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Inside and All Around Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 2011

Where: 1000 Universal Studios Plaza [map], Orlando, FL, United States, 32819
October 19, 2011 at 10:08 AM | by | Comments (0)

Universal Studios Orlando is in the midst of its annual spooky-fest, Halloween Horror Nights. Each fall crowds converge on the park to experience the transformation; during the day the park welcomes guests of all ages to experience Shrek 4D, ride ET's bike, and hug Curious George while at night—for 15 nights every fall—the park turns itself into a big screen-like horror movie.

Eight writers work year round to come up with the themes and schemes that inhabit Universal's annual Halloween Horror Nights. While the details, both cinematic and thematic, are incredible, you have to wonder if maybe the eight writers got a little too intricate with some of these ideas (Spanish fort run by a mutinous undead crew of Columbus' missing fourth ship—we are looking at you). After all this isn't Lost. However, despite some of the themes being a bit convoluted, some are just downright scary (Saws n' Steam), some are incredibly visually compelling (Nevermore), and some just might be the future of fright (The In Between house).

We toured all eight haunted houses and here's what we think, in order from scariest to not so scary:


Saws n' Steam
The scariest house we walked through. Spinning blades, Lady Luck's minions turning people under 30 into steam or some such thing. Oh, and this haunt is housed in one of the prop buildings near the Jaws ride, which somehow makes it more frightening. Downright horrific.

The In Between
A 3D scarefest that actually works. Your balance and orientation are immediately challenged as you enter and the walls start shifting, making you think the floor is moving. When the scareactors jump out at you here, random streaks seem to fly into your face. This house also has scareactors creeping you out from above, which adds another dimension of fright.

Winter's Night
Brilliant movie quality effects throughout the house as snow falls over you upon entry. Goth spirits do their best to scare you (and some succeed) as you weave through the cemetery scene.

Disgruntled nurses shoot and stab at you as you try to get through this eerie WWI scene.

The Forsaken
Strange Christopher Columbus theme left us scratching our heads, and we weren't fans of getting wet while trying to navigate through this house, but the green eyed freaks did spook us a bit.

The Thing
Inspired by the new movie, this house did not scare us much, though the detailed sets were fun to look at.

Awesome Edgar Allan Poe theme, but not very scary. However, once again, checking out the detail of the scenery and the scareactors made it worth it.

HR Bloodengutz
This is the campy horror house. Not scary, just funny. Think Toxic Avenger-style camp.

Aside from the haunted houses you also have to navigate six scare zones, filled with scareactors, music, and any props. Here are some of the highlights:

Scantily clad temptresses full of scars dancing to Marilyn Manson's Beautiful People (played slow at dusk, then faster after dark) while a bevvy of chainsaw carrying scareactors engulf you as you pass through. If you scream or show fear, the scareactors will smell blood and flock to you immediately.

Giant, black clad, Dementor-style scareactors slink around a maze, constantly changing the barriers so folks can't easily get through.

Canyon of Dark Souls
Scareactors dressed in black blend into the walls, while some walk around on stilts, always on the lookout for ways to freak out the people that dare to walk through.

· RIDES The Rip Ride Rocket, Revenge of the Mummy, Jaws, Men in Black and the Simpson's Ride are also open until 2AM during horror nights.

· VITAL STATS What: Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 21 Hours: 6:30 p.m.-12 a.m. Oct. 2, 6, 19, 26, 30-31; 6:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Sundays and Thursdays from Oct. 9-27; 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights Cost : General admission $81.99 plus tax Official Site: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando

Full Disclosure: We were a guest of Universal Studios at Halloween Horror Nights, but rest assured all photos and opinions are completely our own.

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