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Halloween Horror Nights Revisited
By Dave Tryzenski


Halloween Horror Nights 12; "Islands of Fear" was very cool. In fact, my wife and I arranged to be at Universal for several days so we could take in the nightly insanity at a leisurely pace. We also took advantage of the early admission program provided to those in the park who had upgraded their day tickets, or who already possessed passes to that evening's event.

For the event each "Island" (at "Islands of Adventure") was cleverly re-themed to reflect the sinister side of the Halloween season, and it was almost like visiting an entirely new park.

Riding the "Hulk" or "Dueling Dragons" coasters in the dark is a wildly different feeling from riding either in the day.

Many, but not all, of the other "normal" attractions at the park were open, but we were there for the Halloween events!

Five different haunts and several deliciously evil spectacles which I will describe in a counterclockwise manner from entry into the park:

The "Port Of Evil," where the town square was literally littered with the bodies of tortured souls tormented on disection tables, guillotines, a bizarre iron maiden and even a portable electric chair. Not for the young or squeamish!

Marvel Superhero Island became the "Island Under Siege!" The Spider-man villain "Carnage" greeted you as you crossed into this area. Having laid siege to the Island with a group of evil super-villains, it was up to you to navigate the labyrinth-like maze of his secret hideout in this islands haunt; "Maximum Carnage!"
I loved how Universal transformed the comic book isle into something much darker using fog, sound and lighting effects, and plenty of chainsaw wielding bad guys, but this was my least favorite haunt of the five.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure. An outrageous medley of the year in film and TV and out two favorite time traveling dudes. This show is amazing every year. Always a must see, this year included an evil team up of Dr. Evil and Serleena (from Men In Black 2) who had kidnapped Ozzy and his family in an attempt to take over reality based TV, with appearances
by Mystery Inc along with Scooby Doo, Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, Darth Vader, Gandalf, the PowerPuff Girls and Anna Nicole. Party on Dudes!

"Treaks and Foons" on cartoon Island included a menacing, massive wall of foam within which lurked some odd inhabitants. You could attempt to navigate this mess, but we didn't try it.

This island also had "Scary Tales II." A twisted step into the grimmest of fairy tales. Sick, twisted, and held one of the creepiest looking characters of the entire event; a black-lit little Miss Muffet. Great themeing and characters.

Up next was "Fear Factor" a haunt themed after the TV show. Dark halls with a lot of "tactile" scares. Rooms full of snakes, spiders and other creepy stuff. This haunt held my favorite HHN tradition, "the Rat Lady," lying in state in her glass coffin filled with live rats. Other then that, little of interest. The worst part was the queue line where you could watch gross scenes from the show such as people eating hundred year old duck embryos. Yummy!

You are now entering "Jurassic Park EVILution!" Wow. Heavy fog allowed half-human half dinosaur creatures to get in close for a startle! The amazing setting of this place, darkened and fogged, made it just like steeping into a great Roger Corman B-Movie. Incredible. The haunt was a trip through InGen's top secret bio-genetics lab where something had gone horribly wrong! Gory, scary, and beautifully done.

Entering the "Island of Lost Souls," you were greeted by "Nightmare" who welcomed you into a supposed "hellish nightmare." Umm, yeah. The hub of this island was supposedly converted into "Studio 666" a bizarre outdoor nightspot. Minimal re-themeing, maximum lameness.

Lastly, we entered "Boo-ville," the darkened "Dr Seuss" island. Evilly, they had the Grinch lurking among the shadowed walkways here, and the event's main attraction:

The "Caretaker's Screamhouse." What can I say? Fabulous. This creepy trip through a cursed town's evil mortuary was filled with more shocks per foot then most normal haunts. Gross, creepy, gory and startling. We loved every minute.
"Cool!" say I to the Mrs. "I gotta get a picture of him!" and readied my trusty digital. At that point, the Caretaker leaned over and whispered right into my ear ;"Go Ahead, take your picture." Almost made me wet myself! It wasn't until we had exited did I compose myself enough to realize what I thought ahead been the Caretaker had actually been his reflection in a mirror down the hall!

Universal invests (and makes) a lot of money with this event. It sells out almost every night. Interestingly, what I didn't see were a lot of high cost props. The place was fogged to the max and loaded with live characters who could pop out at you almost anywhere, which provided for a unique, and fun, experience for everyone who attended.

Although this event IS NOT for younger children, Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights IS one of my favorite Halloween events on the East Coast. This year's move to "Islands of Adventure" enhanced the overall experience, and proved that even a jaded person like myself can learn (and get a scare) from their tactics and presentation.

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