Halloween Horror Nights – Full Review

Halloween Horror Nights is a Haunted Attraction located in Los Angeles, CA.

100 Universal City Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90068
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Haunt Type(s):

Multiple HauntsTheme Park


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Paid Parking, Restrooms/Porta Potties On-Site, Handicap Accessible, Food/Concessions, Gift Shop/Souvenirs, “Hi-Tech” Attraction, You will NOT be touched, Movie Characters, Original Characters, Celebrity Appearances, Indoor/Outdoor Waiting Line, Indoor/Outdoor Attraction

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This attraction was reviewed on September 23, 2023 by Team California Cadavers.

Final Score: 7.88

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As a devoted Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) fan, I entered the gates of Universal Studios Hollywood with a mixture of anticipation and skepticism, having observed the evolution of the event over the past several years. The murmurs among fans about a shrinking budget, increasing black hallways, and diminishing scare zones were hard to ignore. However, as the fog rolled in and the night descended upon us, it became evident that 2023 marked a triumphant return to the closest semblance of the golden years, particularly the glory days spanning from 2008 to 2012.

1. Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America:
Undoubtedly, the crown jewel of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights was the Monstruos maze. Transporting attendees into the heart of Latin American folklore, this maze was a masterclass in blending cutting-edge robotics, meticulously designed sets, and an exceptional cast donning stunning costumes. The immersive experience was unparalleled, and it felt like stepping into a realm where nightmares come to life. The attention to detail, combined with the authenticity of the monsters, made Monstruos a standout and a testament to the creative heights that HHN can achieve.

2. The Last Of Us:
Video game adaptations can be hit or miss, but HHN’s take on The Last Of Us was nothing short of spectacular. The maze brought the beloved video game to life with a stellar cast that truly embodied the characters of Joel and Ellie. The inclusion of live performances of iconic lines, delivered by the game’s original voice cast exclusively for HHN, elevated the experience to a new level. It was more than a maze; it was a live, immersive performance that paid homage to the source material in a way that resonated deeply with fans.

3. Chucky Ultimate Kill Count
Adding to the roster of top-tier experiences at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2023 is the delightfully meta Chucky Ultimate Kill Count maze. This unique attraction not only pays homage to the iconic Chucky character but takes the horror experience to a new level by infusing it with a dose of self-awareness.

4. The Purge Dangerous Waters Stunt Show
Breaking away from the traditional maze format, The Purge: Dangerous Waters Stunt Show took over the iconic Water World theatre, delivering an outstanding 20-minute spectacle. While the storyline may have adhered to the familiar Purge formula (good guys versus bad guys in a Senator-themed plot), the execution was flawless. The use of the Water World venue added a dynamic element, and the stunt work was both thrilling and well-choreographed. It provided a welcomed break from the maze-walking and showcased Universal Hollywood’s capacity to utilize its spaces creatively.

1. Stranger Things 4: Vecna’s Curse
The Stranger Things 4 maze delivered a pleasant surprise by closely following the Vecna vs. Eleven arc. Exploring Vecna’s ‘mind trap’ within the Upside Down added a unique twist to the maze. The attention to detail and adherence to the show’s storyline made it an engaging experience for fans. However, the absence of the Eddie ‘Master of Puppets’ scene, present in the East Coast version, left some fans disappointed. Despite this, it remained a solid addition to the middle tier, offering a satisfying journey through the world of Stranger Things.

2. Holidayz in Hell
Returning this year, Holidayz in Hell continued to showcase horror scenes based on various holidays. From killer Easter Bunnies to Demon Santa, the maze provided a fun and entertaining ride. The variety of holiday-themed horrors injected humor into the scares, creating a lighthearted yet chilling experience. While not groundbreaking, it maintained its status as a reliable and enjoyable attraction within the middle tier.

