HHN Hollywood sticks to its formula of cinematic themed mazes with a lineup featuring some of the most popular horror movies and TV series.
For 2018 there’s the unexplained and ghostly phenomenon in the “Stranger Things”, “Poltergeist” and “The Horrors of Blumhouse” mazes. Killers, slashers, and creeps in the “The First Purge”, “Halloween 4”, and “Trick r’ Treat” mazes. You’ll also come face to face with some of horror’s top movie icons in the incredibly fantastic “Universal Monsters” maze. Plus, the tried and true HHN attractions like “The Walking Dead” walk-through attraction, “Terror Tram”, and a few miscellaneous scare zones try their best to also thrill guests.
HHN is still one of our top Theme Park haunts in SoCal and we continue to rank their mazes highest in overall design, theme, and scare factor. However, the redundancy and predictability are starting to become apparent to those of us who go every year. The pacing and design of all the mazes have become cookie cutter with very little variation in how they’re staged. While there are some great scares, the impact is minimized when the same tactics are used year after year, maze after maze. This year there also was the increased over reliance on the black curtain transition rooms where a scareactor pops out of the darkness in nearly every maze.
The question we keep asking ourselves as the years go by is how can HHN be further enhanced to raise the bar and stay ahead of the haunt curve, which they’ve set themselves? Should they remain locked into producing mazes solely tied to movie and TV franchises?
By all means, HHN is still a great time but as the years go on we fear that they may be painting themselves into a bloody corner with limited originality. We know the team is creative enough to come up with a least a few new tricks every year to keep the HHN experience fresh. Having experienced HHN at Universal Orlando where they have a few unique mazes every year, we think if Hollywood included more original themes into their mix then they would have the perfect collection of mazes in one park. Plus with the successful launch of Warner Bros.’ own studio Haunt right down the street, which owns and now features big horror IPs such as The Conjuring, Pennywise (IT), Freddy, and Jason, Universal will need to do some more updating and diversifying to remain the top ‘final girl’ of Theme Park Haunts.
The overall park experience at HNN is as good as ever. They’ve improved on the operations and the staff was generally helpful. The layout of the park is still unwieldy with the mile-long walk, each way, from the front gate to the mazes at the bottom of the studio lot but we guess there’s no real way they can change that. It would be great if they would open up the Wizarding World of Harry Potter section to disperse more of the crowds on the upper lot.
The early entry option is a must for those who purchase general admission as it allows you time to get through all the mazes with significantly reduced wait times. We used it and were able to go through a couple of the mazes twice which was a great bonus. We wished they had an option where you could buy a one-time one maze front of the line pass. It may not be practical but after getting through all the lower lot mazes and then having to wait over an hour for the upper lot mazes it was something we wished we had at the end of the night.
Now, on to our maze reviews featuring videos from our friends at ThemeParkHD!
Mazes & Attractions Reviews
Step inside the hair-raising world of Stranger Things and prepare to brave the Upside Down of this pop culture series phenomenon! Journey to small town Hawkins, Indiana—a seemingly peaceful community with dark, unnerving secrets. When a young boy goes missing near a secluded government laboratory, his faithful friends begin a quest unfolding a series of increasingly bizarre and frightening events. With the threat of flesh-eating creatures in the shadows and the help of one very strange little girl, their world is about to be turned “Upside Down”!
There’s probably a no more hyped sci-fi/horror series right now than Stranger Things. This is a maze that fans are more than excited to see. With its 80’s nostalgia, action-filled storyline, and quirky characters it’s a very fun theme for HHN. However, the idea of this maze may have been more exciting than the actual presentation. For one, Stranger Things isn’t overly scary even with the Demogorgon creature running around, which the maze overly relies on for most of the scares. In addition, with some of the scene enactments, the maze quickly gets backed up into a long line where just about every scare is easily detected. The “Upside Down” section was also brief. If more of the maze was set in this realm then the scare factor and overall impact probably would have been higher. This maze was a bold creation with some great set designs, effects, and enough eye-candy for die-hard fans of the series but the scares were flat and soggy, just like a syrup-drenched Eggo waffle.
Trick r’ Treat
Experience Halloween night like never before with Trick ‘r Treat, the anthology horror film that has become a modern horror cult classic! It is said that Halloween is the night when horrifying creatures roam free, but there are rules devised to protect us from their evil. Every year, one small town is taught a terrifying lesson: that some traditions are best not forgotten. Welcome to Warren Valley, Ohio—a sleepy suburban community that masks many dark secrets. A bloodthirsty visitor has come to uphold the sacred traditions of Halloween and is itching to punish rule-breakers with bloody acts of vengeance! When the tricks and treats of Halloween turn deadly, you must attempt to survive the scariest night of the year. You either live by the rules, or you die by them.
