Tour Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights Mazes: ‘An American Werewolf in London,’ ‘Cabin in the Woods,’ ‘Evil Dead,’ and More
Posted on Monday, October 7th, 2013 by J. Christopher Arrison
You Will Know Kevin’s Wrath
Anyone who has seen The Cabin in the Woods probably senses how awesome a haunted house based on its twisted premise would be. If the maze solely stuck to the Zombie Redneck Torture Family of the first act, with those creatures lurching toward you, it’d be scary enough. But what would really be terrifying would be to find your way to the elevator room in The Facility just as the purge button is hit, with all hell breaking loose.
“We gotta do that!” Aiello said, remarking upon seeing Cabin the first time. At the media event, he relayed details of the maze’s origin. Aiello and his team roped in director and co-writer Drew Goddard. “Drew is an amazing guy,” Aiello said. “We talked about the maze for a half-hour and then basically talked about horror movies for four hours after that.”
Aiello assertion that the maze is the movie is dead on. If you know how the story unfolds, you can’t help but feel giddy as you enter the cabin and move through the basement, anticipating the villains you’ll soon unleash. Breaching the blood-soaked walls of The Facility is an absolute thrill as, suddenly, monsters and murderers swarm. Like the film, it would take several passes to distinguish every creature. (I can affirm that Kevin’s presence is felt.) Word of advice: Do not smirk at Fornicus, Lord of Bondage and Pain. He might pop out of his cube and make you scream like an six-year-old. I learned this the hard way.
If You Want Blood, You Got It
Whatever your feelings on the resurrection of Evil Dead, there’s no denying its core concepts of demon possession and bodily mutilation fit swimmingly in a place like Halloween Horror Nights. This is – by far – the nastiest maze. I mean that as high praise. Punches were not pulled bringing the gorefest to life, as Aiello would explain. “That’s what we got attached to: just how gory this film was.” Aiello noted that the maze is particularly representational. “You’re literally watching these scenes play out. You know, we got a room called ‘Blood Puke.’”
Blood Puke, indeed. Every gut-wrenching act of violence is lovingly depicted, combining convincing effects, deafening sound, and very committed performances. If you’re a hair squeamish, think twice. Like their repective films, Cabin and Evil Dead begin in similar places, yet the roads diverge sharply: one to winking anarchy, the other to blood, anguish, and chainsaw.
(In case you’re wondering, I discovered only a single nod to the original trilogy. Maybe there are several. I promise you won’t have time to look.)
Walkers As Far As the Eye Can See
The phenomenon of The Walking Dead relentlessly staggers forward, expanding its pop culture reach at the speed of a zombie outbreak. Not only does The Walking Dead return to Universal Orlando a second straight year, the entire park has been overtaken with scenes from all three seasons of the hit show. Heading from maze to maze you might spot the Well Walker, Bunny Slipper Girl, or Bicycle Girl while continually side-stepping less notable walkers. You can also check out faithful replicas of Dale’s RV, Hershel’s barn, and the tank (built from scratch). Street Program Director Laura Walsh stated that the park had never before attempted anything as ambitious. The effort to recreate the feel of the show stretches all the way to the performers. “Walkers from season one are a lot faster than season two or three,” she said. “We really put our walkers through an intensive training.”
As for the maze – entitled Walking Dead: No Safe Haven – Aiello envisioned a grand design that would showcase the season three battle between Woodbury and the prison survivors. “We’re able to build the prison yard. We got the guard tower. The scale of this thing is immense. The final room is the cell block from the show.”
In terms of scares, this is one of the gentler mazes. That’s not to say it isn’t scary; it is, especially when you encounter a victim getting ripped apart. But fans of the series should have an extra moment to savor the Governor’s aquarium and the cell block, an imposing realization of set design.