Halloween Horror Nights 32 - Hollywood (Oct 23)

Orlando was so good we ended up (in a deeply irresponsible manner) booking a trip to Hollywood after we got back.  Hollywood had the same IPs plus Evil Dead Rise, the Terror Tram featuring a walk through of Jordan Peele's Jupiter's Claim set (from Nope) with the tethered from Us (beyond amazing), and 2 original Houses.  The dancing M3GANs could be viewed in a luxurious theatre with perfect lighting.  There was even a Purge stunt show.  We met Norman Bates!  Quite a lot of winning.  It's also interesting that although both Universals had the same IPs, they are not the same designs, the creative teams work on them independently in each location.  

Universal Studios Hollywood sits over an upper lot, a lower lot and also the backlot.  We made sure to do the studio tour during the day to see the backlot, then we returned to walk some of it on the Terror Tram.  That was a huge highlight.  We literally walked past the Bates Motel, through the plane wreckage from War of the Worlds and left via Jupiter's Claim.  Pure magic.

We strategically went on quieter days of Wed/Thurs, once with GA 2 pm entry (Backlot day tour, 7 Houses, Terror Tram, Super Nintendo Land, M3GANs and Purge) and once with Unlimited Express (25 Houses, Terror Tram, M3GANs).  As I regale you with tales of how lovely the crowds were here, it should be noted that in September the lower lot houses were frequently closed for long periods due to lines being at capacity and waits reached 4 hours.

Let's look at the Hollywood Houses (in no particular order).

Evil Dead Rise (3 walk throughs) - Loved the movie, loved the house.  The entry was down a corridor with blood on the floor and flickering lights.  I believe the Walking Dead attraction used to be here.  Beautifully recreated rooms from the apartment with extra hallway action and great scare actors.  Fantastic use of the elevators, one with feet kicking and another filling with blood.  Felt like quite a distance but in a great way.  I particularly enjoyed Staffanie and the girl eating glass in the kitchen. 

Monstruos (Monsters of Latin America) (3) - The facade?  Gorgeous.  Hollywood nails this part with scare actors before you even get inside.  So many scares in here, I wasn't familiar with the legends (Tlahuelpuchi, La Lechuza, El Silbon) but they were just so good, and I was delighted to learn by having them right in my face.  Some huge effects!  Very well put together extensive House.  El Silbon on stilts was magnificent. 

Holidayz in Hell (5) - Another outstanding facade.  Crazy crazy House.  We were alone in this one for our first run through and it really was an experience.  The twisted take on all the holidays was next level, scare actors - respect.  Giant turkey man I see you.  The smell in the Thanksgiving room will haunt me forever.  Great music, especially in the Halloween area.

Monsters Unmasked (3) - CATACOMBS!  Yes.  I loved the detail in this part, it was fantastic.  The scare actors went all out, it was impressive as hell.  We ended up with nobody in front of us, so it felt like we were the only people in this House a real treat.  Quite different from Orlando, way more water effects.  Dynamic energy.   I'm a huge fan of this one.  

Exorcist Believer (5) - We saw the movie between Orlando and Hollywood, I liked it a lot actually.  The House added details that didn't make it into the final cut, so I found it to be a 3D elevation to the move experience.  Clearly the doll storyline was cut, I would love to know what that looked like originally.  The smell in the barn though, I cannot.  So many Demons in Hollywood, amazing.  They got you from all angles.  Overall, Orlando wins as the construction was a little tighter.

Chucky (1) - Super fun, cohesive House.  Still Chucky, still big lines.  Nice attention to detail and way better than Orlando.  Loved the nice smell in the bath scene.  Enormous Chucky was superb.

Stranger Things 4 (6) - Same entry via Eddie's trailer leading to laundry Vecna.  Great addition of Henry's house facade though Dustin and Eddie were not featured as well as in Orlando, it was hard to even catch them in some walk throughs.  The desert entry to the lab was perfect and we walked right through the Rainbow Room.  If you could do both Houses, you got the full amazing picture of the show.  Some great details to Vecna's lair here.  Excellent queue music also, just blasting music from the show, Orlando had....nothing.  Orlando still wins this one.

The Last of Us (6) - It honestly felt like you were walking through the game with Joel and Ellie.  The humour elements from the pun reading out front to the Joel generator scene made my heart happy.  We had a few great walk throughs where we hit all the scares, one time the attendant held us to time it - huge thanks to you sir!  Nothing makes me happier than clickers and bloaters coming at me.  It felt more complete than Orlando to me.  The queue was MUCH easier to deal with here.  

Terror Tram (2) - The Exterminator theming was good, a bit like Bugs from Orlando last year.   The actual sets were the big attraction, and I could have spent hours in Jupiter's Claim absorbing all the Us goodness.  We stopped for photos at the Bates mansion both nights, Norman was so amazing and so in character.  Speaking to him was a huge standout experience for me as a fan of the movie for many years.

Total House walk throughs in 2 days = 32 plus 2 Terror Trams.  Compare to 40 walk throughs in Orlando over 5 days.

Themed food was great if not quite as extensive as Orlando (especially for The Last of Us), though the Scoops Ahoy and Surfer Boy stands were exceptional.  Demogorgon pizza in the Stellar Bar was my favourite, the lighting and music were perfection. The Chucky food got great reviews but we didn't have time to try everything.  My favourite cocktail by far was one of the Latin folklore collection made fresh at the Muertos bar.  When reading about it I realized the lemon candies were supposed to be warts from Tlahuelpuchi's face, oh no!  

Scare zones were next level in Hollywood, no question.  We sat for a while near the Momias area with our warty cocktails and it was a delight to watch.  There was much terror.  The front entrance had fire and chaos, that was so wonderful to walk through.  The actors are everything I would want from an area like this, Orlando was too crowded to have effective scare zones.

I had always heard Hollywood was not as good as Orlando, but this year I thought it was better in a lot of ways.  It was easier to move around and see more houses, the scare zones were fantastic, and the actors came at you hard and with much enthusiasm.  The queues for food/drinks were short and there was always someplace to sit.  Hollywood had projections you could watch in the queues, great music and actors in front of the house exterior facades.  The Stranger Things 4 queue went around Eddie's trailer and in The Last of Us GA you passed the Joel/Ellie pun reading halfway through the queue.  Details, details, details.  The Orlando queues were absolutely awful this year.

Interestingly both parks seemed to be oversold in September so possibly the October choice for Hollywood paid off.  Express is expensive in both locations but if you can deal with being out until 2 am, you can get through a lot without it.  Personally, I'd have to get Express preferably unlimited, for at least one night.  It's hard to judge the best time to go.  If you check Thrill Data Orlando has completely reversed crowd trends for 2022 vs 2023.

AND!  We saw M3GAN (at last).  I loved this addition, the dancing was quite wonderful.  

Finally, I leave you with our overall House rankings for both locations, although it must be noted there were simply no bad Houses this year. It was an incredible year for them in fact.  


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