A Horror Nights missed opportunity with ‘Treehouse of Horror’ – DePaoli on DeParks
Right from the top, I’ll admit that I am not the biggest fan of “The Simpsons.” I haven’t seen very many episodes and I simply was never enthralled by it the way so many are. But it always seemed like a no-brainer to me that “The Simpsons” could have (and should have) been a part of Halloween Horror Nights in the Universal Studios theme parks. But now, it’s probably too late and this opportunity has been missed.
Even as a non-Simpsons fan, I am familiar with the series’ iconic “Treehouse of Horror” episodes that have aired around Halloween annually since the show’s second season. These episodes typically involve the iconic family in some sort of horror, science fiction or supernatural story. The episodes are broken up into multiple segments, so there are plenty of different settings and stories to choose from.
As a non-Simpsons fan and a huge “Back to the Future” fan, I was in the camp of major disappointment when The Simpsons Ride replaced Back to the Future: The Ride in 2008. Frankly, I’m still not over this today, but that’s a whole other article. One thing that could have been a slight compensation is if “Treehouse of Horror” had its own featured haunted house as part of Halloween Horror Nights, considering it would now have the perfect location.
Perhaps one of the creatives at Universal thought of this idea and they simply couldn’t get the required legal paperwork in place to make it part of the event, but you’d think that with them already having the rights to use the characters in the park, it wouldn’t be that difficult to get permission. On top of that, Universal Studios seemed to have a good relationship with 20th Century Studios and FX since Halloween Horror Nights has included some of their properties, like “Alien vs. Predator” and “American Horror Story,” respectively.
As much as I’m not a huge fan of The Simpsons Ride, I must admit that I like how they made the surrounding area into Springfield. During Halloween Horror Nights, they do a good job playing new arrangements of “The Simpsons” theme song and more Simpsons music to fit the Halloween theme. So why not take it a step further and at least give us a “Treehouse of Horror” scare zone?
Perhaps some of you are thinking that The Simpsons aren’t scary enough, and therefore wouldn’t fit the overall theme of Halloween Horror Nights. I would simply argue that in the past, the event has certainly strayed toward the direction of fun and comedy more than horror in certain mazes. One of the first that comes to mind is when there was a “This Is the End” maze. And even last year’s “Ghostbusters” maze was more fun than scary. I think “Treehouse of Horror” could be handled in a similar manner.
So from 2008 when “The Simpsons” became part of the Universal parks, until 2019 when The Walt Disney Company acquired 21st Century Fox (and therefore “The Simpsons”), Halloween Horror Nights potentially had the chance to create what I believe would have been one of its most popular houses in history. My guess is that with the Disney acquisition, getting the rights to do a Simpsons maze at this point is highly unlikely. And the chances of Disney doing something with “Treehouse of Horror” in their parks is also probably unlikely, since my guess is that they have similar restrictions about using those characters in the parks as they do with Marvel.
Overall, it saddens me to think that for 11 years, a Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” haunted house or scare zone would have fit perfectly into Halloween Horror Nights, but now, due to legalities, this opportunity has most likely passed.
What do you think? Would you have liked to see something like this as part of the event? If so, do you have a particular “Treehouse of Horror” episode you would have liked to seen featured?
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He is the host and producer of “That Halloween Podcast,” a new show where you can hear Halloween-loving conversations with fantastic guests from the haunt, horror and entertainment industries every day this October. Listen and claim your FREE Halloween gifts at DePodcastNetwork.com.