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DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Review)

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  • DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Review)

    Universal Studios Hollywood presents
    in association with DTH316
    HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
    DTH's Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D
    A Trip Review - September 20th, 2014
    7 PM - 2 AM


    [Prologue]
    For the last 3 years, I've attended Opening Night of HHN and have been greatly disappointed with the quality of the event only to find on my second trip that the product would be vastly superior toward the end of the run. However, since I don't have the will power to only want to go once and since waiting towards the end of the month doesn't sound like fun, I opted for SECOND NIGHT instead. This was done in hopes that waiting an extra night would let things get into their groove a bit better. This year also has a maze that I never thought I'd see and is my most anticipated out of any maze ever since doing Haunts for 15 years: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR. So here... we... GO.


    [Getting There]
    We left the Inland Empire at 3 PM. We made a quick stop at the gas station and Popeyes, while one of my friends ran off to Cardenas to buy some wine coolers. We got to the parking lot at approximately 4:45 PM, in which we circled all the way around in confusing fashion. There was the worst issue with parking as none of what was going on made sense in the Jurassic Parking structure. It was completely full and some parts were blocked off, which caused us to U-turn as a line of cars were still going the wrong way, and so much more, it was just BAD. When finally parked, our friend took a selfie in front of the parking sign so we knew where we had parked. We strolled around City Walk for awhile, wasting time. I knew than that it'd be super freakin' crowded since everyone had their tickets in hand and were also dilly dallying around. Even worse, they were all there super early like us. I watched some guy in the indoor skydiving thing professionally run upside down and in circles around that thing while the three went into some shop. Did the usual Hot Topic, Things From Another World, and Universal Store merchandise checking before we decided it was time to go in.


    [Early Access]
    Went through security check and like always, had to be double checked because of my belt. We took a picture in front of the gates and giant HHN sign, then made our way over to the right of the park. We got in the Early Access line at 5:50 PM and it was already pretty packed. All the maps were already gone (I found one on the ground like I always do though, thankfully). Honestly, I think there were more people here than the regular entrance. So if you plan on doing Early Access this year (which you should), be sure to be there extra early, unless Opening Weekend is a special case. We slowly inched forward until they stopped us again near Shrek. At one point, my guy friend asked, "so what is Shrek, like a pig, or...?" LMFAO At 6:45 PM, they finally let us go. 30% of the crowd went towards Terror Tram, but majority went to the backlot.


    [Skullz scarezone]
    I love being able to see the fog rise up from the escalators and to see the daunting stilt walkers head for us. I give it up to these guys, as this was miles better than Scarecrowz last year, talent-wise. Environmentally it's still lame as all hell, but there were a good amount of scareactors and they were all pretty ferocious. The couple times I walked through here, they were awesome and interactive. One of the wendigo's dreads flipped into my face and into my eyes though, haha. Best scarezone on the lower lot since Reaperz in 2011. They really need to bring back chainsaws down here though, because it feels pretty dead without the screams.


    'C'-


    [Walk to the Backlot]
    This year, instead of a tram that takes you to the backlot, you have to walk it (maybe too many people confused this and Terror Tram as the same thing?). We ventured the walk and I really do believe transportation is necessary. This was freakin' ridiculous and makes it very inconvenient to return. I'm sure the idea is they don't want you to come back, but I had some time at the end of the night and nobody wanted to go back this way at all. I liked the 2 banners to and fro to keep things interesting, but they should play some music or SOMETHING. Walkers on the path would be nice also. Anyway, I like and dislike how you get an option to do the Walking Dead scarezone. You have to purposely go out of your way to see it. But whateves.


    [The Walking Dead: Welcome to Terminus scarezone]
    By the time we actually got over here, it was 7, which shows how dumb and long this walk is. Same exact set up as last year, just with less. There was one lady who was cooking that then said, "welcome to Terminus" and that was essentially as themed as this zone gets. The scareactors were great, but scenic-wise, there could've been so much more. Still a good zone, but I wish they wouldn't get lazy with this Walking Dead stuff.


    B-


    [AVP: Alien Vs. Predator]
    Advertised Wait: 10 minutes
    In Line At: 7:00 PM
    Actual Wait: 11 minutes
    In Maze At: 7:11 PM


    I wanted to do the Walking Dead maze first, but literally everyone was going to AVP, so I figured we do that before the line got longer. Quickly, I have to say... why are there go-go dancers in line? This would've been PERFECTLY suited for From Dusk Till Dawn. I mean... Go-Gos and loud rock music in line for a freakin' sci-fi franchise doesn't mesh well and kinda ruins the mood. Whatever. Decent entertainment, just out of place. And I find it even odder that there's screens projecting them onto the walls so you can see them from EVERYWHERE. I just... don't understand. I looked back at the line just before getting in and the entire first half of the line was practically full already. I also saw Larry Bones exiting the maze as I was about to enter. The excitement was building so high... and then, we went in...


