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(7/30/21) Universal Orlando Not Bringing Back Face Masks For Guests Yet (MORE...)
(7/15/21) Two New Haunts Announced For Halloween Horror Nights (MORE...)
(7/8/21) Prepare To Enter Hill House at Halloween Horror Nights 30 at Universal Orlando
(7/6/21) More Returning Elements (MORE...)
(6/20/21) Universal Orlando Looking To Hire Over 1000 New Food Service Members (MORE...)
(6/19/21) Universal Orlando Confirms Jack Is Back For HHN 30 (MORE...)
Click Here to read the full Screamscape review of Halloween Horror Nights 29
VOLCANO BAY IS NOW OPEN - Read the official Screamscape Review!
LOWES Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando - Read the official Screamscape Review!
General Resort News - (7/30/21) Universal Orlando is not yet ready to require guests to put face masks back on just yet, as Disney has already done, but apparently Universal Orlando team members will be required to wear face masks in any indoor guest areas once again starting on Saturday, July 31, 2021.
(7/6/21) A few small updates for Universal Orlando this week as various elements have reportedly returned to the resort. For your arrival needs, the Valet Parking option is said to have reopened once again, offering quicker access into the parks and CityWalk for the entire day, or just an evening stop. While parking for the entire day there can run you $75, it is said to be 50% off for Passholders under the “Preferred” pass tier, and actually included for free for those with the “Premier” level AP.
Over in the Studios park, the singing Ragtime Gals performers have returned to entertain guests inside the Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction. While some may not care for the attraction itself, it does have perhaps the most cozy and unique ‘queue’ space for any attraction I’ve ever seen, with comfy seating areas to relax in the air conditioning, touch screen tables to play games on, and now live entertainment once again with the return of the Ragtime Gals to the stage while you wait.
Over at Islands of Adventure, it was also confirmed that the popular Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle projection mapping show also returned to perform each evening, about every 20 minutes, after dark.
(6/20/21) I mentioned a few days ago that with the Universal Orlando theme parks returning to full capacity, the only area I noticed that seemed to be lacking was in the restaurants, which easily had longer lines than the rides during my visit. Now Universal Orlando has announced that they are currently hiring for more than 1,000 different positions within their Food Service department throughout the resort, with Full-Time, Part-Time and some “professional career” opportunities currently available. With Universal’s starting pay now raised to $15/hr, and higher for some positions, and so many positions open right now, the time may be right to consider a career adjustment. Follow the link to learn more.
(6/17/21) A tweet sent out on Wednesday afternoon confirmed that Universal Orlando has now reopened Universal’s Aventura Hotel, which was the last of the resort’s hotels that had yet to open. Mix this with news from Universal stating that the park is now back at full capacity and it seems that Universal Orlando is now nearly back to pre-COVID conditions. The one thing I noticed while on site there myself last week is that the only area where things seem to be lacking slightly is in the food department.
Keep in mind that the parks were very crowded when I was there last week, but while we had no trouble getting on any rides or buying any merchandise, the longest lines in Universal Orlando across the board were for FOOD. My family is the kind that sort of just runs around the parks at a rapid pace, riding attraction after attraction. If someone is a little hungry we may grab a small sweet snack or drinks to tide us over until everyone in the group is just starving and all mutually decide that we must stop and eat SOMETHING! Well, under the current conditions… that didn’t work out so well. The lines to get into every restaurant were longer than the lines for the rides, and going into CityWalk didn’t help much either, as all the big restaurants seem to have switched over to a reservation system that gets very full a day or two ahead of your visit. The restaurants allow walk-ups, but the wait times were all rather lengthy… about 90 minutes or more. So if your planning to visit, the parks are running great… just don’t do what we did regarding food. Make a plan ahead of time, and maybe make a reservation a few days in advance of your visit.
(6/6/21) According to reports Universal Orlando has now dropped the face mask requirements for Team Members who are fully vaccinated, both indoors and outdoors. The only mask requirement is they are asking Team Members to still wear them when “in vehicles and spaces where social distancing can not be maintained”.
(5/29/21) In addition to being at the forefront of the launch and now rollback of the various COVID safety rules that set the example to follow for most theme parks around the nation over the past year, Universal Orlando has just shook the local landscape yet again with the announcement that they were raising the minimum pay level for all employees on June 27th to $15 an hour. This will put Universal in as the highest paying major theme park in Florida right at the start of the summer as labor shortages continue to be a problem nationwide for many businesses. A previous labor agreement Disney had with their various labor unions set in motion several years ago I believe has the starting pay for the Mouse set around $14 an hour until October 1st, when they too will jump to the $15 mark, unless they opt to jump early to stay competitive over the summer.
Regardless of the time it happens, with the two giants both set to hit $15 an hour starting wage levels this year, the change is sure to put a hurting on the smaller parks who are currently paying less like SeaWorld, Busch Gardens Tampa and Legoland Florida, as well as the various other smaller area attractions across central Florida who may see their staff jump ships.
