For the first time in its 19-year history, Halloween Horror Nights will be completely devoted to scary movies, Universal Studios theme park announced today.
All eight haunted houses and each of its six scare zones — home to terrifying street performers — are inspired by big-screen thrillers.
"We're turning the front gate into the facade of the Universal Palace Theater. There will be a box office, there will be a movie screen showing trailers," said Michael Roddy, show director for Universal Orlando Entertainment. "And then once you walk in, all these environments, all these movies are ripped from the silver screen and come to life."
As announced in June, three contemporary movie characters will be featured. Jigsaw (from the Saw series), Chucky (Child's Play) and the Wolfman (from a film set to open in February) will be set up in their own houses.
Saw producer Oren Koules, who lives in Tampa, said he looks forward to the after-hours event, which runs for 23 select nights beginning Sept. 25.
Koules said that having people experience the Saw films live — "not just on the screen, but to have people walk through it, taste it, touch it and feel it — is amazing for us."
SawVI debuts Oct. 23. The movies, which each have been released near Halloween, are graphic, violent, mind-game-driven films filled with traps. The Saw house at Horror Nights is designed to be intense, Roddy said. Guests will be the ones being tested, he said.
"As they progress farther into the maze, every step they take is causing and affecting the traps to be sprung."
Two houses will be devoted to Dracula and Dr. Frankenstein's monster. Two others are inspired by B movies based on a Midwestern, chainsaw-wielding family and "cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers," Roddy said. The eighth house will highlight several horror films including Shaun of the Dead and The Phantom of the Opera.
The scare zones will spotlight corpses reanimated into super-soldiers, a toxic green mist, a chainsaw drill team, an abandoned drive-in theater and half-human, half-beasts. One zone will be devoted to Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, a Universal Pictures film also set to open Oct. 23.
Two stage shows return: "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" and " The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Tribute."
Dewayne Bevil can be reached at 407-420-5477 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Theme Park Rangers blog at orlandosentinel.com/tpr.