Comments for Halloween Horror Nights 2011 house-by-house review and tips for Universal Orlando


  1. Nice review Ricky. I always love your thorough thoughts and opinions, both in these types of reviews and you podcast. Most other media coverage of the parks aren’t nearly as detailed. lookin forward to going to hhn 21 this year.

  2. OT

    Thats one big review, Ricky. It shows you love halloween.
    For me, I just don´t get it. I remember the first time I arrived in the US on Halloween and a lot of the personel at the airport was dressed up. Beeing from a countrie where Halloween is hardly known I had a hard time to take it all serius (you know it´s an airport).
    Why is all the horror I read in the review of the (cheap) shock and boo in your face kind? Why not like Alien or the original The Thing that had tension as horror, the shock moments where the worst part of those movies.
    So can anyone tell me what is the story behind Halloween, what is it all about?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      It’s not all startles. Halloween Horror Nights creates a wonderfully creepy ambiance in many of its haunted houses and scare zones, particularly this year in Winter’s Night and Grown Evil. Halloween is whatever you want to make of it, whether it’s about kids trick-or-treating door-to-door in cute costumes or the bloodiest gore-fest of a movie you can find on late night cable TV. It’s all about celebrating the darker side of life and having fun while doing it.

  3. Overall a good year, right?

    Well, I think that the icon was underused. I mean, the idea of Lady Luck is genius, and she’s only in a scare zone, the entrance, and some backstories that normal guests could not care less (I still don’t get it, every one from the haunted houses came in contact with Lady Luck at one point?)

    Even though I would never go into the event (one, I don’t live over there, two, I’m a scaredy cat), I love reading your coverage of the event- love seeing all the work they put on it, and the pictures, and the videos. It’s thanks to fans like you, Ricky, that not-so-much-fans like me can get a piece of HHN.

    In fact, I think they should honor the fans a little bit more. Hey, make next year’s icon “the Fan”. A guy obsessed with collections. Gruesome collections. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Yes, a good year overall, though on opening night I felt the scare zones were a bit lacking. Having returned to the event once since then, they’ve really started to amp up the scares in the zones. I’ll update the review soon with some additional thoughts.

      The Lady Luck connection is loose at best. According to the story, she has been around for hundreds of years, offering many a “choice” in life, but always dealing bad luck regardless of what choice they make. So each house vaguely involves a choice being made as part of its story and the consequences that result from it. I think Busch Gardens did the right thing this year in doing away with the notion of an “icon” completely. Fear was barely used last year at HHN and Lady Luck seems unnecessary this year as well. She’s more of a marketing tool than anything.

      I do love your idea about “the Fan” though. There are so many directions to take that.

      1. That’s a clever answer to a tricky quoetisn

      2. hmm… lehet, hogy én nem értem a dolgot… és azt is elfogadom, hogy a bárd valamilyen szinten multikaszt… de miért ennyire kiemelten “tápolt”? szerintem akadnak azért hátrányai is… Ceripapa?

  4. Greg

    Did you happen to find any of this years hidden interactive elements? (like last years red buttons)

    1. Ricky Brigante

      They are definitely there somewhere… but I haven’t found them yet. I plan on returning many times and will continue to search.

      1. Greg

        I’m wondering if one is the nuclear football in the oval office. Looks kinda intricate though for something meant for drunk tourists to touch

        1. Ricky Brigante

          Based on the photo Universal released a few weeks ago, it seems like that was supposed to be one… but the red button is missing now. I haven’t found any elsewhere.

    2. Mike

      There is one in The Pit and the Pendulum room of Nevermore. It’s near the left side by over by the pendulum, but close to the wall.

      1. Greg

        Hey, that button in the pit and the pendulum is the emergency shut off button. Do not press it. It will shut down the house and get you kicked out. They have a guard there now.

        1. Turner

          In the lights on tour they said it was the AAT that started the pendulum

          1. I wish we could have this, but it goes against the grain of our times, which seems to be to do the best you can and don’t worry if you can’t do it well, because after all we’re just volunteers in a lay church and have more important stuff to do elsewhere. Sometimes I really dislike the notions that seem to be embedded in the phrase “lay clergy.” I prefer “nation of priests.”

          2. Joo todellaki tullaan sit sun servulle rakentelee! Sitä odotellessa.. yksin pelaaminen on vähän välillä tylsää ja pelottavaa, tommosta slimeä mulle ei kyl oo viel onneksi tullut vastaan 😛

          3. Have you looked at your bike? Did the knee problem correlate with the bike at all? I used to commute by bike and got a strange knee injury. I couldn't figure it out until I stopped biking.The funny thing was, it wasn't like I was riding hard or going that far.Just a thought.

  5. Gary

    Quite an excellent review! I’ve only been to 1 HHN (being that I’m from Chicago and can’t afford to travel much) but when I was there 2 years ago, I was thrilled! That year, they were featuring Dracula, Wolf Man & Frankenstein houses – Dracula’s being the Mind Blower for me (Frankenstein, A Movie Theater themed house & Chucky’s Playland all ranking pretty high).
    My question for you is which house out of all the HHNs has been your Ultimate Mind Blower? And which was your favorite back in 2009?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      The Dracula house was good but my favorites that year were Frankenstein and Silver Screams. My all-time favorite houses were Dead Exposure and Psychoscareapy: Home for the Holidays.

