Orlando, Fla.- As I shared with you earlier last week, Universal Orlando Resort announced that although HHN30 had indeed been canceled, guests would be given a taste of Halloween during regular park hours at Universal Studios Florida. Two haunted houses would be open to guests September 19-20: Revenge of the Tooth Fairy & Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. Premier Passholder were offered a preview of the houses on September 18 ( A Friday) by reserving spots online. I’ll get into that a little later.
As if I needed another reason to be at the parks this week, the announcement of two houses, and possibly more HHN themed items around the park pushed my mid-week visit to Friday, and the Passholder preview. I was lucky enough to grab a reservation for a time slot, but that did not come easy.
Like many I was logged in and ready to go at 12pm., the announced time Universal would be releasing spots, seemed I was not alone! The site had many issues, from error messages to at one point I made it to check out and then received the message above. It should also be noted that when I was able to finally access the site and grab my time slot, it was around 3:30, nearly three and a half hours after the announced release time. I am not bitching, just pointing out that sometimes the early bird cant always catch that worm?! Let’s move on, shall we.
As I stated at the beginning, and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I like to visit the parks usually once a week, I could tell on this day as soon as I got out of my car, in the ET section, the air and feeling was different. Right away I noticed an increase in people when I walked up to security. Notice I did not say an increase in crowds, I thought Universal team members and security staff did and do a great job at the hub of keeping guests spaced out and with their arriving parties. The lines moved quick, but again I noticed more lines were opened today! I was clearly not the only one feeling pumped about the days preview, I was already spotting many HHN shirts from years past as I made my way to Universal Studios entrance.
Right away as I entered the park I noticed something going on in the Universal Studios Store….so of course I had to to go check it out.
Another little something to give guest that Halloween feeling during regular park hours, Scarecrow Stalk. Stalk around Universal Studios and locate 13 Scarecrows and Skeletons to receive a trick or treat candy bag sampler.
Guest can grab a map and start their Stalk around the park. Once you reach one of the 13 locations on the map, you will see a team member stamping guest maps, but you will also get to see the AMAZING scares at each location, so have your camera ready.
Another great addition to see were the HHN themed food trucks/tents around different spots throughout the park. One of the spots that I got wind of from a few of my peeps online was “The Skeleton Bar”. Now before you say, Mike I don’t drink so thats a no go. Don’t let the name fool you.
Located in Cafe LaBamba, the usual meet up for the RIP tour, if you have never done HHN with an RIP tour, DO IT! Anyway, guest can do 3 different things: You can grab food, grab a drink, or just do a walk through, they have more amazing Halloween themed props set up in a walkthrough setting.
Another one of the reasons I wanted to check out the Skeleton Bar was because of that vegan option. So I grabbed myself the vegan Jack’d up Mac & did the walk through.
There is no inside seating, but once you exit you can find seat both on the patio and across the way. I made my way to the patio were I found a nice spot in the shade and I dug in. I can honestly say I enjoyed it and would order it again. I’d also like to thank my friends on the Universal Culinary team for giving us more options during special events like this, it really does make a difference in the experience.
The Tribute Store
One thing Universal gave us as soon as HHN30 was canceled was The Tribute Store, and over the past few weeks there have been some additions to the horror fan dream store. From wax mold figures to past years of HHN memorialized on t-shirts and merchandise, to a baked goods section, including a vegan skull brownie, and Beetlejuice room. This is another must stop for anyone visiting Universal Studios Florida before November 1.
The Haunted Houses
First let me start by saying Thank You! I have no doubt that every last minute decision and event change is difficult, and I just want to say I truly do appreciate each and every team member who makes my visit to the parks a fun and enjoyable experience.
Revenge of the Tooth Fairy
This was the first house I ventured to check out. The queue for this was were Stranger Things was last year, bringing you to the back lot where you can watch the train make its way from one magical world to another. Or watch screaming coaster fans make their way through metropolis.
As you can see, each party was spaced out by ground markings. To add to the precautions in place, lines were filled using every other row. A better example can be seen in my photos for Bride of Frankenstein.
One of the first things I noticed as I walked closer to the entrance was the smell….you know what I’m talking about. That smell of HHN, it was in the air.
Overall this house scared the crap out of me. I’m not sure if it was because I was venturing into the houses this year solo, or if the spacing of parties inside the house added to the unexpected scares and suspense on every turn and well themed walkway. The story line was one all of us can relate to, being a kid who lost a tooth. You put it under your pillow and just wait….but what if the Tooth Fairy isn’t what it seems?
I really found the maze of halls in-between scenes well themed and done in a way that I felt in suspense the whole entire time. The scare actors did a great job of using the Plexiglas barriers as an added scare factor. They really got me good a few times in this house.
Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives
The second house was Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein. The queue for Bride was at the main stage area. So if I may make one strong suggestion for those planning on visiting in the future if this continues (read whole article) bring an umbrella or hat, there is zero shade for guest in line.
Just like with Tooth Fairy, guest are spaced out by party and also funneled using every other row.
As we approached the entrance, we all of a sudden had a long wait, maybe 20 minutes. Not sure if they were doing a shift change after the first hour, but this was really the longest delay I saw in the line not moving at all. Once I approached the entrance you are met by a TM who will offer you a squirt of hand sanitizer and also a glow stick. The glow stick is to let those inside get a better visual idea on different parties traveling through the house.
The first difference I noticed was that the opening scene was amazing and very recognizable to me, you then walk through a walkway that I assume was made for scares, but this section was lacking any scare actors that were suppose to be in place. I then entered the second scene and was a little confused. I wasn’t sure who I was seeing, but it was not the iconic Bride of Frankenstein. I then went through another few sections and walkways, getting a chance to really check out the amazing job on all the props. I did get the feel of old school Universal Monsters from the cinematic set, but again noticed a lack of scare actors. This did however give me the chance to figure out that the Bride was actually this other looking woman.
It was clear that the story line was a little less structured compared to Tooth Fairy’s scary nighttime tale. But non the less this was such a great and enjoyable experience offered by Universal to regular daytime guests. I was also impressed with how they used the Plexiglas separators to not only keep the scare actors safe, but use them as added scares. In more than one occasion a scare actor charging the invisible Plexiglas scared the shit out of me and got an out-loud “OH MAN” from this guy.
There is no doubt that the vibe in the parks this past weekend was different. As guests make do with the safety measures in place, Universal has really gone above and beyond to bring as much of the HHN experience to its guests and it shows. From the themed food locations, to the HHN merchandise and Scarecrow Stalk, Halloween is defiantly underway at Universal Orlando Resort, and although it may not be all of what we have become accustomed to, it still one of my favorite places to celebrate.
What did you think of this weekends Daytime scares at Universal? What was your favorite house or experience to kick off the horror season?