Greetings internet dwellers!
I'm a day late on this, but nevertheless we push through. Halloween Horror Nights 27, has 2 days remaining. I will be attending those last 2 days, as well. However, it is time to do my final wrap-up of thoughts, and final house & scare zone rankings. I will touch upon the shows, but my review of those shows can be found here.
As I do every year, I wait until the end of the event to give my final thoughts. I like to see how things evolve. Some things go up, others go down. Despite their being 2 days left for the event, I am confident at this point to give my final rankings. Before we get to that though, we have some things to discuss.
HHN 27: THE FORCE IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE
I have said it before, but the best collection of HHN houses for an event, comes from Halloween Horror Nights 21, in my opinion. There was only one bad house (The Thing), and even that wasn't that bad. With Patrick Braillard in the driver's seat for both HHN 21 and HHN 27, I had a feeling we were going to get some strong houses.
While the collection of houses for HHN 27 aren't as perfect as HHN 21, the collection was strong. There was 1 bad house, 3 good houses and 5 strong houses. The content for HHN 27, was solid. Very solid.
There were only 2 houses I didn't find myself going into regularly (we will get to those). However, I still found myself trying to do all 9 houses every visit to HHN 27. I haven't taken that approach (without the forcefulness of LT or Horror Unearthed), since HHN 21.
That, to me, says a lot about the event. Compared to last year, it's night and day. We didn't have the chaos behind the scenes like we did last year. Things ran much smoother, and we also didn't have both the annoying and mishandled, Chance, as an Icon. Which helps a lot.
One of the biggest improvement over HHN 26 though, was in the streets. Minus the Altars of Horror scare zone, everything else was pretty solid. Yes, the streets have become selfie havens. We all have to come to grips with the fact that, this is the world we live in. However, it's in the detail and thought put into the zones, which is the improvement.
I know the fanboys gush over Vamp '55. However, the zone felt rushed, empty and bare-bones. The actor's saved that zone. There was no life to the zones of HHN 26. This year though, just the level of detail in the scare zones, kills the zones of HHN 26. Whether it was a crashed alien ship, the neighborhood of Trick 'r Treat, the chaos of The Purge, or a demonic Halloween party, there is no comparison. The devil is in the details for the scare zones of HHN 27.
HHN 27, just overall, felt more complete than HHN 26. The closest comparison in recent memory, would be HHN 25 in my opinion. I would even dare say, it was an overall stronger year than HHN 25. Yes, they had an Icon, but an Icon doesn't account for event quality.
ICONS AND THEMES OH, MY
The fanboys love their Icons and themes. I have said in the past, and I will repeat it here- I don't particularly care if we have an Icon or not. They serve one purpose: to market the event. What I care most about, is content. How is the content? How are the houses? How are the scare zones? An Icon, is ancillary to all that in my book.
What I find interesting about this year is, their seemed to be a happy medium between the suits and the creatives. Yes, we didn't have an Icon. However, the loose theme, was still present throughout the park. The event, was continuously refereed to as the "Festival of the Deadliest". The rose pattern, which showed up in the early teaser video was also present. You could even buy glowing rose crowns this year.
While it wasn't in your face, the theme was there. Compare what the "theme" was last year- Chance's theater of the mind. It was barely carried over to even her house, let-alone the atmosphere of the park (her annoying laugh on the speakers doesn't count).
The skull Icon marketed on the t-shirts and the billboards, was also there in the form of, Bone. And of course, he could be found in the Festival of the Deadliest scare zone. And as an added bonus, one could read the backstory of Bone, on the vinyl figure sold at the event if one chose to do so.
There was a balance, that I have not seen since the event began to be solely marketed using the Intellectual Properties. Sure, the commercials and billboards still marketed the event with the IP's, However, the Soul Collectors, roses, skull and Festival of the Deadliest ideas, was still present. Again, I found it to be a happy medium.
Let's get into the houses. Like I said earlier, the house content was strong this year. If you have been following along with me throughout the event, I have kept a running commentary on my house rankings every week. What I love, is seeing how everything evolves over the course of the event. Things change.
While for the most part, the houses stayed consistent, but some went up and down. Like always, I will start from the bottom and work my way up to number 1.
Let's do this.
FINAL RATING: 2.5/5
THE BEST THING: STILT VAMPIRE/MINI VAMPIRE
THE WORST THING: REPETITIVE
The problem with Hive from the start, was in its repetitiveness. Sets, characters, costumes and scares, were all the same. Hive is a perfect example of a house where the Scareactor's, need to make up for its shortcomings. While they gave it a valiant effort, nothing ever really worked in here. Tired old vampires, little scares and walking through sets as repetitive as the background to a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, put this at the bottom.
8. AMERICAN HORROR STORY: VOLUME 2
FINAL RATING: 3/5
THE BEST THING: POOP ATTIC
THE WORST THING: TOO LONG
So just like the American Horror Story house at HHN 26, Volume 2 suffers from the same problems. This was the most inconsistent house of HHN 27. Its vastness is also its weakness. With these so called "uber" houses, there is a lot of ground to cover. With all that ground, the house needs to be populated. Sometimes, it was, most of the time it wasn't. This causes gaps in the scares, which just make the house boring to walk through. Yes, it has nice sets, but wandering through these long corridors and gawking at the set design, just isn't enough. Still, when the scares were working, they were working. Both Hive and American Horror Story, were the 2 houses I sought out the least at HHN 27.
