By Fowl Owlerson
Disclaimer: Unless where otherwise noted, the following is rumor and speculation, and should not be regarded as fact unless confirmed by the companies mentioned.
Production for the following year of Halloween Horror Nights typically begins as the current year ends, with the design team working with other departments to construct the mazes, scare zones, theme and so on. So it’s not too early to start talking about the rumored new houses.
Over on the East coast, Halloween Horror Nights 27 (2017) is rumored to have had a major budget cut. The rumored reason was the revamped Universal’s Holiday Parade, which in its defense, was a much-needed refresh with expensive-looking floats. The money allotted for Halloween Horror Nights Orlando falls under the same umbrella, so to speak, as Grinchmas, Universal’s Holiday Parade, Mardi Gras, etc. — they’re all categorized as “holiday events.” So when one event requires a greater budget, this, in turn, results in cuts for the other events.
Were any of the cuts to Halloween Horror Nights noticeable this past year? Perhaps, if you knew where to look. The virtual reality maze didn’t return. The Hive maze didn’t boast a facade (It was a large rectangle box with a poster plastered on it instead.). The scare zone between Shrek 4-D and Despicable Me was essentially a hodge-podge of the licensed content thrown together. And there were various instances of reused props, set-pieces and layouts (more than usual).
To put it in perspective, a source disclosed to me that the money allotted for Halloween Horror Nights 27 was less than what was allotted for the previous two years. For Halloween Horror Nights 28, I suspect this won’t be an issue.
“Stranger Things” is rumored to be a licensed maze for both Orlando and Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights. Stephen King’s “It” is another rumored maze for both coasts, and the word is it’ll be based on the imagery from the 2017 film. An Alfred Hitchcock Presents style maze featuring select works from the director’s filmography such as “Vertigo”, “Rear Window”, and “Psycho” is also rumored for the Orlando event. An H.P. Lovecraft maze has been rumored for a great deal of time for the Orlando event, so naturally, that’s once again in the cards for 2018.
David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is rumored to be part of the horror classics type of haunted maze for 2018, with last year’s being “The Shining”. The premium virtual reality maze is rumored to return to Orlando in 2018. FX’s “American Horror Story”, of course, is rumored to return to Hollywood and Orlando, although expect both coasts to have their own takes on the series.
Halloween Horror Nights 25 is rumored to serve as the framework for 28 and 29, with there being a similar ratio of licensed haunted mazes and original concept haunted mazes, a new logo and accompanying theme and merchandise, and other little flourishes along the way. Halloween Horror Nights 30 is rumored to be a reunion year of sort (think 16, 20 and 25) with the return of Jack the Clown and perhaps other characters.
This is all the “broad strokes.” The finer details will be filled in later and that’s the way these things go. Nothing is set in stone. Not yet, anyway.
• Fowl Owlerson has been attending theme parks since he was a little owlet. When he’s not filtering through the latest murmurings around the industry, he can be found writing, reading and snacking on the occasional rodent. Follow him on Twitter @fowlowlerson for the latest rumors, or drop an anonymous letter to him at [email protected] or via direct message on Twitter.