Trick r’ Treat is a fun maze featuring all the infamous scenes and characters from the cult classic movie. This maze is located on the side of The Mummy ride and seems to follow the exact same pattern as the previous mazes in this location (This is The End, Exorcist, and The Shining). It also turns the scares up a notch compared to some of the other lower lot mazes. There are a few surprising moments with unexpected scares including devious scares from behind and above. In other parts, it kind of overuses the blackout room scares where something jumps out from behind a dark curtain. This is one of the scare tactics that has become predictable and seems to be used frequently in all HHN mazes. In spite of that, we thought that the talent in this maze had great energy and really enjoyed the recreations of the movie’s most memorable scenes like the puking kid, strung up candy lady, and the crashed bus at the bottom of the rock quarry.
The Horror of Blumhouse: Chapter 2
Blumhouse is back with new suspense-filled moments from Truth or Dare, Unfriended and a nightmarish surprise ending that will leave you screaming for more! Enter the “Horrors of Blumhouse” film festival, where horror movies come to life. In Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, guests will succumb to an ancient curse that has been unleashed by a group of unsuspecting college students….forcing them to play a game where the stakes are life and death. In Unfriended, guests become pawns to a supernatural entity that has invaded a chat room.
We have to admit that we’ve never seen any of the Blumhouse movies featured in this maze and by looking at the Rotten Tomatoes ratings we won’t be either. We had low expectations for this maze because the featured movie themes were not interesting to us but it actually managed to pull off a few good scares, exceeding our low expectations. We ended up going through this maze with no one in front of us, which increases the scare factor for just about any maze. In this maze, they’re very good at having one scareactor distract you while another goes in for the scare. There are a few deja vu moments from the sets and props used that harken back to other mazes like La Llorona and El Cucuy. The maze ends with a “surprise” bonus movie called The Girl. It was a little hard to figure out what was going on in this story as all we saw were some scary looking little girls and demons jumping out. The theming and coherence are significantly lacking but with a few cheap scares, this maze does its job.
Based on the classic 1982 film by director Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist will take you inside the iconic ghost story that set the bar for paranormal thrillers ever since. After moving to their new home in sunny Southern California, the Freeling family discovers that dreams can come true—and that nightmares can too… One stormy night, their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, begins talking to strange, ghostly voices through a dead signal on the television set. When Carol Anne disappears, the family slowly comes to realize that she has been abducted by vengeful spirits occupying the spectral plane between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. What the Freeling family doesn’t know, is that their house was built over an old cemetery and they are in mortal danger!
They’re finally here! After endless years of asking, Poltergeist finally debuts at HHN. This maze perfectly captures the spirits (pun intended) and frightening essence of the 1980’s PG-rated movie that traumatized the kids of GenX. You can tell that this maze was made from love with incredible attention to detail the recreation of some of the films best special effects and creatures. It has everything loved about the movie. There’s Carol Anne in front of the TV, a maggot-filled steak crawling across a kitchen countertop, a guy ripping off his face, tree branches crashing through windows, demons in closets, coffins with corpses coming out of the ground and of course – clowns popping out from underneath the bed. What we loved about this maze was just like the movie it was both scary and fun to go through. This is one maze that (dare we say) could do an encore in 2019.
The First Purge
Get ready for The First Purge, a terrifying new maze that tells the story of how the blockbuster franchise all began. The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) have instituted the inaugural Purge, a 12-hour period on Staten Island, where all crimes, including Murder, are legal. Try to survive the NFFA’s experiment and make it through the night. Your government thanks you for your participation!
The Purge continues on at HHN for the 6th year in a row. Over the years HHN has showcased it as a scare zone, terror tram theme, and as a smaller part of a maze. This year, The Purge gets its own complete maze which we think is by far is the best “Purge” experience at HHN. Based on the recent movie this maze winds through the settings of dark alleys, abandoned warehouses, and ran down apartment buildings. The talent in this maze was very good at being menacing and getting uncomfortably close with their various weapons. There are some great staged scares too including a room full of mannequins (ala another Blumhouse movie – Halloween 2018), a long hallway with Purgers hiding behind the doors and walls, and some great double-team distraction scares. This maze isn’t terrifying and the costuming/masks aren’t very special but there are plenty of startling moments to keep your heart rate up. This maze also stirred our fond memories of Blumhouse’s own haunt in downtown L.A. The Purge: Fear The Night back in 2013.
Inspired by Universal’s legendary horror films, the Universal Monsters maze—featuring an original score produced and composed by GRAMMY® Award-winning musician, SLASH—will shake horror fans to the core with a petrifying modern rendition. After decades of rot and decay as they lay mouldering in their graves, the Universal Monsters’ disdain for the living has risen to a bloodthirsty, all consuming level! Invade their eternal resting place and witness the bone-chilling resurrection of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera and The Wolf Man, among others. As they rise from the dead, thirsty for revenge, you will fall victim to the terrifying images and stories that helped invent the horror film genre.
Who would have thought that characters nearly a century old can still be terrifying? This maze is perfection from beginning to end. It’s filled with iconic monsters, fantastic sets, and non-stop scares. We naively walked into this maze confident that it wasn’t going to be too scary only to be quickly humbled when unexpectedly a giant Frankenstein monster came lunging at us, creating an instant panic that we carried through the rest of the maze. The terror kept intensifying as we made our way past all the horror legends in their classic settings. You can really tell that there was a lot of passion behind creating this maze as the details, costuming, effects, and music (by Slash) were all incredible. This definitely is a great living tribute to the Universal Monsters and the perfect reintroduction to a new generation. Universal’s “Dark Universe” movie team needs to get with the HHN production team to learn how to really bring these ghouls back the big screen in style. This is everything that an HHN maze should be.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Fall victim to the silver screen’s most deplorable slasher with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Based on the cult-classic horror film franchise, Halloween, this new maze will truly have you on edge…of Michael Myer’s knife that is. October 30, 1988, a seemingly comatose Michael Myers is being transferred back to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. It has been a decade since his last killing spree in Haddonfield, but the townspeople know pure evil never sleeps. Michael awakens and slaughters the medical personnel transporting him, escaping into the night. Fortunately, Michael’s former psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, knows exactly where he is heading; unfortunately for you, no one is safe from Michael Myers…
It’s Michael Myers overload as you walk, or in our case run, through the streets of Haddonfield once again at HHN. This maze had the most tedious and slow line of any of the mazes. It was really bad as people were getting so testy that altercations were occurring between guests and with the staff. When we finally made it to the front our legs felt so tired it would have been impossible to run from Michael if he were to really come after us. The payoff from the long wait was that we were in the maze all alone and fully vulnerable to Michael’s attacks. Like the movies, the maze recycles scenes we’ve seen before at HHN but it also has some specific tributes to the fourth movie like Penny’s diner, Jamie’s bedroom, and the power plant. Overall the design of this maze was fairly basic but the Michaels were relentless in their attacks, as he was coming out of every corner. It almost could be numbing to have so many Michaels jumping out but for those of us who are scared of the boogeyman, the terror never ends.
Hollywood Harry, the phantom clown infamous for terrorizing the Universal Studios backlot, has returned to Terror Tram as host of an all new bloodcurdling experience. Brace yourself for the unspeakable horrors depicted in this demented rendition of Harry’s 1950s television show. As you journey through five spine-tingling bedtime stories, attempt to survive the chainsaw wielding monsters, bloodthirsty cannibals, rotten corpse scarecrows, homicidal clowns, and a merciless torture factory. You better get some sleep while you can because after you experience Hollywood Harry’s Dreadtime Storiez, you’ll never sleep again…
This was one of the most disastrous Terror Trams to date. When we went through it was overcrowded from the moment we stepped off the tram until we finally made it through the thick line all the way back to the tram. There were way too many people on the path and there was no space for the scareactors to hide or scare from. They may have tried their best but it was in vain. There was absolutely nothing new about Terror Tram and it was just a big waste of time. People are uncomfortably cramped together through the whole experience and the biggest scare was when someone released a rancid fart among the crowd… brutal.
The Walking Dead Attraction
See our reviews from previous years.
This year’s line up included MONSTER MASQUERADE, TRICK R’ TREAT, HELL’S HARVEST, TOXXIC TUNNEL, AND HOLIDAYZ IN HELL. Of these five Monter Masquerade and Holidayz in Hell were the two stand out Scare Zones.
Monster Masquerade was placed in the French Streets where the exit of the Universal Monsters maze is. Coming out of the maze, the scare zone is essentially an extension Universal Monsters where ghouls like The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame lurk in the fog getting some really great scares.
Holidayz in Hell was a cool extended walkthrough area featuring grim settings from nearly every holiday on the calendar. It was almost like it’s own maze with the experience somewhat similar to Terror Tram but more fun.
HHN Hollywood 2018 Overall Fright Value:
*Based on General Admission