There’s a lot to love about Halloween. here are always new horror movies to watch, Halloween costumes to work on, and plans to celebrate the time of year when scary reigns supreme. It also happens to be when Halloween Horror Nights takes over Universal Studios parks in Orlando and Hollywood.
This year, Horror Nights on both coasts is loaded with mazes based on some of your favorite scary movies and TV shows, plus a few that are based on original ideas. And if you’re wondering which ones you should plan a pilgrimage to get your thrills, you’re in luck. GameSpot visited Halloween Horror Nights at both parks, taking in all of the sights, sounds, and scares they have to offer.
Halloween Horror Nights is a very different experience, depending on which park you’re in. With Orlando being the bigger of the two locations, the annual celebration of haunts can feel like a more significant event, with scarezones that stretch far and wide throughout the park, and haunted mazes spread all around the property. However, Hollywood offers a more claustrophobic experience, with almost nowhere to go to escape performers wielding chainsaws or entrances to the mazes you want to get your frights in.
So, how do this year’s mazes stack up? Take a look at our definitive ranking of every maze experience at both coasts below and get ready to scream your lungs out, regardless of which park you visit.
20. The Walking Dead Attraction
To anyone who’s a regular visitor to Universal Studios Hollywood, this should come as no surprise. The Walking Dead Attraction is a permanent installation at the park and, honestly, it’s a disappointment. The actual zombies are few and far between, and the maze is built in such a way that there’s not many jump scares. It’s time to update this one, especially for Horror Nights.
19. Holidayz in Hell
This originated as a scare zone in Hollywood and, honestly, was probably better off that way. Holidayz in Hell is a fun idea, but the maze is mostly a collection of disconnected scenes that turn holiday icons into monsters. The best mazes string you along through a story with scares that build. This just isn’t that.
18. Graveyard Games
Graveyard Games is a fun idea. A bunch of youths have vandalized a cemetery, and now the spirits that live there are looking to get even. Unfortunately, the maze didn’t really work. It could just be bad timing on my part in terms of scares, but overall the performers in the maze didn’t do the trick and what could have been a layup–a haunted cemetery in Louisiana–felt more like filler than anything else.
17. Universal Monsters
As with Holidayz in Hell, this maze didn’t have a singular plot to follow. Some of the scenes were good–particularly the Frankenstein section that shows Frankenstein’s monster ashamed of his very existence. Still, given the tremendous Universal Monsters mazes Hollywood had the past two years, it highlights how much better this could have been.
This is a weird maze. Creepshow is being rebooted on Shudder, which is exciting. This maze, though, mostly focuses on the old franchise–which most guests likely don’t remember. What’s more, the maze is filled with dummies that don’t look remotely real and projected images are used for a lot of movement. A scene riddled with cockroaches could have been a creepy thing to walk through. Instead, it looks kind of silly.
15. House of 1000 Corpses
Both parks tackled the Rob Zombie movie House of 1000 Corpses this year. Orlando’s isn’t bad; it just doesn’t measure up to Hollywood’s. It gets bonus points for introducing you to Captain Spaulding from the start, but the scents used in this maze were so disgusting that it made the experience hard to stomach. Additionally, after seeing how this maze came together at Hollywood, Orlando would have been good to copy its structure.
14. Stranger Things
There are things the Hollywood Stranger Things maze does better than its Orlando counterpart. The caves it sends guests through are confining in all the right ways and the projected images used to show the Upside Down are impressive. However, this maze falls short. Both parks spend too much time on Season 2, but by the time Hollywood’s maze gets to Season 3, it focuses on one specific scene–the most boring possible one they could adapt, which doesn’t include any of the neon colors of mall moments that made the latest episodes so exciting.
13. House of 1000 Corpses
What makes Hollywood’s take on this maze fun is that it gives you a tour of Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters & Madmen before plunging you into just how horrific this movie can be. As with the Orlando version, you end up in Dr. Satan’s operating room for some disturbing moments. The smells in this one are just as putrid as those in Orlando, but the story of the maze flows much better, making this a more entertaining experience.
12. Depths of Fear
Depths of Fear is a fun idea that seems a lot like the upcoming movie Underwater. You’re stuck in an underwater lab at the bottom of the ocean and there’s something that lives down there trying to kill you. The maze is filled with creepy fish creatures and their victims, all of which are trying to infect you with some underwater virus. The scares are plentiful; it just so happens that this maze felt a bit short.
