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We may have shared Universal Art and Design’s current intentions of bringing both An American Werewolf in London and The Walking Dead back as part of Halloween Horror Nights’s haunted house lineup this year, but the ghouly guys over at HHNRumors.com went above and beyond and disclosed the list of all nine houses.
Let’s stop right there and tackle the most blatantly obvious part of that sentence first: yes, current plans call for nine haunts, which will make this year’s event bigger than it’s ever been before (particularly when one factors in the full [and quite impressive] lineup of scare zones, as well). As previously mentioned, this could be just because HHN has become so incredibly popular over the past several years, allowing Universal more resources to lock down more properties and erect more mazes, or it could be an attempt to try and more effectively handle the always-increasing crowds, getting the haunts’ two-to-three-hour lines down to something more manageable.
However, as was also previously mentioned, it’s important to note that while Art and Design may be currently aiming for the biggest roster yet, there are a number of factors that could work against all nine locations actually coming to fruition. We’ll discuss this in some depth in part two of this article.
For the time being, let’s dive right into the full list:
HHN 25’s houses, part I: The IPs
Just as with last year’s lineup, 2015 will see five intellectual properties being deployed around Universal Studios Florida, with two being return licenses, two being brand-new subjects, and one being an import from Universal Studios Hollywood’s Horror Nights.
Here’s the list, including each maze’s probable location (which our own sources were kind enough to provide for us):
- An American Werewolf in London – soundstage
- The Walking Dead – the parade building
- Freddy vs. Jason – soundstage
- Scream – soundstage
- Insidious – tent
Beyond its obvious horror premise and potential both, Freddy vs. Jason is an interesting choice, given the fact that no new franchise installments will see release this year (although, according to [semi] recent reports, the likelihood of a sequel to the 2003 mash-up film is good). This makes the license the somewhat obligatory throwback house, a role that Halloween (the 1978 film, not the generic holiday) played in last year’s event, and An American Werewolf in London fulfilled the year before that.
Scream is easily the biggest unknown of this portion of the list, as it could be based on the original 1996 movie (or any of its three sequels, for that matter, which hit theaters from 1997 to 2011) or the upcoming MTV television series, which debuts on June 30. Smart money would be on the latter, given (1) the fact Freddy vs. Jason already seems to be the “classic” entry, (2) last year’s similar double-property, From Dusk Till Dawn, skewed to the newer TV incarnation, and (3) Universal seems keen to always cross-promote with new releases.
Despite Scream’s current ambiguity, Insidious – which, true to HHN form, has its third installment bow on June 5 (since, apparently, June is the new October) – is actually the most intriguing of all the IP entries, and not because of its source material; an Insidious house, subtitled Into the Further, made an appearance at Hollywood’s 2013 event, and, unlike, say, The Walking Dead, it featured the full cooperation of the filmmakers and, intriguingly enough, appearances from some of the films’ characters.
There’s also the little issue of attempting to stuff such an experience inside of a tent, something which has historically been difficult for Art and Design to pull off, given the rather impermanent nature of the structure – although last year’s Halloween house may represent a turning point in this regard, as it was universally hailed as a tent haunt that felt and scared like a soundstage one.
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HHN 25’s houses, part II: The original entries
This, of course, is where things would ordinarily get incredibly nebulous, given the original nature of the houses, but it just so happens that, for this year, all four of the non-IP entries will actually be based off of previous concepts, to one degree or another. Whether this proves to be a popular move with audiences or not, it allows us, at the very least, to get a pretty good idea of what to expect, if only on a broad level.
- Alice in Wonderland 3D – tent
- The Hallow’d Past 2 – soundstage
- RUN – Disaster’s queue
- Blizzard – soundstage
Alice in Wonderland, beyond being the mandatory 3D house, revisits one of the event’s most revered scare zones, Asylum in Wonderland (from HHN 2008), and gives it the full house treatment. The premise behind that zone, according to the Halloween Horror Nights Wiki, revolved around the characters from Lewis Carroll’s books “look[ing] into the mirror of the event’s icon, Bloody Mary, and [going] mad.” Or, perhaps it should be, going even madder.
The Hallow’d Past 2 is, as the name would imply, something of a “greatest hits” maze, just as its predecessor was back in 2010. For that first appearance, guests entered the parade building in order to take a tour of Horror Nights’s prop warehouse. Once inside, of course, things go horribly wrong, with the props and sets coming to life and forcing visitors to relive key moments from HHN’s previous 19 years. Despite such a strong premise, the house received only lukewarm reviews, thanks in part to its heavy reliance upon the most immediate years leading up to 2010’s event instead of stretching all the way back to the early ‘90s. Here’s to hoping that Universal opts to take a more even-handed approach to all 25 of Halloween Horror Nights’s years, and not just an emphasis on the past five.
RUN will become one of only a small handful of properties in the event’s quarter-century history to make an astonishing third appearance. The first installment, way back in 2001, cast guests as contestants in a game show whose sole prize was to make it out of a makeshift labyrinth populated by chainsaw-wielding maniacs alive. RUN: Hostile Territory showed up in 2006 and offered a slight variation on the theme: taking a cue from Hostel (which actually appeared in the house’s queue in clip form), individuals are able to watch others be tortured and killed – for a hefty fee, of course. The pretty obvious twist involved the selfsame chainsaw freaks deciding to turn on the would-be observers, once again chasing them through a maze and out of the building.
That this third iteration will be yet another take on this premise is pretty much a shoe-in; what has left the HHN faithful wondering thus far is whether Eddie, a recurring character (and icon, in fact) who was featured in both of the previous haunts, will be making his long-awaited and triumphant return.
RUN: Hostile Territory’s very graphic queue video. (If you’re squeamish, move along. Seriously.)
Blizzard, according to the latest churnings of the rumor mill, will be something of a mash-up along the lines of Freddy vs. Jason. On the one hand, the infamous Body Collectors, who have been featured in two haunted houses and four scare zones over the past decade, will make their first appearance since 2010. On the other hand, Shady Brook Rest Home and Sanitarium – infamous for constantly being overrun by its inmates – will return after having been absent for the past five years; from 2003 to 2010, the setting was something of an HHN mainstay, primarily taking residence in the PsychoScareapy series. The Great Blizzard of 1888 will provide the backdrop, offering an intriguing change of pace for humid Orlando.
But wait… there’s more
All nine houses may have given us much to chew on, but there’s still plenty more to dissect: the first leaked scare zone (which was divulged on our very own community forums), HHNRumors’s teasing mention of an initial tenth haunt, and a surprising twist that may cause the lineup to be cut back down to the normal eight mazes. We’ll cover all this – and more! – in part two, coming Sunday night.
Does this year’s Halloween Horror Nights’s heavy reliance on past concepts make you more or less excited for the event? Sound off in the comments below.
And, in the meantime, be sure to check out our complete HHN 2015 guide.
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