Tag: Scare Zones

Terror Tips: Maximizing Your Theme Park Haunt Experience

It’s haunt season again!

Many of the big theme-park haunts are creaking open their gates this weekend and we’ve carefully assembled some Terror Tips for getting the most screams and bang for your buck out of the night. As you begin your planning and preparation for the season of the witch, this list of tips will help you experience every maze, attraction, and maybe even the dumb shows at these mega-haunts. So pay attention, please. We don’t want you or your money to be left behind.

Trust us, we know how to Haunt Stalk.

1. GET THERE EARLY

This is the number one tip. Seriously, if you follow only one recommendation on this page, this should be the one. This will make or break your entire night. TRUST US. Get there before the haunt opens; we recommend at least a half-hour early. Remember you need to plan time for parking and to get through any security checks so you can queue up to get inside at opening. Some haunts will actually start letting people in before the posted official opening time. Universal has started opening some haunts as early as 5pm. If you get there early you might be able to go into a maze with almost no one else in it. Other haunts have “opening scare-amonies” that are worth watching and set the mood for the night (but skip them if you can get into the mazes ahead of the crowds). At Knott’s Scary Farm we’ve been able to get into three mazes within the half-hour before the haunt even opens, and we’ve never bought the early entry or “pre-scare dinner” option.

Related to this: Buy your tickets in advance if you can. Waiting in line for tickets wastes valuable time. Why add another queue to your night?

2. Go Early in the Season cal_right

Haunts get more crowded the closer it gets to Halloween. They hit their peak on the weekend before Halloween. We suggest attending as close to the opening weekend as possible. The actors are also fresh and ready to scare. We’ve witnessed “monster fatigue”  when we’ve gone near the end of haunt season, when we’ve noticed monsters talking to each other inside the maze or drinking a soda as they lean against a wall. The only downside with attending early in the season is that some scares might not be completely worked out, and actors might just be finding their groove. The second or third weekend of a haunt is usually the best time to visit.

3. Haunt Stalk on “Off Peak” Nights

From our experiences, you’ll find much shorter lines by going to haunts that are open on Wednesday and Sunday nights. Thursdays can be lighter earlier in the season. However, do pay attention to the local school holidays as those can have a significant impact on the crowds’ sizes during these “off nights” as the haunt will be filled with pre-teen brats who were dropped off by their parents so that the ghost and ghouls can babysit them for the night. The Sunday before Columbus day is especially risky.

4. Consider a Front-of-the-Line Pass on Friday and Saturday Nights

…if you insist on ignoring the previous tip. Perhaps this tip should have been titled “Avoid Friday and Saturday Nights,” but we know that’s not realistic for most people. Work and school get in the way of attending haunts during the week. Sunday night could be a good compromise—lines will be much shorter, and you’ll still be able to arrive early (see tip #1) to avoid more of the crowds (your co-workers are used to seeing you looking hungover on Mondays anyway). But if you absolutely must go on a Friday or Saturday night, we recommend upgrading your ticket to a “Front-of-the-Line” pass (don’t forget to buy in advance!). Time is money, however, we realize that these passes can be pricey, so if you follow the other tips, you might be able to bypass the upgraded ticket and still see everything. After all, there are a lot of great haunts to attend, and you don’t want to blow your budget on a single ticket.

5. Bone Up on the Rules

dsc_0023_6With the terrors of the real world growing rampant, the security measures at many of these haunts has increased significantly. With this increased security comes annoying policies and rules that can make it even more time consuming, difficult, or even preventative for you getting inside; even if you have no intentions of being a haunt evildoer. Therefore, bone up on the rules at the respective haunts before you arrive. You don’t want to be the one who has to go all the way back to your car to return your forbidden camera, spiked jewelry, or switchblade.  We also suggest that you travel light as there’s usually express lines for Haunt Stalkers who aren’t trying to enter with purses, bags, clothes (j/k), etc. Anyway, you’re just going for a night and not moving in… unless the haunts choose you to fill their residency quota.

6. Eat Before You Get There—Or Wait Until You Leave

Do you really want to wait in line for a crappy hot dog that costs $8? No, you don’t. As part of the “GO EARLY” plan, you should have an early dinner near the park. If you get hungry, grab a snack and eat in line. Don’t waste valuable time queuing up for theme park food. On the other hand, you could also wait and eat afterward. For example, Knott’s usually has a “midnight breakfast buffet” (12 am to 3 am) at the Chicken Dinner Restaurant next to the park that might be a good option.

