Just hours before the full reveal of the lineup of haunted houses, scare zones, and shows for Halloween Horror Nights 2012, Universal Orlando welcomed a select group of contest winners into a soundstage to preview one of their original, and yet-to-be-announced, haunted houses for this year, named “Gothic.”
Two of the clues e-mailed to fans yesterday depict the entrance facade of this medieval-looking maze, themed to an under-construction cathedral. And with those clues came a chance for 11 people (each plus one guest) to attend today’s sneak peek.
Sydney Johnson, one of the lucky winners, sent me a report from the event just minutes ago, noting that only 4 or 5 of the winners actually showed up. But those who did were toured through by Halloween Horror Nights show director Patrick Braillard and “Gothic” art director Kim Gromoll.
Here’s Sydney’s description of what she saw inside:
The Gothic House is located in Soundstage 20, which is normally used for Grinchmas. The opening scene facade is the clue that was given out recently. The facade itself is about 20 feet tall (as are many of the scenes and rooms inside.)
The story: The Gothic church is undergoing renovations (as demostrated by the scaffolding outside the church facade) However, the gargoyles and other spirits of the church are not thrilled by this idea. The Gargoyles are not happy that we are here. The two narrating the event mentioned often that “Something has been disturbed.”
We were guided through the house the first time by the team, demonstrating the air cannon effects. [But also to our surprise, a few scareactors were in the building. 3 to be exact.]
They displayed different effects, like the increased air cannon intensity. There will also be a section of this house that has scareactors above you, springing out, and on stilts. Another effect involves a mirror, which was still covered at this point. I wasn’t clear on the concept, but Bill Zanetti seemed to be more knowledgeable if you reach out to him on facebook.
Fans also had a chance to ask questions of the Horror Nights designers, a few of which are paraphrased below.
Question: “Is using pre-existing stories or ideas as a basis for the houses a new trend?”
Answer: We hate to call it a trend. All of our houses are original. For instance, the Hollywood version of Silent Hill is COMPLETELY different than our house here in Orlando. The houses are still original works.
Question: Do you plan out rooms first, or concepts for the house? And when do you determine where to put scareactors?
Answer: It’s complete collaboration. If we can pick out an individual idea that we made, then it’s wrong. It’s a lot of arguing, and bashing, and drawing, and scribbling until we get the concept together. It all just comes together in the end. This house [Gothic] is inspired by all different kinds of places. Notre dame, cathedrals in Milan…
Question: Why so dark? We can’t see the details!
Answer: We want you to be scared. If you can see, you won’t be as scared. But this also means you need to come back into the house more and more to pick up on these details.
Question: Would Universal Studios ever consider a repeat house?
Answer: “Have never, nor will ever repeat a house. No house is the same twice.” (Exact quote) Technology may change and alter the scares.
Gothic, along with the rest of the experiences for Halloween Horror Nights 2012 at Universal Orlando, will be revealed tonight at midnight. Come back here for all the gory details.