Test your luck at Horror Nights
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 17:10
You are eager, yet terrified and hesitant, biting your nails down to the skin as you walk through an archway into the darkness of a haunted house. Not knowing what to expect, you grasp tightly onto your friend's hand as you make your way around the corner. BAH! You both scream as a deformed, unidentifiable specimen jumps out in front of you, waving its arms around. Two seconds later, you're laughing and become even more eager to see what's around the next corner. You are at Halloween Horror Nights 21, the nation's premier Halloween event. With eight all-new haunted houses, six exhilarating scare zones and two mind-blowing shows, you will be guaranteed one spooky night to remember.
This year marks the 21st year of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, and to celebrate, the entire theme and story behind the event has completely changed.
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This year's theme is all about Lady Luck. Once you give into her beautiful and radiant appearance, she has you trapped and then turns into a savage, bloodthirsty beast.
"Everybody takes chances throughout their lives," said T.J. Mannarino, creator of Halloween Horror Nights. "Once you have contact with Lady Luck, you will have bad luck."
Being with the mastermind of a creation such as Halloween Horror Nights makes one wonder what inspired it all.
"As a team, we sit down and think about what scares us and what would be exciting for our audiences," Mannarino said. "We want to bring characters you've never seen before to life here at Halloween Horror Nights."
And they are successful, indeed. With eight new haunted houses came eight completely new stories.
"Each house has about 10 rooms. You don't see it, but for us it's like 10 scenes. Each scene has a play with a beginning, middle and end," Mannarino said.
One haunted house, "Nightingales: Blood Prey," is set back in World War I. The nightingales, which are nurses who were supposed to be taking care of the weak and wounded soldiers, have transformed themselves into savage banshees who feed on them, instead. As you walk through this house, you're not only engaged in war but are also being hunted.
If that doesn't seem like the type of house that would scare you, seven other houses await your arrival. From twisted holidays to twisted body parts, snowy graveyards to the madness of Edgar Allan Poe, sunken ships to a whole new dimension, one or more of these houses is guaranteed to give you a good scare.
The Thing, one of the more popular houses at the event, is based off the movie The Thing, which is expected to hit theaters Oct. 14.
"You really feel like you're there and part of the movie," said Melissa Garcia, a senior at UCF. "I haven't even seen the movie yet, but I feel like I already know the story."
In this year's haunted houses, special effects and lighting were used to make the experience more thrilling.
"Each scaracter [character with ‘scare' placed in front of it] had his or her own special effect that they could set off at any time to really get someone," said Mannarino. "The actors work off of how a person reacts to the room."
But that's not all. Six scare zones are dispersed around the park taunting guests to walk through their unknown paths. Lady Luck, the Seven Deadly Sins and many other demons and creatures dwell in these scare zones.
If you're not about haunted houses and scare zones, one final option exists. Two shows play at every hour during Halloween Horror Nights. Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure is a comical show about two men who mock big names in pop culture and entertainment from today. The second show, Death Drums, is performed right in the streets with seductive dancing and extreme drum playing.
So what makes this year better than the last?
"I liked this year a lot more because the theme was fun and flashy, but still gave a great variety of scares," said Bryon Pauly, a student at the College of Central Florida. "I feel like the designers are getting better and better at making people wet their pants."
If you have never been to Halloween Horror Nights before, place your bets and take a chance with Lady Luck this year.