So, it’s 90 days from today that I will make the near 4,500 mile journey from my hometown in Wexford, Ireland to Universal Studios, Orlando. Why? You may ask.. well it’s for Universal Studios annual Halloween event titled ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ which is widely regarded the biggest Halloween event on the planet. For those of you who don’t know what this is I will give you some of the history of the event.

The Halloween Horror Nights event in Orlando is a Halloween event presented annually at Universal Orlando Beginning in 1991 in Universal Studios Florida with only one house, it has continued annually for 18 years to become one of the largest Halloween events in the United States. In its later years the event has split time between its original park and the more recently built Islands of Adventure. Universal’s design team has created five original Icons for the event and have also used many of the Universal Monsters. Recently, deals was made with New Line Cinema and Lions Gate Entertainment to bring more recent horror icons to the event.

Halloween Horror Nights began at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 under the title Fright Nights but was re-christened Halloween Horror Nights in 1992, advertising it as the “second annual” event. It began as a 3 night event but has since evolved into a 23-night scare-a-thon spanning late September through the first weekend of November. Although it normally only operates from Thursday to Sunday, an occasional Wednesday occurs during what scareactors dub “Hell Week”, known for its large crowds and the increase of alcohol related incidents.

From 1991-2001, the event was held at Universal Studios Florida. Halloween Horror Nights moved to Islands of Adventure in 2002. 2004 was an experiment with a dual park format, which opened parts of both parks. Guests were funneled through backstage areas and the soundstages, where most of the haunts are built. In 2006, the event made a return to Universal Studios Florida where the event continued through its 18th year in 2008.

Each year’s event, though unique, has certain characteristics in common with other years, these include houses, shows, scarezones, event icons, and event phrases. Depending on the park in which the event is held, certain popular attractions that are regularly open during business hours are also opened during the event to help alleviate the crowds.

Halloween Horror Nights has amassed a number of Icons, five of which were original creations by the Universal Design team. These Icons were characters with elaborate back stories that involved the event’s theme, houses, or scarezones. Predominantly they have been used for promotional materials and merchandising. The first unofficial icon was the Cryptkeeper, from TV’s Tales from the Crypt, a series popular at the time of his first event appearance: “Halloween Horror Nights V.” He returned the next year, but didn’t return after the series had been canceled. After the Cryptkeeper came four years of the event without an Icon , until the design team created one for the tenth year.

Some of the Icons created by Universal are as follows :

  • Jack Schmidt/Jack the Clown/The Ringmaster was the first original icon. Developed for Halloween Horror Nights X, Schmidt is an evil clown and mass murderer.
  • Dr. Albert Caine/The Caretaker, was the second original icon developed and used for Halloween Horror Nights: Islands of Fear, where he appeared in ScreamHouse. Caine was a respected surgeon who became The Caretaker of the Shady Oaks Cemetery.
  • Paulo Ravinski/The Director was the third original icon used for Halloween Horror Nights 13, where he appeared in the house All Nite Die-In and the show, Infestation. Ravinski was a snuff film director from Eastern Europe.
  • Elsa Strict/The Storyteller, was the fourth original icon used for Halloween Horror Nights: Tales of Terror where she appeared in the house Where Evil Hides. Strict was an old woman who introduced guests to the world of “Terra Cruentas”
  • Dr. Mary Agana/Bloody Mary, was the fifth original icon, used for Halloween Horror Nights: Reflections of Fear where she appeared in the house Reflections of Fear. Agana was a psychiatrist in 1958 who became her evil alternate personality.
  • Julian Browning/The Usher, is the sixth original icon, used for Halloween Horror Nights: Ripped from the Silver Screen where he appears in the house Silver Screams. Browning was an usher from 1922 to 1940 for the Universal Palace Theatre who died in 1940 while dealing with a rowdy moviegoer, he now haunts the Theatre bringing the movies to life and punishing anyone who shows disrespect to his beloved theatre.
  • Fear-He was unleashed from a portal called Portameus, which leads to his realm.

That’s a small overview of what this event has had in years past and I am really looking forward to taking this 9 day trip! I will be posted vlogs and other stuff during my time there. I hope to get lots of interesting footage for all you guys!

This years first haunted maze was released last week and it is inspired by the hit horror movie ‘The Cabin in the Woods’

The 2012 film revolves around five college students — a jock, a smarty, a stoner, a virgin and a slut — who visit a remote cabin. Events lead to an encounter with a zombie family and other scary, bloody adventures.

In a twist fashioned by Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon (creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Cabin” producer), the plot includes a secret facility that controls the creepiness, ancient rituals, a worldwide threat to mankind and a slew of supernatural beasts such as giant snakes, killer birds and a rampaging unicorn. Also on hand are an evil clown and a “merman.”

“We always wanted ‘Cabin’ to take on a life beyond us. It just felt like such a rich universe where people can drop in and have their own fun,” Goddard said.

Among the film’s stars are Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Bradley Whitford (TV’s “The West Wing”). “The Cabin in the Woods” made more than $65 million at the box office worldwide.

The wealth of environments and characters make the film a natural for Halloween Horror Nights, said Michael Aiello, assistant director of creative development with Universal Orlando’s entertainment team.

“The characters are all so … cool to look at,” Aiello said. “The minute I saw it, I wanted to try and translate that into an experience that guests could walk through and be terrified by all these amazing creatures in real life.”

Expect gore and creepiness, he said.

“You’re going to see merman. You’re going to see Hell Lord [and] Fornicus, the god of torture and pain — all the characters you saw in that movie are going to be right there in front of you in living color,” Aiello said. What about that bloody unicorn?

“It is represented in the maze,” he said.

“The tricky thing about unicorns is that they do actually stab people, so there’s a safety issue,” Goddard joked.

Halloween Horror Nights tickets are on sale at HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando. Base price for a single-night ticket is $91.99; Florida residents can use a promotional offer that can drop that to $42.99, depending on date. The Frequent Fear Pass, which allows admission on 15 select nights, sells for $83.99.


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