3. Universal Monsters Unmasked:
Continuing the tradition of incorporating Classic Universal Monsters, Universal Monsters Unmasked focused on Phantom, Hunchback, Mr. Hyde, and the Invisible Man in a Paris-centered house. Unfortunately, this installment fell short compared to previous Universal Monster mazes. The inclusion of multiple monsters felt forced at times, diluting the overall impact of the maze. Streamlining the focus to one or two monsters might have allowed for a more cohesive and impactful experience.

4. Blum House Behind the Scenes Experience:
Breaking away from traditional haunt experiences, the Blum House Behind the Scenes offered a different type of attraction—a showcase of props and costumes, including a close look at Five Nights at Freddy’s. While not a traditional haunt, it provided a welcome break for attendees ready to take a breather. The inclusion of live M3GAN actresses performing the classic M3GAN dance from the movie added a unique touch, making it an intriguing stop for those interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of horror.

1. The Exorcist: Believer:
The Exorcist: Believer maze, unfortunately, found itself in the bottom tier due to a variety of issues. The maze suffered from significant empty spaces and a shortage of actors, diminishing the overall intensity of the experience. While the actors in place did a commendable job with their scares, the lack of a dense and immersive environment made it feel reminiscent of the shortcomings seen in recent years. The constraints imposed by the movie studio’s desire to keep the film’s details a secret also hindered the maze’s potential, leaving it struggling with both budgetary constraints and content limitations.

2. Evil Dead Rise:
Despite some strong show elements, Evil Dead Rise landed in the bottom tier due to prolonged and uneventful transitional hallways. These hallways, lacking in engaging content, disrupted the flow of the experience and took attendees out of the immersive horror world. The maze’s potential was hindered by the decision to extend its length artificially rather than focusing on delivering impactful scenes from the movie. While the scenes themselves were well-executed, the excessive transitions left the overall experience feeling disjointed.

3. Terror Tram: Larry Larva’s Extermination:
While the Terror Tram experience always provides a unique opportunity to walk through iconic film locations, this year’s Larry Larva’s Extermination fell short in the scare department. Larry Larva, a humanoid bug monster on a mission to exterminate humans, was an intriguing character, and his appearances along the trail were visually striking. However, the overall execution failed to deliver the expected scares. While entertaining from a cinematic history perspective, The Terror Tram lacked the fear factor that is a hallmark of Halloween Horror Nights.

In conclusion, there is nothing quite like Halloween Horror Nights and what it has to offer: fun characters, recreations of your favorite horror films, and great memories for your haunt season! If you travel to Universal Studios as part of your Halloween routine, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how solid this year was compared to most recent years.

Cast Score: 7.92

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Cast Review:

The cast of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood in 2023 proved to be an exceptional highlight, showcasing the dedication and talent that elevates the event to new heights. Whether encountering iconic characters from Stranger Things, The Last of Us, Chucky, Classic Monsters, or the imaginative original creations, the cast brought a remarkable energy and commitment to their roles. The passion and enthusiasm of the actors were palpable, immersing attendees in the horror narratives with convincing scares and captivating performances.

Notably, this year’s cast stood out for their ability to embody both the sinister and the comedic aspects of their characters, adding depth and nuance to the scares. The inclusion of actual photo ops with beloved figures like the Bride of Frankenstein and David S. Pumpkins provided a delightful opportunity for attendees to interact with the characters outside the scares. In a year that featured a diverse range of mazes and experiences, the exceptional quality of the cast was a consistent and memorable element, making Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2023 one of the strongest years in recent memory.

Costuming Score: 9.07

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Costuming Review:

The meticulous attention to detail in the costuming at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2023 stood as a testament to the event’s commitment to authenticity and immersion. Every costume, whether bringing to life characters from The Last of Us, Stranger Things, or other horror franchises, showcased an impressive level of screen accuracy. The strength of the costumes was evident from both afar and up close, highlighting the craftsmanship and dedication of the design team.