  6. Roddy Barros (MKCustodial)

    I know it’s almost impossible, but I have to ask, Ricky: a spoiler-full review for those of us that are almost guaranteed to never visit Orlando during Halloween would be awesome. 🙂

    Also, from what you say and from the photos/videos ou post every year, is it safe to say that the kind of thriller/tension you’d expect from a good horror flick would never work in a situation like this because most of the Guests are too… rowdy… for the atmosphere to work? I just read your HoS review, and it seemed even worse at Busch Gardens, with scareactors posing with Guests! I can almost envision tons of “tough”, gym-type guys in tight t-shirts provoking and cursing at the scareactors…

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I’ve never done that before… and it definitely would be a lot of work. Maybe I’ll post some additional scene descriptions after I’ve had a chance to visit the houses a few more times. It’s tough to remember it all, as there’s so much going on inside each.

  7. Chrissy

    Can you elaborate on the hidden interactive elements? What do they do, or what have they done?

    1. Ricky Brigante

      I haven’t found any yet this year! But I’m looking…

  8. deedee

    Nevermore is a wonderful house!! I agree with you about Bill and Teds also. I thought it started off promising and then just went downhill fast.

  9. Tralalala

    I think for Nightmaze they should fix it by dividing it into two parts, one for each direction of people (going or coming). Then they could change the walls and nobody would know where to go! And they should assign more scareactors there.. some to change the fences and a few to scare people. That would be better 😀

    1. Yikes! That looks like something the secret services have just released, after cleansing it of all dirty details.I suppose when you write direct to computer, you never have to see the crossing out lines of doom. (You just see the wordcount hover at the same figure for days on enre..)H.de’s hoping for a swift upturn in wordcount!

  10. Mich

    I have a question for any of you who have already been (or ricky) to HHN11….Are the rides also open during the night??

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Yes, a select group of rides is open during the event. This year, it’s The Mummy, Men in Black, The Simpsons, and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.

      1. Buzz

        Jaws is also open this year.

  11. Stef

    DO NOT skip The In-Between!

  12. Joe and Adam

    Thanks for the review. We will save the lowest for last. We don’t want to waste time/money on something that is not very exciting. We are planning based on the review and will let you know how everything goes and what we think of your review after we go. We don’t want to read too much and spoil the surprise 😉

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Keep in mind that your opinion may vary, particularly on the house I ranked the lowest. I’ve talked to MANY people who feel The In Between is a fantastic house that shouldn’t be missed. Personally, it’s my least favorite of the year, but everyone gets scared or is entertained by something different. It may end up being your favorite.

      I should also note that the order in which I have ranked the houses above is not the best order in which to visit them if you’ll be waiting in line. It’s always best to begin the night at the back of the park and work your way forward, as most people do the opposite. By the end of the night, Winter’s Night, Nightingales, and The Thing have much shorter lines than the rest since they are close to the entrance and most people did them on the way in. Likewise, Nevermore, The Forsaken, and The In Between have shorter lines at the beginning of the night since they’re in the back. HR Bloodengutz is in the middle and generally has a decently long line and unfortunately Saws n Steam is next to the Bill and Ted show, which means crowds pour into it before and after every show, causing pretty consistent long lines throughout the night. (There are always exceptions!)

  13. Can you, Ricky or anyone advise if a Thursday night is a better night than Friday or Saturday for lines and waiting times even though the hours are a bit shorter? Thank you for the great information!

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Thursday nights are often less crowded than Fridays or Saturdays, but there are always exceptions. Last week, there was no school on Friday so Thursday drew a huge local high school crowd. In the remaining two weeks, Wednesday will probably be your best bet – but also has shorter hours.

  14. Chris

    Hi Ricky,
    It was great to read your review. I travelled from Australia to experience HHN’s 2011 but ended up missing a lot of it as it rained heavily the night I attended. I got to experience a couple of houses and some scare zones but that was about it. It sounds like some of the houses were a lot of fun.

  15. Kenmax

    I actually I found “The In-Between” and “Nightmaze” the best but that’s just me. Everybody has different opinions

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Exactly. Halloween Horror Nights offers a variety of experiences, each different enough so that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. My least favorites could be your most interesting, and vice-versa. It depends on your tastes and interests. While Nevermore was and is the best house for me this year, I’ve heard many say it is the worst. And those who don’t like that house tend to really enjoy The In-Between, which I obviously didn’t like much. Different strokes…

  16. Christopher Welcome

    Love your review. Me, my girlfriend, and her best friend just went last night. Even though we didn’t get there until 8:30 we were actually able to do every house and scare zone and some multiple times. We were glad we repeated some of the houses as well. The first time we went through Winters Night it was disappointing and provided very little scare, but the second time was 100 times better. I felt it was odd that this house consistently had a short line all night. The house that did it for me though was Nevermore. We did this house twice and the second time only had a five minute wait. Despite going through twice I still feel like I missed so much. Much better the second time through though. I agree with you and felt that The In-Between wasn’t all that spectacular and didn’t jump once where my girlfriend screamed the whole time. Nightingales was extremely impressive. We also visited this house twice. We were lucky enough to experience Saws and Steam with nobody inside the house. It was just the three of us as the park was closing and it felt like forever inside the house. It provided the most screams from my group and I truly believe this is due to us being the only people for the actors to scare. You write a great review and I take it into consideration when at HHN. I decide which houses I want to do and which I wont be upset about if I miss out on them. I appreciate all the work and dedication you put into this review. I look forward to reading it every year.

    1. Ricky Brigante

      Saws and Steam with no one else inside sounds like a fantastic experience! It always helps to have all the scares directed at you. I recently walked through Nightingales with a large gap in front of me and took the brunt of most of the scares, many of which made me jump.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the review and, more importantly, your time at the event. I’ll be going back a couple more times before it’s all done for the year! (Then post-Halloween depression will hit…)

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