Halloween Horror Nights: Taking Kids For The First Time 10/03/11
Guest blogger Sunshine Davis writes about Florida shopping at her blog, http://www.SunshineStateShopping.com . She has shopped every outlet mall and shopping center in Florida, and is passionate about the treasure hunt aspect of shopping. Sunshine loves to share the best places to go to find amazing designer clothing and accessories at dramatic discounts. Contact Sunshine at email@example.com.
Living in Orlando, you can’t escape the yearly reminders of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. When my kids were little, they would get scared and cry every time we passed the spooky billboards advertising the event on I-4. How times have changed… for the past few years they have been begging me to let them go, and finally, now that they are 12 and 14, we decided to go for it.
Not being a horror fan myself (I refuse to watch anything scarier than Alfred Hitchcock films!) I was concerned that we would all be terrified. My worst fear was that the kids would freak out and demand to leave, therefore wasting the $200 or so we forked down to get in. So I made a plan to help the kids (and me!) get through the night, and we all ended up actually enjoying it a lot!
My kids are very creative, they love making art and learning how things work on shows like “How It’s Made,” and over the last couple of years they have become interested in how Halloween Horror Nights is created. They watched lots of behind the scenes and ‘making of’ HHN videos on YouTube, and we even went to a Tweetup event hosted by Universal where we met the three HHN creators and saw a presentation on their creative process. We saw many of the scare-actors in full costume and makeup, and seeing them in that kind of environment allowed us to focus on the impressive technical aspects of the event, in a non-threatening way. Since most people don’t have the opportunity to go to an event like this, you can accomplish the same thing by researching the event on Universal’s excellent Halloween Horror Nights website and going through the many behind-the-scenes videos available online.
If you’re planning a first-time visit with your kids to HHN, I recommend that you get there right when the park opens, and walk through all of the scare zones. Having people in costume jump out at you in broad daylight is much less frightening, since you can see what’s going on around you. We all were able to see the amazing detail that Universal puts into the various zones, and to learn the best ways to get through them. The most impressive scare zone is Seven Deadly Sins, which depicts the classic vices like Vanity, Greed, and Gluttony. That one is especially important to visit early, since the characters appear beautiful at first and then change costumes and makeup, growing more horrific as the night goes on. When we went through the scare zones later, in the dark, we all felt more confident and less terrified. My 12-year-old son enjoyed this part the most, he liked playing with the scare-actors that were chasing him. I think he felt very empowered since he wasn’t scared like his mom and all of the teenage girls around him!
The only haunted house I’d ever been in before was in a small local carnival, and it was horrifying because they locked a group of us in a pitch-dark room with no way out, and left us there with lots of scary noises. I was afraid of feeling trapped in the haunted houses, especially since my son has claustrophobia. I needn’t have worried, since Universal does a great job of balancing the fear factor with multiple levels of security. In every room in the haunted houses, there were uniformed Universal employees, guiding us through the rooms and making sure that everyone was ok.
Given the ample quantities of alcohol served and the large crowds of young people at HHN, I was also worried about our safety if other guests got out of hand. Universal did a great job with this, too. There were policemen and security guards EVERYWHERE, we would have been hard pressed to ever look around us without seeing one. It was a great feeling to know that there was always someone nearby to help us if we ever felt threatened.
The haunted houses range from mildly startling to truly terrifying. The ‘H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror’ is a campy, fun romp through a 1960’s style horror show, with lots of silly holiday characters. It’s a great choice for your first haunted house to walk through, since it’s fairly non-traumatic and the rooms are interestingly varied with lots of funny details. Some of the other houses are extremely frightening. The Nevermore house, which takes you through scenes from Edgar Allen Poe’s writings, was amazingly well-done. My daughter and I are big Poe fans and really enjoyed seeing scenes from his books come to life. I wish we’d had more time in each room, to look at how they did it. The Poe scare-actors were really effective, aided by lighting and excellent camouflage, so they had me screaming multiple times.
I definitely recommend going with a large group of people. In addition to my two kids, we had a couple of adult friends join us, which helped my daughter feel much more secure in the haunted houses. She wanted someone holding onto her on both sides and someone in front of her and behind her, so that’s the way we went through all the houses. I walked in front of the group, leading the way, so I was the target most of the time, which made it easier on her. If you have a teenage girl in your party, it’s best to have lots of ‘buffers’ to walk with, since the scare-actors definitely go after young girls, knowing they produce the best screams!
Like it or not, Halloween Horror Nights has become something of a rite of passage among Central Florida teenagers. It can be a really fun experience if you are smart about it and come prepared. When you finally decide it’s time to introduce Halloween Horror Nights to your kids, do your research, go with a group, and arrive early, and you’ll all be sure to have a great time!
Both comments and pings are currently closed.