It’s going to be crowded this year, folks.
Crowds queue up for the opening Saturday at Universal Studios Hollywood's 2014 Halloween Horror Nights
A Saturday in September sold out - ‘nuff said. After an excruciatingly long wait outside the gates (we didn’t push through the turnstiles until 7:20) we made our way down to the backlot to hit Alien Vs. Predator, The Walking Dead and From Dusk Till Dawn. We waited an hour for both AVP and Walking Dead, and we queued for 30 minutes for DTD.
Looking at the wait times on our way out of the lower lot, we might have gotten lucky. So before I get into what mazes are the best and the brightest of Halloween Horror Nights 2014, a crowd-surfing tip for you: When you lineup outside the gates, move all the way to the left or the right of the plaza. Getting stuck in the middle of that horde will dramatically slow your entry into the park; not that I know from personal experience or anything.
Alien Vs. Predator was incredible, both thematically and in terms of the scares it offered. Walking through the Predators’ ship and coming face-to-face with the Alien Queen was an amazing experience for someone who is a big fan of both franchises. The scares were top-notch, the puppets were excellently executed and the set dressings were as good as we’ve come to expect.
An American Werewolf in London didn’t disappoint in terms of set dressing, but the werewolves stole the show. Three or four massive puppets got great scares out of every guest that inched past them; which, after all, is the point. The transformation sequence in the apartment was extremely well done and the maze did a wonderful job of leading you through the story in the movie.
From Dusk Till Dawn is based on the new TV show coming to the El Rey network, but fans of the Robert Rodriguez film will find a lot to like about this maze. It’s not quite AVP or Werewolf in terms of thematics, but the scares in this maze were some of the best of the entire evening. The actors made great use of the wide-open rooms, something that is traditionally a lot more difficult than scaring in confined spaces.
Dracula Untold was one of the scariest mazes of the night, and it feels unfair to have it at fourth on the list. Rest assured this speaks more to the quality of the mazes above this maze rather than an indictment of this maze’s specific quality. It was dark, atmospheric and offered tons of scares thanks to a great cast making use of tight spaces. I’m not optimistic that the movie will live up to the maze, but...we’ll always have Hollywood.
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