(5/28/21) The ongoing roll back of COVID related restrictions continues today with updated Safety Guidelines from Universal Orlando. According to the new update, face coverings are no longer required for “Fully Vaccinated” guests, INDOORS or OUTDOORS. Universal will not require proof of vaccinations, but expects those who are not fully vaccinated to continue to wear face coverings while indoors. The park will continue to remain focused on maintaining “the highest cleanliness and sanitization standards”.
(5/25/21) Universal Orlando may a bit of a surprise announcement on Twitter yesterday when they confirmed that the winter favorite, Hot Butterbeer, was now being offered at the parks year-round. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, make sure you do one morning. It’s good!
(5/19/21) Universal Orlando reopened the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort on May 18, 2021. Sapphire Falls has been closed since August 2020, along with the nearby Aventura Hotel which will remain closed for the time being along with the Endless Summer: Surfside Inn & Suites. All of the other Universal Orlando Resorts are currently open: Endless Summer: Dockside Inn & Suites Resort, the Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Royal Pacific Resort and Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
(5/15/21) Some potentially welcome information came from Universal Orlando late Friday afternoon regarding new updates and changes to their COVID-19 safety guidelines. As of today Universal Orlando is no longer requiring face masks to be worn while guests are outdoors throughout most of the resort.
That said, face masks ARE STILL REQUIRED when visiting any indoor location, including shops and restaurants, as well as being required while experiencing any of the park’s rides and attractions, including while you are waiting in the queue. To make it a little more clear, face masks are STILL REQUIRED while in the attraction queues, even if those queues are OUTDOORS.
So essentially, really the only thing changing is that guests are now free to wander about in outdoor settings, just not outdoor attractions or queues, and remain face mask free. While it is just a step, this is an important one that will begin our travel down the long path towards a return to “normal”. Follow the link to read the official Universal Orlando safety page.
(5/6/21) Universal Orlando confirms last night that starting today, they would no longer be taking guest temperature readings before entering the property, and social distancing would be reduced from 6 feet of space to 3 feet. According to the latest data reports about one third of the population in America have now been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 (about 107million) with an estimated 36 million more Americans having had their first shot and in the waiting period to return for their second.
With this in mind, the timing of this as a first step in the long road to returning things back towards normalcy is probably a good thing. Currently Florida’s Governor has removed any face mask requirements in the state, but all the theme parks are still requiring them. As private businesses each park can set their own rules while you are on their property, so please check in with the parks ahead of any visit in the weeks to determine what their current COVID safety policies are during your visit. And remember, no matter what the rules are, if you feel safer wearing a mask, then by all means please continue to do so in the interest of your own health and well being.
(4/3/21) According to a local news report an ongoing dispute between Universal Orlando and the maker of the ride system for the “Race through New York starring Jimmy Fallon” attraction has come to light. Dynamic Motion Rides GMBG (aka: Dymorides of Austria) has filed a lawsuit against Universal Orlando for $5 million in “unpaid invoices with interest”. According to the article the two had a number of disagreements over the development of the attraction, that led Universal to terminate their agreement with Dymorides in the midsts of the project, which was then taken over by a Utah based company, Petersen Inc, who completed the attraction project. Dymorides also claims Petersen took public credit “for the development and construction of the attraction which employs DymoRides’ IP to this day“.
Race through New York opened at Universal Orlando way back in 2017, so it is interesting that Dymorides waited this long to file the official lawsuit, though I assume they could have been working on private negotiations all this time instead. A quick look at Dymorides website reveals more about the company who are the ones behind the “Flyboard Flying Theater” concept which many industry readers may have seen at IAAPA over the past several years, where they have developed a motion platform simulator attraction that riders experience in the standing position instead of seated. Dymorides also provides a line of traditional seated simulator platforms (like Race through New York) as well which they currently market under the “Flying Theater 4.0” name.
Petersen Inc however is not promotored as a ride/attraction company, instead they are a state of the art design/engineering, fabrication and manufacturing company who says they are involved with projects for nuclear, petrochemical, aerospace, mining and industrial projects, where “there’s nothing we can’t build. So the question is, what do you need?” While there is nothing at all about an involvement in the amusement industry on their website, Petersen does look like exactly the kind of problem solvers one might call in to finish a complicated project in mid-development.
Theme park attraction design is a complicated profession, and don’t for a moment think that disputes between manufacturers and the parks don’t happen while projects are in development all the time, even to the point of a formal termination in mid-project. Looking back, you may recall a similar story unfolded between Disney and Environmental Tectonics Corp (ETC), who was contracted to build the ride hardware for Epcot’s Mission: SPACE attraction, who later filed a lawsuit for over $15 million that was later settled. (As I recall, prior to Mission: SPACE, ETC was also the supplier of the Cyberspace Mountain simulator pods for DisneyQuest).
(2/17/21) According to reports Universal Orlando has added Universal Pay to the latest version of the theme park resorts official mobile app. This adds a new contact-free payment method for use across at the resorts and and theme parks for their guests.
(2/2/21) We reported on the rumor last week and now the Blue Man Group itself has confirmed that the Orlando show is no more. The group posted a thank you to the Blue Man Orlando cast, crew and staff for the over 6,000 shows they put on over their successful 14 year run.
