I participated in the Facing Fears Together press trip, but all opinions are my own.
The countdown from The Purge: Anarchy was playing over the loudspeaker as I washed my hands in the ladies room at the entrance to Universal Studios Orlando. Blaring sirens began to play as I rushed back to our RIP tour guides and the countdown began. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one… A few seconds later, we were walking through the streaming crowd of park guests who had arrived for no other reason than to have the ever living daylights scared out of them at Halloween Horror Nights 24!
The first taste of the fright this night would hold in store for our group of bloggers and their guests visiting Halloween Horror Nights 24 as part of the Facing Fears Together press trip organized by Two Traveling Moms, was the Face Off Scare Zone. Here, bleeding, screeching and oozing horrors from the hit reality TV show Face Off were brought to life on the otherwise sunny and palm tree laden streets of the park.
The “scaractors” as they are referred to weaved in and out of the crowd, looking for the slightest sign of weakness. I must have showed a little myself, because one rather interesting looking man with a pus filled face made a bee line straight in my direction. I of course, ducked behind the nearest member of the male sex. Narrowly avoiding a heart attack, I tried to take in the skill and craftsmanship of the various creatures on display along the street and snapped a few photos.
An interview with Michael Aiello the creative director for this 24th production of Halloween Horror Nights revealed some interesting facts. There are about 1,000 scaractors working each of these special ticketed event nights. Each of these has makeup that takes anywhere from 20-110 minutes to apply! That is a lot of foundation! I am a die hard Walking Dead fan, and was so happy to learn that this years Walking Dead maze is the largest that Halloween Horror Nights has ever done, with about 60 scaractors in that one maze! Other mazes in this year’s line-up include: From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Roanoke Cannibal Colony, Giggles and Gore, Dollhouse of the Damned, Dracula Untold, Halloween and Alien Versus Predator. It was at this point that I learned we would be visiting them all!
From there, we wandered through another Halloween Horror Nights 24 Scare Zone, the Bayou of Blood, where a rather bewitching voodoo woman struck a pose for me and I was chased by a very tall voodoo bone man on stilts. This was my favorite scare zone of the night, the theming is far more intense here than in other areas, and when the sun sets and the fog machines set in, you never know what might be lurking in the darkness.
The Purge: Anarchy Scare Zone in the New York area of the park was another area that just got creepier the darker it got outside. This Scare Zone was literally like taking a step into a scene in the movie, complete with the auctioning off of people to be Purged. Beware of the chainsaw wielding women in fox masks and skull masked me on motorcycles.
I really don’t think many people could imagine anything creepier than a clown factory. At Giggles and Gore, you are subjected to the process of how clowns aren’t born, they’re made. Here, there were scenes of clowns being squished into pint sized packages, mimes having their voice boxes ripped out, and every other insanely weird image that you could ever have come to mind involving a clown. If you have a fear of clowns, this house will definitely send you screaming.
Roanoke Cannibal Colony won the award for having the most frightfully placed scarator. There was one in here that almost caused heart failure. Following the cannibals came the dolls. Dollhouse of the Damned takes every pleasant memory you had of your dolls as a young girl, and forever soils them with the ghastly scenes inside this maze. Even the walls are made of mutilated doll parts, and the music box ballerina wasn’t even safe from a horrific transformation.
Familiar heart-stopping music from the box office topper Halloween greets guests as they enter the queue for the Halloween Maze. In the shadows of the windows of the replica of Michael Myers home, you watch the iconic scene in which he stabs and kills his sister. This was by far the scariest house of the night for me. Michael Myers was everywhere at every turn, and there was no escaping the horror of this otherwise rather unassuming clapboard two story home.
With all of the excitement of surviving four of the eight Halloween Horror Nights 24 mazes, we cooled off for a bit in the exclusive RIP tour lounge located with the twin aliens in the queue of the Men in Black ride. I tried out a signature “Dead Walker” cocktail in a souvenir glass for $10, and then it was off for a gut popping round of laughs at the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. This is a must see for the laughs alone, but the great looking men and women aren’t too bad of a reason to stop by either.
Alien Vs. Predator is one of the mazes at Halloween Horror Nights that you wish you could just stroll slowly through. The scare thrills are high in this maze, where the scaractors are actually articulated puppets run by people behind the scenes. The artistry in how they put this maze together and authenticity of the props is just incredible!
Dracula Untold is a look into the story that surrounds the upcoming movie release. If the movie is half as good as the thrills in this maze, then it will be a box office smash. From Dusk ‘Til Dawn is a fun maze for the setting, but was not one of my personal favorites, still a must see for the night though.
By far my favorite maze of the entire Halloween Horror Nights 24 event was the Walking Dead maze. If you are a fan of the show, you are going to absolutely love this maze. It is authentic to a tee, even including the helicopter falling through the grocery store ceiling in one room. The longest maze they have ever done at Halloween Horror Nights before, it starts in the prison, before progressing through various scenes of Season 4 and coming to a rest in Terminus where all those who arrive survive long enough to become a steak dinner.
The night ended with a visit to each of the four frightening scare zones again. Unlike before, the various ghouls and creepies were bathed in a shadow of darkness, and this gave them a more menacing demeanor. Everywhere you looked there were shrieks and shrills of horror, a perfect ending to a fright-filled night!
If you think that Halloween Horror Nights is not your thing and is too scary for you, I urge you to push yourself and give it a shot. I under no circumstances would normally have gone to anything like this in my life, but I am so glad I did. I had an incredible night that spanned emotions of fear and dread to utter joy. I had a great time laughing at others and myself, and can honestly say, I will definitely be back again next year. For more information on Halloween Horror Nights 24, or to book an RIP tour, which I highly recommend to avoid the crowds, visit HalloweenHorrorNights.com.