Two days before the public debut, the haunted houses and scare zones of Halloween Horror Nights 2011 opened to Universal Orlando employees and their guests to preview the frights first. And tonight I was also a guest of Universal Orlando, having won an “RIP” tour of the event during last week’s tweet-up. But despite the fact that I did experience, and enjoy, all of the mazes and street zones this year’s event has to offer, don’t expect a full review from me quite yet.
Tonight’s preview allows the Halloween Horror Nights designers a chance to watch as this select group of guests flows through their creations, making note of everything that needs tweaking before it’s all unveiled to the public on Friday night. As such, I withhold my opinions and judgements of what I saw until all is properly in place. Though I will say this year’s haunted houses have a level of detail and size I have never seen before, with the Edgar Allan Poe-based “Nevermore” house topping my list of favorites – for now. They all have the potential of evolving and improving in the days and weeks to come, and it will be fun to watch them get even better.
The six scare zones on display at tonight’s preview were certainly a change from last year’s photo opportunity-rich areas. This year’s zones seem to focus more on eerie atmosphere, dark environments, and creepy creatures than last year’s character-filled streets. I’m sure the exact line-up of scareactors will change between now and Friday, continuing in the following weeks, and it’s exactly those changes that are fun to watch, seeing the creative process in progress as Horror Nights designers improve the event on a nightly basis.
With all of that said, I did bring a video camera along at the preview to document the scare zones, as they were shown tonight. It’s possible, and quite likely, that the scare zones I (and thousands of others) will witness at Friday’s public event opening and in the subsequent weeks will differ greatly from what I saw tonight, so it’ll be nice to have video to show just how they evolve.
Keeping in mind, once again, that tonight’s event was put on as a preview, I bring you a video tour of all six scare zones for Halloween Horror Nights 21 at Universal Orlando, featuring (in order) 7, Grown Evil, Your Luck Has Run Out, Acid Assault, Nightmaze, and Canyon of Dark Souls:
I also offer an extended look at one of the most talked-about elements featured this year, the crumbling building projections that are part of the Acid Assault scare zone:
I should note that the “7” scare zone has three distinct stages throughout the night, with costumes, make-up, and masks changing over the hours. But tonight I only witnessed and captured the first stage, which you saw above. The rest will be seen soon. I also suspect, of all the scare zones, Nightmaze will be the one to be altered the most, as it’s the most experimental and unique of the bunch.
UPDATE: Universal Orlando has officially released more video from preview night, not only inside the scare zones but also a few of the haunted houses and shows. Watch and scream below.
So return here this weekend to witness the transformations that occur in these scare zones as well as to read my full scare-by-scare review of the event, once it has opened to everyone on September 23, 2011.