7. THE HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE (BLUMSIDIOUS)
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5
THE BEST THING: INSIDIOUS
THE WORST THING: SINISTER & THE PURGE
The concept of cramming multiple films into one house, of course is not new. The novelty of doing that though, has never been executed worse than Blumsidious. By now, most people know that The Purge wasn't supposed to be in The Horrors of Blumhouse. However, the former title the property took over, was the first part of the house that was actually completed. Both Sinister and The Purge, along with its short rooms, were designed that way. Why they decided to do this, I have no idea. Both titles, feel more like an afterthought than anything else, and it hurt the house a lot. However, once the Insidious stuff kicks in, the house is very effective. The Purge and Sinister stuff, isn't particularly executed well on their own. Their scares were ineffective. However, the Insidious stuff was great. The finale scenes, were also quite effective with the right cast. You left the house on a high. It's a damn shame they decided to do Sinister and The Purge they way they did. This could have been something really good. At the end of the night though, the Insidious stuff worked so well.
6. THE SHINING
FINAL RATING: 4/5
THE BEST THING: THE GOLD ROOM
THE WORST THING: THE GRADY CHILDREN
The Shining is one of the best examples, of HHN putting you into a film. It captured the look and feel, of Stanley Kubrick's movie nicely. The main issue with The Shining, is in its lack of scares. Or perhaps, in its predictable and unimaginative approach to the scares. There was nothing really unique in the tactics they used to scare you in here. I was not a fan either, of how they did The Grady Children. In a rare occurrence this year, HHN Hollywood's version of this scene, was better in my opinion. Still, The Shining offered a fun and creepy look, into the slow decent into the madness of, Jack Torrance. "Danny!" Danny boy!"
5. SAW: THE GAMES OF JIGSAW
FINAL RATING: 4/5
THE BEST THING: INTERACTIVITY
THE WORST THING: THE FINALE
Saw, is the surprise house of HHN 27 for me. I was not a fan of the house in 2009, nor am I a huge fan of the films. While both houses are similar, I thought this one was executed much more effectively. Like The Shining, they did a great job of putting you into the films of Saw. Even better, the scares in here were really effective. From the Jigsaw minion room, to the random locations he would pop up, to the loud noises- the house flowed well overall. The energy in here by the Scareactor's was also great. The bonus though, were those GAT's (Guest Activated Triggers). They added another level of fun in the house. The finale of the house, was severely lacking. However, what came before it, was quite fun.
4. ASH VS EVIL DEAD
FINAL RATING: 4/5
THE BEST THING: ASH IN THE BUTT
THE WORST THING: THE FIRST SCENE
I love this house. A lot. Sometimes, you just have to have fun. Ash VS Evil Dead, is different than a lot of the past "comedy" houses at HHN. Instead of something say in the vein of Jacks Funhouse in Clown-o-Vision, they went with more Penn & Teller New'kd Las Vegas. The house is played straight up for laughs 90% of the time. Sure, it has scares, but it's all mostly the zany fun of the show and character of, Ash. There's a part of me that wishes the first scene in the Airstream, was a bit stronger. The comedy in the Evil Dead films and show, isn't for everyone. However, if they had a stronger opening, I think more people would have been gung-ho to go along with the crazy ride ahead. I'm also surprised, at some of the more adult risks they took in here. Even more surprising, is that they stayed in all the way through the run of the event. Double score.
3. THE FALLEN
FINAL RATING: 4.5/5
THE BEST THING: FLYING DEMONS
THE WORST THING: THE OPENING
As we approached the end of the event, The Fallen became a bit too inconsistent for my taste. It was my favorite house for the first few weeks of the event. Which is a shame. The Fallen became the house to hate-on, by some people out there. Sure, they had to change things up a bit before the event started. No angels of course. However, I thought the compromise, was well executed. Lots of scares, loud noises, chaos, beautiful house design and dripping with atmosphere. Not a huge fan of the first room, with the tall guy on stilts. However, I love the Apocalypse horn that goes off in that scene. The demons flying around on wires was a nice touch too. All in all, I loved this house. So much fun.
2. DEAD WATERS
FINAL RATING: 5/5
THE BEST THING: THE RIVERBOAT
THE WORST THING: LENGTH
The awe of seeing that riverboat for the first time, will never be lost on me. The atmosphere, the scares, the design and the story, are all marvelously executed in here. Dead Waters, is one of the strongest houses in recent HHN memory. The major issue with Dead Waters, is just how short it is. However, one could say that's a good thing. It's short and sweet. However, the house is so well done, the shortness is a bit of let-down. When you think about it, there are only 3 "major" scenes in the house. Officially, there are more. However, it's length makes it feel that way. Regardless, that doesn't take away from the quality in here.