    WOW. OMG. This maze is JAW-ON-THE-FLOOR, WE'RE-NOT-WORTHY amazing! It is pretty much everything I hoped for. Don't let that hype you up too much though, because I'm a HUGE fan of the Alien series, I was still fanboygasming all over those rooms despite what was going on (even though I'm pretty sure it was good either way). As soon as I walked in, that crashed spaceship took my breath away, it was so beautiful. I think a scare should be placed in here since you have to zig zag walk up to it though. Once we entered, the scares were awesome and on point. Timing was pretty decent too, because if you see one scare, another one pops out elsewhere for the group behind them. It was often literally like you get either a Predator or Alien scare, as if they're battling for "who can get the best scare?"


    And the sets... these are the best sets that HHN has ever done, by far. Every room was littered with something. I especially loved the alien eggs and I'm glad they found a way to do some facehugger scares. My girlfriend is terrified of those things and she RAN OUT of that room with her head down. Even when there were eggs off to the side, she was bolting out of fear they were going to open up. I do think some of the eggs could've pulsated or something to look more alive.


    My favorite sets are the outside scenes, particullarly the one with the cop car. I watched a video for Orlando and they used a screen to do the invisible Predator effect, and I think Hollywood should do something similar other than the laser scope pointing around. Cool idea, just needs some more umph. I loved the idea of going into homes and seeing the havoc these two caused. I don't think I saw the scare in the room with the chestbursters though -- it looked like 2 alien hosts were missing and the one guy didn't do anything as I walked through. I felt like I was walking slowly enough that I should've been able to see it, but never heard a scare from before or after I went through, so maybe there was some problems.


    This is also the ONLY maze this year I cannot think of one flaw in the design of. Every maze, IMO, has one glaringly fatal and unforgivable flaw, and this one is gloriously perfect from top to bottom. And those costumes -- those WERE actual Predators! I am convinced! Some of the aliens weren't great, but a good majority of them were convincing! Only one of them had the "second mouth," and from what I could tell, none of their jaws moved, just stayed open. I loved the "bed scene," and as for the finale -- prepare to be in awe.


    I could go on all day about this maze, but I'll just stop there. Is it the best maze ever? Some of the scares and puppeteering could be a bit more fluid (which it will be, I'm sure later). However, this is in my top 3 of all time, DEFINITELY. If it improves double by the end of the run, this may turn into my favorite maze ever, I'm just warning you right now. But for now, they need to amp up the scary, turn down the lights on the finale, and I need to see every room completely on. I walked out of the maze clapping my hands because I thought it was so dang cool. Even if you don't think the maze is scary, you'll still love all the technical aspects of it. And even just on a technical level, without the scary, I wanna say this is my favorite maze, but I'm waiting to see how I feel about it on my second run through it.


    Facade - 10. Oh my God, this was gorgeous. Just beautiful.
    Set Design - 10. Every room was perfectly made up. There wasn't a single dead spot.
    Sound Design - 10. Man... man, oh, man. I was THERE. Crackling predators, hissing aliens. God.
    Scareactor Design - 10. I just... wow. Yeah. Bravo.
    Special Props & Design - 10. Everything in here was a special effect almost.
    Immersion - 8. I'm just amazed at how they pulled this off, so I got zapped out a bit because I was in disbelief. I was so immersed that I got un-immersed haha.
    Length - 10. It ended like a moment too soon, but I think it was needed for the space required of the final scene which was... a dream come true.
    Scare Level - 9. I think I got the hardest scares of the night in here, but I think it could've been a bit scarier.
    Fun Level - 10. I wanted to live in this maze and stay forever.
    Story Comprehension - 10. I think it's pretty obvious what's going on.
    Personal Bias Points - 10. I'm in love.


    107 out of 100. 'A'+


    [The Walking Dead: End of the Line]
    Advertised Wait: 25 minutes
    In Line At: 7:19 PM
    Actual Wait: 13 minutes
    In Maze At: 7:32 PM


    By this time, it was sporting a 25 minute wait. We walked all the way back (it's very hard to do all the backlot mazes without having to go back and forth) and got in line for The Walking Dead. The theme music got one of my friends pumped since she's a huge TWD fan. We also decided at this point we should have a formation game plan before going into the maze, since one of our friends walked too fast in AVP and therefore dragged our other friend with him. I'll also mention now that this is where I first encountered the new TICKET SYSTEM. Is this really necessary? You're given a ticket to avoid cutting, or something, I'm not quite sure. Maybe it's so you can go to the bathroom or something, I don't know, but it was annoying having to dig back into my pocket and finding it just so I can go in the maze.


    TWD is a very strong property and it seems to get great scares. In my humble opinion, The Walking Dead still gots it! We were kinda held up in the gates before entering the prison, which kinda made it awkward to have these walkers thrash onto the fence trying to scare us, but I mean... it's not scary when you see them plain as day. I noticed tiny chunks of human meat on the fence, which was a nice detail. I also noticed a lot of the new sets out front, such as the dinner table and tiny farm with the pig. Oh, and the tank. How could I forget that? I think there should've been some smoke coming from the tank and the guard tower, as well as some sounds of a battle or something with more bullet holes. I don't know, the facade didn't fully convey "there was a war here" to me.


