Joining the Team That Designs HHN | Inside Universal Forums
  • Signing up for a Premium Membership is a donation to help Inside Universal maintain costs and offers an ad-free experience on the forum. Learn more about it here.

Joining the Team That Designs HHN

Ringwraith

Rookie
Mar 28, 2020
333
I’d say film production and minoring in creative writing isn’t a terrible plan. But college in general is a weird, risky monster with a lot of best-guessing and second-guessing. It really boils down to picking something that will SATISFY you. A lot of people plan their college experience around a dream job and then, once they start seeing what the reality of that dream job looks like, they realize they want to do something completely different. I initially wanted to go into graphic design, ended up with a BA in Creative Writing and I’m now finishing up a Masters in Instructional Design (none of which actually matters as my career is military).

I would definitely recommend, if you can, avoiding a trade school (like a “film” school, Ringling, or Full Sail) unless you are 100% positive that’s the field you want to spend your life in (especially Full Sail if you’re going into film—they’re nowhere near as respected in film as they are in music). They’re expensive and there’s little flexibility to find something else once you’re in. A lot of public universities are widely accepted as having better film programs than many of the trades (UCF especially).
Avoid Full Sail. The stories from that place, post-degree are the stuff of nightmares. Get a marketable degree and get involved with your community or hop on with third party companies if the door remains closed. Also, while you're going to college, get a job with Universal and more specifically within Entertainment. They typically promote within if they see you have solid leadership skills.


That, I don’t know. I know from some old, official behind-the-scenes stuff they use SketchUp rather than AutoCAD. Or at least they use to. Whether that is in-house or freelance—maybe both? It may depend entirely of the capabilities of who is on the team.
They still use Sketchup for the zones and houses because it gets the job done quicker and is more intuitive with a smaller learning curve.. CAD and Rhino are typically used in Creative.
 
Nov 9, 2019
547
Avoid Full Sail. The stories from that place, post-degree are the stuff of nightmares. Get a marketable degree and get involved with your community or hop on with third party companies if the door remains closed. Also, while you're going to college, get a job with Universal and more specifically within Entertainment. They typically promote within if they see you have solid leadership skills.
I really wanted to say something earlier about how much of a scam Full sail is but didn't wanna influence or deinfluence anyone. But yeah, I had a buddy that went to Full Sail and he didn't have very many good things to say xD.
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
8,418
I really wanted to say something earlier about how much of a scam Full sail is but didn't wanna influence or deinfluence anyone. But yeah, I had a buddy that went to Full Sail and he didn't have very many good things to say xD.
I’m going there now for an online degree. I’ll absolutely recommend against it. I’m not even paying for the degree and think it’s a waste of money.

Their audio production program is top-notch. Everything else has severe issues.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ringwraith
Nov 9, 2019
547
I’m going there now for an online degree. I’ll absolutely recommend against it. I’m not even paying for the degree and think it’s a waste of money.

Their audio production program is top-notch. Everything else has severe issues.
They bring out a grand facade too. They go and drive there big bus around with all there fancy equipment and pitch to all these clueless High school kids.
It's all very sad for the people that are partially mislead.
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
8,418
They bring out a grand facade too. They go and drive there big bus around with all there fancy equipment and pitch to all these clueless High school kids.
It's all very sad for the people that are partially mislead.
Well, every college does that. Even public colleges recruit in a similar manner. Their sports programs do the same sort of thing.

The broader issue with Full Sail is a pitch that hyper-focuses on getting industry jobs in industries that requires talent AND knowledge. That pitch drives everything they do. The catch is that success in entertainment requires both—and talent can’t really be developed in two years if you’ve never really done it before. Talent takes years to develop: before, during, and after college. Full Sail can be a good way to hone natural talent, but their focus is not on creating talent.
 
  • Like
Reactions: krazyhorrorkid

rcoasterdude

Rookie
Jan 4, 2017
234
Just wanted to get involved in this conversation a bit. I’m currently a freshman at Valencia College and hope to transfer to UCF after two years. I was originally going to major in Mechanical Engineering as a I had dreamed of being an imagineer/creative since i was just a toddler, but I think i’m gonna switch to a design major as i believe my creativity would be wasted in engineering. Anyways, I used to decorate my basement for halloween for my friends and we had a party and over time it gradually got more and more extravagant. I made a full fledged walk through in my backyard in 5th grade and it was pretty fun, even if a hurricane arrived the next day.

