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Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN


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  • Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

    Everyone wants to know which is better, and I've already had the chance to do both, so I thought I'd start a discussion. Now, I didn't get to see any shows, so I don't have an opinion on those at all. But as for the rest, Pros and cons of both:

    Knott's Halloween Haunt

    • Lots of mazes (13, count 'em)
    • Greater originality of themes
    • Great deal with Pre-Haunt Dinner & Early entry
    • Two themed ride "mazes" (Log Ride and Calico Mine Train)
    • Over 30+ years of experience and tradition
    • Ghost Town scare zone is always a classic
    • Some mazes are more "atmospheric" or "humorous" rather than "scary" (a con for many, but actually a plus for me)
    • Lots of security throughout the park
    • With so many monsters, the talent can be uneven at times (especially inside the mazes)
    • Boy, does it get crowded (get there as early as possible, or take advantage of the pre-scare dinner)
    • Some mazes are better than others
    • If you go a lot, the mazes can get predictable

    USH Halloween Horror Nights

    • Great production value on its mazes
    • Monsters are very aggressive and "in your face"
    • Lots of live "victims" of murder, torture, and mutilation within the mazes add to a greater sense of unease (and a touch of humor, depending on your point of view)
    • Effects are quite gruesome, and fairly high on the gore level (a con for a few, but not for me)
    • They take it so seriously, it's funny at times (for example: in the zombie scare zone, they had military guys on bullhorns, shouting how the "area is unsafe... we cannot be held responsible for your safety... please clear this area... the president has been notified... etc." )
    • Security is present
    • Only 5 mazes (and that's counting the tram tour maze)?
    • Boy, does it get crowded (if you go, get there early! They say they open at 7, but security gates were opened at 6:30, and they let people fully into the park at 6:45, which allowed to get the mazes in early with no lines)
    • Scare zones are effective, but very small
    • Darn those escalators!
    • No early entry, and front of the line passes are way too expensive to be worth it (over $130!)
    • Once you do the mazes, there's not much left to do...

    Now, all this is just my opinion. I'm sure others will weigh in with their thoughts. Let's hear it!
    Does anyone even bother with signatures anymore?

  • #2
    Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

    I've never been to Halloween Haunt, but I have been to HHN... I went last year and it had a bit more humor last year than I think it will this year...

    Last year Slaughterworld was probably the funniest thing there, this year Slaughterworld 2 premieres and I dont know if that will be the same or not.


    • #3
      Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

      This past weekend I visited both Halloween Haunt at Knotts and Halloween Horror Nights at USH. What follows is my review of each and how they stack up against each other...

      first off, Knott's!
      The evolving layout of the park since the change in ownership has definitely effected the impact of the classic scare zones and it seemed this year that the monsters (with the exception of a few of the old school ghost towners) lacked focus. There were a few scares to be had throughout, but gone is the feeling of dread that once acompanied a stroll through the darkened streets of ghost town or the gauntlet. The talent seems to be spread quite thin and at least a handful of the ghouls on duty were nearly devoid of energy, simply milling about the crowd, attempting feeble scares with shaker cans. I also couldn't help but notice that the selection of unique monsters populating the park seemed significantly decreased. I didn't see many of the familiar spooks I have come to know and love over the years. This brings into question the fact that perhaps with so many dates it's hard for Knott's to maintain a high level of talent throughout the entire event, which is a shame as this was clearly the cornerstone of the operation for so many years.
      Moving on to the mazes, after the surprise success of the Grudge 2 last year (I had low expectations for the maze and was blown away by what they put together) I was expecting similar improvements and inovations this year. For the most part, I was sadly let down. On one hand, the awfull trend of neon 3D mazes seems to finally be winding down (better late than never) but the overall maze design this year was uninspired, rehashing many themes from years gone by and not particularly well. It is also evident that many of the effects and mechanized gags from past years are showing their age and need to be repaired/replaced.
      Clearly the DIY, low budget nature of the Haunt has always been part of it's appeal and this fact has been offset by the sheer quantity of mazes and monsters in years past, but with the talent level weigning, less monsters in the park and continually dissapointing maze design, the cheap factor and lack of pollish are starting to stand out, and not in a good way.
      Let's take a closer look...

