Get out your best headbands and leg warmers, the 80's were KILLER. Easily one of the most nostalgic events in HHN history, the 2019 event boasted the "most haunted houses ever" with an astonishing 10 haunted houses, during the event. The park was overlayed with 80's vibes, including one hell of a nighttime water show, neon lights, lasers, and video games. The event also boasted a brand-new mobile game, playable exclusively in park.
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Just as my namesake swore to never be a memory, I swore I would return to HHN someday. Fast forward to 2019 and I was making a triumphant return. The year before, I had completed graduate school and had a Master’s Degree in hand. After the stress and hardship of the past year and half, it was about time I kick back and enjoy myself. What was even better, this time I was going to be in attendance for more than one night. Boy this was going to be fun. Oh, and I got to do an Unmasking the Horror Tour for the first time too, that was awesome. Depths- I think my father said it best when he said, all this house is, is just shrimp people. While I won’t go that far, because the costumes were a lot more detailed than that, I will say that I was a little disappointed. From the description of the house in the blog and on website, I wanted to see more of the sick deep sea miners showing symptoms of their sickness, rather than the mouth brooders themselves. Kind of like Alien, but underwater. Two points in the houses favor however, were the scareactor near the escape pods who told you to hurry and escape. I kid you not when I say she looked for all the world like Jill Valentine from Resident Evil 3. I kind of expected to see Nemesis around the corner, but as a RE fan, that gets a thumbs up from me. The other thing is of course the good boy Helix, known to the Twitterverse as HHN Dog. Rest easy Helix, you were a good boy… Ghostbusters- While I can appreciate this house for how closely and faithfully it adapts the movie, it really wasn’t scary enough for my taste so it’s kind of meh for me. Though I will say that Library ghost is probably the best scare in the whole house. Also shout out to the random garbage bag in the alley scene that seemed to move closer and closer to me every time I went through the house, to the point my wheelchair got stuck on it a couple of times. In a rare first, this house gets two thumbs up from my mother for being perfectly safe and not scary at all. Never thought she’d say she likes a house at HHN, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Graveyard- This was definitely the sleeper hit of the event for me. If I remember right, I initially put this at the halfway point of my hype list, but by the end of my time at the event it was right up there in the top three houses (up there with Corpses and Monsters) and was by far the best original content house in my opinion. Special highlights include, the room with all the kids in it. That was a 10/10 on the creepiness scale. Oh, and I loved how those two teenagers got their just desserts from the ghosts. Remember children, do not desecrate resting places…ever… An amusing anecdote from this house, in the black room near the end, the one with the ghostly voices in it, it seemed to me that I kept hearing, Please don’t go, or Stay here please, to which I responded, I’d love to stay but I don’t think I’m allowed to. Us- First off, I’d like to state that I’m not a fan of the film, so that doesn’t do this house any favors in my eyes. However, I am a sucker for old circus/carnival and funhouse aesthetics, so I loved the façade and opening rooms for that reason. I also got some good scares in the secret tunnels where the Tethered live. I remember one time looking into the classroom thinking, oh that’s cool that they added that, only for a scareactor to come out of the room screaming brandishing an axe. If I wasn’t already sitting down, I’d have hit the floor. Oh, and don’t even get me started in the finale with all the mannequins. I love that room! Killer Klowns- Out of the two comedy houses, (including Ghostbusters,) this was by far my favorite. Not only did I mange to get lucky enough to encounter every scare in the house each time I went in (seriously, I must have used up my entire supply of good luck there.) Something else happened the first time I went in. Even though I managed to catch all the scares, they somehow managed to also get my mother every time and she was a couple people behind me in line. My hat goes off to the cast for being able to do that, I’m such a great son aren’t I? I was also able to get my picture taken with Slim and Shorty outside so there’s that. Also, ALL HAIL KLOWNZILLA! Nightingales- Ah Nightingales. While I was never able to experience Blood Prey in 2011, I am well aware of the hype surrounding that house. So when I heard that they were back with a new house my hype levels were through the roof. And in Ancient Rome too? Awesome! I liked how there were scares waiting for you at the façade before you even went in, that was a nice touch. As a fan of blood and gore, this house filled that quota. Especially the smell of dead things in the finale scene. Oddly enough, it wasn’t as pungent as I thought it would be, but then again, the way my house is constructed, my bedroom has a space behind the wall where mice and squirls always managed to get trapped in and die of starvation, so like it or not, usually twice a year I’m forced to endure the smell of death in all its nastiness. Maybe it’s made somewhat inert to the smell? My only regret with this house is that it was entirely underneath the Colosseum. Therefore, we never got to go to the arena floor to see the emperor in the audience, and I