Jack is Back
The Premiere Halloween Event that Just Keeps Getting Better
I’ve been coming to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando since I can remember. Having grown up in Florida since the age of 9, it’s pretty much been a tradition for me. One thing I can honestly say about the event is it gets better every single year. Last year was my first year with fast passes provided by Universal Orlando, but this year was a whole new experience. This year I was invited to the media event for a 3 night, 4 day experience with Universal Orlando Resort to include a VIP tour of both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, a press only Q&A event with special guest and a VIP tour of Halloween Horror Nights 25. You want to talk about epic…
The Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 25 Media Event Q&A
This exclusive event was held inside the Horror Makeup Show (which if you’ve been to Universal Orlando, you know is a pretty small and intimate theater). Now usually Q&A panels at comic cons are huge, the lights are bright and there’s hundred even thousands of fans in the audience. Apart from this, my other interview experience lies in very small (25 or less) round tables with celebrities for film premieres. This Q&A was awesome from a media position. It was completely just like hanging out with the talent. Which, speaking of, was an awesome bonus and featured Horror film legend Director John Landis, American Werewolf in London, special effects genius and Co-Executive Producer Greg Nicotero, The Walking Dead and child star (now 16yrs old) Chandler Riggs (Carl), The Walking Dead.
So what did Chandler Riggs say? Well, he admitted that production is totally cool and he’s even been told that by 16 he can direct his own episode!
It was also an honor to watch Jim Timan, Senior Vice President of Entertainment at Universal Orlando and Mike Aiello, Creative Director of Halloween Horror Nights. They gave us incredible insight into the work that goes into building the Halloween Horror Nights mazes. I am completely fascinated by Mike’s work and think he has one of the cooler jobs in life.
For the First Time Ever Universal Orlando Webcasted the Private Media Event! Watch it here!
The Halloween Horror Nights 25 Houses
This year, Halloween Horror Nights built 9 houses (mazes) for their 25th anniversary, more than they’ve ever done. 5 of these were based on intellectual properties (horror films we love) and 4 originals.
For the film houses, the most anticipated of course was AMC’s The Walking Dead in its 4th year with HHN. Other film-based houses included: Freddy vs Jason, Insidious, American Werewolf in London (brought back from 2013) and a second year of The Purge (which was brought from a stage performance last year to a full on house).
For the original houses, they revolved their event around their own original character Jack the Clown (used in 2000). Jack comes back in 2015 for a special 25th-anniversary house with a mashup of characters and environments from the last 25 years, classic monsters and of course the psychotic Jack the Clown himself. They also brought back original themes from years past to include Body Collectors, Run Blood Sweat and Fears and Asylum in Wonderland (3D blacklight fun-house style maze).
My Take on the Houses from Best to Least Favorite
I really liked all of the houses, so when I say least favorite it’s literally just “least” not disliked. If you can only see 4 houses I recommend choosing from the top 6. They are all phenomenal.
- The Walking Dead – Hands down, this year’s house blew last year’s out the park! Last year TWD house was my least favorite (if you remember) I felt they had missed the target on the special effects but I thought the sets were cool. This year they outdid themselves with a super long house, crazy sick walker makeup and killer sets from season 5. YES! YES! YES!
- Body Collectors – This house was amazing! I loved the gothic Victorian set, the makeup was unbelievable. The house begins covered in snow it was like a cross between Silent Hill and Edgar Allen Poe. Well done!
- The Purge – Nailed it! I totally felt like I was in the movies. The prom scene was INTENSE!!!! Honestly, this is literally neck and neck with Body Collectors.
- Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem – This was an EPIC house with all the old school classic monsters. I am a HUGE classic horror fan. Not so big on clowns but that’s because they are uber creepy (which is obviously the point). They did a great job at making sure Jack was a complete psycho clown and I’m glad they brought him back.
- Insidious – This was an awesome walk-through of the franchise. The set was stunning, again I felt right inside the film. Nailed it.
- American Werewolf in London – This was cool because the wolves were enormous and it was pretty on par with the film as a story walk through.
- Freddy vs Jason – Okay so you’re probably saying “no way” right now but hear me out. The set was killer, totally nailed it with both Freddy and Jason films. BUT… I wasn’t impressed with Freddy’s makeup. I know that job is a huge undertaking to prep for every day, and this is the same slack I cut last year for The Walking Dead House, but after seeing this year’s The Walking Dead House I know they could have totally pulled it off. Those walkers were 100% on point. What happened to Freddy? My hopes were sooooo high. Still, like I said the sets were awesome and Jason was abnormally huge which was fitting. Still a must see.
- Asylum in Wonderland – Now I’m a huge retro geek so I totally loved the whole old-carnival fun-house feels. Going through this though is like face planting into a bowl of hallucinogens. It was super cool and definitely messes with your perception. If you have any vertigo tendencies, you may want to avoid this one. Loved it though.
- Run Blood Sweat and Fears – Not a bad house, it was kind of an 80’s type feel so that was cool. The smells were pretty on par with the theater.
The Scare Zones
The downside of being in a VIP tour and getting to the see all the houses is you have to get to all the houses like super fast in a short amount of time. So we didn’t really get to take in a whole lot of the scare zones BUT I’m not gonna leave you hanging, here’s a really good video from Inside the Magic on all the scare zones! And here’s the link to HHN25 Scare Zones.
Must Know Tips Before You Go
- This should go without saying but wear comfortable shoes. Not to mention it really sucks when people step on your toes in houses and in lines (it’s dark people)!
- These rides are open at night and often have short lines -Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, Escape from Gringotts, TRANSFORMERS The Ride 3D (Diagon Alley open this year at night).
- If you purchase a HHN Express Pass, it works on the rides in addition to the haunted houses. The only exception is Escape from Gringotts, which will not have express access.
- DON’T BRING YOUR KIDS…. Totally tacky, it’s so not for kids under 13. They won’t stop you from bringing your kid, but you’ll most certainly get some WTF looks from parents. Don’t be that parent.
HHN 25 will run a record-breaking 30 nights from September 18 through November 1 on these select dates:
September: 18, 19, 24, 25, 26, 27
October: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31
Busy Nights AKA Peak Nights:
Oct 3, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30 & 31.
Many nights at Universal’s on-site hotels have already sold out.
The event is always scheduled to start at 6:30pm for general admission. New this year, closing times vary from 1AM to 2AM depending upon the night. Previously, some HHN event nights ended at midnight.
Catch this Year’s HHN25 Trailer Here:
No matter what houses you choose to see this year, Universal Orlando is always my favorite theme park destination and Halloween Horror Nights is always incredible. If you’re a huge horror film nut, this event will be near and dear to your heart. Make sure you’re prepared for a great time by proper travel planning and understanding the event details which you can find on the HHN25 website.