      Red Beard's Revenge
      When this maze made it's debut a few years back it turned out to be a gem. The sets and theming were absolutely great and the talent was top notch! In years since, the once grand sets and props have started to show their age and it seems like the park is less and less interested in improving this house and stocking it with the amount of scares it deserves. I would love to see Knott's do a slight redesign on this maze and fix up those sets. It's still a good maze but it has seen much better days.

      So evidently Knott's couldn't find a horror movie to do a maze tie-in with this year and instead decided to go with this. Beowulf is obviously a hot property due to the upcoming film, but making a haunted house attraction based on a movie that is in turn based on an ancient epic poem about a viking warrior seems like a bit of a stretch - and guess what? it is. The set design is very nice and the Grendel puppets are impressive and frightening, but that's about it for this maze. The sound design is redundent and obnoxious, the lair of Grendel's mother is just full of hot chicks and not scary at all and the dragon effect at the end is really just kind of cheesey. Add to this the fact that there hasn't even been a serious advertising push for the film yet and you have a maze that lacks direction and theme aside from being tied in to a movie. The layout was good but I just couldn't help but think I was walking through an extremely budget version of the old Mummy maze at Universal.

      The Grudge 2
      I am actually not sure if they did scale this maze down at all from last year. The eye room did seem smaller and I remember more hair featured last year, but I also thought there were a couple of things that they added this time around. This maze is still a really good creepy haunted house experience. My only real gripe was that they didn't have the exceptional level of talent that this maze had last year, and that showed. Also, some of the animatronic gags have already started to show signs of extreme wear and tear, but that long-necked hairy head monster thing in the bedroom is still the scariest effect at the whole Haunt!

      Lore of the Vampire
      I have to agree with the folks over at Ultimate Haunt when they say that it is high time for Lore to take a hike. I can get behind the dedication that the vampire actors have to their roles and their maze, but seriously - vamps have been done to death and this maze offers precious little in the way of originality. It seems like this maze also shrinks every year as the props and set pieces are presumably canibalized for use on newer mazes, but as this has happened, Lore has all but lost it's thematic focus (which started out, years ago, as a sort of "vampires through the ages" idea) and is now just a hodgepodge of mismatched vamp sub-genres running into eachother and actors that seem more interested in portraying Anne Rice-inspired drama than scaring guests. Also, the sound design in this maze was simply god awful, which is inexcusable. I'm always game for a good vampire maze - just do something new with it for crying out loud!

      Feary Tales
      The heir apparent to the beloved Malice in Wunderland continues to miss the mark. The biggest crime here is that there are a handfull of great ideas in this maze that almost work but ultimately don't. The first problem is the severe lack of focus evident in maze design and execution. Knott's clearly can't decide if this is a "funny" maze or a "scary" maze. I'm not saying that funny mazes are not scary, they are still hanted houses set up to scare the guests, but there are clearly two types of mazes at Knott's in terms of thematic approach - the "funny" mazes (i.e. Killer Klowns, Hatchet High, Terrorvision, Lost Vegas) are designed to distract and entertain using morbidly comedic gags and/or visual ironies that advance the plot. The "scary" mazes (i.e. Asylum, Malice, Axe Murder Manor, Doll Factory) focus on disturbing imagery and more traditional gore and shocks to set the tone and advance the story line. This is not to say that the two themes do not cross over (they do more often than not) but the approaches are usually clear and provide clear thematic focus to the mazes. That said, Fearytales falls somewhere in between and never really finds it's voice. Most of the sound design is on the creepy side and some of the visuals are clearly meant to disturb, but the overall tone of the maze and the inclusion of many bad puns and a few instances of comedic sound clips and visual gags puts a lot of the rooms squarely in the realm of comedy. This dual nature, as well as room design and props that look like reused cast-offs from Malice adds up to Fearytales falling short of the mark once again. This maze also suffers from the same problem that plagued the (thankfully) extinct Terrorvision - there are some pretty clever horror spins on beloved classics (here fairy tales, as opposed to tv shows) but the rooms are not set up properly and the humor as well as the potential for a great scare is too often lost, leaving us with a series of empty scares and bad puns. I'd love to see this maze come back as a NON-3D house with more focus and better continuity.