(1/24/21) A good read can be found at Theme Park University this week where they speculate that the Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando is “unlikely to return”. Currently the Blue Man Group show has suspended operations ever since the theme park resort first shut down operations due to the pandemic threat back in the first half of 2020. When the theme parks opened again, the Blue Man Group show did not, as they are now owned by Cirque du Soleil who had shut down operations of all their productions across the globe in 2020.
The pandemic put a serious financial strain on Cirque’s operations and they were forced to furlough 95% of their workforce and soon filed for bankruptcy protection to keep the company from going under. In November 2020 it was reported that Cirque had emerged from bankruptcy following a bid to take control of the company by a group of their creditors. But what about the Orlando production?
According to Theme Park University, while the arrival of the Blue Man Group show at Universal Orlando in 2007 was a major success at the time, but over the last few years they report that sellouts of performances were few and far between, with most shows only selling about half of the seats in the theater. Compared to a typical Cirque du Soleil show that requires a much larger cast and crew, the cost to put on a Blue Man Group show is only a fraction of what it costs to put on a Cirque show. So even with only half the theater full, the shows were still able to make a profit.
The interesting part of the report however claims that Universal Orlando is ready to take the theater back for something new in 2022. The building itself was originally created as part of the initial build of the Universal Studios Florida complex, and used as a Nickelodeon studio tour attraction and soundstage when the park first opened in June 1990. With building already built out as a functioning show theater, it would be quite easy for Universal to repurpose it as some kind of new show for the theme park, or put it to use for another extra cost show production not unlike Blue Man Group.
If this is true, it does make me wonder if the idea to retire the show’s Orlando run was something that came down from Universal management, or if it was brought up by Blue Man Group’s new owner, Cirque du Soleil. After all Cirque has a long standing deal with Disney, having run the La Nouba show at Downtown Disney for 19 years (1998 to 2017). Cirque also currently has an all new show called Drawn to Life that will replace La Nouba in the same theater on Disney property that is expected to open in 2021. If not for the pandemic, Drawn to Life would have opened in 2020. While I don’t know the details of Cirque’s contract with Disney, I would imagine that a Cirque owned company (ie: Blue Man Group) putting on another show in Orlando for Disney’s main competition would likely be frowned upon.
Now, I’m not saying anyone is in breach of contract by any means, as the Blue Man Group show at Universal was already in place long before Cirque bought BMG. The BMG show has every right to continue on and fulfill their contract with Universal. Regardless of it all, you still have to know that having the Blue Men out of Universal would make The Mouse sleep a little better at night.
So if all this is true… I am very curious what new plans Universal could be thinking of for the theater building. After all, the location of the theater is very close to the Shrek 4D and Despicable Me attractions, and if they want the site for the theme park, they could use it for something else from their Dreamworks or Illumination animation divisions. Universal Hollywood has a Secret Life of Pets attraction they are ready to open with the theme park this year, Universal Studios Japan also has “SING on Tour”, an show attraction themed to the animated film “SING”. But in a preview video for Universal Studios Beijing, there was a brief clip of a massive flying figure of Toothless with a rider on his back from the “How to Train Your Dragon” film series that was likely for some kind of production for the park. We know there was to be an entire land themed around How To Train Your Dragon built at Universal Orlando’s 3rd theme park project, Epic Universe, but since that park is now on hold, we’ve got to wonder if they might consider dropping a live show into one of the existing parks instead.
Again… no rumors here, just some fun speculation and “What if…” thinking. So what kind of show would you like to see take over the Blue Man Group theater at Universal Orlando?
(1/9/21) Universal Orlando is currently offering a special deal on their 2-Park Annual Passes. If you purchase one between now and March 31, 2021 an extra 3-months free are being added on to your annual pass… so in other words, you are getting 15 months for the price of 12 months. There are four different AP options to choose from, some with blackout days and some with other perks like free parking or including a ticket into Halloween Horror Nights so choose the pass that is best for you. There are also special prices for Florida Residents. Visit the official page for details.
(11/15/20) Park Hopping at Universal Orlando just gained a third option this week it seems. According to a tweet from Expedition Theme Park a new walk-way option to park hop between Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida is now being offered for those who don’t want to wait for the Hogwarts Express, or venture out the of one path and walk through CityWalk to get to the other park and risk a wait of trying to get back inside a park due to capacity issues.
The entrance to the walkway at Islands of Adventure is in Suess Landing where employees check your passes before letting you pass into a pathway that goes backstage into the soundstage area between the parks that most Halloween Horror Nights fans are familiar with. The pathway access point inside Universal Studios Florida is down the pathway past Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, leading you under the brake run for the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster.
I suspect we may only see this method used on dates where the parks are at risk of hitting capacity crowds, which is a great way to see Universal addressing the issue with a new option exactly when it would be needed by the guests.