7. Keep Your Group Small

“The More the Merrier” does not apply to haunts. Hitting all the mazes, scare zones, shows, and rides in a single, crowded night requires coordination, and the more people you have in your group, the less likely it is that consensus will be reached about where to go and what to do. Some people will want to go on the rides first, some will want to hit the mazes, some might be hungry and want food (see #3 above). We recommend keeping your group to no more than 6 people unless you’re willing to accept that you won’t get to do everything.

8. Tackle the Haunts Front to Back

Note: this works only if you’ve arrived early. You might think going straight to the mazes in the back of the park is a good idea, but you’re wrong. Sure, there will be no one in the back when you get there, but when you circle back to the mazes in the front of the park, they’ll be packed. Almost everyone else will be working from front to back, so as long as you’re ahead of the pack (by getting in early, see #1 above), this approach works best. If you’ve arrived late, forget it. You’re screwed, no matter what approach you take.

As a side, with Universal Hollywood’s unconventional layout they tend to allow early entry for the mazes in the lower lot, at the back of the park, so follow this plan doing the first mazes you encounter on the lower lot and then keep working your way to very back.  You’ll likely get through all those mazes, which is a majority of them,  with a significantly reduced wait time. Just be prepared to wait a little longer for the few on the upper lot.  However, your overall wait time for the night should be reduced with this plan.

9. Don’t Loiter in the Scare Zones 

Scare Zone Fog… well only if you’re talking about our website. You will most likely pass through the scare zones as you make your way to the mazes. This absolutely adds to the overall experience but don’t get caught up hanging in the scare zones until you’ve already been through all the mazes/houses. As while you’re busy running away from and taking #selfies with a ghoul, the crowds will be surging past you and filling up the #longlines. You can always go back later in the night and leisurely scream through the scare zones.

10. Go On Rides and See Shows Only After You’ve Been in All the Mazes

It’s Halloween season, and mazes/houses are the main attraction. These are open only 5 or 6 weeks at most during the year. You can go back and to get on all the coasters and E-Ticket rides some other time. And let’s face it, most shows at haunts are pretty terrible. Save all of these “dis-ttractions” for last, or at least until after you’ve hit all the mazes you really wanted to go through.

Most Importantly Remain Calm and Happy Screaming!

MIDSUMMER SCREAM’s HALL OF SHADOWS BIGGER-THAN-EVER

More than 20,000 fans of all things macabre are expected to make their annual pilgrimage to the Long Beach Convention Center in Southern California for the third annual Midsummer Scream, as the Hall of Shadows attraction expands to occupy 80,000 terrifying square feet of the world’s largest Halloween and horror convention.

 Photo Courtesy: Albert Lam

Photo Courtesy: Albert Lam

“Hall of Shadows is a Halloween theme park set up within the convention center where brave guests can step into the darkness and find themselves surrounded by swirling fog and terrifying monsters,” explains Rick West, Creative Director, Midsummer Scream. “Here, visitors will experience over a dozen haunted attractions, live entertainment, and check out exhibitors who are right at home in this dimly-lit environment. Hall of Shadows is a virtual commercial for Halloween in Southern California, and has become a huge, unique feature of Midsummer Scream that isn’t replicated anywhere else.”

Midsummer Scream will feature vendors and exhibitors within the Hall, each one selected to be showcased in the dark due to their particular merchandise or product type. Guests will also enjoy a performance stage where they can watch horror-themed burlesque, magic, and much more throughout the weekend.

Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest will be represented this year in the form of a terrifying scare zone that acts as the gateway to the featured haunted attractions area within the Hall of Shadows; this year marks the first time a major Southern California theme park has participated in such a way at Midsummer Scream.

Three times daily, Midsummer Scream presents the Decayed Brigade within its Hall of Shadows – a high-energy monster performance team made up of some of the best “sliders” in the world. Returning for their third year at Midsummer Scream, the Decayed Brigade is set to wow guests of all ages with their dynamic showmanship, intense physical stunts, and thrilling feats of strength and agility on a runway that stretches more than 100 feet in length among the Hall’s many haunted attractions.

All attractions within the Hall of Shadows are free with paid admission to Midsummer Scream. Those guests with Gold Bat Weekend Passes will receive one-hour early admission each day at 10 a.m. to the vendor show floor as well as Hall of Shadows. During general operating hours, Gold Bat passholders will find Front of Line access available at each haunted attraction within the Hall of Shadows.