      The Asylum
      This house has been a standout since it first showed up a few years back, maintaining a high level of quality despite only minor overhauls. This year, the sets are still solid but the maze seems far more anemic and slap-dash than it ever has. This is likely due to the departure of several effects and gags to other mazes (most obvioulsy the Doll Factory) and a scaled-down layout that fits in a seemingly new storage facility behind Ghost Rider. The layout has been changed slightly and the maze seems to have lost some of it's intensity because of this - particularly the formerly menacing foyer, which has now been split into several smaller rooms and thus lost much of it's disturbing grandeur. I did like some of the new insane scrawlings written on the walls and the sound design was much improved over last year (if a little too busy and loud), but the general feel of the maze and all it's rooms seemed scaled down from previous years and the talent was not up to their usual insanity levels.

      13 Axe Murder Manor
      Clearly still the most solid maze overall in the whole Haunt, the Manor includes almost everything that makes a Knott's maze great. It doesn't seem to have changed in terms of layout at all since it's first appearance (except perhaps the ending rooms - after you exit the actual manor) and this is a good thing. By now we have all but forgotten that many of the rooms are just transplanted from the old Blood Bayou maze, and they seem perfectly at home in the manor (particulary the old classic where the woman is in bed and her guts are strung up all over the room) and the climactic dining room scene remains one of the coolest set pieces ever in a maze. The exterior of the house is also easily the best Knott's has to offer and the inclusion of a great new animated gag where the weak ghost effect used to be is a great touch (and probably the coolest animated prop Knott's has unleashed outside of the Grudge maze). The talent, while rather sparse, was top notch and seemed properly motivated. My only real gripe with the manor (besides the fact that the ending is kind of a let down after the killer dining room scene) is that while the sound design is often quite inspired, it seems a little uneven, and almost non-existant in some rooms. The manor is still kicking and Knott's should really look to this maze as a template for new houses in the future.

      The Doll Factory
      Of all the new mazes this year, this was clearly the best. When you realize that the competition was Killer Klown College and Beowulf, this is not such an impressive claim. That said, the Doll Factory did show some promise in terms of design and such. First of all, this maze featured easily the best sound design of any maze in the Haunt, if not in recent Haunt history. The detail and placement of the music and sounds perfectly set the extremely creepy tone and move the story along nicely, showing amazing restraint and proving that when it comes to maze sound design, less is more (take a note, Asylum!) As far as gags go, the maze has basically just recycled bits from the Asylum and has also seemingly highjacked some of it's characters, but this isn't really a bad thing as the new setting is welcome for surgery gags, metal fencing and those strobe-lit plexiglass cages (that are usually good for a solid scare) and the costumes were themed better and more specifically than at most of the houses. The actors in this maze were strangely varied - as many people mentioned, the living doll at the entrance to the walk-through doll house was exceptional (and I'm pretty sure an actor stolen from the Grudge 2) and a few of the creepy factory workers had their bits down, but a lot of others seemed confused as to weather they should go for hardcore scares or just sort of act menacing and creepy. Personally, I would have liked to see more of the former, as the maze was certainly not lacking in creepiness but did leave something to be desired in the intensity department. Also, there was clearly a good sense of story and development through the house, but without any sort of set-up or backstory the best we can do is come up with our own ideas about the creepy factory and whoever is in charge of the madness. With just a little work this maze could kick some serious *** - I would actually like to see Knott's get rid of the tired Asylum and go ahead and dedicate the resources and talent to this up-and-comer.

