August 2011: Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Studios for its 21st, very-successful year. In 2011, it features a Lady Luck theme, where the “lady” is fairly pretty when human but heavy on the teeth and wrinkles when not. Even with sharpened teeth blazing, Lady Luck lacks the fear-inspiring persona of some earlier hosts, such as that evil clown from a few years ago, but maybe that’s me.
No haunted house, haunted field of corn, or haunted anything can touch Universal Studios for nailing the true spirit of All Hallows Eve, and Horror Nights put Orlando on the Halloween map. The true sights and sounds of the holiday – blood, guts, rats, chainsaws, corpses, and zombies – can be found only at Universal.
Haunted houses. This year’s themes are interesting even though haunted house themes are somewhat unimportant. (Guests rate the attractions based on emotion level. “Oh my Gawd, I almost peed my pants,” gets five stars; “It was okay,” ranks one star.) Only one movie, “The Thing,” got its own haunted house this year, certainly because Universal simultaneously released a remake of the cult hit. Otherwise, expect scary holidays such as a bloodthirsty Santa, WW II war zones revisited, and more than a few dead bodies and female demons.
Shows. Bill and Ted from “excellent adventure” fame are back. The duo recaps bizarre news stories from the year before.
Zombies, vampires, and werewolves. The usual crowd of undead stroll through the park, shrouded in fog that streams from hundreds of machines. (Actual fog is relatively rare in Central Florida.) The sound of chainsaws (without chains) fills the air.
Rides. Many rides continue to operate during Halloween Horror Nights, but most will feature an extra glimpse of Lady Luck or one of her minions.
Tips for your visit
- Pick a designated driver if drinking. Universal serves liquor – a lot of liquor – and many guests imbibe.
- Arrive early. Haunted houses lose some punch if you wait in a one-hour line, which is common.
- If you plan to visit the parks during the day, do the rides then.
- Plan to visit early in the season, which begins on Sept. 23 this year and ends on Oct. 31; the latter will probably sell out at least a few weeks before the event.
- Take along a skittish friend who screams a lot.
For more information, visit Universal’s website