Midsummer Scream has established itself as the premier venue for artisans and vendors to sell spooky merchandise, theme parks and film studios to tease their fans with coming attractions, cosplayers to take a walk on the dark side, makeup artists to show off their terrifying talents, professional haunters and industry experts to present world-class panel discussions, seminars, and classes. In addition to the amazing haunted attractions, displays, and exhibitors in the Hall of Shadows, Midsummer Scream features many experiences throughout the entire show, from theatrical productions to escape rooms and other alternate reality entertainment.

More detailed information regarding Hall of Shadows can be found here, on the official Midsummer Scream website at MidsummerScream.org.

About Midsummer Scream

Midsummer Scream is presented by David Markland and Claire Dunlap of Black Cat Orange (formerly CreepyLA Productions), Gary Baker, Johanna Atilano, and Rick West of Theme Park Adventure. Its goal is to showcase the diversity of Southern California’s haunt and horror community as a welcoming beacon for fans around the world to converge on Los Angeles for a weekend of excitement, networking and non-stop spookery! Be sure to follow Midsummer Scream on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Periscope for breaking updates and information.

 

Universal Orlando’s HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 24 All The Gory Details Revealed

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Tickets are now on sale for “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Orlando” taking place September 19 through November 1, 2014.

Tickets to this year’s event are available for purchase at www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com/orlando, including a Front of Line ticket option that enables guests to enjoy priority access at each “Halloween Horror Nights” attraction. Advance purchase is recommended as event nights will sell out.

 

HAUNTED HOUSES

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The Walking Dead: The End of the Line
This year’s bone-chilling maze will be the largest maze ever created at Halloween Horror Nights and will place guests at the heart of a harrowing journey to seek sanctuary at Terminus, an elusive destination that promises community for all. Mirroring the terror that befell the residents of the West Georgia Correctional Facility, now overrun by savage walkers, the experience will send guests fleeing from the fallen prison into unknown territory as they once again stage a desperate battle for survival against flesh-eating walkers and ruthless humans.

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From Dusk Till Dawn
Inside this remote biker bar, chaos reigns as guests discover what lies beneath its neon lit facade — an ancient race of blood thirsty vampires. Based on the hit El Rey Network series, this labyrinth of death will leave guests “drained.”

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Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood
Guests will witness the harrowing transformation of Vlad the Impaler to the monstrous Dracula. We know how the story ends, but what terrifying blood drenched journey brought Vlad into the darkness that is Dracula? This is it — every visceral and feral scare will grab guests by the jugular.

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AVP: Alien vs. Predator
In collaboration with 20th Century Fox, Halloween Horror Nights will pit the Xenomorph species against the predators in an epic battle and you’re caught right in the middle. Follow the journey as these two ancient species fight for survival and dominance in the ultimate battle of Alien vs. Predator.

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Halloween
Travel with Michael Myers as he begins Haddonfield’s historic night of horrors. You will find yourself racing to get ahead of Michael’s murderous knife as he slashes at his victims and you. Guests will be placed in the depths of Michael Meyer’s personal hell as they try and escape his nightmare.

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Dollhouse of the Damned
Dollhouse of the Damned will terrify guests with its original characters and visually unsettling environments. Within its decaying walls lay the remnants of an old evil. The devious denizens of the house pull apart and remake the unfortunate souls that stumble through the doorway of the Dollhouse, as they become the Damned that will never escape.

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Giggles and Gore Inc.
Evil clowns are not born…they are made. People are stretched, smashed, and eviscerated. Faces are peeled off, voice boxes are torn out, and bodies are stuffed with…other bodies.

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Roanoke: Cannibal Colony
Guests will walk into the actual settlement of Roanoke and experience the terror of a community in cannibalistic turmoil. The cannibalistic colonists attack any fresh meat that stumbles near them. Join the colonists in the destruction and carnage by cleansing fire and gnashing of teeth.

STREET EXPERIENCES

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Face Off – In the Flesh
The most twisted and gruesome character creations seen on SyFy’s hit show “Face Off,” will be live and In the Flesh. This unique zone will surround you in the macabre visions and nightmares of some of the most talented up-and-coming make-up artists today.

