Monday, September 24, 2018

Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2018

Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood is one of my favorite events of the Halloween season! I was really looking forward to this year since we finally got a Trick 'r Treat maze as well as mazes based on Poltergeist, Stranger Things, Halloween 4, Universal Monsters, and more. Below, I will walk you through my night and this year's mazes at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, as well as sharing a few photos of the event.

Like last year, I sprung for the RIP tickets, Halloween Horror Night's VIP experience. If I can, I will always do their RIP package, for the singular reason that it includes unlimited front of line to all mazes and rides. The RIP tickets also include a buffet dinner (though the vegan options are limited to a few veggies and maybe a salad if you're lucky) with drinks (including two alcoholic) in the exclusive VIP dining room, exclusive photo ops in the VIP lounge, and a guided tour of all mazes. This year, they brought back the private trolley for RIP groups (yay!) as well as adding a second VIP lounge on the lower lot.

They had early entry this year starting at 5 PM (which I love and I hope they continue to do!), so we checked into the VIP lounge and got our RIP lanyards. This year, they assigned tour times based on first-come-first-served basis, so we got a 6:40 PM tour time. In previous years, we had a chance to choose our tour time, but unfortunately not this year. So we were basically stuck in the VIP lounge for an hour and a half until it was our tour time. We didn't have enough time to go all the way to the back lot to do the mazes that opened early and get all the way back up to the entrance to meet our group. This was a bummer since I usually like hitting a few of the early open mazes before the VIP tour. Anyways, we met our group at 6:40 PM, went to the VIP dining lounge, had some snacks (the only vegan options they had were some salads, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and Skittles), and then actually left with our group to hit the mazes around 8 PM.

 Fresh off the Terror Tram, but who let these doggies off the leash?

 Beware the cannibals that have taken over the Bates Motel

Saying hello to Mother in the window at the Psycho house

First, we did the Terror Tram, whose theme this year was Hollywood Harry's Dreadtime Storiez. Hollywood Harry, a disgruntled clown, was back to his rotten tricks, kidnapping and torturing tour guides. After our private trolley dropped us off, we survived chainsaw-wielding maniacs with dog masks, cannibal hillbillies at the Bates Motel, said hello to Norman and mother at the Psycho house, survived the revenge of the scarecrows, and finally made it through some insane clowns before re-boarding our trolley and heading to the back lot mazes.

 Cupid gone crazy in Holidayz in Hell scare zone

 Killer bunny in Holidayz in Hell scare zone

The Horrors of Blumhouse entrance

We did the Holidayz in Hell scare zone (loved it!), The Horrors of Blumhouse, The First Purge, and Poltergeist. The Horrors of Blumhouse and The First Purge were kinda bland. The Horrors of Blumhouse haunt was based on two movies - Truth or Dare (which was an awful film, I actually think the maze was better that the movie but that isn't saying too much!) and Unfriended: Dark Web (which I haven't seen, but have heard good things about). The maze wasn't very memorable, which was the same problem I had with The First Purge. They were okay, but they didn't leave an impression and weren't really scary.

 The Poltergeist house! Love the facade they built for the maze!

 They're heeeeeere...

This room of coffins you had to walk through was my absolute favorite
of the whole night! So spooky!

However, I was so stoked for Poltergeist and I'm happy to report that maze was a ton of fun! I loved seeing all the iconic scenes from the film, and they did a fantastic job with all the little details (even the steak moving across the countertop!). There were several scares that got me in that maze and the whole look and feel that paid homage to the original Poltergeist film was much appreciated. All the nostalgic feels!

After we completed the back lot, we climbed back into our trolley that took us to to the lower lot, where the Stranger Things and Trick 'r Treat mazes were located. First, we stopped off at a second VIP lounge. We were treated to more drinks, desserts, and a live make-up demonstration! I really liked this cozy VIP lounge, and it was a welcome break to grab some snacks and drinks (again, not much in the way of vegan desserts at all, which was a shame).

The Byers' living room in the Stranger Things maze

Eleven fighting the Demogorgon in the Stranger Things maze

After about a 30 minute break, we headed back out and did the Stranger Things maze. This year, it is inside an actual sound stage, which was cool, and it did an amazing job of immersing us in the Stranger Things world! We saw lots of Demogorgons (they did an amazing job with those costumes!) and got to explore the upside down in this maze.