      Killer Klown College
      I'm gonna come right out and say it - this maze is a huge stinker. I was expecting a lot out of this idea - an obvious ploy to combine gags and elements from the beloved (and recently absent) killer klown mazes and the deviously entertaining Hatchet High, but somehow they managed to only include the worst of both and create a maze that isn't even really worth the time it takes to go through it. The actors seem to realize that these themes are tired out and not well put together, and their apparent lack of enthusiasm hinders the maze further. The biggest problems with this house are the poor sound design, lazy set design and dressing, lack of any sort of originality and a complete void where humor should be. Unlike Fearytales, Klown College is intent on being a "funny" maze (and having been born of Hatchet High - my personal favorite funny maze ever - it should have been a slam dunk) but really includes no obvious humor. On top of that, there are no great scares throughout and the whole maze just seems limp and uninspired. Gotta say that this is the most dissapointing maze this year, with a lot of potential wasted. Knott's needs to go back to the drawing board when it comes to the clowns. I know people love them, but much like the vampires, they are a tired theme that needs a complete overhaul.

      Lost Vegas
      Why on earth they decided to bring this atrocity back to the Haunt is beyond me. I really can't believe that other posters were actually okay with this poor excuse for a maze either, as it was worthless when it debuted last year and it may have gotten worse this tikme around. Much like the new Killer Klown College, this is a maze that goes for "funny" and fails to hit the mark in every way possible. Even the bad puns that adorne the que are ignored inside the maze in favor of half-assed theming, bad paint jobs, a handfull of bored monsters and a variation on the polka dot room that looks like a 4th grade class put it together. This is also a sad case due to the fact that making a horror-themed Vegas seems so obvious and entertaining, but the result is nothing short of mind-numbingly dull. The whole idea of the 3D mazes is outdated and clearly on it's way out, and Vegas is the perfect example of why. My biggest complaint with this maze though is the horrendous sound design. Only Lore of the Vampire had worse sound this year! What I want to know is why they don't use the Dead Kennedys version of Viva Las Vegas - which is way creepier than the version that they use. Bad maze. Time to let it go, Knott's. The bumper car area deserves better.

      Black Widow Cavern
      I have never been all that impressed with the mine ride during the Haunt. I have always found the regular day time version way more unsettling, while the halloween version always seems cheesey and underthemed - kind of like they gave a bunch of elementary school kids access to some spooky skeletons and said "go crazy in the mine ride, kids!". It was formerly a really weak rip-off of Army of Darkness but without any of the scares or humor from the film. Now it is a poorly themed rehash of those old inexplicably awfull Curse of the Spider mazes they did for a while. Eitehr way it's the same lame stuff and there aren't nearly enough scares. Those boxes with the pop doors are pretty good but only one of them had a monster lurking within so they were basically a wasted effect. The spitting widow gag and the giant spider in the abyss were also pretty cool, as were some of the gore gags, but the ride is so chock full of bad rubber and stuffed spiders and non-themed dummies that it makes the good stuff seem less impactful. If there is no line, go ahead and hop on just to see a couple cool effects. If the line is long whatsoever, don't waste your time.

      A lot of people are complaining about the log ride and it's new re-theming. Personally, I don't really see what the big deal is. Sure, the theming is more sparse than it was for Red Moon, and a little more storytelling might be nice (and maybe a little less techno music) but the real reason you ride the log ride during Haunt is the non-stop barrage of inescapable scares! I will say that for the first half of the ride the scares come often and are better than in years past (the actors were lunging convincingly close to the log, in better positions and didn't just stick to a simple rattle of the shaker can) but the second half of the voyage is nearly devoid of scares altogether - which is simply lame. This is where the lack of theming really shows, as the Red Moon years at least gave you something cool to look at during the latter parts of the journey (i.e. the big wolf mouth and such). I would have liked to see more actuall fire effects, as the name of the ride wasn't particularly fitting to red hazard lights, and aside from that it was pretty much just by-the-book hillbillies. Not particularly horrible, but the log ride has been better.

