Get Jack’d Up at Halloween Horror Nights 25

For the past quarter century, hundreds of thousands of fear fans have made a yearly pilgrimage to Universal Studios Florida to experience the nighttime event known simply as Halloween Horror Nights. Over the years, the event has grown and changed, and 2015 is the biggest ever – with more scarezones, more haunts, and more shows to entertain the “victims.”

The epic 25th year of the nation’s best Halloween event, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, opened on Friday, September 18, marking the beginning of the biggest, longest and most intense event in history. The master of horror, Jack the Clown, has returned as the event’s ultimate icon, and he’s assembled the most maniacal myriad of monsters imaginable. During the event, the streets of Universal Studios Florida are transformed into five unique scare zones – filled with more scareactors than ever before. That’s not counting the hordes of chainsaw-wielding assassins that could be waiting at every turn.

On the second night of the event, Palm Beach Happening braved the maddening crowds to share with you, our readers, some of the highlights of the event. We have ranked each house based on its level of theming, and general scare factor. The ranking is based on a scale of 1-10.

This year, the number of elaborate haunted houses has increased to nine – more than ever before. Guests will…

·         Witness the ultimate battle of evil vs. evil in “Freddy vs. Jason” – From the cursed Camp Crystal Lake to the nightmarish 1428 Elm Street, awake or asleep, you’ll find yourself caught in the middle of this epic battle — where the winner’s reward is YOU.

  • Theming: 8
  • Scare Factor: 7

(If you’re a fan of modern classic horror, this is the house for you. The theming is good, and the scares are OK. Personallhy, I think last year’s Michael Myers house set the bar so high that other character houses are hard pressed to reach it.)

·         Relive atrocities from the fifth season of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”  – From the burnt ashes of Terminus, through the flooded community food pantry basement, and into the darkened churchyard, hordes of walkers surround you as you relive gut-wrenching moments of the most recent season.

  • Theming: 9
  • Scare Factor: 8

(This was one of my favorites of the night. It was smaller than last year, but the more intimate setting made for a more foreboding house.)

·         Step inside the most sinister scenes from the Insidious” film series –  Enter “The Further” and travel through all three parts of the Insidious saga. Denizens of the afterlife try to find their way back into the world using the living to guide them. The house isn’t haunted–we are.

  • Theming: 9.5
  • Scare Factor: 8.5

(This was one of the first we went through, when the sun still hadn’t set, but it was still very good. Amazing theme, and good scares throughout)

·         Face masked vigilantes who purge as they are entitled in “The Purge” – This year’s Purge is more brutal than ever. From the moment you step inside the house, dozens of vicious vigilantes will descend upon you as they exercise their right to purge.

  • Theming: 9
  • Scare Factor: 7

(This was another favorite, as the smaller venue made the general setting more believable than 2014’s scarezone.)

·         Fend off ferocious werewolves in “An American Werewolf In London” – one of the top-rated haunted houses in Horror Nights history – The return of the fan-favorite house, based on John Landis’s critically-acclaimed horror film, “An American Werewolf in London” – a fiercely-immersive experience that pays homage to one of the greatest lycanthropic stories ever told. This year, the wolves are more ferocious and hungry for human flesh…and their pack has expanded.

  • Theming: 7.5
  • Scare Factor: 6

(This house may have been amazing when it first debuted a couple years ago, but it was not in my top 5 this year. The puppets were not believable, and the scares simply were not there.)

·         Risk survival in four original haunted houses, including:

·       Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem – Jack is back and he invites you to join him for the ultimate reunion in horror. Universal classic monsters will attack from the shadows, meat-grinding maniacs will rip every scream from your throat, and ghosts of Horror Nights past will stalk you around every corner. You’ll find yourself dying to get in and relive your most haunting memories of the past 25 years of Halloween Horror Nights.

  • Theming: 9.5
  • Scare Factor: 7.5

(I had high hopes for this house, but although it was cool, it didn’t have as unifying a theme as it could have.)

·       Body Collectors: Recollections – They have returned. The Body Collectors are on the hunt for the human parts they so desperately need. Emerging from the darkness on a cold, winter night, they descended upon the unknowing inhabitants of Shadybrook Asylum. Get ready to face their sharpened blades as the screams of their recent victims echo throughout the halls.

  • Theming: 10
  • Scare Factor: 8.5

(My favorite house of the night, by far. All the great scares are there, the décor is amazing, and who doesn’t like the Gentlemen?)

·      RUN: Blood, Sweat and Fears – Congratulations! You’ve been selected to be one of the lucky contestants on RUN, the most popular and brutal television show in the world. In this house, you’ll have to try and avoid the skilled assassins known as Reapers as you work through “death obstacles” designed to mangle and shred—all for the amusement of the audience watching from home. And good news: the now run-down Hellgate Prison has been selected as the battleground. Good luck!

  • Theming: 9.5
  • Scare Factor: 6.5

(Another good house, with excellent backstory. The set decoration could have been more ornate, and the close in nature didn’t fit as well as it could have. This might benefit from being a soundstage haunt.)

·      Asylum in Wonderland – 3D. – A new volume of Scary Tales has been released by Ultra Violent Comics: “Asylum in Wonderland”. This time around, you’ll follow the white rabbit through the looking glass and into a murderous 3-D Wonderland. All of the beloved characters will come to life in this chaotic world with an insane, nightmarish twist. You’ll be left asking one question: Is it all really in Alice’s mind? Or are the images you see real enough to kill you?

  • Theming: 9.5
  • Scare Factor: 7.5

(Although not the scariest house, this one was the most fun. The bright colors, amazing characters, and great theming make it a must see.)

For 30 select nights through Nov. 1, guests can experience theme park thrills by day and become victims of their own horror film by night at Halloween Horror Nights 25. For more information, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com/Orlando.

Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following Palm Beach Happening for news on other spooky events in the Palm Beaches. If you know of another local event that would appreciate the undead light shone upon it, please let us know!