Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 17: The Carnage Returns!!!
A long time ago, on the west coast in a theme park not-so-far far away...
The night sky turned dark, fog filled the streets and monsters started to creep from the shadows. Fanboys waited outside the gates anxiously awaiting the most terrifying thing of all- ridiculously long wait times & overpriced food/merchandise! For those keeping count, 2016 marks the 17th year of Universal Hollywood's annual "Fright Nights" event known as Halloween Horror Nights. As much as I'd like to tell you there was an icon... a ringmaster of sorts... to bring all of the nightmares to life, sadly there was not even an overall theme to tie it all together... only a tagline- "Beyond Your Wildest Screams!"
This year's line up was to die for... And it gave me so much nostalgia for Orlando's 2007 HHN event with its "Carnival of Carnage" theme (which was also the same theme for Hollywood that year). You had the iconic slashers Freddy, Jason, & Leatherface along with an assortment of five other houses ("mazes" for those on the west coast), two of which were IP based & the other three being "original" concepts. Hollywood's event however only featured a maze for each of the big 3 & then their permanent "House of Horrors" attraction, along with the Terror Tram. This year however, would add Michael Myers to the terifying trio. As for the similarities with 2007's Orlando line-up & this year.... There was an xmas themed maze based on the film "Krampus". In 2007, Orlando had an original xmas themed house titled "PsychoScareapy: Home for the Holidays". Then there was the icon house, "Jack's Funhouse in Clown-O-Vision", now while we didn't get a clown themed 3D maze here in Hollywood this year, our Terror Tram was themed to an original clown concept. While Orlando had a creepy puppet themed house based on "Dead Silence" and an assimilating alien themed maze based on "The Thing" in 2007, we got mazes based on "The Exorcist" & "American Horror Story" instead. They had an original nightclub themed maze concept "Vampyr: Bloodbath", we have a new permanent "Walking Dead" attraction (womp womp). To round out this year's line up, we got "The Purge: Election Year" in the form of an outdoor maze & 3 scarezones. Unfortunately, unlike 2007 which featured four shows (one of which was of course "Bill & Ted") on both coasts, we only had one show this year. All that was missing (besides B&T) was an iconic figure to bring it all together in one overall theme.
"ONCE YOU'RE INSIDE, THERE IS NO WAY OUT!" So when it comes to the operations side of HHN Hollywood & Orlando, they are drastically different. I'm always amused when someone, especially a team member, asks me which event is better or do I like better. They both have their upsides & downsides. One of my major annoyances with Hollywood's park is that if you buy the "Frequent Fear Pass", they “can't” give you a physical ticket. You have to use the paper ticket you printed out at home... EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. I had a fun time with guest services about that poop. I pointed out that Orlando, Japan & Singapore all have physical tickets for their FFP. "Yea, we don't do that". THAT IS THE PROBLEM!!! They also tried telling me that they couldn't do it because "its only for select nights". Of course I pointed out that the annual passes with blackout dates are ALSO ONLY FOR SELECT DAYS! Yea, they didn't have a response for that one. The guest services inside the park at least tried because they completely understood why/what I was wanting. Guest services outside the park were dumb twats. Its stupid to sell an HHN lanyard if you're not going to provide a ticket for guests to put in it, especially those with a FFP. I was not the only FFP-holder to be highly annoyed by this asinine ticketless crap. I ended up cutting out the barcode to scan & putting it in the lanyard. It was so lame.
If that sh*t wasn't enough, it gets even better! As those on the east coast know, the smart thing to do is get into the park before it closes for daytime guests and do 'Stay-n-Scream' to avoid the nightmare that is the arches/front gates. Its one of the major perks to having an annual pass. Well here in Hollywood, they don't like to make it that easy. They'd rather do the least logical thing possible. If you're an annual passholder and have an HHN ticket (one night or FFP), they require you to EXIT THE PARK and go through the security check AGAIN, only to wait in line at the gates until they let in for "Early Entry". Yes, you read that correct. I made sure to be very vocal about the ridiculousness of how their operations were and of course totally named dropped Orlando's superior handling of park entrance/HHN procedures. It was such a pain in the ass if you were there early enough to have time in the park because you basically had to be outside the park gates by 4pm so you could be one of the first in for early entry. They didn’t let in until 5pm, although they started letting people in as early as 4:30pm about halfway through the event to help with crowds.
The ONLY people that are allowed to stay in the park are those who have a "Day/Night HHN Combo" ticket. Once they enter, they are given a wristband so its easier for team members to know who should be in the park and who shouldn't. Considering an AP & FFP is basically the same thing as having a Day/Night ticket, you'd think they'd give you a wristband as well. Unfortunately that is not the case. As I mentioned above, you have to exit, go through security AGAIN, only to wait at the gates until they let in. Once they let in, then they give you a wristband.
Early Entry pretty much saved my ass this year in being able to do everything. Of course, having a "Guest Assistance Pass" (GAP) also helped most nights (Yes Orlando, we still have them). I finally got around to getting it after the first weekend. I always ended up saving it for the later half of the night. Anyway, early entry was great. However, they don't close the park to daytime guests until 6pm!!! Personally, I feel they need to do what Orlando does and close the park at 5pm, in order to sweep the park. They can still let us in around 5pm for Early Entry, but kick everyone else out. Of course, the lack of having a "Stay & Scream" area is just dumb. Hollywood knows how to have a pretty great event, they just don't know how to handle the transition from day-to-night. :blank:
welp... thats Part 1... the other 4 parts will come later today... :whistle: