HHN 2018: An inside look at scare zones, shows featured in this year's event
News 6 team gives inside look at Halloween Horror Nights
ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights is back, and News 6 is giving you an inside look at Central Florida's favorite Halloween traditions.
News 6 producer Landon McReynolds and reporter Ezzy Castro got a first look at the spooky event and a chance to talk to the creators. Since then, they put together a complete review of HHN 2018, beginning with a crowd favorite: scare zones.
This celebration is going to bite. In Universal’s New York area, you are transported back to Dec. 31, 1984. A crowd is gathering, like they do today, to ring in the New Year. But as the ball drops, a slew of vampires invade the party to eat you alive. This zone is packed with '80s rock icons, some dead and some not: punk rock, "Material Girl" and even a few icons walking around as vampires. Guides said you may even encounter Michael Jackson or Prince. If you get to this scare zone at the right moment in the night, you can see the ball drop and the celebration begin. Fire illuminates from the top of the ball, and the terror is unleashed. Every time you enter this scare zone, a new celebration is beginning and a new hit song is playing from that time period.
"The area does tend to get a little congested as the vamps take the stage," McReynolds said.
Iconic Halloween and the harvest definitely get corrupt, according to McReynolds.
As you venture into Central Park, the scare zone just across from “Mel’s Die-In,” you are greeted by an old church and car. Vines have taken over, and you feel as though this place has not seen a soul in a while. Trick-or-treaters are bravely walking around the haunted woods and greet you before you enter.
“Do you have a treat?” they ask.
The creatures inside this scare zone are also made of vines and pumpkins that have rotted to their cores. One area shows a large pumpkin in a wagon spilled out, giving a new meaning to the phrase "pumpkin guts." The only things lighting this area are the hundreds of jack-o’-lanterns in the trees. Don’t look up for too long, though, because you don’t know what could be lurking in front of you.
"This area has always been my personal favorite during the event, and this year it truly lives up to its name," McReynolds said.
As the gates to the park open and you make your way past a few scare actors, you will enter the Harvest. Creators of this year’s event describe it as an old, decrepit barn with artifacts from this year’s event lying inside. Creatures around every dusty corner filled with hay and animal bones are hunting you as you make your way inside. In the past, this area has given us a taste of some of the characters in the houses, but this year, it’s all new, original characters.
"This is a good time to grab pictures with friends before heading into your first house," McReynolds suggested.
'Revenge of Chucky'
In the streets of Hollywood, the year is 2018. The company PlayPal Toys is putting on a celebration for the 30th anniversary of its prized “good guys” doll. But as happy as the celebration may seem, Chucky shows up and corrupts the toys and workers, ordering them to join his cult. Chucky was first introduced in 1988 in ‘Child’s Play.’ The doll is portrayed as a serial killer who tries to transfer his soul from a doll to a human body.
"As you walk into this area, you will see projections of this happy doll on the buildings, as well as a few classic toys, like a Barrel of Monkeys, and what appears to be an Easy Bake oven," McReynolds said. "That’s not a pie cooking inside!"
In the center of the zone is a large stage with Chucky making his big debut in the center. Don’t get too close -- he loves to talk to people.
"The scare zone has a quirky feel to it, but it’s excellent for any Chucky fan," McReynolds said.
'Killer Klowns from Outer Space'
This was the show creator’s personal favorite, and it seemed to be the crowd’s, too. The south streets, near the Transformers ride, look and appear as though a circus has touched down.
"As you step inside this zone, it smells of candy…but there are no treats here," McReynolds said in his review. "It’s all trick!"
The creators of Halloween Horror Nights have brought the 1988 MGM film "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" to life.
“This is very near and dear to my heart. This is the first horror film that I snuck behind my parents' back with my own money,” scare zone director Blake Braswell said.
The streets are littered with giant clowns that are out to capture humans and turn them into cotton candy cocoons, then suck the life out of them. Circus tent fabric is projected on the buildings lining this scare zone.
"This area is full of fun and requires you to go through at least twice," McReynolds said. "The clowns are everywhere, and this is also a good time to try and get a picture with the clowns."
Academy of Villains: CYBERPUNK
Returning for its third year, the Academy of Villains is back with a new show and new venue. Established in 2009, the Academy of Villains is a dance company that pushes the boundaries of dance with over-the-top concepts and ideas. Usually based somewhere inside the park during the event, this year the show is taking over the "Fear Factor Live" stage formerly used by “Bill & Ted.” The show gives off a "Terminator" feel of a group trying to take down a Cyberdyne-like system. The show has lasers, fire, audience engagement and a killer music playlist.
“Inspire, create and destroy. Those are the three words the Academy of Villains live by,” said Patrick Braillard, the creative show director.
McReynolds said it's worth the watch.
"Personally I usually would skip the shows, but this show is something you don’t want to miss during Halloween Horror Nights," he said.
To see a full description of the houses and how they ranked on the News 6 crew's lists, click here.
Halloween Horror Nights runs Sept. 14 to Nov. 3.
Discounts are available for the event. Ordering a single-day ticket online saves about $52 for select nights. A multi-night ticket costs less than a single-night ticket at the gate and can be used more than once on specific dates. Annual pass holders can save about $8 for a single-night ticket and up to $11 for multi-night tickets. Click here for more ticket information.
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