The Purge: Anarchy
“The Purge: Anarchy” scarezone will greet guests with pure unadulterated fear, bringing to life the turmoil and pandemonium that awaits those vulnerable to masked vigilantes in search of new victims. Like civilians in the movie fighting to survive, guests will be at the mercy of cunning wit, luck and speed as they attempt to outsmart and outlive the anarchy brought about by those who believe in an “eye for an eye.”

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MASKerade; Unstitched
At first glance, this may seem like a normal ballroom, but guests will be terrified when they see human heads inside oversized candles, appendages dangling in the streets and human faces ripped right from skulls with bloody remains still intact.

Bayou of Blood
The trees are illuminated with candles, voodoo practitioners fill the snake and spider-infested bayou, and the alter is set, as the legendary ‘Mamba’ prepares to flood the bayou with blood.

LIVE SHOWS

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
Party on as those two most excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest stories of the past year with the biggest names in pop culture.

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Rocky Horror Picture Show – A Tribute
Let’s do the Time Warp again! Rock out to clips from the classic cult film with your favorite Transvestite, live tribute performers, and audience participants.

 

General Info

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 24 will take place select nights from Sept. 19 to Nov. 1. During its twenty-four year history, Halloween Horror Nights has become an iconic event for horror fans from around the world, and the event has been known to sell out. Guests can secure their scares at this wildly popular event by booking now at HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando. Offers include Florida Resident event tickets, a Frequent Fear Pass that allows guests to experience 16 nights of pure terror for less than the price of one, and a Halloween Horror Nights hotel and ticket package that includes event tickets, park-to-park tickets and accommodations at a Universal Orlando hotel so you can stay right in the midst of all the action.

Universal Hollywood Is “More Dead Than Ever,” with HHN Tickets Now On Sale!

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Tickets are now on sale for “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Hollywood as Southern California’s leading Halloween event becomes “More Dead Than Ever,” expanding to 22 select nights with more mazes than ever, from Friday, September 19 through Sunday, November 2, 2014.

Tickets to this year’s event are available for purchase at www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com/hollywood, including a Front of Line ticket option that enables guests to enjoy priority access at each “Halloween Horror Nights” maze, Terror Tram and theme park attraction.  Advance purchase is recommended as event nights will sell out.

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“As the movie studio that invented the horror film genre, we hold ourselves to a very high standard in producing the best and most terrifying Halloween experience,” said John Murdy, Creative Director at Universal Studios Hollywood and Executive Producer of “Halloween Horror Nights.”  “Our ongoing collaboration with today’s most influential filmmakers and musicians, and movie and television horror properties, contributes to the authenticity of ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ and delivers one of the scariest, most compelling experiences anywhere.  This year will be ‘More Dead Than Ever’ with more event nights and even more mazes, and we can’t wait.”

Halloween Horror Nights” 2014 will feature a slate of all-new haunted attractions including, “The Walking Dead: The End of the Line,” inspired by Season 4 of AMC’s Golden Globe®-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning TV series. The bone-chilling maze will place guests at the heart of a harrowing journey to seek sanctuary at Terminus, an elusive destination that promises community for all.  Mirroring the terror that befell the residents of the West Georgia Correctional Facility, now overrun by savage walkers, the experience will send guests fleeing from the fallen prison into unknown territory as they stage a desperate battle for survival against flesh-eating walkers and ruthless humans

TerrorTram_HeaderThe engrossing television series will seep into other parts of Universal’s backlot with predatory walkers prowling the secluded wooded areas of the movie studio. “Terror Tram:  Invaded by the Walking Dead” will take guests down the daunting path to Terminus, interspersed with landmarks and walkers from Season 4, including the “burned moonshine cabin,” “charred walkers” and “mud walkers.”

Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s cult film and El Rey network’s acclaimed supernatural TV series, “From Dusk Till Dawn,” will debut at this year’s event in a new maze designed to thrust guests into its deviant world where they will encounter sordid mythological creatures known as “Culebras,” serpent-like vampires who have tormented the Earth for centuries.

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Celebrated Grammy® Award-winning musician, SLASH, hailed as one of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time by Time magazine, is joining forces with Universal Studios Hollywood to compose the first-ever original score for the theme park’s hypnotizing new 3D maze, “Clowns 3D Music by SLASH.”