      So that's pretty much it for Haunt. I thought that while there were some definite high points, the steps backward far outnumbered the steps forward, and the positive momentum created by last year's additions was halted a bit. Hopefully Knott's will learn from some of their miscues this year and come back next season with a stronger maze line-up and better ride themeing.
      Tomorrow I will be back with my full maze review of USH Halloween Horror Nights. I really think Knott's could learn a lot from that event this year and maybe attack next year's haunt with a similar quality over quantity approach.


      • #4
        Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

        Universal tries too hard.


        • #5
          Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

          Originally posted by k_peek_2000 View Post
          Universal tries too hard.
          well... i was disappointed w/ Knott's this year. It seemed that they were the ones trying so hard w/ their mazes. If it wasn't for their Doll Factory maze, everything would of flop this year. They have 13 mazes and only Doll was the only decent one.

          On the other side, HHN was in my mind more superior than Knott's this year. Only having 3 houses (i'm excluding House of Horrors) and Terror Tram, the event was more enjoyable. Their houses was well detailed and the talent on both Jason's and Leatherface's house were superior. you can tell that USH put alot of effort on their houses.

          I'll take quality anytime over quantity.


          • #6
            Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

            Now, on to Universal...

            sorry for the delay! The last couple of days have been crazy for me. But as promised I am back with my review of Halloween Horror Nights at USH.
            Last years event (the first year back after a long hiatus) was mostly a huge dissapointment. There were only 2 mazes, and although the Asylum maze was very impressive the other maze was merely the year-round Van Helsing attraction with random monsters planted throughout and actually quite lame. The Terror Tram was a great idea that suffered from poor execution leaving only the scare zones as a real high point. Having worked at and attended the Horror Nights event in the last years of it's previous stint, I have seen what Universal can do and how awesome it can be and therefore I was quite dissapointed by last year's feeble attempt. I did not lose all hope though, chalking the failure up to a hastily planned, horribly underfunded first year back, keeping high hopes for 2007.
            After visiting HHN last weekend I am pleased to let you all know that Universal is back and poised for a hostile takeover of southern california halloween events! They have taken many steps in the right direction this year, fixing many of last years goofs and improving on what they got right. The scare zones, although rather small, are once again a huge success! With the continuing renovation of Knott's, their scare zones have lost a lot of their intensity and atmospheric impact. This is not the case with Universal's, as certain walk-ways and corners of the park are just perfect for a spooky retrofitting, and each is put to excellent use. The actors are also great in these areas, putting on a genuine show and staying thoroughly in character. The props are great, the costumes and makeup are great and the music and sound design are superb, if a little basic. Best of all, Universal's infamous chainsaw drill teams are back! Anybody who attended the event in the "old days" or has been to Florida will know exactly what I'm talking about and how absolutely awesome it is. I don't want to spoil the shock for anyone but just think of giant roving gangs of chainsaw wielding maniacs all working in unison to continually assault the crowd and scare the living sh*t out of everyone. I am pretty jaded when it comes to being scared at these events and I found myself running like a high school girl from a chainsaw slingin' hillbilly attacking at full tilt.
            The overall atmosphere here beats Knott's hands down this year as crazies and monsters literally chase hapless screaming victims everywhere, scary music and sounds invade your ears at every turn and the rumble of chainsaws is never far away. I would just love to see one or two more zones to really fill out the park, but what they've done so far they have absolutely nailed.
            Now, on to the mazes...