so badly wanted to say the whole, “We who are about to die salute you,” schtick. For the record, this was my dad’s favorite house. Stanger Things- I will be the first to say, I had not seen Stranger Things at all before I went through the house, so take that however you want to. I remember on the Unmasking Tour my father was enamored with arcade games in the second room. He tried playing with them until he found out much to his sadness that they weren’t plugged in. He was also kind of sad that the “games” on them had different names from what they actually were, because you know copyright. He has this strange fixation on wanting Pac-Man to have his own haunted house at the event for some reason. I think he’ll just have to settle with the knockoff version of the game in this house though. Highlights for me included the VHS collection of horror movies in Hooper’s cabin. Oh, and the mindflayer, the mindflayer was cool. Corpses- One of my auspicious white whale houses. I know weird right? I don’t even like Rob Zombie or his movies, except for this one. But, seeing as Corpses for the longest time was a HHN Hollywood exclusive, I’ve always wanted the chance for Orlando to try it out and see what they could do with it. Thankfully, my prayers were finally answered. This house was a perfect recreation of the film filled with enough scares to satisfy anyone. I’m sure you can imagine my happiness when I finally came face to face with Dr. Satan. On a bit of a side note, I was very happy to learn that after the unfortunate passing of Sid Haig (of Captain Spaulding fame) guests would leave flowers in the first room as a tribute. I only wish I was able to do the same, but I had returned home by then. Yeti- As Slaughter Sinema and it’s famous Swamp Yeti were one of my biggest regrets in terms of missed content from HHN 28, I was ecstatic to learn that a yeti would get their own house in the year I would be in attendance, just without the swamp. I also really appreciated the call back to Havoc Dogs of War when on the Unmasking Tour I saw that the camp the prospectors were in was Shadow Creek. Hmm, maybe that should have been a hint for them to high tail it out of there. Oh, well! Monsters- *Intense squealing* My favorite house! How much do I love it? Well let me tell you. The first night we arrived in Florida, I hightailed it to the queue as soon as we got in the park and proceeded to wait in a 2 hour line just for this house. Now I see why people get so mad at the wait time signs. 45 minutes my butt! I even got drenched thanks to a freak Florida sun shower. But that would not dampen my spirits! Highlights for me include the Wolfman section, especially the first wolf after you enter the tomb, I like how it is the statue of the wolfman and then other wolves afterwards are flesh and blood, that’s a nice touch and transition. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was awesome how they had Quasimodo constantly ringing the bell, I couldn’t help myself from screaming, SANCTUARY! The Phantom of the Opera mirror maze gets special points for annoying my father to no end… WHICH WAY ARE WE SUPPOSED TO GO? Having the Phantom jump out every now and then was the icing on the cake. Finally, Dracula, my favorite Monster. As someone who has been obsessed with immortality since a young age, vampires have always held a special place in my heart, especially Dracula, oh how I wish I could be ageless like a vampire, oh well. I never did get the running gag about Dracula owing people money though… Zombieland- It seems I can never escape zombies, can I? Oh well, at least I can say that these zombies made more of an attempt to scare you than those who shall not be named from a certain television show. In fact, it seemed like there was a group of zombies who gravitated towards me every time I entered the zone. I don’t know why, it’s not like they would have known who I was… Right? I still appreciated it, nonetheless. Also, seeing the zombie Bill Murray was funny. Anarch-cade- Oh yes, this zone, my eternal nemesis. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great zone and everything but I have a funny story about it. So, I was leaving the park after my first night, I had to get up somewhat early the next morning to catch my 10 AM Unmasking Tour, and as most people do, we went through this scarezone on our way out of the park. On the way out, one of the scareactors with the lights inside his costume saw a group of teenage girls approaching. And, as any good scareactor should, went in for the scare to try and get that high pitched scream everyone wants to hear. Only one problem, I was right behind him so when he lifted his costume for the scare, WHACK right in the face. I was kind of surprised how many security people came rushing out of nowhere to see if I was ok. I didn’t know there was so many of them. Of course, this meant that I had to sport a black eye for the rest of my stay, but I didn’t care. I considered it to be a bit of justice in the name of all the harassment they have to go through at the hands of the multitudes of drunk guests every year. Needless to say, I forgave the poor guy and requested that he not be reprimanded in anyway for the incident. When I got back to the hotel room, I immediately got some ice… Vikings- Ah, my favorite zone. As a fan of the Vinland Saga manga, this zone really spoke to me. Yes, anime and manga are one of my three big obsessions in life, besides Horror Nights and videogames, how millennial of me right? My demented brain made up the story that the Vikings in the zone are the members of Thorfinn Karlsgard’s expedition to Vinland that somehow got lost and ended up in Florida instead of Canada, or whatever part of the North American continent