Fear is Back but From a Distance

Nicole Llanes, Editor in Chief


   With the skies growing dimmer, you walk to the main gates and see hundreds of people jumping and shouting with excitement, or clenching their loved ones out of fear. Beyond the gates and stumbling through the smoke front and center is the one and only Jack the clown, chanting through his megaphone “Jack is Back”. Following behind him are clowns and bloody characters all holding chainsaws, waiting for you to walk through the gates. Once the gates are opened and you set foot in the park, it is official, your Halloween Horror Nights experience has begun, and it’s going to be a long, fearful night.

   This year Halloween Horror Nights celebrated its 30th anniversary and had its select nights open from September 3rd to October 31st. This year’s houses included The Haunting of Hill House, The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, Beetlejuice, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Bride of Frankenstein Lives, HHN Icons Captured, Welcome to Scarey, Case Files Unearthed, Puppet Theater and The Wicked Growth. Many of these houses were from previous years, such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and HHN Icons Captured, which featured the main characters from previous HHNs. Isabella Rodriguez, senior, went to Halloween Horror Nights a week ago and explained her excitement for one specific house, “I watched all the seasons of The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix, so when I heard HHN was going to reenact the show in real life I was so excited. The house had many of the characters from the show such as the Bent Neck Lady and Top Hat man. Seeing it all in person just made the show feel so surreal and I was more excited than scared throughout the house.” HHN is prone to basing their houses after hit and current shows, such as in the past using Stranger Things, this really helps hit a direct audience and get more viewers for the shows/movies.

   Despite this being the 30th anniversary, many things had to change in both the scare zones and houses due to COVID-19. Last year, HHN was almost completely shut down as the pandemic had hit. However, the scares must continue! Instead of multiple houses and scare zones, only 3 houses were built. This year, the usual 9-10 houses were constructed and multiple scare zones were scattered around the park. However, within the houses plexi glass was used to separate the park goers and staff. Emily Suyama, senior, who went to HHN opening week explained the effect the plexi glass had on the experience, “Personally, I feel like the plexi glass completely ruined the houses. I know it’s meant to protect us from COVID but it took away the shock or suspense of whether or not someone was going to jump out from hiding. The plexi glass was a clear giveaway that someone was behind there and about to jump out.” Hopefully, the plexi glass won’t be a permanent feature of the houses as COVID begins to calm down. 

   For sophomore, Grace Arce, her HHN experience was more enjoyable as it was her first time at HHN. She stated, “My first time was scary, but very fun and full of surprises. My favorite house was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre because it was the one that scared me the most, but also made me laugh a lot.” She hopes to continue going in the upcoming years.

   Despite the setbacks and guidelines set by COVID, Universal has continued to work hard and create the fear all HHN goers love and anticipate each year. As time progresses, the previous experience of no plexiglass and true suspense will hopefully return. For now, the excitement and horror are still there, but in different ways. Do you have what it takes to experience Halloween Horror Nights?