            Nightmare On Elm Street
            Although it's not a bad idea to use last year's asylum maze and redesign it to fit the Freddy theme, the end result isn't as good as it could have been. The asylum maze was one of the only high points in last year's dissapointing showing, coming through solidly as one of the best mazes of it's kind that I have ever been through. With the departure of a few rooms to the Texas Chainsaw maze (most obviously the nasty bathroom walkthrough and a few of the "surgery" and cooking gags) and the inclusion of the Freddy elements, the original asylum layout has been changed and therefore is shorter and has lost some of it's impact. Last year it seemed like you were really going deeper and deeper into the building and that you might never escape, but this feeling was not conveyed by the new design. Also, a lot of the crazies and ghouls wandering the halls last year have been replaced by Freddies lurking beind doors or pop gags so the maze feels a little empty.
            Many of the effects are nice and the newly added freddy sets are superb (The roach motel is one of the coolest set pieces in the whole event) but the individual effects and sets don't flow well into each other and the idea of being plunged in and out of multiple nightmares is not fully realized, with the re-theming feeling a bit forced and the sound design suffering due to too many looping Freddy sound bites. With some work this maze could have been really impressive but as it is, it stands out as the worst of the three Newline mazes, and a monument to wasted potential.

            Friday The 13th
            All I can say about this maze is WOW. Maze designers of the world, take note - this is how it should be done! Everything about this maze works beautifully with a good flow and a convincing feeling of total emersion. There is a great combination of flashy effects and old school scares, set up to perfection. The sets are perfect as the path leads you through different cabins and dark corners of Crystal Lake, with the outdoor foresty bits enhanced by cold temperatures and the sharp scent of pine. Many of the classic deaths from the Friday series are present here in all their gory glory with lots of blood spray and screaming victims, making you feel as though you've truly wandered into the world of the films with Jason stalking you at every turn. I also really liked the way they worked in versions of Jason and set pieces from the entire span of the franchise instead of just focussing on one incarnation and thus the bloody history of "Camp Blood" comes to life within the confines of one of the best mazes I've ever had the pleasure to experience.

            Texas Chainsaw Massacre
            Coming in a close second to the Friday maze, this is another prime example of how great maze attractions can be. Despite the fact that the god awfull remake of the film is used as the primary basis for the maze, a handfull of references to the 1970s original can be found throughout, presenting an intriguing combination of the two films' very different tones. Like Friday, the set design and layout of this maze couldn't be better. The house sets particularly are chock full of grisly details (notice the photos hanging in the entryway and how they have all been eerily defaced - no pun intended) and great glimpses into the twisted lives of the chainsaw clan (Leatherface hunched over a sewing machine, finishing a new skin mask leaves a lasting impression) while setting up copious scares using an unprecedented number of impressive chainsaw gags. The use of several live chainsaws and many many "light and sound effects" shows how perfectly the maze designers understand the challenges and intricacies of using the saws in a maze setting and each gag is set up and executed well.
            There are less gore effects than in Friday, although the spraying blood is still prevelant (not to mention the great overhead dripping corpse gag late in the maze) but a meathook gag was nowhere to be found, and more attention is paid to menacing the guests than slaughtering the maze's victims (although there are a few great scenes as actors are tortured and mutilated). This isn't a bad thing altogether, as it leads to a maze with a more intense feel and lots of big scares, but the perfect balance of staging and scaring on display in the Friday maze is more off balance here. The sound design, on the other hand, is better than Friday's, using the themes from the original film and a barrage of atmoshperic effects (not to mention uncountable saw buzzing effects) to magnificent ends without going overboard.
            At the end of the day this maze is very very good. Leaps and bounds beyond anything Knott's has to offer this year and easily one of the highlights of Horror Nights.

