Open letter to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights: A true fan’s perspective on how to fix the event

Open letter to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights: A true fan’s perspective on how to fix the event

Open letter to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights: A true fan’s perspective on how to fix the event

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Editor’s note: After the end of Halloween Horror Nights in 2012, Robert shared this “open letter” on our site to express some of the changes fans would like to see for HHN 2013. Now that this year’s event starts in less than a week, we’re taking another look at what he wrote to see if any of his suggestions are taken into account…

 

The entrance to Halloween Horror Nights 2012.
The entrance to Halloween Horror Nights 2012.

Dear Universal Orlando,

This is not a rant, or a letter swearing never to return to Halloween Horror Nights. These are ideas — some simple, some more complex — that would make Halloween Horror Nights better for all of your guests with the specific intention of keeping the event practical and profitable:

 

Alcohol at HHN

  1. Make sure Sam Adams Octoberfest and a Pumpkin Ale is available at the beer carts to make the October theme more complete.
  2. Have Candied Apples, infused with alcohol, for sale.
  3. Also to help expedite the bar/beer cart lines allow guest to buy pre-paid cards for drinks that can be scanned and stored in their lanyards. (This would increase lanyard sales too.)

 

Increase capacity at HHN

  1. Continue the “No Escape” philosophy of the street experience but incorporate themed “Scare Zones.” The marching army made no sense and was confusing to the overall theme. The “Scare Zone” areas with darkened mazes were greatly missed.
  2. Have the “Sunset Sidemen” in Hollywood playing themes from classic horror movies or cover songs like monster mash and thriller.
  3. Add a Halloween version of Horror Make-Up Show as an additional attraction.
  4. Add a Halloween overlay for MIB via theming the streets of New York.
  5. Glad to see Transformers should be online for next year, as this will also help elevate some of the pressure on the lines.
  6. Every night the park should be open till 2am, as many guests cherry pick their night trying to enjoy those coveted extra hours. This backfires, as other guests have the same plans. To help evenly distribute the guest flow, try and spread them out throughout the week, keeping the hours the same makes more sense.
  7. Turn the Chez Alcatraz dock into a party zone for mingling of guest. Besides, what scary movie doesn’t have “crazy kids” partying when something goes wrong?
  8. Publish a schedule for the lagoon shows. In addition, on the half hour and hour, rotate the horror segment from Cinematic Spectacular and other classic Universal movie clips.
  9. Theme the rumored Springfield section near The Simpsons Ride with characters from the twenty plus years of Tree House of Horrors episodes. Great photo opportunities! You could also how clips from Tree House of Horror Episodes in the Lagoon or projected on a large temporary screen. (Don’t know about the rumored Springfield section? You can learn a little more in the New character dining section of this rumor round-up post.)

 

Increase value for all guests

  1. Open Universal Studios Florida at 8am on days with Halloween Horror Nights for regular guests. That way they feel they get the entire value of their visit.
  2. Add more decorations around the park for Halloween, so daytime guests and early-arriving Halloween Horror Night guests feel more immersed. For example, there could be roaming, costumed ghouls for picture opportunities and more Halloween theming on the storefronts, etc. This idea could also help prevent some guests with young children, who just want a small dose of Halloween fright, from going to HHN and ultimately being really disappointed when their kids want to leave after 30 minutes (leading to the question, “Why did I just pay $80 for this?”).
  3. On nights that there is no Halloween Horror Nights, still turn on the Pumpkin Lights throughout Woody Woodpecker. It seems foolish and somewhat “penny smart, nickel foolish” to not have them on.
  4. During the first two weeks of the Halloween Horror Nights, schedule over 21+ only nights with a more aggressive street experience and R-rated version(s) for Bill & Teds or other show. This will draw more locals to the September event nights, alleviating the pressure on the October weekends.
  5. Have the last showtime each night feature the R-rated version(s) of each show, getting more guests to come late to play.
  6. Have more immersive overlays for the non-soundstage Haunted Houses to help create a better impression and help disguise their actual size. Playing music helps create mood too.
  7. Each house needs a projected video to help ease the wait and keep the theming going. If it’s good enough for virtually every ride, it should be used for waits that are regularly over an hour.
  8. Do not tear down Dead End and Gothic. Use them throughout the year during high volume periods as added attractions, or as year-round advertisements for HHN.
  9. For the Annual Passholder Preview Nights, have more staff (at least 20-25 people) involved in the check-in process. Also, allow the event to start earlier in the day before rush hour begins. In order to keep labor cost the same as they are now, simply take the additional staff from the greeters/directions area in the middle of the park. You don’t need staff to help direct Annual Passholders to Woody Woodpecker Kidzone (we know where it is).
  10. Allow Stay & Scream guests and others staying over to get the wristbands throughout the day, not just after 4pm. Then, for the layover between the park closing, allow guests with wristbands to enjoy the rides that are open for Halloween Horror Nights. This will increase the value of the Stay & Scream tickets while reducing the frustration for guests who feel like they just wasted of an hour and half of their day waiting in the holding area. It also could reduce pressure on front gates at 6:30pm by having guest already inside the park having fun and spending money.

 

To learn more about Halloween Horror Nights 2013, visit the complete insider’s guide to HHN in the OI Universal Center.

 

[sws_author_bio user=”RobertMorris” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Robert” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

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OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

So many great ideas here. In particular, I think giving out wristbands all day would be very helpful. I love the idea of the party zone at Che’z Alcatrez. I also think having the first two weeks 21+ only and R-rated would be a heck of a lot of fun!

