Friday the 14th

Julianna Kasper, Staff Writer

Halloween came early last week in Universal Studios Orlando when their 36th annual Halloween Horror Nights event began on Friday, September 14th, even though being there made it feel more like Friday the 13th. Whether you attend filled with dread or with excitement, all visitors encounter one similar experience; that pure adrenaline rush you get while you are forced to face your deepest and darkest fears right in front of you.  

Racking up a total of ten haunted houses and five “scare zones,” the creators of this year’s Horror Nights did not spare any tiny detail. Whether it was recreating notorious attractions or introducing new ones, the park was able to produce a full-blown, ultimate Halloween-themed event. This year, the new Stranger Things themed house debuted, and with over a hundred-minute wait, one may argue it is one of the best in the park. The classics were featured as well, with houses based on Poltergeist and the Michael Myers Halloween movies making an eerie presence. For the teenage crowd, Universal Studios partnered up with Blumhouse Productions, which is an American film and television company known for making most of the horror film franchises of the twenty-first century, to create a house based on the movies Happy Death Day and The First Purge that is so realistic that it feels like you are actually a college student running for your life from a baby-masked killer, or an American citizen fleeing the murderers of the Purge. But Universal Studios doesn’t stop there; there are also fully costumed, in-character actors walking around in their “scare zones,” lurking in the shadows, waiting for the perfect time to jump out at an unsuspecting visitor. Followings its debut, the 1985 vampire themed zone is proving to be the most popular, with Mike Aiello, the Senior Director of Entertainment Creative Development for Horror Nights Orlando even stating, “There’s an energy this year that’s just different. I think the ‘80s vibe infested the rest of the event.” With bloody Madonnas, zombie Michael Jacksons, and an actual band playing what sounds like the soundtrack of 80’s Greatest Hits, entering that zone feels like you have just stepped into a John Hughes movie set, but with more gore.

So, what’s the verdict? Did Universal Studios Orlando achieve yet another successful year of Halloween Horror Nights? The answer is yes. With all the different houses and “scare zones,” there is something for everyone to enjoy while in the park, from a 16-year-old Stranger Things and clown enthusiast to a 45-year-old ‘80s music and Michael Myers fan. So, whether it be actually entering one of their many haunted houses or merely walking in the park, the people of Halloween Horror Nights make sure that all their visitors leave Universal Studios trembling, either from fear, excitement, or both.

* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license