            House of Horrors
            I presume that this maze is totally unchanged from it's year-round daytime incarnation, but the remodeling (the maze was formerly based on the lame Universal quasi-horror bomb, Van Helsing) is pretty damn good. Some of the old sets (most notably the massive frankenstein's lab room) are intact, but many of the maze's chambers have been transformed into rooms themed after various horror films and most of said transformations are quite succesfull. There are some corners of the maze that look unfinished (almost as if the remodeling is not quite complete) and some of the theming is a bit slapdash and underwhelming and there is a significant lack of monsters, but the talent level is fairly high and there are a few good scares to be had throughout. As far as effects and good gags go, this maze is definitely lacking - even some of the great bits from Van Helsing have been replaced by more standard haunted house fare - but House of Horros achieves what it aims to and delivers a solid old-school maze experience with great sets and decent sound design, despite the low number of monsters inhabiting it's halls.

            Terror Tram
            Last year's Terror Tram (the first attempt at this attraction) was a giant dissapointment. It was such a great idea marred by what I thought was completely backasswards execution - taking guests to the backlot and letting them walk through a series of scenes based around Whoville (from How the Grinch Stole Xmas), the Bates Motel, the Psycho House and the suburban plane crash scene from War of the Worlds. The idea of turning giant backlot sets into a haunted house type experience seems like a slam dunk but it seemed that Universal hadn't thought it all through.
            Once on the tram, guests were treated to a creepy video setting up a sort of backstory for the backlot adventure. After getting off and starting the walking tour, guests were basically expected to saunter through large fenced-off walkways that went past the aformentioned sets.
            The attraction had the general feeling of a really big scare zone but it's isolated location and the fact that the park bills it more like a maze, led to confusing expectations and an unever experience. It seemed like the monsters didn't really know how to deal with the situation either, as their performances were generally neither scary nor particularly interesting to watch. Thematically the attraction was all over the place as well, with no real continuity carrying over from the tram video, and no obvious flow between sets.
            But enough about last year...
            This year's Terror Tram is something of an oddity. In some respects it is much more successfull than last years outing, while in other ways it has lost a degree of charm. The story line is better realized but not as initially intriguing. I know the character of Jack Shmidt has been around for years in Florida but his inclusion at the Hollywood event seems forced. In fact, the "host" characters that are so beloved in Florida just seem to not work at USH due to the fact that the theming is not nearly as intense and the history is simply not there. If Hollywood really wants to continue using the hosts (presumably as an easy way to share merchandise with the Florida park) they need to really go for it - theming the entire events around them like they do in Orlando. This half-assed approach is just kind of confusing, and with the Newline Cinema characters in the park, the attempt to theme the event further seems kind of extranious.
            That said, Jack's presence does bring some sort of relavence to the clown re-theming of Whoville, but the area is still underdressed and the clowns again seem unclear as to whether they should attack the guests or just kind of act crazy. More set pieces have been moved inside the path this year, which offers some cover for would-be scarers, and that is something of an improvement.
            Including Freddy, Jason and Leatherface only further confused the theming and really added very little to the overall experience. The biggest improvement is the re-routed path that actually winds through the plane crash and the fabulous effect of Jack jamming a girl into a wood chipper at teh end of the walkthrough is truly impressive - leaving us wondering why they didn't gear this attraction to include more "big" effects set pieces. At the end of the day this is still an attraction with a lot of untapped potential that is kind of a mess. I'm not sure if there are too many cooks in the kitchen or what, but someone needs to give the Terror Tram some direction because it could be the coolest thing USH has going for it's halloween event but currently it is being thoroughly showed up by the traditional mazes and scarezones, and that's just not right.

            At the end of the day, Universal really came through this year. After last year's debacle I was expecting baby steps, and instead I got leaps and bounds! With the inclusion of a couple more mazes, expanded scare zones and a major rethinking of the Terror Tram, HHN will easily be THE premier halloween attraction in California in the years to come.
            There is a fresh feeling about the event as well, where as Knott's is beginning to feel a little stale. Every monster at USH seemed amped for the entire night, running around even when the crowds starting slowing down, and the maze design and execution simply wiped the floor with Haunt's. If you are a quantity over quality fan, you should probably stick with Knott's as they have a sh*tload of mazes, but I would recommend giving Universal a try this year since their event is much more polished, consise and well done. Bravo!


