodying race, sex, drugs, pop stars, movie stars, politics, and everything and anything else, it was a musical comedy, pop-culture orgy not for the tame at heart.
My first Universal Halloween Horror Nights was so much fun, and I would definitely be interested in going back next year. Or, even this year with a group of friends. Take a date, go with your pals, or even go alone; you’re sure to have a great time. From 7 p.m. - 1 a.m. (2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday), it goes through the 31st of October and you should have ample time to see everything in the park. Here’s the website, if you need more info: