When I was ten years old, I attended a friend’s birthday party where she had selected two horror movies to watch. I sat through Friday the 13th getting more and more anxious with each passing scene. While the second movie played, I enjoyed a game of Monopoly in the kitchen with my friend’s Mom. For the next three decades I would still have nightmares about Friday the 13th and I avoided all horror movies, and then The Walking Dead came into my life, as did Universal Studios Orlando.
My husband started watching The Walking Dead on Netflix and I set up my computer screen so that I wouldn’t have to see the television. I could still hear it of course, and by the time he was on episode six, I asked him to start the show over. I watched it through my fingers, but I really grew to appreciate the show. The story is engaging and the detail that goes into making it is really incredible. I am hooked now and can occasionally watch without my hands in front of my eyes. I am gaining courage with each episode!
I recently tested my bravery more than ever before when I took a trip to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando, organized by Toni and Mellisa from Two Traveling Moms. Halloween Horror Nights is a seasonal attraction at Universal Studios Florida that includes eight haunted houses, two live shoes and four scare zones.
The Walking Dead: The End of the Line
While I can’t say I was excited to go into any of the haunted houses (terrified would be a more accurate description), I can say I was intrigued to see The Walking Dead house. It is based on Season 4 of The Walking Dead. It starts at the prison and you make your way through to Terminus. This house has the most characters inside, with around 60 walkers lurking throughout. Was I scared? Yes! Was it cool? Very! As a huge fan of the show, it was pretty awesome to take a walk through Season 4.
From Dusk Till Dawn
This house had some eye candy for the men, at least until you see their faces. Filled with thirsty vampires, this house is based on the hit El Rey Network series. I haven’t seen the show but I think I have a basic understanding of it now. This house was probably the least scary one for me, but it did leave me jumping more than once.
Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood
The upcoming movie is the basis for this haunted house. It follows the transformation of Vlad the Impaler to Dracula, and we got to experience it first hand! We did this house immediately following From Dusk Till Dawn, so I was ready for a few moments to lower my heart rate when we got out!
AVP: Alien vs. Predator
This is a combination of two movies, Alien and Predator, with the main focus being on Alien. I had my biggest scare in this house when it came from a very unexpected place!
“Travel with Michael Myers as he begins Haddonfield‘s historic night of horrors. You will find yourself racing to get ahead of Michael‘s murderous knife as he slashes at his victims and you. Guests will be placed in the depths of Michael Meyer‘s personal hell as they try and escape his nightmare.” I went through most of this house with my face buried in the backpack of the person in front of me because there were creepy masked men with knives! Eeeek!
Dollhouse of the Damned
I didn’t think this house would scare me at all. I am a former sculptor and doll maker, so doll parts laying around really have no impact on me, but this house went way beyond that. With walls made up of doll parts and eerie doll characters everywhere, this house wins the award for “creepiest” house, in my opinion.
Giggles and Gore Inc.
“Evil clowns are not born…they are made. People are stretched, smashed, and eviscerated. Faces are peeled off, voice boxes are torn out, and bodies are stuffed with…other bodies.” These are not your birthday party clowns. They are downright evil looking and they seem a little more interested in making you scream than laugh!
Roanoke: Cannibal Colony
Since no one really knows the fate of The Lost Colony, this house provides a possible answer. They all turned into cannibalistic monsters and ate one another. This was the scariest house for me. It was not only disturbing, but also downright frightening! It got my heart racing!
The Scare Zones are areas set up throughout Universal Studios Florida. They are artistically designed and full of characters who are ready and more than willing to make you scream.
Face Off – In the Flesh
“The most twisted and gruesome character creations seen on SyFy‘s hit show ―Face Off, ‖ will be live and In the Flesh. This unique zone will surround you in the macabre visions and nightmares of some of the most talented up-and-coming make-up artists today.” There was some really extraordinary make up and costumes at work in this scare zone.
The Purge: Anarchy
This was the scariest of all of the scare zones for me. The characters with chain saws, complete with very loud sound effects, kept me moving through that area as quickly as possible!
“At first glance, this may seem like a normal ballroom, but guests will be terrified when they see human heads inside oversized candles, appendages dangling in the streets and human faces ripped right from skulls with bloody remains still intact.” This was another section with really incredible design and costumes. One of the characters in this section got me pretty good by sneaking up behind me and growling in my ear!
Bayou of Blood
“The trees are illuminated with candles, voodoo practitioners fill the snake and spider-infested bayou, and the alter is set, as the legendary ‘Mamba‘ prepares to flood the bayou with blood.” The streets were full of mist and the sets in the streets made me feel like we were actually in the Bayou, and the creepy characters moving through the crowds were a little too realistic!
Halloween Horror Nights includes two live shows, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure Party and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure Party is full of mature humour while they spoof some of the biggest stories of the past year with the biggest names in pop culture. This is definitely for adults only! The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a tribute show. Rock out to clips from the classic cult film with your favorite Transvestite, live tribute performers, and audience participants.
Overall I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed Halloween Horror Nights 24! I thought I would be too scared to really enjoy myself, but it turns out I was able to laugh at myself when I was scared, and laugh at my friends too, lol. It was funny to watch how we all dealt with the haunted houses in our own ways, from one person pointing and calling out the characters and another crouching on the floor to avoid them all. I learned I have a strong flight reaction and attempted to get the people in front of me to move faster! I’m glad I did it, and I would probably do it again. I think my oldest son and husband would really like it.
- See the movies that the Haunted Houses are based on. I think it would help with the whole experience. With the exception of The Walking Dead and The Purge, I haven’t seen any of these movies and it left me feeling a little disconnected from it all.
- Splurge on the RIP Tour. The tour guides give you a back story before each house and you get to skip the lines. You also get to grab a drink in a private bar and skip the lines on two regular park attractions and have reserved seating for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. It is completely worth it!
- If the RIP tour isn’t in your budget, go for the Express Pass. This event is popular and the lines can get long.
- Take advantage of the Scare Zones. Photos are not permitted inside the haunted houses, so this is a spot where you can grab some photos, if you dare. It’s also where you will have your most unexpected scares!
- Leave the kids at home. The few I saw were clearly overwhelmed and you don’t want them having nightmares!
- Most of all, have fun!