    We entered and it was fun to see my friend walk in and geek out about "being there." Most of the beginning is the same, including Cell Block C. Once exiting that scene, things get a bit different. However, this is where I have a few gripes with this maze -- why did it seem so short? There were maybe 3 or 4 scenes after that, and it was done! I remember last year's maze being twice as long. At this point, my friend went a bit ahead of us alone so she could get actually scared, and she was a super easy target, so she got many scares in here and was doubled up on often especially by the charred walkers. I think sometimes she was pretending to give the walkers an ego-boost, but it looked like she had fun, since this was her most looked forward to property of the night.


    The new scenes that I was looking forward to were pulled off well in terms of the look and some of the scares, but they seemed short-sided instead of living up to their full potential. For example, only ONE hanging walker in the store? C'mon. I could live with the "size" of this scene, but there should've been more going on for such an iconic and cool scene in the show. And why was the tunnel scene so BRIGHT and QUICK? I was looking forward to this moment the most, and it was like 3 rows and that was it. That part should've been doubled. Every walker was way too visible in there and it was clear which ones were real (to me, at least).


    The scenes were good, they just weren't amazing like they could've been. The ending scare is a re-hash of one of my favorite scares from last year, but I'm not sure exactly what it's trying to say story-wise in the maze about what happened on this journey. I know a lot of people are tired of this property, but I'm not entirely just yet. However, I do think it's time to let it go just so we can get something new like AMERICAN HORROR STORY. If this was the last time we get TWD, it could've been given more justice, but for now, it was at least decent enough.


    Facade - 8. Same as last year with a tank. Coo, I guess.
    Set Design - 9. Lighting was a bit too bright in some scenes.
    Sound Design - 9. Sounded like I was on the show!
    Scareactor Design - 9. Walkers looked legit!
    Special Props & Design - 9. There was a lot of cool cut in half, stuck in walls, etc, walkers in here!
    Immersion - 6. At some point, I was really thrown out of the action because I began to critique and trying to find differences between this one and last year, instead of being fully engrossed in it.
    Length - 7. Why did this feel SO short? I wanted at least 2 more scenes. They should've nixed the prison completely, it brought nothing new or special.
    Scare Level - 8. I got some good scares in here, especially ones that would double up with the charred walkers. Great teamwork.
    Fun Level - 10. This one was fun, since I love TWD.
    Story Comprehension - 7. I'm not sure if it makes sense that we leave the prison and we know where we're going or why. Only reason I know is because I watch the show, but I feel like it's not fully conveyed here.
    Personal Bias Points - 8. I love TWD and its return could've been a bit better, but I give them props for still making a solid maze.


    90 out of 100. 'A'-


    [From Dusk Till Dawn]
    Advertised Wait: 25 minutes
    In Line At: 7:35 PM
    Actual Wait: 13 minutes
    In Maze At: 7:48 PM


    With Early Access, I was fully expecting to be on the lower lot by now. It was SUPER crowded and all the lines on the backlot were getting longer, except for this one, so we quickly did it. Got the card from the Doorman as he was walking by with the codeword. He was very cool in our quick chat. Richie and Seth were arguing outside, but I didn't get to hear much of their conversation, and I didn't care much to see inside Richie's book, so I didn't tell him the codeword.


    Entered the maze, and I felt like the scareactors were very on their game and it seemed like a huge cast -- but the maze itself isn't scary. I didn't get a sense of dread going from one room to the next. I want to fully emphasize that the cast was rocking, getting very in our faces, and seemed to be enjoying their roles -- but it was almost a stroll through the park in the design. Another problem in all the mazes this year, is they're all too dang bright, especially this one for it's entirity.


    I loved the use of the song for the first scene. Santanico was fairly hot as well, so she works as a good distraction for a few of the scares in here. I think the snake around her body could be puppeteered somehow though, because it just seems really fake. I love the "girl behind the curtain" scene, as it's so simple but effective. It was around this point of the maze that I was disappointed in the design of all the scareactors. None of them LOOKED scary, in fact, they were kinda boring and might as well have been regular people until they opened their mouths to reveal fangs.


    The second time through the main room is fun, but you can easily see every scare coming. And a certain gag from Evil Dead's maze last year is oddly placed, repurposed, and in my opinion, doesn't fit. Shortly after this, the maze is over and once you're out, it's merely something you can shrug off and continue on with your day. The only time I wanted to leave a room is when they used a straight up "open buttcheeks" smell. Not poop, or a fart... but a butt, open wide. My friends now joke, "it smells like the Twister/From Dusk Till Dawn" whenever it smells bad somewhere.


    It was a decent maze, but one of my least favorites of the night. Unless you're terrified of vampires or a huge fan of the show, I can't imagine this being a favorite of many people. Ofcourse, it'll have its fans, but I definitely would've preferred so many other properties over this one. However, I must say, for this to be one of my least favorites is a sign of how good HHN is this year.


    Facade - 9. I'm taking a point off for not saying Titty. It's an adult event. I mean, C'MON.
    Set Design - 6. The sets themselves looked great, but I don't know... just wasn't scared by them. Could use something with variety or maybe lower the light... I don't know.
    Sound Design - 6. I heard a lot of stuff from the show, but it wasn't scary stuff. Not a lot worked in this maze's favor for being scary. For example, the "giant people juicer" line just sounds freakin' dumb and they really could do without it.
    Scareactor Design - 7. Nothing stood out for me. A lot of the vampires had the snake like teeth, but they didn't look very snake-y other than that. Meh, none of them scared me.
    Special Props & Design - 5. I don't remember anything in particular...
    Immersion - 4. I think I was fully aware I was in a maze at all times.
    Length - 10. It ended just right when it should have.
    Scare Level - 8. This 8 is owed completely to the cast. They'll be the absolute best by the event's end.
    Fun Level - 8. It was decent, but I forgot I even did it many parts of the night. At certain points, I just wanted to be in something scary already.
    Story Comprehension - 10. I think people will get it pretty well. Strip bar with vampires. Came across pretty clear.
    Personal Bias Points - 3. I would've preferred so many other things over this. And my only love for this property is from the movie, but it all felt very much like the show and I couldn't boogey with it.


    76 out of 100. 'C'


    [Transformers]
    After trekking back to the park, Transformers said NO WAIT! So we did it anddddd there was actually a wait. I wanna say this put a pretty big wrench into our plans since I was counting on that sign being accurate. I think during this time, AWIL went from 40 - 70 minutes. If I would've known it'd actually be 10 minutes, I would've skipped it since we were pressed for time already since it was 8:15.


    [Clowns 3D: Music by Slash]
    Advertised Wait: 40 minutes
    In Line At: 8:21 PM
    Actual Wait: 21 minutes
    In Maze At: 8:42 PM


    .... I don't even wanna talk about this. I am so sorry... but this is the worst maze in the history of HHN. Even worse than the HOH overlays and UMR. Absolutely NOTHING worked. No scares landed. The music was too loud. Lighting was too bright. Scareactors were meh and looked bored as hell with no energy. And the actual "scare design" just flat out sucked. I swear to God, I thought I was at Knotts at one point.


    Quickly, I just want to say the beginning 1/3 of the maze is terrible. 3 or 4 mirrors, okay -- but this section went on forever with very little pay off and I think maybe 1 or 2 scares. It started off on the wrong foot from the get go and just pissed me off more and more as I went in. If they shut this maze down for the rest of the run, I wouldn't even care. It doesn't help that I'm not scared of clowns, I dislike most 3D mazes, I've hated all the musician mazes, and a huge peeve of mine is bright mazes -- so this was an all around fail for me from beginning to end.


    Facade - 7. This is maybe actually only a 3 of a facade, but since they gave this location an actual facade, I give them extra points.
    Set Design - 1. Knotts-quality sets. It had that funky, bubbly look to it that Knotts clown mazes always have. HHN could've done so much better than this. It's a damn shame. Not to mention, practically everything was re-used from past mazes.
    Sound Design - 3. I honestly wasn't even paying attention, just in shock the whole time.
    Scareactor Design - 6. I liked a few of the characters.
    Special Props & Design - 3. I liked the clown car.
    Immersion - 0.
    Length - 8. I wanted it over quicker, honestly.
    Scare Level - 0. Nothing. Not a single hiccup from me or anyone I was with.
    Fun Level - 0. This made me so depressed. At Knotts, I could deal with this, but I expect so much more from HHN.
    Story Comprehension - 3. Who the hell knows, really? All I know was it was an ice cream factory.
    Personal Bias Points - 0. UGH. Waste of a perfectly good original maze slot.

    31 out of 100. 'F'


    [American Werewolf in London]
    Advertised Wait: 70 minutes
    In Line At: 8:50 PM
    Actual Wait: 70 minutes
    In Maze At: 10:00 PM


    The longest wait of the night was here and we debated on whether or not to get a snack because our energy levels were going down, but figured we were almost there -- and then saw another long sections of zig zags and regretted not getting a pretzal at least. We tried to make the best of our wait by playing Heads Up. In line, there was an incident in which somebody popped the beach ball and got in an argument with the scare patrol. A bunch of security showed up and I think they escorted him out. We tried to make the best of our long wait in line by dancing to the music and we got some glow sticks. I think the scare patrol is needed more on the upper level of Jurassic Cove, because that's where I was getting bored the most.


    I really wanted to like this maze... but the werewolves didn't do it for me. There's some really good parts though and I applaud them for trying, but there's so many flaws that I can't ignore. I think for them to especially use footage from Orlando's maze in the trailers with the werewolf attacks, I was expecting them to be more similar. There's a good few rooms that didn't have any scares and I felt like the dread wasn't there. I wasn't nervous walking through, although some surprises and jolts did occur.


    Werewolf-wise, it felt inconsisent. Some looked real, but most looked pretty dang fake. Not only that, they weren't hidden well enough in the darkness. Some were out clear as day (darken these mazes this year, dammit!) and they would move as if it was supposed to be a scare or something. The full sized one moves but stays fairly static and that ruined the effect also. Another bad effect is I could clearly see the puppeteer handles attached behind or below them. Not only that, there was a wolf that didn't seem to be working and was limp, as I saw the hands operating it from behind struggling to make it move.


    In my opinion, the only GREAT scene in the maze is the nightmare sequence. Everything else fell kinda flat. Especially the transformation scene, which has NO SCARES for 2 or 3 rooms. It was a good maze, but I feel like it's overhyped because people love the property so much. And I hate to bring it up, but from YouTube, Orlando's version looked a helluva lot better, especially the wolves. They just seemed way more mobile, with more control and expressions. I enjoyed it, but relying too much on those wolves was a bit of a mistake if they weren't going to make them better. Also, the subway section was a complete fail as there aren't any scares in there and was pointless... unless you count the lame "subway car coming at you" thing as scary, which it WOULD be if you couldn't clearly see it when walking into that room.


    Funny moment in the maze though, my friend thought she got blood on her leg and was freaking out the whole time until we left. It's funny how bitter we are about old tricks but they work perfectly on newcomers. And she has a crush on the bellhop in the theater.


    Facade - 8. It looked cool, yeah.
    Set Design - 7. It's a shame because the transitions are so HORRIBLE. Every time you exit a scene, it's a dark hallway. What the hell HAPPENED here? It's the only thing I can think about and it bugs, because it was so needless. Everything else looked great though.
    Sound Design - 10. I loved everything ripped straight from the movie.
    Scareactor Design - 10. Other than the wolves, they looked pretty great. Like the morphing effect looked pretty good.
    Special Props & Design - 6. The wolves... but I'm sorry. "Meh" at best.
    Immersion - 7. I would be fully into it until I saw a wolf just sitting there and waiting for it's cue.
    Length - 10. Pretty good length!
    Scare Level - 7. I was scared legitmately in here at least once or twice, so I give it that.
    Fun Level - 10. It was fun to go through, and to pretend I was getting shot in the dream sequence.
    Story Comprehension - 6. Once you get to the dream sequence, people will be beyond lost. Not much to do about that though. I think this is one of the reasons I felt like it didn't have enough material to be a maze, because even if that room is good enough for a maze, in the story structure of the maze, it's just too random.
    Personal Bias Points - 7. I'm glad they made the effort, but it fell short from being one of the best. Sorry, but it's BARELY good and dang near average.


    88 out of 100. 'B'+


    [Mask-A-Raid scarezone]
    Went all the way back up the escalators discussing our favorite mazes so far as people poured down into the lower lot. Two of us liked Werewolf, I liked AVP, and ofcourse my one friend liked The Walking Dead. We wandered over here looking to get food at Gru's Cafe, but it was freaking CLOSED! So we walked through this quite a few times trying to decide where to go next. Great design in here, easily French street's best designed street since ever. However, the scareactors were okay, but I just didn't find them intimidating. I mean, they were attacking, but it didn't get me good enough. The Mad Hatter ran through here at one point and it was so genius and it actually kinda fit into the zone. I think this could easily be an A the next time I walk through here after some improvements, but for now it's a --


    'B'


    [Dinner at Mel's Cafe]
    The line wasn't too long and we had about 30 minutes to eat before we were running behind. Our energy levels were suddenly going way up. I also bought my collectible cup here. They all come with glow ice, but I didn't realize it until we were dang near the Terror Tram that they took mine out. I was pissed! Plus I don't even like the cups this much this year! Gr. As we were eating, a monster (I think from Dracula) poked his head by the window and gave us a random startle/laugh, so that was fun.


    [Terror Tram: Invaded by the Walking Dead]
    In Line At: 11:00 PM
    Advertised Wait: NO WAIT!
    Actual Wait: 5 minute walk on.
    On Tram At: 11:05 PM


    After some dinner, luckily TT went down to NO WAIT! We walked on over, but the escalator was broken. At the bottom, some charred up walkers were kicking major *** and scaring everyone in sight, to the point I got left behind by my group. Getting on the tram, this was probably the worst of the video packages they've done for Terror Tram, trying to sell very little story at all. Oh well.


    As for the actual attraction itself, out of the three Terror Trams they've done for The Walking Dead, this was probably the worst one. I REALLY liked the last two though. However, I have to say I thorughly enjoyed this year's version and it's at the upper end of the scale of my night. Every scareactor was on point and the cast was SO huge. Getting off the tram, we got attacked by the employees with chainsaws as usual. Some people fell down, so that was funny. And a few walkers blended in with the fence and actually got me pretty good.


    It is NOT the same as last year as some people have said, since things were missing and there was stuff added elsewhere. It has changed just as much as every other TT incarnation set-wise. There was a super creepy walker just waiting at the bottom of the hill, staring at everybody, that then attacked the group behind me. I loved the part with fake walkers going up the hill and I thought it worked pretty well.


    One walker at the top of the hill did talk to me for a moment though, and even though it was funny, I do gotta say "tsk tsk." I was saying "oh no" over and over again, and then she mocked me and said "oh no." We all had a good laugh, but I mean... you're a walker? You can't talk! There were some annoying people behind us trying to scare the scareactors, and were doing the "ah man, you need a tic tac" routine. Ugh. We stopped to take a picture with Norman to distance ourselves, whom my friend also has ANOTHER crush on.


    I LOVED the fence part, those guys were on point and were making some loud sounds. The WOTW part was pretty good also, with the usual annual appearance of the BABY EATING WOMAN. I swear, she's there every year. The chainsaw guys at the end targeted my friends after a failed chainsaw start up, but once it got going, they screamed their way to get back to the tram. It was fun, no complaints from me. My TWD fan friend liked this experience better than the maze and I actually gotta agree with her, as this was a more visceral experience.


    'A'-


    [Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood]
    In Line At: 11:40 PM
    Advertised Wait: 50 minutes
    Actual Wait: 45 minutes
    In Maze At: 12:25 AM


    I wanted another refill so I got one in Universal Plaza while the girls went in line. We caught back up with them and apparently the ticket giver guy was moving slow, so they didn't get one. I couldn't hear any of the narration or story or even music about the maze, so I didn't get much of a set up to the situation. I like how the facade is barely lit, so it's hard to see while in line as to where you're about to go. I do have to say the radio station set up here is SO DISTRACTING and horrible. Like, what the hell? I'm trying to get in the zone for some centuries old vampire action and there's Mexican music playing the whole time. At least the Scare Patrol will play Marilyn Manson every once and awhile. Anyway, we then entered the maze...


    And okay... you got me. I did a lot of trash talking about this maze but I'm currently eating an entire buffet of crow. I was very surprised by this maze. I don't think anyone expected this to be one of the scariest of the night! The beginning was very claustrophobic, amplifying the amount of dread. There was alot of boo-holes, so it was hard to tell where someone was going to come from. We also got double teamed alot, which was great. I also loved the bats effect.


    I dug the village scene, but the fake fire screen has got to go. Just do the Pirates of the Caribbean effect with flowing silver. I think I saw the witch, I'm not sure, since we were rushing from one section to the next from getting such good scares. Also, some burnt villagers (that look like the charred walkers) looked like dummies so they got the group in front of us GOOD.


    The final section of the maze LOOKED really bad with just DRAPES/CURTAINS, but this is probably where I got the most scares. I mean, for having such a good first half of the maze, I can't complain too much. And the final scene, whatever the hell happened in there, had me running out and I didn't stick around to find out what was going on. I still have no idea what happens in the movie or what to expect from it.


    As much as I loved this maze (yes, loved), I still can't help but feel... "this was basically the House of Horrors." Seriously, the catacombs and the end half was just so HOH. For tonight, this was my second favorite, but I think after some improvements with the other mazes, it'll be a bit lower down my list because the "home haunt" feel at the end will be a deal breaker, unless AWIL doesn't get their stuff together and if FDTD somehow doesn't improve. Good job to all the scareactors in here who proved all the non-believers (including myself) wrong! As we exited, our friend had us feel his heart so we could see how genuinely scared he was.


    Facade - 5. Kinda boring, but it looked decent.
    Set Design - 6. Everything looked great except for the drapes.
    Sound Design - 9. Great sound that helped rise the tension.
    Scareactor Design - 8. I don't remember what anything looked like... probably because I was running away from them each time they came out.
    Special Props & Design - 10. There's some good stuff in here that I won't spoil.
    Immersion - 8. I felt pretty in it at a few points.
    Length - 10. I didn't mind the length. I don't know what else the movie holds, so maybe once I see it my opinion will change on that.
    Scare Level - 9. Yeah, this maze got me pretty dang good a few times.
    Fun Level - 10. I had a lot of fun going through it.
    Story Comprehension - 10. I think I understood... I think...
    Personal Bias Points - 10. Ya know, for surprising me so dang well, I give it the full amount here.


    95 out of 100 'A'


    [The Purge: Anarchy scarezone]
    These guys were ferocious. Much better than last year. Although, by design, I still don't think they're at all scary. I didn't hear the barker at all - they really need to turn up her volume or maybe she needs to talk a lot more. Also, it totally should've been an old lady, that would've been much more great. While waiting in line for Face Off, the guy with the mask that looks kinda like a fencing mask with the bottom cut off HISSED in my ear really loud and actually got me pretty good, even though I didn't have much of a reaction.


    'B'+


    [Face Off: In the Flesh]
    In Line At: 12:34 AM
    Advertised Wait: 40 minutes
    Actual Wait: 26 minutes
    In Maze At: 1:00 AM


    At this point in the night, I was getting tired and took a social vacation, staying mostly quiet for the duration of the queue until more near the end with the movie posters, commenting on which ones we liked. The queue was in front of the Blues Brothers stage and in front of the picture station, and also went inside then back outside, which were all firsts for me. On the TV screens, they showed the transitions from person to monster, which was pretty cool.


    Already kinda dreading this maze, as soon as I walked in, I realized I... this is the best HOH overlay since Vampyre. I was so surprised by how great this was. A lot of the sets were re-dressed and the things that were all Universal Monster were completely scrubbed away (including Chucky), so that was what made me most happy. Now, as much as I hate the dubstep, a lot of the scares were on point and the Face Off creations were great and terrifying. I felt like there was some new scare positions, too.


    My favorite stuff had to be the pumpkins near the end, which really helped bring back the Halloween feel to Halloween Horror Nights. The Mad Hatter as the DJ was pretty funny, as he died doing out set, then slowly came back to life due to the music. This was oddly one of my highlights. I don't even think there were any dead sections in the maze as everyone was trying their hardest and got some really good scares. And Axe Girlfriend came out of a surprising corner at the end, and the chainsaw person outside the maze was great. They've just made it 5 times harder to let go of the House of Horrors once it closes. I think I'll do this one maybe 2 times on my final visit to bid it farewell, especially since it's such a good maze in general.


    Facade - 5.
    Set Design - 10. For the HOH, they sure did change a lot.
    Sound Design - 4. Okay, could we get rid of the dubstep? This maze so didn't need that. It would've been legitimately terrifying with a regular soundtrack.
    Scareactor Design - 10. These were so great and cool to see, so unique!
    Special Props & Design - 5. Uhhhhh?
    Immersion - 5. Well...
    Length - 10. I love the HoH's length!
    Scare Level - 9. The scares were coming out of everywhere in this maze, I loved it!
    Fun Level - 10. This was ALOT of fun.
    Story Comprehension - 0. Uh...
    Personal Bias Points - 10. I was so surprised that UMR 3.0 would be the best out of the trilogy. Goodbye HOH, you went out with a bang.


    78 out of 100 'C'+


    [Dark Christmas scarezone]
    OMG... I live for this scarezone! This is one of my favorites EVER! Everyone was ON FIRE! The design is beautiful. I can't even put it into words. Just... just... I can't. This may be the best scarezone of all time. Please make this a maze, for the love of Krampus!


    One of the highlights here was my friend getting in the phone booth and long tongued Santa trapping him in there and trying to get our other friend to go inside with him! Bahahaha. But this zone is a lot of fun, as I noticed the fog got very thick here. Lots of elves, dirty old Santas, and Christmas music playing -- it's so awesomely macabre, I loved everything about it!


    'A'+


    [Jurassic Park in the Dark]
    With some time left, we went through the Super Silly Fun Stuff store. They were telling us to have a Tramtastic day... uhhhh? We wanted to do Despicable Me but the line was an hour, and we rather do Jurassic Park with the possibility of maze repeat instead of just one ride, which we heard was very baby-ish. We decided to go back down and do Jurassic Park since we didn't have time earlier. It was a 15 minute advertised wait, but was actually maybe 5. At this time, I noticed that AWIL practically had no line, so we planned to do that next again. After that, we were all awake and ready for one last maze.


    [American Werewolf Once More!]
    I wanted to do AVP one more time, but nobody wanted to do that walk again. Anyway, it said 20 minutes but was only 14. I believe we entered at 2:04. Apart of me wished I would've just waited until now instead of the 70 minute wait I had to endure earlier, but ofcourse, there was no guarantee I'd be able to get back down here again. I was hoping the run through we had earlier was just bad timing or something. However, I quickly learned, nope, the maze just isn't ready yet. They still have a lot to tweak, lighting on the wolves being the main thing. If they're going to be that well lit, they need to look REAL and right now, they seem like puppets. The ones in the Orlando videos looked AS REAL AS PUPPETS could get. If these are the same ones, then they've worn out or tumbled around too much in the plane. I like the maze and it's fun, but I just want it to be better so I'm being harsh on it. OH, and do whatever the hell you gotta do to FIX THE TRANSITIONS. That is just UNACCEPTABLE. There were some scareactors missing on this walkthrough also, so that kinda ruined a scene with a werewolf just sitting there with nobody beneath it being attacked (very first attack scene). Anyway, with some easy fixes and some not so easy fixes, this could be a much better maze. We all left, unimpressed compared to our first time through the maze.


    [Leaving]
    Then we made our trip back up the escalators, where the park was now dead. The fire canons were still going off in some particular pattern, but there was no chainsaw chase out in sight. Bummer. We exited through City Walk, found our car thanks to our friends selfie, and got to go down the circular exit. We talked about our favorite mazes and least favorites as we got onto the freeway. My girlfriend changed her vote to AVP, while our guy friend maintained AWIL and chick friend maintained TWD's maze and tram. We all agreed that Dracula was basically a big surprise by being the scariest, but still not the best.


    [Overall]
    This was a top notch year and maybe even my favorite! There's only ONE maze that I don't like AT ALL. If basically every maze out of 7 is at least good, plus improved scarezones, and a decent Terror Tram, then that's a great track record. I even think the mazes that were just "good" will improve over the run and become "great" later on. And who knows, maybe even Clowns will win me over at some point. So far, a lot of the problems are aesthetics and design tweaking. They'll get there, I hope. As far as the Second Night thing goes, I think the extra day helped casts groove into their roles a bit and I'll forever stay away from Opening Night from now on. Although Saturday was a very busy day, I'd rather wait in lines for every scareactor being alive instead of no lines and sub-par performances. Also, hopefully on my next trip, I can get Despicable Me done! I absolutely cannot wait to do AVP again!!! I'll probably be watching that one on YouTube a thousand times. I definitely believe this year is a must-see and there's something for everyone. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, aliens, slashers, witches, holiday madness, and other creatures lurk the night at this year's event. Be sure to go on a weeknight or a cheap night to get the least amount of lines so you can for sure see everything. And as always, DO EARLY ACCESS.


