This is my second year in a row going to Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights. It's not quite as good as last year, but the construction cut down at least one maze and a couple of scare zones. It was still an enjoyable experience with lots of fun mazes. While Knott's was much better than last year, Universal still tops it because everything in every maze contributes to the scare: the amazing makeup and costumes, the music, the sound effects, and the detailed sets. It's just hard to beat.
* Halloween: Michael Comes Home
Halloween is my all time favorite horror film. This maze puts you right in the movie. Even waiting in line has a projection of little Michael killing his sister with the iconic John Carpenter music blaring with Dr. Loomis' description of Michael over it. What follows is like walking on to the movie sets. The most iconic scenes are there: little Michael in his clown costume, Michael in the sheet strangling Lynda, Judith's gravestone, even the scene with the bed sheets. Audio from the movie is all over the place and it lent a particular attention to detail. Going through the maze, I was too giddy to really be scared. It was amazing to see the sets up close and experience one of my favorite films. The only part I thought was lacking was the mirror maze part. While it was cool not to know which one was real, it wasn't part of any of the movies. I was a tiny bit disappointed the car scene with Lindsey wasn't there instead. Other than that, the maze was perfect and my favorite of this and last year.
* Crimson Peak
This is a brand new maze featuring a film I can't wait for. The sets are gorgeously replicated and the scares are top notch. The music is eerie and the house is beautiful and creepy. I'm intrigued by the story with the changing portrait, the vats of blood, and the ghostly woman, but the only draw back is that the story is unknown. I love the room where you walk through the dark. It's so simple to execute yet so effective. I get that they didn't want to spoil the movie, but I think it would be more effective if people had a chance to see the film first. Other than that, the maze was awesome and one of my top picks of the night.
* Insidious: Return to the Further
I don't make it a secret that I despise the Insidious movie. The first one was extremely unmenorable, the second was a transphobic mess, and I refuse to watch the third. However, the maze managed to be a million times more enjoyable than all the films combined. This was the first maze of the night when it was still light out. I usually wait until it's dark to enhance the ambiance, but I wasn't expecting much. That Tiny Tim rendition of Tiptoe through the Tulips is super creepy. The ghost lady and demon guy throughout the maze tied the whole thing together and scared me every time. The only part that fell flat for me was the "he's got your baby" guy. It almost fools me into rewatching the films, but not quite. This maze was an unexpected high point.
* Alien vs. Predator
This was the best maze of last year and it's exactly the same. There weren't any surprises, but the sets, animatronics, and actors were top notch as it was last year. The alien queen is giant and an impressive creation. Everything is here from the Predator hunters to the face huggers to the egg sacks that housed them. Glowing green Predator blood even splatters the walls and floor at times. Although the movies are cheesetastic, the maze is a frightening and fun to go through. Still highly recommended.
* The Walking Dead: Wolves Not Far
The Walking Dead maze starts just like season 5: with the inside of Terminus with butchered people left and right and murderous cannibals. Then it goes to St. Sarah's Church where the group holed up for a while and ends with a FEMA camp gone crazy. Not a lot is revealed of the new season, but it was cool to walk through season 5 of this awesome show.
Corpz is the best scare zone complete with zombie soldiers and creepy set pieces.
* This is the End
I liked the movie. It was hilarious, went places I didn't expect, and played with some horror movie tropes. The maze is kind of boring. The comedic film just doesn't translate well into a horror maze. The whole place is decorated in eyestabbing neon colors that are made all the more nauseating with 3D glasses. A similarly designed clown maze was there last year and I didn't like the effect either. Some of the dialog is censored which is jarring and none of it was really scary. The same demon is featured throughout the maze, but after the first couple surprises, it loses it's scary. Just meh,
* The Purge Terror Tram and Scare Zone
I actually really liked the lead up to the Terror Tram and Scare Zone. The Terror Tram advertises this party for people uninterested in participating in the Purge. There is supposed to be games, food, arts and crafts, and patriotic sing-a-longs. Then a sickeningly cheerful news anchor comes on and reveals that it's all a ruse. We are to be hunted down and killed as swine. The videos were really well done, but the actual scare actors were unimpressive. The Walking Dead Terror Tram was so much better last year and this one was disappointing. The Scare Zone had a similar set up and was equally disappointing, but a little shorter.
* All other scare zones
The other scare zones just weren't as immersive and interesting. One had a pest theme with mutated rats and cockroach people. The Krampus scare zone was better last year. The Purge scare zone was again done better last year by the Walking Dead.
* Go go dancers
I have no idea why the go go dancers are here. At least include male ones as well since the crowd isn't made up of all men. They are glaringly out of place and unnecessary.
* No VIP experience
The very awesome VIP experience last year included a rest room at the beginning so we don't have to wait in line, a guided tour through 2 mazes and the Terror Tram, a wonderful buffet with free drinks (regular and alcoholic), free valet parking, plus the buffet area is a quiet rest area for the VIP people with dessert later in the night. It was an amazing value even for the high price and now it's gone. There was no explanation really given and it's really disappointing. The VIP experience just gave it a little extra awesome and I hope it comes back next year.