Unmasking the Horror tours reveal the secrets of Halloween Horror Nights 24
By Don Gworek
There are “Unmasking The Horror” lights-on backstage tours available for many of the houses of Halloween Horror Nights. Each tour, morning and afternoon, visits three mazes. Here are some of secrets of six of the eight mazes, as seen on Sept 21, 2014.
WARNING: This article contains numerous spoilers. There are spoilers of what can be experienced in this year’s Haloween Horror Nights houses. There are also movie and television spoilers from the shows represented. Some of the photos are also graphic, and may not be appropriate for all ages.
One of the most popular mazes this year is AVP: Alien vs Predator. There are references to most versions of the individual and combined stories.
The overall back story is that the Predators have seeded Earth with Alien eggs so the Predator youth have a coming-of-age adventure hunting Aliens. Unfortunately for us, Earth is where we live, and humans are caught in the middle of this conflict.
The Alien puppets are simply amazing! They look just like the Aliens in the movies, and appear suddenly throughout the maze.
One of the sets in the maze has these detailed graphics representing the life cycle of Aliens.
One of the Predators is in a medical bed.
A top view of the Predator. The detail is incredible. Note the wound.
The art design and construction of the AVP maze is also amazingly detailed.
One of the gags in the maze is this face-hugger Alien rising toward you.
There is awesome detail in this severed android head.
An Alien egg-hatching room, with another face-hugger poised to grab you.
A great sculpture of a human victim who had hosted a face-hugger.
A full torso-to-head look at one of the Alien puppets.
This Alien menaces from above.
Most guests are directed to crouch down and exit through a low-ceiling pathway. However, this is not possible or a very uncomfortable position for many guests. If crouching is not for you, the team member at the opening can direct you to a bypass. This is a view looking back at the two pathways. The crouching pathway is at left, the bypass (with no show elements at all) is at the right.
Another very popular maze this year is The Walking Dead: End of the Line. This scene, seen along the queue for the maze, has a story spoiler for guests who are not caught up on episodes of the series. Note the severed head of Hershel. The body at the top right looks a lot like Glenn, but he’s not yet dead on the show, hmmm.
This area of the maze queue is lined with barbed wire. Really, it’s rope, painted to look like wire.
This flyer is seen just before entering the maze story. It’s some of creative staff at Universal. A joke by the maze designers. Note the name at top center, you’ll see the name again soon.
Next to the flyer is an official notice. The Walking Dead is set in Georgia. Read the text, and you’ll spot a different state there. Another hidden joke.
All seasons of The Walking Dead were featured in multiple areas of last year’s Halloween Horror Nights. This is how the maze ended for last year’s season.
And this is how this year’s Walking Dead maze begins, for this year’s season.
There’s a detail in this scene that is easily overlooked.
This bracelet detail may be a story spoiler.
In last year’s Unmasking the Horror tour, mention was made that the creative team decided to hide ravens into each scare zone and maze. The ravens were sort of easter eggs guests could search for, as well as an inside joke by the creative team.
A group realization is that the creative team has done hidden ravens again this year! We quickly started looking for ravens in each maze we toured.
Here’s the raven to find in the Walking Dead maze. When you see a tent, look quickly to the left.
(Note: we could not find a Raven in the AVP maze.)
There are more inside jokes in this store set.
Two creative team member surnames are on these cartons. Remember the name in the mugshots eight photos back in this article?
Remember the name on the right …
These names are probably more creative team members.
Team member photos.
Just cans here, as far as I know. Interesting graphics.
Be careful when looking at the boxes in this area, this gang of Walkers might come at you.
And while you are dodging Walkers in this store, look overhead, and you’ll spot that a helicopter has flipped and crashed through the roof.
It can be hard to tell which Walker is an actor in this area, poised to jump at you. Here’s some of the Walkers who can’t move.
On a table in a room that follows is a bottle of liquor. Same liquor name seen on a carton in the store set, seven photos back.
The story in the maze reaches Terminus. And there are more inside jokes!
Overhead are store signs, featuring the surnames of some of the signature event characters of Halloween Horror Nights. For example, “Schmidt” here is Jack Schmidt, better known as Jack the Clown, a hosting character of Halloween Horror Nights over the years.
Caine is the surname of the Caretaker character of past Halloween Horror Nights.
Paolo Ravinsky is the Director character in past Horror Nights.
Next is the From Dusk til Dawn maze. Note all the neon lighting, indoors. Local fire code doesn’t allow neon lighting indoors. So the creative team has done something else.
The neon is actually electro luminescent wire. The signage here looks just like neon when lit. There are buzzing-sign sound effects too.
Look to the right as you enter the maze itself, and you’ve found another hidden raven!
The director of the original “From Dusk til Dawn” movie had only one request. More snakes in one of the hallways.
Hallways in the mazes often have things hanging from the ceiling, to raise the ‘ick’ factor. Did you notice the snakes dangling overhead in this area?
There are two different live bands that play in this bar set in the maze. A reason to return to the maze, to hear the other band! Notice that the runway stage is shaped like coffin.
Next maze to look at is Dollhouse of the Damned. The arrow points to the hidden raven of this maze.
This gag, of a woman in half, was used a few years ago in the Penn and Teller Las Vegas themed maze. Here at the dollhouse it is a rag doll. The curtains are closed to hide some details, be sure to look for this effect when you tour the maze.
The ventriloquist dummy from the past Dead Silence house appears twice in this room. Look both left and right to see them.
When you pass an old woman, combing doll hair, look to the right.
It’s a well-hidden Chucky doll!
Next is a brief look at Roanoke, a cannibalism themed maze.
The hidden raven of this maze is to the left, just after entering the cornfield.
Something we saw every now and then in our maze tours was green tape, often with a note. This is how repairs are flagged. A broken arm happened on this show element.
The last maze to tour for this article is the “Halloween” movie maze. I’m not sure if this set of photos is a creative team member, or from one of the Halloween movies.
An operational change made early in this maze is switching the hinges on this door, from one side to the other. This was done so that guests are scared forward. Guests stopped when the door opened the other direction, toward the camera.
This car scene is pretty effective. An actor pretends to be strangled from behind, and she struggles hard to break free. Imagine how draining it is to perform this for an eight hour night!
What probably goes unnoticed by most guests is that the garage is fully created for the scene. Here’s a look backward, to see that there’s a completely realistic garage door.
This radio seems to play as you pass through the alley between two houses. However, the speaker on an actual radio wouldn’t be loud enough to be heard. Arrow points to the actual speaker, which vibrates the window loud enough to be heard like a jingle coming from the radio.
The hidden raven for this maze is also seen in the alley. Look near the exit sign at the far end of the alley.
And finally, here’s two more ravens to find. These are in the Face Off – In The Flesh scare zone.
These are just some of the highlights and secrets of this year’s Unmasking the Horror tours. There are several tours per week, with prices starting at $59.99. More information can be found on the Halloween Horror Nights Website.
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