Eli Roth halloween horror nights

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Hostel director Eli Roth lends his talents to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Visitors to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will get a Zootopia exclusive.
  • Disneyland is getting a villain and ghost-themed Halloween parade.
  • The dance troupe Jabbawockeez returns to Halloween Horror Nights.
  • California Adventure’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is getting a temporary seasonal re-do.
  • Legendary Imagineer Tony Baxter shares an early design for a Mary Poppins ride.
  • A look at new decorations popping up for Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Early footage of the under-construction Star Trek: Operation Enterprise.
  • Check out the full map for Universal Studios Florida’s Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Go behind-the-scenes of the latest Frozen stage show.
  • And more!

There tends to be some overlap between the east coast and west coast versions of Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights, but the Hollywood version will always have one thing the Florida version will not: the Terror Tram, which transforms the park’s legendary tram tour into a spooky new attraction whose theme changes every year. And for the 2016 edition, they have turned to Hostel and Cabin Fever director Eli Roth to provide the story. Here’s a bit from the official press release, which includes Roth lavishing praise on Universal’s hugely popular seasonal event:

“Eli Roth Presents Terror Tram” will expose guests to the fabled legacy of serial killer clown “Hollywood Harry,” the story of a former jovial celebrity clown turn depraved murderer, and the minefield of carnage he left behind.

“I’m thrilled to be part of ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ again,” said Eli Roth. “We wanted to completely fabricate an original story that brings together our absolute freakiest, scariest most disturbing ideas. The ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ team is the best in the business. Their production and execution is unmatched and I know this ‘Terror Tram’ experience will blow away all expectations, and haunt guests for the rest of their lives. ‘Halloween Horror Nights is the must-see event for any horror movie fan—it’s like the Super Bowl for scary movies, and is my favorite event of the year.”

And as those paragraphs implies, Roth’s story will involve a killer clown who plots revenge on Universal Studios and everyone who dares visit it:

The all-new “Terror Tram” experience will tell the sordid tale of former Angeleno resident Harold Kappowitz whose alter ego “Koodles the Clown” went from cheerful circus performer, to the lovable star of his own children’s network television show…before he was overcome by his genuine “killer instincts.”

By the 1990s, hard knocks took a deadly toll on Kappowitz, and the onetime endearing clown found himself exiled by the very Hollywood entertainment community that once adored him. With an all-consuming anger and hatred, Kappowitz—a now crazed and disheveled recluse—took refuge from society by hiding out at Universal Studios, emerging as notorious serial killer clown, “Hollywood Harry.” Recurring murders began to dominate the studio, as “Hollywood Harry” drew strength from recruiting other outcast former clowns who, together, took revenge on Studio Tour guides and visitors alike, ceremoniously killing them, and leaving behind a deadly trail of terror.

Considering how cinematic Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights events tend to be (most of them are, after all, based on well-known movie properties), recruiting a filmmaker who also happens to be a genuine horror nerd like Roth makes a lot of sense. Hopefully, this will be the start of a trend – getting the chance to see various other noteworthy directors take a stab at the haunted house business could be terrific.

Speaking of things coming to Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, the acclaimed dance group Jabbawockeez is returning to to the park this year. Here’s the official details:

Jabbawockeez, the acclaimed, award-winning hip hop dance group, universally recognized as America’s best dance crew, returns to Universal Studios Hollywood for a new electrifying original series of performances, enhanced by spectacular multi-color laser projections and the addition of the first-ever female dancer, as part of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights.

The always-reliable AliciaStella.com has posted a whole bunch of new photos and video from a recent visit to Universal Studios Florida, including man photos of early Halloween Horror Nights decorations. You can follow that link to check out a whole bunch of images. But be warned! There are also new images of the under-construction Jimmy Fallon ride, which may be the most terrifying thing on the entire page.

halloween horror nights map

Let’s wrap up this wave of Halloween Horror Nights news with this first look at the park for the Orlando version of the event, which features locations for each of the nine haunted houses, five Scare Zones, and two lives shows. As was previously announced, this year’s line-up includes mazes based on American Horror Story, The Exorcist, The Walking Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Krampus, and several original concepts.

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