1. SCARECROW: THE REAPING
FINAL RATING: 5/5
THE BEST THING: SCARES/POOPING BIRDS
THE WORST THING: FINALE
I've heard people complain about Scarecrow: The Reaping, saying the lack of story prevents it from being a great house. To which, I can't figure out why they need something much more elaborate in terms of story here. It's a dilapidated farm house, overrun by demonic scarecrows. What else do you need to know? Scarecrow: The Reaping, is hands down, the scariest house HHN has done in quite some time. It's oozing with atmosphere, has spectacular scare tactics and a very aggressive cast. I am told they had to tone down things a bit, because it was too intense. It never really showed during the later half of the event. It consistently scared you every time. And they never let up. Look, I go through HHN houses to be scared. The story, sets and everything else, just compliment the house. First and foremost, Scarecrow: The Reaping scared me. Every time. It may not have the most elaborate story in the world, but damn, the house was effective. Very effective.
So that's it for the houses. Like I said earlier, it was a very solid line-up of houses this year. It really makes me excited to look towards the future.
I mentioned earlier, the scare zone collection this year, was leaps and bounds better than last year. Sure, some were't the end all be all of zones. However, for the most part they were strong.
ALTARS OF HORROR
FINAL RATING: 0/5
I will never count this as a scare zone. Never. We move on.
5. FESTIVAL OF THE DEADLIEST
FINAL RATING: 3.5/5
While not the greatest of scare zones, it was still a lot of fun. The Scareactor's were all energetic. It had a really neat atmosphere, with its fire and music. The costumes were also fun. This was a nice zone to people watch in.
FINAL RATING: 4/5
Short, but fun and effective. I love the interaction with the aliens in here. Great design with the crashed ship of course. The colors were also nice. Even with the wider room they left for people to walk by this year, there was still a bottleneck in this area, which was a shame. Still, a lot of fun.
3. SPRINGFIELD CHAINSAW CLOWNS
FINAL RATING: 4/5
These guys and gals, were the true 5th scare zone. So, I included them as such. Even though, they are only listed as a roaming horde. So much fun. So much energy. And they really tried to fuck with you. It was so much fun to just sit and watch them do their thing. And sometimes be a part of it.
2. TRICK 'R TREAT
FINAL RATING: 4.5/5
Decked out to the nines, Trick 'r Treat was aesthetically the best looking zone for the year. Great colors, great atmosphere and a great cast. The Sam's were awesome. There was a lot of guest interaction in here as well. With it being Central Park, there is always quite the crowd of people trying to get through here. Still, very fun.
1. THE PURGE
FINAL RATING: 5/5
What I like so much with The Purge, is the interactivity. Whether it's the auction, the wood chipper, or just random encounters, there was always stuff going on. The energy level was always on point, and it was a lot of fun. I suspect we will see this again in the future.
RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT THINGS
As stated above, I reviewed the shows a while back. Of course, this is the end of the line for Bill & Ted. I'm not the show's biggest fan, so we will leave it at that. Academy of Villains, always delivers on every show. I sincerely hope they return next year, and we don't have a hurricane interrupt their performance again.
We had some changes this year. Most notably in the form of alcohol. The queue line that was added to Finnegans, while at first annoying, actually proved to be quite effective. While I don't believe the event will ever go dry, I think limiting the accessibility of the booze was a good move.
However, I want to stress that I am all for people being allowed to drink at HHN. At the end of the day, it's an event that caters to an older crowd. Some of us like to partake in a cold beer, especially on a warm Florida night. Assholes are going to be assholes, whether they are intoxicated or not. If it's already in their nature to be that way, taking away the alcohol isn't going to change that.
The crowd levels, seemed to be dispersed a lot better this year. I think having 3 houses at the back of the park, helped a little bit. While I saw wait times balloon to 2 hours, I didn't see some of the insane 4 hour wait times we've had the past few years. That helped a lot.
There also needs to better organization when it comes to the ratio of Express Passes, and regular guests. Your Express Pass, doesn't mean you get in right away. It cuts your wait time in half. All it took was some blogger to complain about waiting 20 minutes in Express, at a house with a posted wait time of an hour, for Universal to freak out.
There's no excuse to let in 5 regular guests, stop the line, have the rest of the regular line wait 5-10 minutes, while Express people pour into the house. That's a huge, unfair tactic for us normal folk. Some houses, seemed to do this a lot. Saw, Scarecrow, Hive and The Fallen, all had this problem. It was annoying. Better management of the Express and regular line, needs to be addressed.
It was a strong year. Strong houses overall. Better scare zones than last year. It was also a long year. Lots of days to go to the event. I actually worse out my sneakers this year. That was a first. It's been a long season overall.
While we still have 2 days left of the event, HHN 27 is pretty much over. It's hard to believe how fast the time went by. While the theme park world gears up for Christmas, fret not, HHN 28 has already begun.
As for me, I'm always here. I'm down at the parks at least once a week. You can as always, follow me on Twitter @HHNLegacy throughout the year. I think, that about covers it.
Without further ado:
HHN 27 FINAL RATING:
HHN LEGACY OWNER