11. Stranger Things
As with the Hollywood version, this maze leaned heavily on Season 2 of Stranger Things. However, it did so with better effects. Unlike the projected haze in Hollywood, Orlando’s Upside Down was actually filled with floating ash that made it feel like you were stuck in the hellscape. And while its Season 3 section was short, it dropped you into a battle against the Mindflayer at the Starcourt Mall. When it comes to that entire season, this is the exact right scene to recreate.
10. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Honestly, this maze is just fun. It’s fun in all of the right ways–loaded with clowns, bright colors, lots of laughs, and some really gross moments. The audience for this movie may not be massive but this, but Killer Klowns is a good time. There’s only one thing it’s lacking that Hollywood’s version did so well, which we’ll get to.
9. Universal Monsters: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
While this maze doesn’t quite live up to Hollywood’s Universal Monsters haunt from 2018, it’s still a very good attraction. The key to Hollywood’s Universal Monsters is the emotion injected into the plots. There aren’t just monsters popping out of walls (yes, there’s plenty of that), but there’s also a story to get involved in. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man feels like a sequel to last year’s maze, which saw the creation of the Bride of Frankenstein. It will be exciting to see if they follow it with another in 2020.
8. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
As with Orlando, this is a fun maze with a number of creepy clown thrills. This maze also makes ample use of smells–like cotton candy–and bright colors to keep you looped in. What elevates this above Orlando’s, though, is the facade. Like many of Hollywood’s mazes, these are built in such a way that you enter through a themed facade. In this case, it’s a series of circus tents that set the mood perfectly.
7. Nightingales: Blood Pit
The best part of Nightingales: Blood Pit it its story. Set in ancient Rome, a drought is devastating the region. The emperor has demanded gladiatorial fights to the death play out until the rain returns. Instead, the blood soaking into the ground has drawn the attention of the Nightingales (ancient vampires), who come to feed on locals and the fighters. It’s a creepy setting and a thrilling maze full of jump scares.
Turning Jordan Peele’s Us into a haunted maze is an exciting idea. That both parks managed to pull it off is impressive. Orlando’s takes you through significant moments in the film and even manages to work in some of Lupita Nyong’o’s signature dance movements. Ultimately, though, it fell just short of Hollywood’s adaptation.
What makes this a better take on the film than Orlando’s is how it recreated sets from the movie, including the creepy funhouse that the young Adelaide wanders into. This piece of the house uses mirrors extensively, leading to a lot of the early scares coming from seeing your reflection. Additionally, Nyong’o’s face was recreated as a mask for some of the maze’s performers, making it extra haunting when you come face-to-face with her.
4. The Curse of Pandora’s Box
It’s not often that Hollywood does mazes that aren’t based on movies and TV shows. If Pandora’s Box is any indication, though, they should absolutely experiment with this sort of thing more often. This maze, which takes you to Hades as you face off against gruesome monsters, is as colorful as it is scary, with lots of neon paint and more than enough jump scares to keep you on your toes. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from this and it really blew me away.
3. Yeti: Terror of the Yukon
This original maze is one of the best experiences of Horror Nights 2019. Throughout this attraction, you’re venturing through a snowy tundra as a Yeti is hunting you and anything else living, looking for something to eat. The Yeti itself is an awesomely designed creature that appears throughout the maze, jumping out of bushes and from the shadows to attack. This maze is also freezing, thanks to fans blowing around cold air. On a humid Florida evening, this is an incredible feeling.
This is the main event. It’s the battle of the Ghostbusters mazes, and they’re both fantastic. Both mazes take most of their inspiration from the first movie and recreate the scenes you want to experience, to varying degrees of success. Hollywood’s includes the iconic firehouse facade, along with a trip inside the containment unit that houses the captured ghosts. There’s also a showdown with a massive Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, whose face is a projected image that changes as he gets destroyed. It’s such a delight to walk through the world of the Ghostbusters and this is a maze that doesn’t skimp on the laughs or the scares.
Ultimately, Orlando’s Ghostbusters edges out a win over Hollywood’s take. While it doesn’t have the firehouse facade and its Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is smaller, practically everything else is executed just a little bit better in this maze. The capture of Slimer takes up an entire room, there are more ghosts popping up throughout the maze, and watching the finale of the movie come together is so exciting. You will see the scene of Zuul lounging on the roof of Dana’s apartment building, and ultimately see the Ghostbusters fight the demigod before you exit the maze to the tune of the movie’s theme song–which you will be singing the rest of the night. This is Ghostbusters at its finest.
Source: Game Spot Mashup