(11/4/20) Looks like things are picking up again for Universal Orlando as the official website has now confirmed that the closed Portofino Bay Hotel will reopen to guests once again on December 1st, 2020. In addition Universal Endless Summer Resort - Dockside Inn & Suites will officially open for the first time starting on December 15, 2020.
Volcano Bay News - (2/13/21) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Volcano Bay will reopen from winter refurbishment to guests on February 27, 2021. As before, attendance capacity will be limited each day as as Universal does not require the use a reservation system to get in, admission will be on a first-come basis, so arrive early.
Halloween Horror Nights 30 - (7/15/21) Halloween Horror Nights 30 announced TWO haunts back-to-back coming to this year’s event: “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Bride of Frankenstein LIVES!”
Texas Chainsaw Massacre will actually be inspired by the 1974 film that started it all, as guests “embark on a killer journey through a series of familiar scenes from the film and eventually fall victim to a family of cannibals. From a dilapidated gas station to an eerie, old farmhouse, they will witness unimaginable horrors around every corner, soon discovering that nowhere is safe from the demented Leatherface.”
Bride of Frankenstein LIVES will pick up where the 1935 film ended, “as the Bride becomes an unstoppable scientist and begins her mission to revive Frankenstein’s Monster. Her unwavering quest to find eternal life will come at a cost, and guests will soon find themselves entwined in a frenzied battle in their daring attempt to escape. ”
(7/8/21) At long last Universal Orlando has announced their next haunt for Halloween Horror Nights 30 will be another Netflix collaboration: The Haunting of Hill House. Venture into the aging Hill House mansion that is full of trapped spirits, from the creepy basement up to describe the secrets that lie behind the Red Room door.
And if you haven’t had the chance to watch, the show is an excellent one-season addition full of mysterious chills that is well worth watching before you come face to face with HIll House yourself this fall!
(6/19/21) Universal confirmed what they were teasing this week with the official reveal that JACK IS BACK to lead the terror crew for Halloween Horror Nights 30. This time they promise that Jack will be everywhere, with no place safe from the clown of chaos, with the new tagline warning, “Never Go Alone”.
The locally created “Jack” icon character has been Universal Orlando’s most popular icon over the years, premiering back in 2000 for HHN 10. Jack also returned the following year as a sort of last moment replacement for HHN 11 as the intended icon for that year (Eddie) was deemed to be a little “too-much” for the post 9/11 era. Jack returned once again briefly in HHN 14 alongside other famous HHS icon characters in the Horror Nights Nightmares haunt that year. Then the crew was resurrected again as full ICONS for HHN 16 (Sweet 16) alongside The Caretaker, The Storyteller and The Director.
Jack was back the following year for HHN 17 (Carnival of Carnage) as the ringleader who brought together a number of famous Hollywood horror icons: Freddy, Jason and Leatherface. I believe he made a brief appearance as part of the scare-zone of past icons for HHN 20, before returning as the main icon to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of HHN in 2015. So it’s only fitting that Jack return to celebrate HHN 30 in style.
So far only Bettlejuice has been confirmed as a haunt for HHN30, with Coming Soon placeholder graphics in place on the site for all future haunt, scare zones, shows and other attractions for the announcements to come.
Tickets to HHN30 have also been made available on the official website, so don’t miss out.
(6/17/21) Universal Orlando posted a kind of creepy live video stream on Wednesday afternoon with the title of, “-/@caiciiacsc akck”. The description of the video was even more difficult to read, but I’m guessing it may be some sort of code left out for people smarter than me to try to decode. The video itself seems to be mostly static mixed with color bars and sections of VTR timecode. The full stream is about 20 minutes long, but if someone can make something out from the video, the title or the description, I’d love to hear it.
Bottom line however… I’m about 99% certain this is a teaser for Halloween Horror Nights 30. But exactly what are they trying to tell us? While everyone is quick to say that this must mean “Jack” is back, note that there is no “J’ in the message.
(5/6/21) Fancy yourself the type to scare people all night long as a Universal Orlando “Scareactor” in the Halloween Horror Nights crew? Currently Universal Orlando is already accepting applications for the next few days for select specialized positions for this year’s HHN not only for Scareactors, but also for Stilt Walkers.
On a related note, remember when we told you that the one planned and built 2020 HHN Haunt that would not return in 2021 would be the one themed to Billie Eilish? At the time we were told that it just could not happen because Eilish’s entire “dark” look was going to radically change before HHN could re-launch in 2021, and now this also has come to be. The dark rocker’s look has now shifted to more of a “blonde bombshell” look on the cover of UK’s Vogue Magazine, fulfilling the last part of that rumor as truth.
(3/6/21) The official Halloween Horror Nights account on Instagram caused a slight stir three days ago when it posted a simple solid black image to the account. Not that there was anything hidden in the blackness… but this was actually the first post made to the account since November 1st, 2020, following what should have been the end of HHN 30, before it was put on hiatus due to COVID-19.
Like most evil things, HHN can not be stopped, it just goes dormant for a time and then reappears when you least expect it. Like when a few surprises HHN mazes opened for guests at Universal Studios Florida last fall, despite the cancellation of the event.