Other marquee mazes will include, “Dracula Untold:  Reign of Blood,” a terrifying new haunted attraction based on Universal Pictures’ upcoming epic action-adventure; “AVP: Alien vs. Predator,” bringing together the most deadly species spawned from two blockbuster films; “An American Werewolf in London,” inspired by Universal Pictures’ Academy Award®-winning film, and “Face Off:  In the Flesh,” featuring gruesome characters from Syfy’s hit TV series.

HHN-2014-Dracula-PR-Image-with-txt-819x1024Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights

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A series of unnerving scare zones will also infiltrate “Halloween Horror Nights,” terrorizing guests as they navigate the darkness from one terrifying maze to another, beginning with “The Purge:  Anarchy,” inspired by Universal Pictures’ disturbing blockbuster thriller. “The Walking Dead: Welcome to Terminus” will awaken swarms of predatory walkers in a gruesome scare zone situated adjacent to the new “The Walking Dead” maze.

Additional scare zones will include, “Mask-a-Raid,” featuring hordes of blood thirsty cannibals masquerading as French aristocrats; “Dark Christmas,” a Pagan-themed area where demonic creatures hunt disobedient children and drag them to hell; and “Skullz,” based on the Native American legend of Wendigo, a malevolent supernatural half-beast monster with an insatiable appetite for human flesh.

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As a complement to the nighttime event, Universal’s most popular rides and attractions will also be open to guests, including” Transformers:  The Ride-3D,” “Jurassic Park—In the Dark,” “The Simpsons Ride” and “Revenge of the Mummy—The Ride.”

Updates on “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Hollywood are available online at HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Hollywoodand on Facebook at: “Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood,” on Instagram at @HorrorNights and Twitter at @HorrorNights as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information. Watch videos on Halloween Horror Nights YouTube and join the conversation using #UniversalHHN.

Halloween Horror Nights” dates are as follows: September 19, 20, 26, 27, October 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, and November 1, 2, 2014.

 

Vote for HHN Hollywood’s “Scariest” Scare Zone

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The first confirmed Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood news of 2014 is finally here!  As teased at this year’s Monsterpalooza, HHN fan’s will get to choose their doom in 2014!

Last year HHN had the design a classic character contest, which for the first time offered fans a new way to interact with HHN by playing a role in it’s creation. A simple but genuis PR move. The winning character, the Invisible Man, was featured inside the Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection maze. This year they’re reemploying the democratic process and allowing fans to vote for what they believe to be the “scariest” Scare Zone theme to be featured on their French Street aka Moulin Street in the park’s upper lot.

There are three very frighteningly intriguing theme choices, each based appropriately based upon French culture/history, and we think it’s going to be a hard decision. These all look rather scary to us. Check them out…

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1: Corps
“The War to End All Wars” has left a swathe of destruction through battle-torn France, and on French Street at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, World War I-era soldiers have returned from the dead. The constant artillery bombardment has turned the twisted network of trenches into a sprawling graveyard, and now “The Lost Generation” is rising from their muddy graves and coming home to haunt the streets of “old Paris.”

2: Mask-a-Raid
“Masquerade Balls were a staple of the social calendar in pre-Revolutionary War France; a time for the members of the French aristocracy to misbehave behind the cover of elaborate, jeweled masks. But “mask-a-raiding” among the powdered and perfumed party-goers are members of a blood thirsty cannibal cult. Bon appétit!”

3: Ghoulz
“In 19th century France, restrictive laws and social norms prevented medical colleges from acquiring the one asset they need most – human cadavers. To solve this “body shortage crisis,” universities employed “unsavory characters” to do their dirty work and steal corpses from cemeteries in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, the grave robbers on Universal Studios Hollywood’s French Street have developed a morbid fascination with the dead – and a taste for human flesh.”

We ask our fellow Haunt Stalkers to choose wisely. The voting officially begins on the HHN Hollywood Facebook page this Wednesday, June 4th and ends on June 18th, with the winning theme to be officially announced on June 19th!

We’re dying to know what our Haunt Stalkers will vote for so please feel free to share your vote in our comments section below. You can also tweet us and use the hashtag #UniversalHHN to campaign for your favorite theme.

New L.A. Times Article on HHN Hollywood

The L.A. Times has published an interesting piece on Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood. It focuses a lot on John Murdy, Creative Director, and talks about what goes into the extreme production behind the event. It also provides a view into the world of the scareactors, some of whom are “killed” every 30 seconds or so, all night long. It does sound like a tiring job.

Check out the article here.

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