    RANKINGS --


    Mazes:
    AMAZING - AVP: Alien Vs. Predator
    GOOD - Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood, The Walking Dead: The End of the Line, American Werewolf in London, Face Off: In the Flesh
    AVERAGE - From Dusk Till Dawn
    WTF - Clowns 3D: Music By Slash


    Scarezones:
    AMAZING - Dark Christmas
    GOOD - Mask-A-Raid, The Purge: Anarchy, The Walking Dead
    OKAY - Skullz


    TT (through the years):
    AMAZING - 08, 09, 13, 12.
    GOOD - 14.
    OKAY - 07.
    BAD - 11.
    WTF - 10.


    Overall Years:
    AMAZING - 08, 12, 14, 10, 13, 09.
    GOOD - 11
    OKAY - 07


    This is when I entered every attraction (to help with your game planning):
    Early Access - 6:45
    AVP - 7:11
    TWD - 7:32
    FDTD - 7:48
    Transformers - 8:13
    Clowns - 8:42
    AWIL - 10:00
    TT - 11:05
    Dracula - 12:25
    Face Off - 1:00
    JP - 1:30
    AWIL 2 - 2:04

  • #2
    Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

    Thanks for the reviews again this year. Interesting your Clownz 3D review seems to go against a majority of reviews I've read about the maze thus far at various outlets.

    Though I can see why it would be weird to have a bright scare maze.
    There is no right or wrong in this debate. It is simply a matter of perspective.
    -Dr. Strange

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

      Great TR, I was there that night, too. Was able to do everything except Despicable Me, The Simpsons, and Clowns (and it sounds like we didn't miss much).

      I did all the lower/back lot mazes first, before any rides. The ride lines stayed short for a longer time than the mazes. About 20 minutes for Transformers, 10 for Mummy, and Jurassic Park was a walk on. I recommend this gameplan. However, the line for Clowns was HUGE, so we skipped it and hit up the rides.

      And you're right about AVP, it's not just that you're a fanboy. Best maze I've seen in a long time. Though, AWIL was great as well. Come to think of it, I loved The Thing maze, too. Maybe I just like puppets.
      www.youtube.com/lundopictures

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      • #4
        Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

        I did the VIP experience last night. I love reading other people's reviews. I found all the designs and executions at HHN were great. I love a maze that tells a story well so some of the mazes were wonderful and some were a huge miss for me. I am a home haunter so that way I see things is probably different. AVP was great, ran through it twice in fact. The final scene is remarkable and I will leave it at that, pure prop porn.

        My favorite was America Werewolf, probably because I am a fan of the movie. This maze walks you through the movie. If you do not know the movie, one can still appreciate it but it takes something away. Great wolves, although some had stopped fully working into the night.

        Clownz was neat because of the use of color and smell but it was too loud and a real gross out maze. Did this once.

        DtD. I have seen the movie but not the show. I found this one boring. The Dracula one, same problem. I know the stories and really couldn't care for these mazes.

        Walking dead was nice but not as good as last year. OP is right, it has less. Terror tram was about the same as last year. Both are fun but I think relying that much on Walking Dead is getting old. Universal created horror, they should really start showing us that with new mazes and new ideas, not just zombies because they are in fashion.

        Face off... great eye candy but this would have been better as a scare zone. Krampus, should have been a maze. Awesome scare zone. The Mask a Raid was neat but no where near Krampus. Skullz: Cool costumes but not much else, not even fog.

        Purge zone: Almost trampled in the opening, very unhappy about that. Gave me a nice headache but the VIP lounge solved that. Next year, skipping this opening. It is too rough.

        Speaking of VIP, I loved it last year with the walking tour of the backlot and the extra insidious show. They took all that away this year. Scheduled the dining so there wasn't time to just graze and just drove people down to the backlot. Now that was important as that is quite a haul but it was a let down from past years in terms of the total package.


        Overall, great design and eye candy but HHN has been better in the past. In 2009 Orlando, the nine mazes were great with no obvious weakness. My favorite being Silver Screams where each room was a different scene from a movie, both old and new. Plus they had 3 mazes for some of their classic monsters with a retelling. I know people want to see the latest and greatest movies put to mazes but it seems the older franchises end up with the best mazes while others like DtD are going to be also rans. Excited to see what comes next for HHN.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

          Great report!

          We feel the same about a lot of things I noticed. Specifically the parking situation in the Jurassic Park structure. What the Hell was going on there? Talk about a nightmare.

          Oh, I also wanted to let you know that as of last weekend, the prison tower and tank were indeed smoking. It totally looks like a battlefield now!


          Comment


          • #6
            Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

            Best review out there. Thanks for the detail!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

              Originally posted by aashee View Post
              Best review out there. Thanks for the detail!!
              Thanks for reading!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

                Awesome review! I shared it with the "baby eating woman" as she and I worked HHN together for 3 years and she loved it as well!
                Disneyland Blog Posts: http://findingmyinnerbombshell.com/tag/disneyland/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: DTH's Horror Nights Reign Till Dawn vs. An American In the Flesh in 3-Peat-D (Rev

                  Ah, how coooool! Evertime I see her, I say "noooo, don't eat the baby!" But then again, I'm sure hundreds of other people say the same thing.

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