HHN simply can be stopped and the black image posting was sort of the digital equivalent of putting your ear to the ground over a haunted grave and hearing the slow soft rhythm of a heart beat from below you. That proved to be exactly the point when Universal Orlando officially announced the dates for the new HHN 30 event now taking place on select nights from September 3 to October 31st, 2021.
Universal Orlando also announced their first Haunt for HHN 30 as well… which actually previewed as a surprise haunt for Halloween weekend, 2020. Say his name three times and he’ll appear… the ghost with the most… it’s Showtime! Bettlejuice has now been official confirmed as the first Haunt for HHN 30!
Now “technically” Universal Orlando officially announced another haunt in a video about the making of HHN haunts late last year called Puppet Theater: Captive Audience. The video features Universal’s Michael Aiello touring the haunt with the infamous Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) and Universal’s Charles Gray (Sr. Show Director).
If we’re counting mazes… there is always a good chance that the two mazes Universal opened last fall for park guests may also return for this year’s HHN30, either as is, or possibly tweaked and improved for 2021. So keep “Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives” and “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy” in the back of your mind as well as possible additions to the 2021 lineup. (If you missed it, there are some walk-through videos of those haunts posted below if you scroll down a bit).
As a huge fan of Halloween Horror Nights, I’m so glad we’re starting 2021 off right with the start of HHN Haunt announcements this spring.
(10/31/20) Just a heads up for anyone dropping into Universal Orlando this weekend. Work was spotted the other night putting a Beetlejuice display up on the outside of one of the backstage buildings where the haunted houses are located and it has been said Bettlejuice was spotted being mentioned in the list of haunted houses on the Universal Orlando app early this morning.
It looks like a surprise third haunt experience has been added for guests this weekend as a Halloween present, so say his name three times (Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!!) and get yourself down to the park and you may get to see something very special and the haunted houses are supposed to close for good after Sunday, Nov. 1st.
(10/29/20) We’ve seen Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, you can now watch a POV of Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives, the second haunted maze experience open for guests this year, which will likely return in 2021 as well for Halloween Horror Nights 30.
(10/28/20) Universal Orlando has posted a new video featuring Universal Creative Development’s Mike Aiello, Senior Show Director Charles Gray and as a special guest, Greg Nicotero, Exec. Producer of The Walking Dead. The trio explore a haunted house built at Universal Orlando for the delayed Halloween Horror Nights 30 event and show some behind the scenes look at what goes into creating these attractions.
What’s interesting is the name of the haunt they are in is “Puppet Theater: Captive Audience” In the video they confirm this as the first official haunt that will be exclusive to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights in 2021.
I would assume that the 2020 preview haunts: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, will both return in 2021 as well, though possibly with some tweaks and improvements to plus them up in 2021 for anyone who got to see them in 2020.
Give the video a watch below and take it all in, because it is well done and really breaks down everything that goes on behind the scenes to bring these worlds of horror to life for us fans year after year. As they say… Halloween Horror Nights is FOREVER, so consider this just a taste of what is to come in 2021.
(10/20/20) Universal Orlando has released a POV walk-through video of their Revenge of the Tooth Fairy maze at Universal Studios Florida. Check it out below.
(9/23/20) Good news for Haunt fans… after a successful first weekend test run Universal Orlando is going forward with the #TeamHalloween festivities and will bring you free admission into the same two haunted houses build for HHN (The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy) all day long on Sept. 26-27, and then daily from Oct. 3 through Nov. 1, 2020. Just remember you have to use the Virtual Line experience on the official Universal Orlando app to gain admission, so grab your reservation ASAP when you arrive.
So how are the haunts? I’ve heard that they are both great fun, with the Bride of Frankenstein being the good fun you would expect, plus telling a story along the way, word is that the Revenge of the Tooth Fairy is simply epic and not to be missed if you only have time to enjoy one maze.
There are other fun Halloween themed festivities to enjoy as well, beyond the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store which you already know all about. Costumes are allowed during your visits, just review the online guideline here, Kids 12 and under can Trick-Or-Treat across Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and don’t miss the Bettlejuice Meet & Greet or the new Scarecrow Stalk, an all new scavenger hunt experience spread out across Universal Studios Florida to find 13 different custom-crafted scarecrows and skeletons to win a tasty candy reward! Plus there is no better time to drop into Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show, which is seriously one of the most under-rated original attractions left in the park that you don’t want to miss.
Now I just need to get my hands on one of those “Jack” doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts in CityWalk. When else are you going to get the chance to gnaw his face off for a change?
(9/15/20) At long last Universal Orlando has finally confirmed that the rumored “Halloween Seasonal Experience Testing” will soon begin. The post confirms that guests to Universal’s two big theme parks will be given a chance to test two haunted maze experiences: Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein.
““We belong dead.” The last words of Frankenstein’s monster on that fateful night when his Bride rejected him. But his end was her beginning. Now the Bride is stepping out of the shadows to bring him back. And there’s nothing she won’t do as she sharpens her brilliance by experimenting on unsuspecting victims. The mate will have her monster. And the monster his mate.”