Jewels
Guest
Jewels

These are all really great ideas! I agree with all that was said here, love the idea of infused candy apples, yum! This one specifically is something I really feel strongly about: Add more decorations around the park for Halloween, so daytime guests and early-arriving Halloween Horror Night guests feel more immersed. For example, there could be roaming, costumed ghouls for picture opportunities and more Halloween theming on the storefronts, etc. This idea could also help prevent some guests with young children, who just want a small dose of Halloween fright, from going to HHN and ultimately being really disappointed… Read more »

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

I definitely agree with what you wrote. The whole daytime thing is a bit of an interesting debate though. Several of our subscribers have mentioned that they won’t go to Universal Studios Florida during October because of the (limited) decorations that are already left out.

Jewels
Guest
Jewels

I have read that parks who do a separately priced ticket option for their Halloween events sometimes put out a lack of decor on purpose so daytime guests do not get a “freebie” look at the event (though I doubt it would hurt the nighttime business THAT much.) This brings me to something I forgot to mention earlier, that goes along with the whole atmosphere, the scarezones! The zones used to be so awesome, but it seems each year they get less and less 🙁 Zones can make such a huge impact. I could spend all night going through the… Read more »

Robert
Guest
Robert

To clarify my point concering more immersive deocrations:  Is not too add more daytime crypts and such to the park.  But to add holiday theme to the store fronts and lamp post as if you were walking thru Springfield, New York, London, San Francisco, and Hollywood during the actual Halloween Season, something that the park lacks.  The “scare zone” effects can still be brought out during the transtion period after parks daytime close and HHN start.  While some of the bigger decoration pieces would still be ought during the day as “teaser” for the daytime guest.

Jewels
Guest
Jewels

I agree! It will add that “little something” that the park is missing during the day.

71
Guest
71

Some great suggestions there, I’ll throw out two more—put out more  “cellular on wheels.”  Phone service was spotty at best this year. Used to see mobile towers parked along Turkey Lake but I didn’t this year.  Or just wifi in the park.

Also, in addition to Horror & Make-Up, I’d love to see a Halloween Beetlejuice show with the classic monsters rather than the latest goth freakshow magic act Universal dug up.

Giancarlo Ojeda
Guest
Giancarlo Ojeda

Really good ideas! I am glad this article was made and I hope that Universal takes this into consideration. I would put in to that they need to add more scare actors outside in the streets. Since 2011, the amount has been waning down, I think this year had more actors outside but still and yes I totally agree with the “No Escape” concept, they need to continue with that but with the scare zones definitely.  Thank you for making this article! It’s time that the fans speak up!

Matt Roberts
Guest
Matt Roberts

Have Wifi in the park with wait times available through the wifi portal on peoples mobiles Allowing international tourists to check the wait times, in the park on their phones.

Mandy
Guest
Mandy

love this overview. I don’t agree with all of it, but a few things hit right on-the-nose with what my group and I were talking about the night we went this year (which was my fifth time going since 2000). My favorite two suggestions: Add a Halloween version of Horror Make-Up Show as an additional attraction. [additional attractions would really help the high volume nights! I remember way more rides being open during HHN a decade ago, why did that go away?] Each house needs a projected video to help ease the wait and keep the theming going. If it’s… Read more »

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte

I agree with all of that. One more thing I would like to add is that I think they should do HHN in both IOA and UO. It would spread out the people a little more. I remember trying to walk through where rip, ride, rockit and the other two houses were and you could barely get through because there were soooo many people. We also had express passes which thank god we did because I could not see standing in line for 160 minutes. At that rate, you may only get in 3 attractions. With HHN being in both parks… Read more »

Robert
Guest
Robert

While I love the idea of both parks being used, I think Seuss Landing being closed and all guest being steered away from Hogsmeade would be more frustrating than helpful.

I also think the added expense for labor would get prohibitive fron Universal’s prospective

Also unlike the Studos IOA has limited options for House locations

The goal of this letter was create suggestions that might be actually done.

Chandler
Guest
Chandler

I think they really need to theme the queues for the houses! Sets, props, scareactors, pre shows that aren’t repetitive, Wi-Fi, something! Especially for the soundstages, why not have sets that double as barricades so that people don’t line jump?

CJ
Guest
CJ

Whoever wrote this letter HIT THE NAIL DEAD ON THE HEAD! I especially love the idea about the CHEZ ALCATRAZ PARTY area! Since I’ve been going to HHN (Since 2010) I’ve always thought of it as an extremely immerse haunted BLOCK PARTY! Why not have areas, preferrably 21+, for guests to enjoy and have something other to do besides rides and houses. In my case, me and my crew come down to the event and attend it multiple nights so a party zone(s) would be awesome. How I would love for this event to be open to 21+ HHN goers,… Read more »

gomezmarleni15
Guest
gomezmarleni15

This post is fantastic!!! I wish I could see all of these changes. Give us more of  the little things! I HAD THE SAME IDEA FOR THE SIMPSONS AREA – I grew up on the SImpsons and the Treehouse of Horror episodes. I would love to see them come to life. The mosre immense scarezones would definitely take the pressure off of the lines for mazes, which could reach up to 2 hours long EVEN ON SUNDAYS.  A size note – give us an icon again. I loved it. Bloody Mary was my favorite. Its also smart marketing-wise. EVERYONE wants… Read more »

JamesGalliford
Guest
JamesGalliford

@OrlandoInformer wristbands would not only help with the stay n scream holding bin issues but also they could have 21+ and under 21 wristbands for the bar purchases like they do in nightclubs. It gets super annoying to have to show ID so much especially at my old age. I think they are doing a lot of what people asked for this year and Im really looking forward to it being a much better event than last year.

MProvo
Guest
MProvo

Mark Provo here, head of Halloween Horror Nights. I just found this post and was blown away by these ideas. We are planning on implementing almost all of them next year at HHN 25!