Waiting outside the Trick 'r Treat maze! My fave maze of the night

Principal Wilkins teaching us a valuable lesson to always check your
Halloween candy!

Mr. Kreeg being terrorized in the Trick 'r Treat maze

Next was my most-anticipated maze of the night, Trick 'r Treat! It was also located on the lower lot. The outside of the maze was incredibly stunning, showing the house from the opening of the movie decorated with ghostly lawn ornaments, jack-o-lanterns, and Halloween lights. The maze itself was absolutely amazing, and each room was a different story from the anthology film. We saw The Principal, The School Bus Massacre, The Surprise Party, and many more incredible scenes from the movie. And Sams everywhere! Don't forget to look up...

Trick 'r Treat scare zone on the upper lot

The rules of Halloween

After finishing up the lower lot, we followed our guide back up to the upper lot. We walked through the Trick 'r Treat scare zone (which was disappointingly small) and started at The Walking Dead, an attraction that is open all-year. It seemed a bit sparse when we walked through, and since I've already been through many times it wasn't that exciting. Next, we went through the Halloween 4 maze! I really enjoyed this one as well, Michaels were popping up all over the place!

 Entrance to the Universal Monsters maze

 Frankenstein's Monster

Invisible Man

We ended our RIP tour with the Universal Monsters maze, one of my favorites of the night. This one featured music by Slash and such gorgeously gothic sets that I wanted to move right in! It featured some of the greatest classic Universal Monsters, including Frankenstein's Monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Mummy, the Wolfman, Dracula (I don't think I actually saw him, just his brides), and more! I think this maze was the one with the most scares (I certainly jumped multiple times), but it was an absolute blast with so much beautiful detail!

Monsters Masquerade scare zone

After exiting the maze, you immediately go through the Monsters Masquerade scare zone (going through the Universal Monsters maze is the only way to get to this scare zone). I did love this scare zone, the costumes were gorgeous with a medieval vibe (very Masque of the Red Death). After our RIP tour was complete, we split from our group and went back for seconds! We did a few of our favorite mazes a second time.

My favorite mazes ranked were: Trick 'r Treat, Universal Monsters, Poltergeist, Halloween 4, Stranger Things, with the Terror Tram, The Horrors of Blumhouse, and The First Purge rounding out the bottom three. As usual, the sets and the scare actors were top notch throughout all the mazes. The scare zones were lacking this year, but I did like the Holidayz in Hell scare zone!

I had a fun time at Halloween Horror Nights this year. However, I did have some gripes with how the RIP tour was structured this year. It was such a bummer to have to wait around for the tour and basically not be able to do any mazes until our tour started. I hope they fix the system so you can choose your own tour time when you purchase RIP tickets, like in past years instead of just getting assigned a time. I feel like I didn't get my money's worth on the unlimited front-of-line since I basically sat around for a few hours waiting (I had a very specific plan for hitting all the mazes on the back lot before our official tour time). Also, it would be nice if Universal got with the times and actually offered some legit vegan options, both in the RIP buffet as well as throughout the park itself. Pickings were slim!

 Stranger Things photo op exclusive to the VIP lounge

 Barb memorial in the VIP lounge

Demogorgon photo op exclusive to the VIP area

However, on a positive note, I did love that they brought back the RIP trolley that drove our group all around to the mazes! It was great not to have sore feet at the end of the night. I also really liked the second lounge that was added on the lower level where we got to relax and grab some drinks right in the middle of our tour. Our tour guide was great and lots of fun, too! I appreciated that the tour groups were smaller this year, and the VIP lounge was less crowded than it usually was. The exclusive photo ops in the VIP lounge were a nice touch as well.

Though I had a few issues with how the RIP tours were scheduled this year, the mazes themselves were amazing and the unlimited front-of-line was well worth it. It was a fun time and I highly recommend Universal's Halloween Horror Nights for their high production value, excellent scare actors, incredible attention to detail, and frightfully fun experience!

To learn more or to buy tickets for the event, you can visit the Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood website!

If you've been to Halloween Horror Nights this year, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Stay spooky, my fiends!

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