            • #7
              Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

              a couple questions?

              in the jason maze how many differn't jasons do they show?

              on the terror tram do they still have the london street with mr. hyde & sweeny todd?


              • #8
                Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

                Originally posted by thrax View Post
                a couple questions?

                in the jason maze how many differn't jasons do they show?

                on the terror tram do they still have the london street with mr. hyde & sweeny todd?
                Not sure what you mean by "how many different jasons do they show". There about one in each main scene, but they come and go, so it's a bit hit or miss if you see all of them or not.

                The London Street area is a scare zone inside the park, and it not a part of the Terror Tram. I didn't run into Hyde or Sweeny, but it may have been more of bad timing rather than them not being there at all.

                I'm interested to see how the future will hold upon USH HHN... while I liked this one quite a bit, I'm curious to see how they will maintain keeping things fresh. For instance, will the path of the Terror Tram ever change, or are we going to be stuck going through the same sets again and again year after year? That's going to be a tricky problem for them to address as the years go by.
                Does anyone even bother with signatures anymore?


                • #9
                  Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

                  I totally agree with you , jester. While it's hard to leave the Bates Motel and Psycho house behind without fully exploring their potential, it's gonna get old real fast if they just keep using the same basic layout. I hear a rumor that this year the path was going to be in the court of mirtacles area which would make a hell of a scarezone/maze if you ask me! Maybe next year. There are still many kinks to work out in regards to the Terrror Tram if you ask me.
                  I did see Mr. Hyde this year in the London scare zone - the actor portraying him did an amazing job. As for Sweeney Todd, I don't recall seeing him this year or last.
                  There are many many Jasons throughout the Friday maze, and while most portray the "classic" Jason Voorhees (from Friday 3, 4 and 6) Jason is seen at least twice without his mask and once3 with his "sack mask" (a la Friday 2). In addition their are several actors portraying Jason as a child. Every Jason base was covered except for the later Uber Zombie Monster Jason and of course jason X, but considering the old school feel of the maze, these versions wouldn't have been appropriate.


                  • #10
                    Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

                    I wonder if it's possible to walk inside the Bates Motel... just out of curiousity. And maybe perhaps walk more in the Whoville sets similar to what they have done with War of the Worlds... basically like make a horseshoe path if you know what I mean.

                    "You're not thinking fourth dimensionally!" -Back to the Future

                    "With this place, I wanted to give them something real, something that wasn't an illusion, something they could see and touch. An aim devoid of merit."
                    -Jurassic Park


                    • #11
                      Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

                      ^I don't think the Bates house is a complete set... I thought it was just a facade, and the interior scenes done somewhere else. But I'm not certain. Anyone else know for sure?
                      Does anyone even bother with signatures anymore?


                      • #12
                        Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

                        The sets on the Terror Tram cannot be entered. There is a Psycho sequence involving the Bates house attic, a mirror maze and the shower scene (sort of) in the House of Horrors maze.
                        There are a lot of cooler things that could be done with the Terror Tram, and though I do think the smaller winding path through the plane wreckage is a slight improvement, there still is something not quite right about the whole deal. As I mentioned before, the gag involving Jack and the wood chipper thing at the end of the walk-through was by far the coolest thing on display. As far as the carnage going on elsewhere, the effects in the mazes made it all look like amateur hour (although the Leatherface face peeling gag was cool, if a little out of place), and the scares were anemic at best (one of the few uses of shaker cans at HHN). In my opinion, Universal should treat the Terror Tram more like a Scare Zone with lots of big gory gags and elaborate set pieces and perhaps work in scares and effects while the guests are still on the tram, both before and after the walk-through segment.


                        • #13
                          Re: Knott's Haunt vs. USH HHN

                          how bout the earthquake room i think that would make a good scare zone. have the room in it's destroyed state, then let the guest walk thru. theme it like something bad has happened, fill it with monsters and there you go.


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