Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida is one of the largest Halloween event in the nation. In the 23 years since the event first started, it has gone through many changes and faces. HHN has won several awards, including the coveted Golden Ticket Award several years running. You’ve seen the event from the eyes of the media, and probably for yourself. But what about through the eyes of someone who, literally, loves the event more than Christmas or their own birthday? We’re going to give you a look at the event to come through the eyes of someone who loves Halloween Horror Nights so much, well…that they’ve dedicated a large portion of their life to it. A superfan, a fanatic…someone who is just very passionate.
Meet FUBAR…no that’s not his real name, that’s the name that the online community has given him. It’s a moniker that has stuck for about 16 years, the time that he’s been addicted to Halloween Horror Nights. FUBAR has been a fan of HHN since 1998, he plans his vacation around it yearly. He lives in Massachusetts where he looks like a normal guy. He works a well respected job, and looks like a total clean cut guy. That is…until you start talking HHN.
“In terms of the HHN obsession, man! I could write a book!” He tells me. “I have always loved Halloween, horror and the darker things in life. I found HHN by accident on a family trip in October of 1998, which was the catalyst for my obsession.”
FUBAR belongs to one of the oldest Halloween Horror Nights fan groups on the internet, ChainsawWolf.com . It may not have been the first, but it is certainly the oldest still standing. ChainsawWolf is a group of fans that both work the event, and just attend. The one thing that they all share is a love for all things HHN related, and work to keep it going year round.
“I had been to haunts before that but nothing to that level and the fact that the event changes every year had me hooked. As the years passed I knew I could never miss a year if at all possible. Also through the years getting to know the A&D team and having tons of respect for them increases my desire to see what they will achieve each year. The many friends (many whom I call family) and groups (CSW of course being the biggest) have become a huge part of my love for the event.”
How much of a fan is FUBAR? It took over 100 hours, and countless sittings to complete, but he has dedicated his two arms to bringing the world of HHN to life, but again…looking at him, you’d never know it.
“I work in management in food service in healthcare so I have to keep all tats covered. I wear a product called a tat jacket (used by law enforcement officials) which is a very thin material that has an elastic band on the end that is up on the bicep.”
Take a look his obsession for yourself:
In the coming weeks we’ll give you guides, and what to expect from the event…but we wanted FUBAR to tell you himself what to expect…from purely a fan’s perspective. So, without any further ado…here’s what to expect from a HHN fanatic:
F.U.B.A.R.’s Halloween Horror Nights 23- What Evil Has Taken Root: Pre Event Thoughts
First, let me start out by saying that I am a passionate fan and have been known to be hyper critical at times in the past. When I first heard the rumors of IP houses (Intellectual Properties) and a narrow variety in the street experience, I came down on the event. I have always enjoyed Universal’s original content and think the IPs have been hit or miss in the past. As info came out and rumors came to fruition, I have warmed up to the IP Houses and the thought of an all The Walking Dead street experience. Sure, the traditional variety we all are used to will not be there, but I have begun to get excited at all the possibilities with sets, characters and even iconic walkers. So, I am going to do a very early listing of my expectations for the houses and zones. My feelings may change even before I step one foot in a maze this year and I am sure my final review will be a whole different story. So let’s be on with it! (Warning there will be spoilers…and blood)
1) Evil Dead – Ever since the reveal for this one went down I have been seriously excited for it. The thought of this ultra gory and creepy movie played up as an HHN maze just gets the horror movie geek in me jumping up and down. I want dark, gory and creepy. I think you have to begin with the woods and the cabin as your facade and had a walk through of all the scenes from the film (I’ll leave this spoiler free for those who have not seen it) and the climax of the movie should also be a fitting ending here
2) An American Werewolf In London– When the rumor of this one came about, it was not a huge surprise as it had been of course rumored in the past, but still the thought of it possibly becoming reality was too good to be true. The possibilities here are endless. A classic journey for a haunt goer both story-wise and emotion-wise. What I have seen of the sets in this one, it is obvious that the folks in A&D are extremely respectful of the source material and it looks fantastic. The Slaughtered Lamb facade and interior, the flat (apartment), the dream sequence back at home, the hospital and tube station are all straight out of this beloved film. I have read that we will see the moors, Piccadilly Circus and maybe, just maybe a certain theater scene. I also am very much expecting the best of the best here for animatronics and werewolf effects. I am sure a special amount of attention will be made to the transformation scene made originally by effects legend Rick Baker. I will be getting all giddy walking through this one.