Vinland is supposed to be. In the event that a fellow fan happens to see this, they might say, wait Sephiroth, Thorfinn’s expedition was supposed to leave Iceland without any weapons. To that I say, yes you’re right, but in the most recent chapter (175) some of the settlers smuggled weapons on to the ships without their captain’s knowledge so it is theoretically possible. Needless to say, every time I went in this zone, I couldn’t help but shout, TO VINLAND! Hellbilly- I’ll be the first to say I’m not really a Rob Zombie fan, but… ahem, put enough eye candy in the zone so the actors can do distraction scares and I’ll let it slide. Even my Unmasking Tour guide said the zone was geared towards that kind of thing, so there is a method to the madness. I really only have two nitpicks with this zone. One, I wish it could have been closer to the Corpses houses, you know, for continuity purposes. Though, I can fully understand why they placed it where they did. Two, I went through this zone many times over my stay, and I only heard Living Dead Girl once in that entire time. *Sad face* Vanity- Ok, one thing that really makes my skin crawl, excessive plastic surgery and unnecessary operations. This zone has both so it automatically gets a 10/10 gross-out factor from me. I also really liked that there was sort of a mini-show in this area with the fashion shows/beauty pageant things on that stage they had in the center of the zone. Well that’s it for my event reviews as I have no idea when or if I’ll ever be able to return to the event again. You know, now that I think about it, maybe I should go around with a giant sign that says “Will Work For Horror Nights” on it. Maybe I’ll get some takers? Oh well, I’ll have to get back to you on that.
The 80's motif was a really good theme, a shame that the music of The Midnight wasn't heard during it, but that's just a minor gripe. Stranger Things and Ghostbusters were definite highlights for me. And people need to stop drinking Haterade over them. I was also a big fan of the use of Rob Zombie in both the scarezone and the House of 1000 Corpses house. Getting to hop in the Dragula was a Kodak moment. All in all, I had fun.
After going to HHN28, I knew I had to come back for next year's event. I went over the course of two nights and did each house at least twice (I did Yeti the most at 7 times). The houses this year blew my mind. There didn't seem to be a single house that I actively disliked and a lot of them could be considered pretty fantastic. This year houses my favorite scarezone, Vanity ball, and my favorite maze, Yeti: Terror of the Yukon. I only gave a rating lower because I felt that the scarezones this year were sort of weak. With the exception of Vanity Ball, I found a lot of the scarezones to be not as enjoyable after a while. Zombieland was probably the most fun of the scarezones that weren't Vanity Ball. This is the basic of my review but I will go into specifics below. Depths of Fear: This was the first house I did this year and I thought it was fun. The Mouthbrooders' design was a bit goofy, which would have worked if the house was trying to be playful but it didn't seem like it was trying to be. But overall, I did like it and wish I had done it further into the night once my eyes had adjusted to the darkness. House of 1000 Corpses: I watched the movie in preparation for this event and I was very nervous as to how they would pull it off. All I can say is, goddamn did they pull it off. The facade is up there in my top 5 facades of all time and the house itself is gorgeous. It is definitely one of my favorite IP houses, and the best IP house this year. Killer Klowns: I love love love this film, which is why I felt disappointed when the house just didn't live up to the energy of the film. The house was fun, but I found myself leaving thinking "That's it?" However, this has one of the best puppets I have ever seen in the event. Nightingales: Blood Pit: This was my first Nightingales house and boy did I find it scary. While not the most interesting house this year, this house was the most horrifying and the scareactors got me so good that one runthrough I left with a twisted angle after jumping too hard from a scare. Universal Monsters: I love the classic monsters films and seeing them all together in a glorious symphony was a highlight. Graveyard Games: What can I say except "Wow" Ghostbusters: This house is confusing to me because it has all the elements to be a great house but I found it just feeling alright. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't amazing. It was alright. But I still enjoyed it. US: I love the film and I feel this house matches the energy of the film perfectly. The final room had me anxious as all hell and the set design for this house was gorgeous. Not to mention that facade... Stranger Things: This house would have alright on it's own but that puppet halfway through brought it to the next level. Not to mention the cast absolutely killing it every single time I went through. Yeti: This is my favourite house of all time and for good reason. The façade is gorgeous, the sets are super well designed, the scares are scary, and the cast brought it. I will never get over this house and I love every little thing about it. From what I've heard, it does seem like there was some timing issues but I never experienced that. I won't go too into depth in the scarezones but I will briefly talk about two: Vanity Ball: The cast brought it. The costumes were gorgeous. The energy was high. The experience was beautiful. Hellbilly Deluxe: This scarezone made me uncomfortable and not in the good way. I felt awkward throughout and for a concert atmosphere, it felt dead. Overall, the event was a 4/5.