I plan on applying for a job sometime next semester at Universal to get my foot in the door and begin to make connections. I think i what i really do is design the houses/do a lot of the conceptual stuff. So what kind of design degree would i be looking at for that type of job?
 

JawsVictim

Veteran Member
Nov 3, 2015
1,890
You need to work at the parks and perform at HHN as much as possible to join HHN’s team. Only way to get your foot in the door is to network and the more you network the more opportunities you’ll find.

I’ll also be blunt: entry level career positions at Universal, which could lead to other opportunities, pay sh—. I performed at HHN as a scareactor and didn’t mind not being paid much since it was a lifelong dream. But at that point in my life, I already had 5 years professional experience. When I was offered a career position within entertainment, I was shocked my starting pay being offered for similar job duties that I had been performing for 5 years in a different industry was less than a ScareActor’s. I negotiated up, but not enough to make it worth pursuing. In hindsight, good call because I would have been laid off due to COVID.
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
8,418
Just wanted to get involved in this conversation a bit. I’m currently a freshman at Valencia College and hope to transfer to UCF after two years. I was originally going to major in Mechanical Engineering as a I had dreamed of being an imagineer/creative since i was just a toddler, but I think i’m gonna switch to a design major as i believe my creativity would be wasted in engineering. Anyways, I used to decorate my basement for halloween for my friends and we had a party and over time it gradually got more and more extravagant. I made a full fledged walk through in my backyard in 5th grade and it was pretty fun, even if a hurricane arrived the next day.

I plan on applying for a job sometime next semester at Universal to get my foot in the door and begin to make connections. I think i what i really do is design the houses/do a lot of the conceptual stuff. So what kind of design degree would i be looking at for that type of job?
Honestly, I’d stick with mechanical engineering (unless you hate it). The degree can still get you into Creative or Imagineering. If your focus in doing HHN conceptual stuff, networking and working through the ranks is the best way to gain that access. You can still do haunt/live entertainment stuff to build that side of your portfolio, but mechanical engineering will pay the bills.
 
Aug 1, 2018
213
Ecosse
Honestly, I’d stick with mechanical engineering (unless you hate it). The degree can still get you into Creative or Imagineering. If your focus in doing HHN conceptual stuff, networking and working through the ranks is the best way to gain that access. You can still do haunt/live entertainment stuff to build that side of your portfolio, but mechanical engineering will pay the bills.
Can't speak from a UC/imagineering point of view. But from a renewable energy perspective, stick with mechanical engineering as it will most definitely pay the bills going forward.
 

PlatinumFate

Rookie
Mar 31, 2020
443
I’m basically deciding between Ringling and LMU at this point. I think Ringling would give me the best opportunity to make house treatments in my future because:
A.) I’m in the Themed Entertainment Arts program
B.) I can minor in creative writing
C.) It’s only a few hours from Universal Orlando

What are your guys’ thoughts on it though? I want to make sure I take the best path.
 

pumpkinbot343

Newcomer
Aug 12, 2021
66
Well, every college does that. Even public colleges recruit in a similar manner. Their sports programs do the same sort of thing.

The broader issue with Full Sail is a pitch that hyper-focuses on getting industry jobs in industries that requires talent AND knowledge. That pitch drives everything they do. The catch is that success in entertainment requires both—and talent can’t really be developed in two years if you’ve never really done it before. Talent takes years to develop: before, during, and after college. Full Sail can be a good way to hone natural talent, but their focus is not on creating talent.
If I ever get interested in joining the HHN team; what are other choices like Full Sail that will like likely screw me over rather than help?
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
8,418
If I ever get interested in joining the HHN team; what are other choices like Full Sail that will like likely screw me over rather than help?
The school doesn’t really matter, honestly. Full Sail won’t “screw you over.” They’re just not as great as they market themselves as. If you’re interested in pursuing HHN specifically, Full Sail does not really have any programs focused on themed entertainment design or theater design (they focus on audio, film, and gaming).

And, again, networking and experience in theater (especially production or technical) will be far more beneficial. Gain experience, build a portfolio, and make a name for yourself.
 