3) Cabin In The Woods– Being one of the first of the announced house CITW got a lot of attention and people focused on all the possibilities of the monsters and facility. This is definitely one of those houses that could go extremely well and be one Hell of a ride or a mess of epic proportions. I like to go in with all the positivity in the world and expect the former. I will say that the first time I watched the film I half wanted to shut it off after the first half hour. I did not get that it was supposed to be a parody of horror films. Thankfully the film’s second and third acts caught my attention and it got to be a crazy, turned on it’s head, wild and brutal show. It is a lot different than most people expect and I think that this mixed identity could be problematic for many HHN goers. I also expect that this will be the comedy house of this year. Seeing it is a parody I expect a certain tongue in cheek tone. Also, seeing we have Evil Dead already and that is mainly to do with a cabin, I expect this maze to be mostly about the facility. Sure you have to have a set up and gradual progression to the basement and then to the madness below, but I expect that to happen in the first ¼ of the maze. The possibilities of the monsters and how crazy it could get have me salivating. I expect blood, gore and victims and a lot of disorienting effects. Should be wicked!
4) The Walking Dead; No Safe Haven– So, by now, as I mentioned in the opening that I prefer the original houses and many people are like wait! Top 4 houses are all IPs? Really? Well, as I also said, I have warmed up to these IPs and seeing that the overall consensus last year was that The Walking Dead house did not meet expectations, I expect Universal to go all out on this maze. The fact that it is all based on season 3 and that the focus will be the prison and Woodbury should set up some interesting set pieces and a dark tone. The pics I have seen look amazing and I expect the majority of the house to be in the prison and this makes for some tight confines for some vicious walker attacks. The Woodbury sets will no doubt involve the streets of the town and of course The Governor’s lair with his fish tank O heads and I am sure a certain someone in the closet. I expect an amped up depiction of the walkers and more of them as opposed to last year. Maybe even a certain eye patch wearing character too. Who knows?
5) Havoc: Derailed– Oh how much I loved the original Havoc! You had a simple concept. But what made that maze was the crazy and aggressive tone of the actors. They made the original Havoc and I really hope that can return. The pics thus far look very promising and the level of detail looks to surpass the original by a long shot. I am hoping for the same aggressive nature and acting, weapons, weapons and more weapons and nifty effects. Just bring a big finishing scene too and this could be a sweet house. A lack of in your face acting and a healthy dose of sequelitis and this one could be average at best. That is why I could not bring myself to put it high on the list. Havoc: Derailed is too much of a wild card.
6) Resident Evil: Escape From Raccoon City – Here is another wild card house for me, because while the thought of a Resident Evil HHN maze is amazing, it is yet another based on the games and not the films. Silent Hill in my mind worked fairly well last year as it seemed to blend the two versions. The concept and story were there as were iconic characters seemingly from both games and films. It was scary in tone and was hit and miss on overall execution. Resident Evil this year will be based on the 2nd and 3rd games from Capcom’s beloved game series. Games of which I played quite regularly back in my PS1 days and thought that they were both creepy and action based with some truly jump inducing moments. These would be the games I would hope to see portrayed. Overall, being a big movie fan and a fan of RE 1, I kind of wish they would incorporate that movie’s feel and particularly the music. Something in the delivery of the Umbrella Corporation and the Hive made for an interestingly claustrophobic feel and a pure sense of desperation was present. I could care less for the over the top character of Alice as a superhero as she become later in the series, just the overall tone, monsters and music. But that is just a pipe dream as this is based on games 2-3. That being said, we get some solid creatures ranging from zombies (which I would think would be downplayed due to the overwhelming use of zombies and zombie like characters this year), zombie dogs (cerberus), infected crows, mutated plants, alligators, giant spiders and moths, cockroaches, monsterous hunters, brain suckers, lickers and mutated lickers among many others and of course Nemesis! One of the craziest moments in my video game history was playing RE Nemesis and having that beast relentlessly chase you. You couldn’t kill it and that made it terrifying! In this maze, I just hope they can deliver on an interesting mix of scary monsters and environments in which the guest will feel on edge and threated in. If they can do that and feature Nemesis as a total Badass creature than this could be an epic maze. There is just too much that could go wrong here and that is why I kind of dread to see the finished product. I am hearing ideas that will be featured in this one such as a room where it seems the game has been put on pause. I just have to wait and see how this will play out to judge just yet, but it sounds a bit odd yet very inventive. Definitely a “we shall have to wait and see” kind of house for me.