Notably, standout moments included the hauntingly realistic Bloaters from The Last of Us and the enigmatic Vecna in the Stranger Things mazes. These characters, known for their complexity and intricate design in their respective source materials, were flawlessly translated into the haunt environment, defying expectations. The costuming team’s ability to capture the essence of these challenging characters added an extra layer of authenticity to the overall horror experience, contributing significantly to the visual spectacle of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2023.

Customer Service Score: 10

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Customer Service Review:

The customer service at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood in 2023 demonstrated a noticeable improvement, reflecting a commitment to attendee satisfaction. While Universal Studios Hollywood may not yet match the acclaimed level of service seen in its Orlando counterpart, this year’s efforts were commendable. Team members exuded genuine enthusiasm and a noticeable eagerness to assist and engage with attendees.

A standout aspect was the increased presence of team members throughout the event, particularly in maze queue areas where their assistance was most needed. This proactive approach created a more accessible and responsive environment, addressing concerns and inquiries promptly. The positive and welcoming attitude of the team members contributed significantly to the overall enjoyment of the event, leaving attendees with a positive impression of the customer service at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood in 2023.

Immersion Score: 7.97

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Immersion Review:

The immersion at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood in 2023 showcased notable improvements, bringing the event closer to its full potential after years of varying experiences. Set designs like Monstruos successfully transported attendees into fully realized and atmospheric environments, creating a genuine sense of place and terror. However, the battle against black hallways and empty spaces persisted, presenting a challenge to the overall immersive experience.

While some mazes achieved peak immersion, like the Latin-inspired Monstruos, others, such as Exorcist Believer, suffered from blank hallways that disrupted the carefully cultivated tension. The ebb and flow of immersion at HHN remains a distinctive characteristic, creating a journey with peaks and valleys in the overall atmospheric intensity. As the event continues to evolve, finding a consistent balance in maintaining immersive environments will be key to ensuring that attendees are consistently immersed in the chilling narratives woven by Halloween Horror Nights.

Special FX Score: 8.34

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Special FX Review:

Halloween Horror Nights once again demonstrated mastery in special effects at the Hollywood event in 2023. The integration of sensory effects, including lighting, smells, and interactive elements that require physical engagement, elevated the mazes to an unparalleled level of immersive horror. The careful orchestration of these effects effectively transported attendees into scenes plucked from their favorite TV shows and movies.

A standout in this year’s lineup was the exceptional use of hyper-realistic puppets in Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count. Including lifelike Chucky, Tiffany, and Glen/Glenda puppets added a next-level dimension to the maze, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. This exceptional use of special effects not only heightened the scares but also enhanced the overall experience, solidifying Halloween Horror Nights as a leader in creating unforgettable, cinematic horror environments.

Scare Factor Score: 5.52

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Scare Factor Review:

HHN has developed a recognizable scare formula, and keen observers might notice patterns in the maze layouts. While this predictability might lessen the element of surprise for seasoned attendees, the event continues to thrive on its ability to deliver a thrilling and entertaining experience. The fact that you still encountered moments of genuine fear amidst the familiar structure speaks to the skill and dedication of the scare actors and the effectiveness of the event in creating an atmosphere that appeals to both horror aficionados and those seeking a good time in the world of the macabre. Halloween Horror Nights remains a celebration of horror in all its forms, providing a unique and memorable experience for attendees with a variety of expectations.

Entertainment & Value Score: 8.25

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E&V Review:

The entertainment value of Halloween Horror Nights has proven itself to be a worthy investment, even as ticket prices continue to rise. While there may have been moments of skepticism about the cost, this year’s experience solidifies the event’s enduring appeal. The array of meticulously crafted mazes, the immersive spectacles, and the dedication of the scare actors contribute to an entertainment value that aligns well with the ticket price.

Compared to other theme park haunt events, Halloween Horror Nights stands out for the depth and diversity of its offerings, making the experience a fair and rewarding investment. The value lies not just in the scares but in celebrating horror in all its forms, creating a unique and unforgettable atmosphere that resonates with attendees, justifying the evolving price point for the thrills and chills that Halloween Horror Nights consistently delivers.

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