If you were following our tweets last night, you already know that opening night at HHN Hollywood was a bit of a disaster, at least for us. We can’t really fault the haunt exactly. It was more an issue of Universal Studios operations and crowd control, and probably just some bad luck. We’ll be returning with our Killer Deals Nights pass, so we hope to have a better experience, but we wanted to let you know what you can expect, especially for those who might be attending tonight or Sunday.
Getting Into the Park
What a mess! We did take our own advice and arrive early, but unfortunately, shoddy service at Johnny Rocket’s in City Walk seriously delayed us. We were still at the gates before official opening; however, the security line was excruciatingly slow. It took us almost a half-hour just to get through the metal detectors. They were thoroughly searching everyone.
If you have a Killer Deals Nights pass, be prepared to wait even longer before getting inside. You must get your pass processed before you enter the park at the Guest Relations booth near the entrance. This was another 45-minute wait for us. Slowing things down even more is the fact that the line is not just for pass processing—apparently it’s also for people who have problems with the tickets they bought. It would make a lot more sense to separate problem tickets from pass processing, and they should also allow you to enter the park first and then come back any time before closing that night to have the pass processed. That would make sense, right? Instead, Universal seems to be punishing the people who bought the pass rather than treating them like guests who will be bringing returning business. Shame on you, Universal. This is customer service 101. Call Disney; ask them how it works.
Inside the Park
Wait times were looooong last night. Longer than we ever experienced last year on any the four nights we attended. We saw wait times as long as 90 minutes for some mazes (House of 1000 Corpses always had the longest wait; Friday the 13th was always pretty short for some reason). The long lines meant that we made it through only 3 of the 5 mazes. We eventually grew weary of dealing with the horrible people who seemed to surround us in every line, so we gave up on the mazes and rode the rides instead (all of which had much shorter lines, about an average of 20 minutes for every non-maze attraction).
We’re not sure what was going on last night, but the crowd was really the worst we have seen at a haunt, second only to the Queen Mary 2 years ago, which made us stop attending that one. We suspect it had to do with all the discounts out there. Aside from the volume of the crowd, the people were just…annoying. The crowd was definitely younger than what we’ve seen in the past, too.
Castle Vampyre (1.5 out of 5 skulls)
About what you’d expect. They took the House of Horrors and threw some vampires into it. Despite creating an elaborate back story and a companion comic book, none of that came through in the maze. You still had the Chucky room, but with a vampire in it. You had the Phantom of the Opera mannequin, but with a vampire underneath him, and so on. The scareactors were trying their best, though, and we liked the makeup and costuming.
Friday the 13th (4 out of 5 skulls)
This maze is awesome. I rate it better than the Friday the 13th mazes from 2007 and 2008. There were a lot of great scare setups, and some gruesome, gory scenes. HHN struck the right balance between suspense, humor, and scares and has created a great maze for this year. Yes, some of it was recycled and retooled from previous years, but for the most part, it did feel new.
House of 1000 Corpses (3.5 out of 5 skulls)
It’s hard to rate this one, because this is where we had the worst line experience, which put us in a bad mood before we even set foot inside. Rude, annoying teenagers were abundant in this line. We could not escape them—now we know how Bill and friends felt inside the Firefly house, waiting for their car to get fixed, right before they were tortured to death.
Anyway, once we finally got to the front (after the longest 80-minute wait of our lives), we were very impressed with the façade of the maze. They did a great job on that. The maze itself is incredibly long, and the sets are very detailed. The 3D effects were not as impressive as they sounded. I’m not even sure what was supposed to be in 3D. They had a lot of neon orange in the rooms, so I suppose that was supposed to jump out at you. The effect was underwhelming. I actually liked the maze better without my glasses on, as the glasses just distract from the detail of the sets.
The maze lacked scareactors at the beginning; we went through several rooms without a single actor. Later on, scareactors were prevalent, and they had a lot of energy. HHN did a great job casting; Otis and Baby were very near-dead ringers for the original characters. The costumes and makeup were great all around.
1. Get there even earlier than you already planned, especially if you intend to get a Killer Deals pass processed this weekend.
2. See House of 1000 Corpses first; it had the longest line all night.
3. Skip Castle Vampyre when you get there and circle back later; it had a 5-minute wait by the end of the night.
4. Don’t skip the King Kong Express. This attraction is outstanding, and definitely worth seeing.
We’ll report on Saw: Game On and Nightmare on Elm Street, plus the scare zones, when we go back for a second trip. We will also be adding more (and better photos) to this post soon.
Our next stop is Knott’s Halloween Haunt this Sunday. We’ll be tweeting live once again. Be sure to follow us.