“The innocent traditions of the tooth fairy hide a darker ritual. All children must give up their baby teeth to the goblinesque tooth fairies or pay a gruesome price. Step into an old manor that has been overrun by yellow-clawed fiends who extract teeth by force. It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
You’ll have to line up in a Virtual Line to get access to the haunts when they open this weekend (Sept 19-20), and Annual Passholders can preview it all early on Friday, Sept 18. So far they are only listing this as an experience for these three days, but I’d expect more dates to be added once the initial test weekend is complete.
In other Halloween season news, Universal is also letting guests arrive to visit the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure in costumes this weekend. Follow the link to see the official guidelines for appropriate costumes. Over at Islands of Adventure the kids (12 and under) can also go Trick-or-Treating this weekend.
(9/13/20) For anyone wondering, the following screen capture has been going around online social media channels since yesterday evening claiming that the dance performance group, Academy of Villains, along with creators Christopher (Pharside) and Krystal (Phoenix) Jennings are now “no longer affiliated and are banned from Universal Studios”.
Unfortunately this comes as no surprise, as I believe it was in early August that members of AOV had come forward with accusations of abuse (emotional, physical and sexual) that took place.
I’m not going to comment on it, or go into details, as I believe most of the stuff that went down happened long ago and may have nothing at all to do with the productions that took place at Universal. That said, it makes sense that Universal is getting ahead of this now however, based on what we do know, and has ended AOV’s association with their Halloween Horror Nights event, which was pushed as the big replacement for the lost Bill & Ted show at last year’s HHN 29. It is safe to say Universal will have to come up with a new headline show for the HHN30 now taking place in 2021... though with Bill & Ted Face The Music now released and a bit hit with the fans, maybe they should consider bringing them back.
(9/12/20) While Universal Orlando has not confirmed anything, Escape Authority has a scoop (see below) to share on their Facebook page regarding the plans to open two of the mazes built for HHN30 to park guests soon. According to their post the mazes will open starting on Saturday, Sept. 19, and as we posted as a rumor yesterday, they report it will be two of the non IP haunts created by the HHN creative team, one themed to Bride of Frankenstein and the other themed to The Tooth Fairy.
This will start on weekends and if all goes well it very well may expand to be something open on weekdays as well, possibly following the typically schedule you would have seen for HHN moving through October. According to Escape Authority there will be no upcharge to visit the mazes, but you will have to use a virtual queue system to gain access.
As I mentioned, it is now expected to just be these two mazes. There is always a change plans will change or they may opt to open another maze or two, or possibly even rotate, but for now this is less likely. Based on previous information, the official names of the mazes should be: “Universal Monsters The Bride of Frankenstein LIVES” and “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy”.
If they do opt to open more, there are will more non-licensed IP creations they could add, but as I mentioned before there is one “IP” maze built that will not return next year that could possibly be added before it is lost forever. This one is themed to musician “Billie Eilish” and apparently the reason it wont return in 2021 is that Billie Eilish’s personal theme/branding will be changing to something not “dark” before HHN 2021 rolls around. As I previously said, this won’t be seen as a huge loss to most, but to the biggest HHN fans out there, this could be seen as something of a white whale… an exclusive credit to be had by very few if they indeed do opt to open it, however briefly.
Again, and I stress this, don’t count on it happening. This is just something to keep your eyes open for in case it does.
(9/11/20) A new picture posted to IG by @UniNewsToday shows a truss style signage framework set up at Universal Studios Florida, in just the right place where one might want to put up an entrance sign for those rumored haunted mazes we talked about yesterday. Still nothing has been announced by Universal about this at this time, but like all things, they are going to need a government sign-off to operate this as a new/temporary attraction at the park, so it makes sense that this is all very hush-hush until they get final approval.
In the meantime, despite a few theories going around saying that Universal may only plan to open mazes themed around select IPs that they will lose if they don’t use them, I’ve been told that this is incorrect. Screamscape sources tell us that extension deals were already signed to re-use all the IPs they need to do for next year, with only one IP themed maze will be scrapped.
We’ll have more on the IP to be scrapped in a future update, but the majority of you won't even be even slightly disappointed by the loss of it, so there is a bright side at least. With that said, if Universal does announce and open two mazes, I’ve been told we can expect them to be home-brewed creations from the HHN creative team.
(9/10/20) Local Halloween Horror Nights fans (and those who booked a trip before it was announced that HHN was canceled this year), you may be in luck. If the rumors going around are to be believed, then there is a chance that over the coming weeks, during what would have normally been HHN season, Universal Orlando is planning on cracking the doors to a few mazes.
According to our sources, this will likely be an upcharge / extra ticket item, but each week Universal may staff and open a maze or two, and the selection may change from week to week to keep guests coming back. As we reported previously, virtually all the work on the HHN30 mazes was completed over the summer before management officially pulled the plug on it happening in 2020. A full blown Halloween Horror Nights event was just going to be too much to safely take place with the current COVID-19 restrictions. However, offering a very limited and capacity controlled access to a maze or two on select nights just may be within reach.
