Halloween Horror Nights 9/19-9/22

We had our first night of HHN tonight. It was not busy at all, and in every case the posted wait times were dramatically exaggerated.

Ghostbusters was posted 50 minutes, and our time from the sign to the exit was 24 minutes. Stranger Things posted time was 60 minutes, and it took 21 minutes. Killer Klowns posted time was 30 minutes and it took 9.


How were the houses?

Great so far! The scare zones seem more active this year too. The new waterfront show is 10 minutes and definitely worth getting there a little early.

The one thing that’s been annoying is that they’re very aggressive about keeping you right behind the person in front of you, to the point where if the group in front of you takes off running or just power walks through everything then you’re expected to keep up even if it means separating from your own group. If you don’t then they actually step into the walkway in front of you and start waving their hands and you don’t even get to see the stuff you’re rushing past.

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That rushing seems new!

I don’t remember it happening last year

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So tonight (9/20) is much busier, which is expected because it’s Friday. After doing quite a lot last night, and knowing that Sunday will likely be less busy tonight it’s all about shows and scare zones, and maybe some drinks and food items.

The people watching is pretty great, too.

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Final thoughts!

I liked all of the houses this year, unlike last year when I thought 2 of them were boring (including one I had been excited for). My favorite was Yeti, followed by Graveyard Games (which makes a lot more sense if you actually pay attention to the pre-show on the wall outside the house) and Us.

The Rob Zombie scare zone was a disappointment… very short, they only played one or two different songs from the album it’s named after, and there just weren’t enough scarers. The Vikings one was equally lame. On the other head, Zombieland and Vanity Ball were both very fun, and the chainsaws by the Simpsons never disappoint.

As I said before, all of the drinks were good but they decided to roll out the cups one per week, so only
the Ghostbusters and Monsters designs were available. The one I really wanted (Ghostbusters) was first, so we got that one but they were running out by Friday night. I’d have liked to get all 4.

We had street corn and pumpkin donuts in the Starcourt mall, and they were both good but while the street corn had good flavor, the crema/mayo was drippy and they used large bits of cheese instead of a finer cotija so it didn’t stick at all and we had to use a fork (thank you bamboo flatware from F&W fest!). The green popcorn was occasionally too green and that made it way too salty. Pizza fries seemed to be a bigger portion, but I didn’t try the s’mores fries because they were at the same stand and the smells mixed together made me queasy. All of the twisted tater flavors were good except salt & vinegar, which always just tastes like sweat off the Devil’s big toe.

We didn’t see the Academy of Villains show. Last year’s was painfully loud (even to my friends and me, who go to lots of concerts) and we could tell from walking by that this year was equally loud. The new projection show was very good, and it’s worth waiting for a decent spot near the middle, though they have 3 or 4 shows so you don’t have to wait too early.

The best strategy we found was to be in the back Scare and Scream area (by the Simpsons), because then we finished House of 1000 Corpses, Blood Pit, and Depths of Fear without waiting before the early crowds for back there. We found that the wait times were really all over the place, often jumping by 15-30 minutes in either direction several times per hour. For the most part they were very inflated, unless a ton of Express pass holders came at the time. In the last hour no houses had more than 15 minute waits, though rides did.

I never experienced really pushy staff in houses after the first night, so that must have been a fluke. Thursday had predictably low crowds, and Friday was easily 3x as busy. Saturday night was actually considerably less busy than Friday night, because they sold a less expensive pass for September and October that has Saturdays blacked out, and that really seemed to keep crowds down. Sunday was slightly busy until about 10:00, but after that the crowd dropped dramatically.