This month, Halloween returns to Universal Studios in a dramatic and terrifying way. Halloween Horror Nights celebrates its 20th anniversary, and in recognition of this event, it is paying tribute to the entity that has been the master behind every frightened scream for the past 19 years, Fear himself.

Halloween Horror Nights XX: Twenty Years of Fear emerges under the slogan “this year the thing you most have to fear is Fear himself.” Because of this theme, there isn’t as much continuity among the houses as there was with last year’s theme “Ripped From The Silver Screen”. This, however, does not take away from the quality of the houses and scare zones.

After entering the park, one is met with a blood-covered drill team wielding chainsaws. At the command of their drill sergeant and with a rip of the cords, they break formation and attack those watching. The roar of the chainsaws and the quick, choppy movements of the men  leave viewers’ hearts pounding as they try to dodge out of the men’s paths. They get so close, one can smell the gasoline burning in the engines of the chainsaws.

After zig-zagging through the chainsaws, visitors find the first scare zone, one of six throughout the park: HHN: 20 Years of Fear. This is a nice scare zone to visit first because it sets the theme for the rest of the night. It isn’t as scary as some of the other houses, but the smoke machines and classic characters from HHN past set visitors on their toes.

Other scare zones differ throughout the night. Some are visually stunning (Zombie Gras, Esqueleto Muerte), others horrifying (Saws n’ Steam, The Coven). Lastly, Fear Revealed does what its name says. It is in this scare zone that the icon of this year’s event, Fear, reveals himself. He can be seen standing over his minions in front of two giant X’s.

Passing through Fear Revealed, one comes upon Horror Nights: The Hallow’d Past, and Catacombs: Black Death Rising.

Horror Nights: The Hallow’d Past is a blast through the last 19 years at Universal Studios. It is more of a haunted warehouse filled with props and remnants from past years, instead of a horrifying adventure.

Enter Catacombs, where there is an underground maze filled with the mummified, undead victims of a plague, quarantined against their will. The victims from antiquated Paris and Marseilles pop up out of crypts and lunge at passersby.

This particular house is one of the most frightening of the night, mixing an underground setting, dusty smell and  unexpected assaults from old creatures, who cough and wheeze as they emerge from their tombs.

Some houses were not  as  terrifying and ended up missing the mark. For instance, PsychoScarepy: Echoes of Shadybrook’s mixed psychological scares with digital effects, but most rooms in the house looked exactly the same.

Other houses range in quality from Havoc: Dogs of War to The Orphanage: Ashes to Ashes. These houses give off a creepy feeling that sends a shiver down the spine of anyone who enters.

In contrast, Hades—set in the Underworld—and Zombiegeddon, which features World War II-style propaganda posters telling visitors to join the fight against the zombie outbreak,  terrify anyone who steps inside.

A standout house this year is Legendary Truth: The Wyandot House. The house uses a wide variety of technology and effects and is set in a house being investigated by the Spirit Seekers, who are ghost hunters.

An admission ticket for entry into the park is $49.99. For an express pass, which provides shorter lines for rides and houses, it will cost $79.99. Universal also offers a Frequent Fear Pass, which includes 14 nights for the price of one, for $79.99.

Halloween Horror Nights will only have one 20th anniversary, and they brought on-your-toes fear and combined it with great entertainment for a great show.

By admin

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