Our sources tell us that the announcement to confirm this could come within the week, and as early as later tonight even, so stay tuned and keep your eyes and ears open for the screams.
(8/29/20) A quick update on that Midnight Syndicate / Halloween Horror Nights soundtrack we mentioned the other day. This was limited to only 500 units, and only produced in red Vinyl format (no CD), and from what I’m told the complete lot sold out in a matter of hours on the first first day. Sold in the park for about $30, you can not find them being re-sold on Ebay from between $150-400, which is just unfortunate.
The good news is that Midnight Syndicate indicated on social media that they were in talks with Universal that same day about how the various ways they could possibly get more items into the store for sale in time for the fans. Obviously a CD would probably be the quickest way, especially since they were only selling the first one on Vinyl for some reason. (Sorry, not a Vinyl fan… I couldn’t wait to smash my old warped and scratched Vinyl in the 80s and replace them all with CDs at the time) I’d think a themed USB thumb-drive (Jack themed maybe!) loaded with the digital music files could also be a fun seller. Of course they could just press more Vinyl in another color too, so just keep your eyes and ears open, and hopefully they’ll find a way to release more.
(8/27/20) Behind the Thrills reports that Midnight Syndicate has teamed up with Halloween Horror Nights to release a special soundtrack album. The limited edition album is being sold at the HHN Tribute store and features some classic HHN audio tracks from over the years as well as some previously unreleased content.
(7/24/20) BREAKING - According to Screamscape sources, Universal Orlando just sent an email out to all team members to saddly announced that Halloween Horror Nights 30 is now being canceled for the year.
We have a copy of the official letter from Bill Davis copied below.
Dear fellow Team Members,
This year has played out in ways that none of us have expected, and we have had to make some difficult decisions under these unprecedented circumstances. I wanted to let you know about another difficult decision we are announcing today. Universal Orlando Resort will not hold our Halloween Horror Nights event this year and will be focusing exclusively on operating our theme parks for daytime guests, using the enhanced health and safety procedures already in place. I know this news is disappointing especially since this year we would be celebrating HHN’s 30th anniversary. I am disappointed too, but this is the right decision for our Guests and our Team Members.
Universal Studios Hollywood has also made the difficult decision to not hold HHN this year as they continue to face ongoing business restrictions and uncertainty around their opening timeframe.
I want to thank all of the teams for their hard work preparing for what would have been this year’s event. For so many of us, Halloween Horror Nights is a point of pride. Every fall, we get to experience what we are capable of when we put our creativity, operational know-how, teamwork, and ingenuity to the test. Over the past 30 years, the event has grown from its humble three-night beginnings to be named The World’s Best Halloween Event, for more than a decade running. Halloween Horror Nights is uniquely Universal, and we improve on it every year!
As you know, planning and development for Halloween Horror Nights is an ongoing process. We are truly fortunate to have Team Members put their blood, sweat, tears, and passion into Halloween Horror Nights, and I know how much our fans and Guests look forward to seeing it come alive. I have every confidence that our teams will adapt, and direct their energies towards making Halloween Horror Nights 2021 the ultimate homecoming of horror.
Until then, I know that our Team Members will remain dedicated to supporting each other and delivering unforgettable Guest experiences every day. For this, I am beyond grateful.
Thank you for understanding – and stay safe,
(7/20/20) It’s late July and strange black covered signs and truss steel structures are starting to appear around Universal Studios Florida. This includes some new signs, covered up of course, set up just outside of the former Fear Factor arena, which are likely a show time board for this year’s Academy of Villains show. Well, at least I hope they are still planning on having AoV return, I really enjoyed last year’s show. One of the big structures may actually be one of the big “wait time” signs for all the HHN Haunts as well. On the other side of the park, just to the left of the entrance for Revenge of the Mummy, a big gateway style piece of truss has been set up just outside the entrance to the I STEIN & CO. doors.
While Universal has yet to announce any details about this year’s HHN #30 event, not even a single haunt theme, I’ve got a feeling this may change in the near future. With luck, hopefully we’ll get some solid information about this year’s HHN by the end of the month.
In the meantime, Universal Orlando has also launched a special Halloween Horror Nights online store with tons of retro-merchandise featuring artwork and logos from previous year’s events.
(6/27/20) While everything is always subject to change, the early word is that Halloween Horror Nights is still going to happen at Universal Orlando this fall. This will be the big HHN 30 blow out and after the kind of year we’ve been having so far, this one should also be an event to remember. I’m told all the haunts are already either built or in the process of being finished, the various scenic elements for the scare zones are being constructed at offsite locations and for all intents and purposes, all things are “GO”.
We’ve also noticed that Orlando’s HHN Twitter account has been slowly increasing the frequency of their tweets lately, posting a bunch of fun throw-back posts in May and then even a fantastic and creepy background story was posted to the UO Blog about the legend behind one of the fantastic creations from HHN in 2018 that took place long ago in, where-else? Carey, Ohio.