7) Urban Legends; La Llorona– Originally I was very much against this house as it felt like a table scrap, hand-me-down from Hollywood. As a devoted USO fan I was a bit offended. After hearing that this is a new original take from the A&D team and doing some reading on the concept I have warmed up to it a lot. I had thought that the character was pretty much a Latin version of Bloody Mary and was pleased to learn I was wrong. I heard great things regarding the overall tone and execution of the Hollywood version so that was also intriguing. From what I see from the pics released the art design and set décor look to be very “Forsaken” like appropriately so (Spanish backgrounds) and overall creepy in tone. I am expecting some great atmosphere and lots of jump scares here. Hoping for some interesting effects and props too. Loving the façade for a tent house and hope this trend continues. This one is low on the list as I am somewhat at a loss for what to expect. Who knows, by the end of the run this could be my favorite house.
8) Afterlife: Death’s Vengeance – While concept and story are intriguing on this maze I am just not feeling it. I am generally not a fan of 3D houses so my expectations are not too high. Sure, the hyper colors and tones could be used in a unique way portraying the afterlife, but I am just not one to enjoy the lack of realism color wise. Think one of the only houses like this I enjoyed a lot was The In Between as the dark tone and inter dimensional depiction worked for me. Maybe, the tone will be similarly dark and the story of this mass murder in the afterlife coming to terms with the vengeance of his victims may just come off well. Again, it is so low here on this list out of not knowing what to expect and my usual distaste for 3D houses. Pics look promising so who knows.
Street Experiences- The Walking Dead: Undead Streets
I am not going to go into too much detail as this is already getting a bit lengthy, but the concept of having an all TWD street experience initially made me extremely displeased. I had to take a step back and give it some thought and ultimately I also warmed up to this idea. Sure, we will not get the variety that we usually see at the event. It is generally nice to go walking from zone to zone and experience completely different and unique themes. Here we just get TWD with iconic settings and scenes from all 3 seasons thus far. The Fall of Atlanta, The Woodlands, Survivors Camp, The Farm and Clear all offer a decent amount of varying settings that this just might work. What made me begin to warm up to this idea was these diverse scenes and the thoughts of some beloved characters being around and who knows, maybe even some hero zombies thrown in there too. I want that screw driver zombie from the herd episode. One of my favs for sure. The thing that I will dread to see which is definitely a huge possibility is that all of these areas becoming a huge photo op as this event has turned into. The traffic flow may be horrible especially in tighter areas like Central park as I would expect a certain katana wielding character to be that is sure to be a crowd favorite. The other thing I really am hoping for is less use of masks and more zombie make ups and a much more aggressive depiction of walkers compared to last year. This might make for some interesting streets this year. Just hope the actors are allows to do their job and things might be just a bit scary. I am very interested in seeing how the area Clear is done as that particular episode and it’s tone was well done and I recall thinking how that street scene could be an HHN scare zone. Who would of have thought?
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure #22– Sure to be the usual blend of pop culture, music, movies and all that crazy dancing. I have never been a huge fan, but enjoy it with the right group. I am hoping the story or at least concept can return to the early 2000’s level as it certainly has been lacking.
So where does this list fall on your expectation levels? Are you as excited as FUBAR? What houses will you be looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to us and follow us on Twitter @BehindThrills as we will be bringing you some great surprises over the next few weeks!