Tour of Terror: Chapter 2
As you are all aware, we love horror and Halloween in the Chauncey household. With that being said, our Tour of Terror continued in Orlando where we attended Halloween Horror Nights at the Universal Orlando Resort. We met up with friends, had some drinks, ate some pizza fries, and got to experience six of the nine haunted houses being offered this year, along with all five scare zones, and one final showing of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. Universal always puts on a premiere event, showing guests every year that the best nightmares never end…. usually.
Here’s a breakdown of the houses we saw and what we thought.
This year, HHN brought a classic to life: The Shining.
The scenic and decor were good and touched on all the major scenes in the movie. It had some good scares and some predictable ones as well. It would have been nice to have a visual of the hotel in some kind of far perspective view, seeing it off in the distance when first entering into the house. But alas, that piece was missing which was kind of disappointing. The scareactors in the house had some decent scares, and their energy was good however, in my opinion there were a few too many Jacks in the house. Having read the book (I’m a huge Stephen King fan) and having seen the movie many times I would have to say the best nightmares do indeed sometimes end.
Next up was American Horror Story: Part Two. My wife and I are both huge fans of the show, and have rewatched the seasons many times, constantly trying to find different clues that pull everything together. Since we are such big fans, this house was a must see for us. Just like last year, AHS was done very well, covering Asylum, Coven, and Roanoke. The scenic and decor were spot on; I felt like I was on the set for each episode. The scares and scareactors were timed well and delivered with precision and energy. The house delivered on every aspect, and this was one of the houses where the nightmare never ends.
The Fallen was a Universal original concept house. If you attended the event in 2012, it reminded me of Gothic from that year. It was awesome seeing that the stunts made a return in the house and gave some refreshing scares that we don’t see often enough. The scenic and decor were beautiful and the energy of the cast really brought the house to life. The nightmares have a solid stone foundation that will live on for centuries.
Taking a trip to the Bayou was on the list as we experienced Dark Waters. This house by far gets my vote on one of the most beautifully done in regards to scenic and decor. I was in awe at the sight of the riverboat upon entering the soundstage, and pulling us into this dark, mysterious atmosphere. Throughout the entire house I was blown away by the attention to detail. It was a wholly immersive experience, something only HHN truly knows how to pull off. Like the previous houses, the scares and energy were good, and the costumes were on point. My only complaint about Dark Waters was that it was too short and should have lasted longer. If there is such a thing as a beautiful nightmare that never ends, this house was it.
Another IP house this year was Blumhouse, bringing together Sinister, the Purge, and Insidious into one dimension. Honestly, the house had a slow start. The first few scenes were okay and depicted the movies they represented, but there was still something missing. Once the house entered it’s Insidious realm, it finally shifted into gear and became a house were nightmares truly reside. The intensity of the scares in the Insidious portion increased with every room. This is definitely where you can actually step into your nightmare. However, another thing that seemed a little off was the fact that Sinister and Purge had very few scenes, which was unfortunate as Sinister actually bothered me a little bit in my core when I saw the movie.
The final house to discuss that we went through was Scarecrow. Where do I even start with this house?This was a house that all of our friends had recommended, as well as fellow guests, and management within the event. The outside that was adorned with a cornfield and windmill set the tone before we even stepped foot in the house. As soon as we were in the first scene, it was intense. The smells of burlap and corn filled the air along with the screams of fellow guests in front of us. It was dark and had some tight spaces which only added to the intensity. To say this house was scary does not do it justice. I have been doing haunts and going to them for quite some time and this house is in the top five of all time for me. The performers were aggressive and terrifying, scaring everyone in our group several times. I was actually sweating by the time we got out and quite possibly was breathing heavily. The scenic, audio, lighting, costumes, make-up, and performers were all AWESOME. A classic, original concept full of energy and terrifying creatures is something we didn’t realize we had been missing, until we were reunited with it that night. This house is my pick for house of the year out of the ones were we able to experience this year.
Next up, let’s chat about the scare zones.
This year there were five and we got to spend a little time in each of them.
Altars of Horror was the first scare zone we encountered. This zone had quite the selection of characters from each of the IP houses. The scareactors did a great job of depicting their characters and provided some good scares. It was cool to see the Grady Twins from the Shining interacting with guests, while Pig Head from Saw wasn’t too far behind them.
The Purge was a return street and did its predecessor proud. I was actually the manager of this street the first time it was a scare zone and this theme holds a concept very near and dear to my heart because of the awesome cast and management team I was privileged to work with. Once again, this year it did not disappoint. With the truck, bikes, and newly added wood chipper, all together it made this one of my favorite streets this year. They performers made their Founding Fathers proud, and for me it deserves to be in the running for street of the year.
Trik R’ Treat was another well done scare zone this year. The theme brought the glowing jack-o-lanterns back to the trees of Central Park, where they rightfully belong. The scenic and decor combined with the fog weaving through the area was amazing. Prominent characters from the movie were represented who knows, if you were lucky enough, you may have just ran into Sam himself. All in all, the zone had good scares and high energy, making it a fun one.
Invasion was the scare zone located in San Francisco this year, and like last year’s zone, it was done really well. There is an advantage to San Francisco being so small. One or two big set pieces can make the entire scene. Throw in the right scare actors and you’ve got a hit. Since the Superstar Parade doesn’t go through this area, they have the ability to do the in depth scenic, without having to remove it after every event night. This year, a huge UFO crash landed in the streets of San Fran, and it was an awesome sight to behold. The costumes and masks that the scareactors were adorned with were very detailed and realistic. I felt as though I needed to protect myself, lest I be probed.
Hollywood was overrun by the Festival of the Deadliest this year. Once again, the scenic and decor were elaborate, and with this being part of the parade route, they had to set it up every night. This is where I give a shout out to all the techs that bust their butts making sure all the set pieces are in place every single night. I wa a little confused by this scare zone to be honest, and the energy level could have been a little higher. I don’t fully understand the concept, but either way there was still a good scare or two witnessed.
Last, but definitely not least, we spent quite a bit of time among those crazy, maniacal, and fun-loving chainsaw-wielding clowns who were left to bestow the fear of the visitors of Springfield. I am not a fan of clowns to begin with, but these guys and gals know how to bring the fear. It was indeed a pleasure to watch the Klowns bring their own brand of humorous fear to the masses.
Finally, after all the houses and streets were done, we were able to make it to the last Bill & Ted’s show of the evening. The pre-show consisted of flashbacks to the pasts shows which brought on a feeling of nostalgia. The show contained it’s usual parody of pop icons and current events, and when the show ended, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. Thanks PJ and Jason and the rest of the cast and crew for a great ending to a legacy.
This was the first time in eleven years I came as a guest, and solely a guest. No longer working the event in any sort of way or capacity was kind of weird to me. To not be a part of such a great event was slightly surreal. Even though the weather was a little soggy, and the wait times were longer than one would hope, we still had fun catching up with friend while waiting. To sum up the event, I feel it was good. We were able to see all the houses we wanted to see, plus more, and catch the Bill & Ted’s show which with this year being the final tour, that was an absolute must.
With the Tour of Terror being done and in the books, we had fun. We got to see both great events and catch up with family and friends, plus have some grown-up fun which doesn’t come as often now-a-days. Until next time, Florida. Be excellent to one another and party on, dudes.