ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal Orlando’s new Halloween Horror Nights tribute is now open to guests.
Universal team members were first allowed into the new location Thursday morning, followed by its annual passholders later in the day.
The tribute store is located in Universal Studios’ New York-themed area of the park, which is in between The Race through New York starring Jimmy Fallon and Revenge of the Mummy attractions.
Just like in years past, the merchandise location features a number of highly themed rooms that are packed with spooky souvenirs that pay tribute to some of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights houses and scare zones, including Beetlejuice, Jack the Clown and the Bride of Frankenstein.
The haunted-house style façade of this year’s tribute store began taking shape in early August shortly after the closure of the Jurassic World tribute store.
As guests make their way inside they will begin to get the eerie feeling of an old haunted house.
“The Victorian Manor is a design we’ve been kicking around for a few years. It’s that one house on the block that looks haunted all year long, the one that everyone walks quickly past and the one that no one wants to trick-or-treat at,” said Rob Cametti, director of visual merchandising at Universal Orlando. “There are stories about the house, and who lives there, and the more time that passes, the more legendary those stories become. The story is there, as you explore each room, but can sometimes be overlooked, just like the person who lives inside.”
A giant legendary bear statue sits in the middle of the first room and two blood red chandeliers, draped in cobwebs, hang from the ceiling. As guests make their way farther into the store, a bunch of merchandise line several old-looking display cabinets and shelves.
The haunted house’s rickety staircase with photos and mirrors line the walls, near the corner of the room.
As your scary tour continues, guests will find themselves inside the second room where the idea of a “tribute” to year’s past truly comes to life.
“Every room has a journal entry that was written by the homeowner. It catalogs his transformation, much like a Mr. Hyde character would go through,” Cametti described. “The storyline is a metaphor for how our guests feel about Halloween Horror Nights. They have been waiting for the event to come back as it brings them comfort. The closer they get to the event the more excited they become and the event itself is really a release for them.”
Large illuminated portraits of Halloween Horror Night icons are scattered on the walls including the Usher, the Director, the Storyteller, Chance and the most prominent one, Jack the Clown.
“The icons have always been at the root of the design and they are what fuels the Tribute Store,” Cametti pointed out.
Busts resembling the horrifying icons are sitting by each of the portraits presenting a perfect photo opportunity for fans.
In the middle of the second room is the homeowner’s desk with papers scattered about, and two vases with old and decaying flowers.
Creators said the rooms hide small Easter eggs from previous Halloween Horror Nights events including models and event guides. Near the top of the room is a loft-style area that has lanterns lit along along the walls with a few photos and bookshelves.
A portrait hallway (with some guests photos included) lead guests to the final areas of the store.
“For the first time this year, we were able to offer our guests the opportunity to become part of the Tribute store and join us in our main hallway as vintage portraits that decorate the halls of this old manor, ” Cametti said.
Guests will then step into an overgrown, haunted conservatory. Poison jars line shelves and carnivorous Venus flytraps sit in cages. This area has stone columns and brickwork that is covered in damp vines and is packed with merchandise that mostly pays tribute to Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice.”
Guests will then move into an old barn packed with delicious and terrifying treats.
Guests can grab some “blood-soaked” popcorn from Saddle Snacks, a Bride (of Frankenstein) wedding cake from the Carriage House Confectionary, or an electrifying gummy brain or beating candy heart from Stable Sweets.
“At the end of the store, our character “escapes” his imprisonment and is at large, out in the night. Architecturally, the room designs follow this same story in going from polished and well put together, to becoming chaotic and falling apart towards the end,” Cametti said.
Items available for purchase in the Halloween Horror Nights tribute store include various T-shirts, socks, cups and mugs, face masks, posters, candles, magnets and so much more.
“For me, the Frankenstein jacket with the retro logo on the back is probably my favorite piece. You can’t go wrong with classic monsters!” Cametti concluded.
Some of the merchandise is also located throughout other parts of the theme park or on Universal Orlando’s online store.
Almost two weeks ago, Universal opened the All Hallows’ Eve Boutique.
The special merchandise location offers guests to buy some of the same merchandise at this year’s tribute store, just at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.
The Halloween Horror Nights tribute store will be open beginning Friday during normal operating hours as well as during Halloween Horror Night event nights.
Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights returns for its 30th year on Sept. 3. and will feature 10 terrifying haunted houses, five sinister scare zones and two all-new shows.
Tickets and frequent fear passes for the event are now on sale.
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