Recently, Disneyland Resort made a big splash by introducing Zombie Captain America (as featured in the recent What If…? Disney+ series) to Disney California Adventure’s Oogie Boogie Bash parties. But believe it or not, this isn’t the first time a theme park has incorporated the Avengers into a Halloween event. Let’s take a look back at the little-remembered takeover of Marvel Super Hero Island for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Most guests who began attending Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights within the last decade probably think of it as an event that happens exclusively at Universal Studios Florida. But for a few short years in the early part of this century, Halloween Horror Nights invaded Islands of Adventure, including Marvel Super Hero Island.
During 2002, Halloween Horror Nights XII: Islands of Fear took place across all of Islands of Adventure, including Marvel Super Hero Island, which featured both a scare zone and a haunted maze. The event returned to Islands of Adventure the following year for Halloween Horror Nights 13, but only a Marvel scarezone appeared. And when Halloween Horror Nights spread across both parks in 2004 and 2005, haunted houses were located in Super Hero Island, but they didn’t have Marvel themes.
For 2002’s Island Under Siege scare zone and 2003’s Toxic City (as seen in these photos), Marvel Super Hero Island was given a menacing make-over that implied the super villains had finally triumphed and turned the pristine four-color city into a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Universal’s first and only Marvel-themed haunted house was called Maximum Carnage, and the building that was built behind Storm Force Accelatron to hold the maze, is still referred to by team members as the “carnage warehouse” to this day.
We unofficially heard that, unfortunately, the executives at Marvel Comics at the time (before they were bought by Disney), weren’t too happy about a theme park attraction depicting their heroes having been murdered – such as an impaled figure of Wolverine. So Maximum Carnage faded into Marvel, and it would be another 19 years before theme park guests could enjoy an encounter with their favorite superhero’s corpse.
Good photos and videos of Maximum Carnage and the other Marvel-themed Halloween Horror Nights attractions are hard to find online, but you can learn more by visiting the Halloween Horror Nights Fandom Wiki, and watching this clip from the 2002 documentary The Art of the Scare:
Here’s a look at Zombie Captain America, as he is currently appearing at Disney California Adventure’s Oogie Boogie Bash:
Did you visit Halloween Horror Nights any of these years? What are your memories of the event? Let us know below.