  • Like
Reactions: awhen

shiekra38

Legendary Member
Dec 13, 2009
13,858
Florida
If I ever get interested in joining the HHN team; what are other choices like Full Sail that will like likely screw me over rather than help?
Full Sail's big thing is film...and majoring in film is never a great idea...also Full Sail is garbage

I heard there's some fun internship opportunities at UCF
 

pumpkinbot343

Newcomer
Aug 12, 2021
66
It’s basically a short story told in the second person. There will typically be some sort of chart for details about performers, effects, etc., but it starts with, “You approach a dilapidated building.”

My treatments are written in the “HHN” style. During the rehearsals for Screamhouse, they read us the treatment so we understood our role in the context of the story. Because that’s what haunted houses are—stories that guests participate in.

And all the treatments I’ve seen from various haunts are based in that sort of style.
Are the treatments basically written similar to this?

Sorry for necromancing this too but I’m curious, Does Universal put little backstories for some of the characters of houses and zones; even if extremely minor (not just icons). Like for example; say Screamhouse (2002) and Jungle of Doom (2003); did they give bios to the characters (The Caretaker’s backstory DID mention an extended family) or were they just all simply ”crazy madmen”?
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
8,418
Are the treatments basically written similar to this?

Sorry for necromancing this too but I’m curious, Does Universal put little backstories for some of the characters of houses and zones; even if extremely minor (not just icons). Like for example; say Screamhouse (2002) and Jungle of Doom (2003); did they give bios to the characters (The Caretaker’s backstory DID mention an extended family) or were they just all simply ”crazy madmen”?
That treatment shouldn’t be public…

Generally, no. Universal does not release backstories for non-icon characters. For the vast majority of them, they are not fleshed put beyond a name and description. In the rare event they develop deeper backstories than that, they are rarely officially released beyond what is necessary to a house/zone story. Cleaning up those backstories require a lot of work and approval through various departments for no return.
 

pumpkinbot343

Newcomer
Aug 12, 2021
66
That treatment shouldn’t be public…

Generally, no. Universal does not release backstories for non-icon characters. For the vast majority of them, they are not fleshed put beyond a name and description. In the rare event they develop deeper backstories than that, they are rarely officially released beyond what is necessary to a house/zone story. Cleaning up those backstories require a lot of work and approval through various departments for no return.
That’s not the only one. From the same blog, they got a fair amount of concept art, the script for the original 2001 opening scaremony (where Eddie beheads Jack), and a treatment for what became Screamhouse in 2002 (titled Tunnels of Terror); the difference being in that it had TWO twin daughters (as opposed to just Sindy) and the last third of the house abruptly shifts into a toxic waste zone for no reason whatsoever. At least I THINK the last one was a legitimate treatment…
 

Imagineer83

Rookie
Apr 14, 2013
156
Does anyone by chance have a sample house treatment? Even if it is just a single scene or two. Not necessarily HHN, but just something that is standard for the industry. Looking to start writing for myself. Mainly curious about format. Thanks!
 

Legacy

Veteran Member
Jul 27, 2015
8,418
Does anyone by chance have a sample house treatment? Even if it is just a single scene or two. Not necessarily HHN, but just something that is standard for the industry. Looking to start writing for myself. Mainly curious about format. Thanks!
There is no industry “standard.” Everyone writes and formats their treatments in a format that is comfortable them. That said, they are typically written in a first-person, plural (“We see a house,”) or second-person, singular (“You see a house”) so that the treatment emphasizes the guest experience. They are also segmented by room or scene, and will have technical and logistical information for that room (talent, audio, effects, etc.).

Here are some I’ve written: Haunt – Imaginary Vagabond
 

Imagineer83

Rookie
Apr 14, 2013
156
There is no industry “standard.” Everyone writes and formats their treatments in a format that is comfortable them. That said, they are typically written in a first-person, plural (“We see a house,”) or second-person, singular (“You see a house”) so that the treatment emphasizes the guest experience. They are also segmented by room or scene, and will have technical and logistical information for that room (talent, audio, effects, etc.).

Here are some I’ve written: Haunt – Imaginary Vagabond
Thanks for the quick reply and information! Guess its time to just sit down and write.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ringwraith