On the March 13’s episode of Talking Dead it was announced that Universal Studios Hollywood would be creating an all new live experience of the Walking Dead. This article’s aim is to discuss the attractions concept as well as history of similar events at Universal Hollywood.
Universal Hollywood first started an event called Halloween Horror Nights in 1997 aimed at giving guest the experience of living out licensed Universal properties through attractions and scarezones located on sound stages and various venues around the park and studios. While Universal Studios Hollywood had done previous Halloween related events the park had no consistency in regards to having the events yearly due to disagreements with its designs teams. After success with its seasonal events Universal Studios would go on to open Universal’s House of Horrors in 2007. This location previously hosted temporary attractions high lighting films such a Van Helsing and the Mummy. House of Horror’s became a permanent attraction open year round hosting a variety of characters in the style of a true haunted house. Live performers included the Mummy, the Wolfman, Norman Bates, Frankenstein, Nosferatu, and other characters. As guest walked through film sets performs would jump out and scare guest making them a part of the live performance. This soon became a testing ground for new concepts which would make their way into the seasonal Halloween Horror Nights event. The House of Horror’s was a popular attraction until it’s closing in 2014 when Universal promised a new and exciting attraction to replace it.
With the success of the Walking Dead, Universal brought the franchise to Halloween Horror Nights where for 4 years it became an iconic part of the seasonal event. Throughout the four years the franchise was featured as a Maze, Scare-zone. Terror Tram, and even the theme for the entire event. These various attractions highlighted elements from each season of the show including Grady Memorial Hospital and even Terminus. Each year as the series raised its own bar, Universal attempted to raise theirs through various themed environments sometimes even utilizing real sets such as the War of the Worlds plane crash set located on the studios backlot. The continued success of the seasonal attractions has now lead to a new permeant attraction opening this summer.
As with their past seasonal attractions Universal is working directly with various teams from the show to make their attraction as realistic as possible. This can be seen and demonstrated in the videos below where Gregory Nicotero describes his collaborative efforts with Universal’s Halloween Horror Night’s attractions. The new walk through experience will include make up/effects, animatronics, costuming, and props replicated from the series. This permanent feature will be located in a custom built structure near the main entrance to the park. With such a limited time window to create a large scale attraction it is believed by many within the haunted house industry that the attraction may just be a compilation of the past 4 Walking Dead mazes used at Halloween Horror Nights with some added effects and scenes from the current season.
Past Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Walking Dead Attractions:
Halloween Horror Nights Year One of Walking Dead
Halloween Horror Nights Year two of Walking Dead
Halloween Horror Nights Year three of Walking Dead