I’m still very curious how things are going to play out in regards to the operation of the Haunts at HHHN 30, while still allowing social distancing. If you have attended HHN in the past you will be familiar with their typical “conga line” style method of traveling through the Haunts. While they do their best to pause to create some space between groups at the entrance, you always end up catching up to the group in front, creating this conga line effect. One concept I’ve seen put to use in several of the roadside haunts I’ve visited while living in North Carolina was to send groups through their haunts holding a very long piece of rope with knots tied into it at regular intervals. Guests are told to hold onto their knot and not let go of the rope while going through the haunt, which often involves long walks through the actual woods, so as to prevent guests from wandering off and getting lost, or showing up unannounced in a neighbor’s property. I could imagine something like this being put to use at HHN to keep guests from getting too close to each other, as well as giving them a place to put their hands so they don’t touch each other as well. (Note: That isn’t a rumor, just an observation and a possible idea)
(3/31/20) I’ve got some great news for Halloween Horror Nights fans. According to a Screamscape source, while construction on the major projects in the Universal Orlando parks has come to a stop, I’m told that work is already progressing on the construction of the mazes for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. They are working within the guidelines of social distancing and such, but since the mazes are all tucked away within the soundstages and other behind-the-scenes structures, work has been allowed to continue. Quite simply… it has to be allowed to continue, if for no other reason than that they would get too far behind to get it done in time for HHN to begin in September if they were forced to stop.
(2/20/20) Will The Walking Dead return to Halloween Horror Nights this fall in Orlando? The chances are good I’d say, as Universal Hollywood let it slip that The Walking Dead would be returning as a “focal point in our slate of Halloween Horror Nights mazes this fall.” This slip came out in a statement from the park confirming that the year-round walk-through “The Walking Dead” attraction would be closing for good on March 3rd.
Now Universal Orlando and Hollywood don’t always share every maze IP each year, so there is always a chance that it could just be for the Hollywood park, but you never know. And after all, with The Walking Dead getting ready to air new episodes once again, perhaps the time is right to make our first HHN maze announcement for the year, so stay tuned!
(11/6/19) Halloween Horror Nights 29 may be over and one for the books, but would you believe that Universal Orlando has already announced the dates for the epic Halloween Horror Nights 30?! That’s right… you’ve been warned and have no reason to miss this epic celebration taking place on select from September 10, 2020 through to Nov. 1st, 2020.
2021 - New CityWalk Development - (6/15/21) Universal Orlando has confirmed that Bend The Bao, an all new Asian quick service food location has now opened at CityWalk.
(4/2/21) As I predicted, Universal Orlando has opened the brand new Universal Studios Store in CityWalk. You can catch a video tour of the new stop along with a look at the Legacy store in the video below from our friends at Orlando Experience.
(3/27/21) It’s official… the existing Universal Orlando gift-shop in CityWalk has now been renamed as the “Universal Legacy Store”. Our friends at Attractions Magazine have posted a large new photo update showing off the new decor inside the store. I would imagine the new Universal gift shop site on the other side of CityWalk will probably be ready to open in the very near future as well.
(2/28/21) Universal CityWalk is soon going to have TWO Universal Studios themed stores. There is the original store just to your left as you pass through CityWalk and make the split towards Islands of Adventure, and then there is the new store listed on the promo artwork as “Universal’s Premier Retail Experience”, as you move down the right pathway towards the Universal Studios Florida park. This new location once served as home to several smaller stores, but has now been merged together into one giant sized retail location, and is set to open very soon.
So what will happen to the older store? It isn’t closing… in fact we’ve been told that the decor inside the old store is now in the process of changing and evolving more into a “throw-back” themed store that could focus on the logo, look and themes of Universal Studios Florida from when it first opened back in 1990. If you venture inside now you’ll see new themeing has been added all around to attractions of the past like Ghostbusters, Jaws, Kong, Hitchcock Presents and more mixed in with some modern old favorites like Jurassic Park and Revenge of the Mummy.
It kind of makes sense, as you may recall Universal’s retail division has been heavily practicing the same concept of highly themed Universal throw-back stores for the past year with the ever evolving “Tribute” store inside USF. These Tribute stores have been themed to Halloween Horror Nights, the winter Holiday season and now even Mardi Gras, so it only makes sense that everything they’ve tried and learned from the Tribute stores could be put to use for a permanent Universal Orlando “Tribute” store in CityWalk.
(1/30/20) According to a report at Inside Universal, some new changes are afoot at within Citywalk. According to the report, the Fresh Produce and Island Clothing Co. stores have both closed within the past month. There are also rumors that P!Q (located between the two) along with Fossil are both also expected to close sometime this year. According to the report, rumor has it that all four of these side-by-side locations, once closed, could be turned into one giant mega retail site.
Future Expansion Site / 3rd Theme Park - (8/3/19) Universal’s EPIC UNIVERSE was announced as the name of their next theme park coming to Orlando. All information and history about the rumors and development of this project have now been moved to an official EPIC UNIVERSE page for future reporting. Head on over and check out our complete breakdown about what was announced and what we think we know about this new park based on all concept artwork compared to the various rumors. (CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE NEWS ON EPIC UNIVERSE)