Sunday, August 30, 2009

Universal Orlando Orlando, FL

Universal Orlando
Orlando, FL
NBC Universal / Blackstone Group

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icon_STOPHalloween Horror Nights 19 - (8/28/09) A new press release from Universal Orlando confirms that this year’s entire event will be inspired by Hollywood’s biggest mega horror hit films and contains the complete list of attractions with three based on films that have yet to rip into the silver screen itself. There are 8 confirmed haunts this year:

SAW – F2009_0708_HHN_Artwork_600or years you have come to celebrate Halloween and to witness the weakness of others. The only way to gain redemption for this voyeuristic obsession is to truly know what it means to bleed, to feel weak; to experience pain. Jigsaw will give you this experience. Happy Halloween. Let the games begin.
The Wolfman – Pure. Animalistic. Rage. Take a journey through England’s countryside and come face to fangs with one of the most terrifying creatures to ever explode from the silver screen. Forget everything you thought you knew, and prepare yourself for the sights and sounds of the newest addition to Universal Pictures’ legacy of horror.
Chucky: Friends to the End – Ever wonder what happens when good toys go bad? Chucky has been hard at work, tinkering with your favorite childhood playthings. Nothing is what it seems as you step inside and experience what its like to live in Chucky’s world. This is no Child’s Play.
Dracula: Legacy of Blood – Welcome to Castle Dracula on the night of “The Calling.” Vlad Dracul bids you welcome – be you one of the chosen women who has been called or merely a mortal man. Those who have been chosen must decide whether to join the Dark Prince in everlasting life as his brides, or reject his offer and suffer for all eternity. The blood must be renewed. The fate of the legacy hangs in the balance – Dracula’s legacy of blood.
Frankenstein: Creation of the Damned – It has been a fortnight since his creation caused the castle to be engulfed in flames. Doctor Frankenstein now continues his work to perfect the art of resurrection and regeneration, surrounded by his creations. The Creature has also returned, to make the Doctor pay for the pain and suffering he has had to endure. The Creature will destroy everything in his path to gain redemption, and you are now caught in the middle of this epic battle.
The Spawning – Something “different” has moved in among the sewers of Wyandot County, Ohio. The locals claim that these creatures, these “Sculders,” are two feet tall, with the body of a snake. As a volunteer member of the local water district, it is your civic duty to venture into these pipes and restore the flow. But beware, the locals are wrong about the “Sculders” and the only thing that will be flowing is your blood as it leaves your lifeless body.
Leave it to Cleaver – Samuel Meetz works for the people of Carey, Ohio as a butcher, bringing them the freshest meat possible. With a steady livestock of transients and town lawbreakers with which to serve, and a staff of volunteers who will preserve their towns deadly secret by any means necessary, there is truly no end in sight for Samuel or his family business. As Sam always says: Meet Me at Meetz…The Z stands for cannibal.
Silver Screams – Julian Browning has been the usher in the Universal Palace since it opened in 1922, of course, he’s been dead since 1940, but he still commands respect for his most beloved films from every patron. Buy a ticket to the Universal Palace, and let Julian usher you into a realm where the horror on the screen is ripped away to reveal a world that is truly terrifying. Features “Shaun of the Dead,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “My Bloody Valentine 3D” and other popular horror films.

In addition to the two hit shows, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure and The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Tribute there will be six awesome Scare Zones this year:

Lights, Camera, Hacktion!!! – Hollywood Boulevard is being used as a location for the filming of the next big horror movie to be released in October 2010: The CHAINSAW DRILL TEAM MASSACRE in 3-D. Lights, Camera, Hacktion! Our director, Mas Imair, noted horror film aficionado, is bringing the massacre to life in blood-red terrorcolor. But the actors seem to be taking their direction literally and are “hacking” through the cast and crew. It’s a close encounter of the worst kind as the backlot becomes a hacklot and the streets run red with blood. Are you ready for your close-up?
Cirque Du Freak – Inspired by Universal Pictures’ upcoming film “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” which tells the fantasy-adventure tale of a boy who unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires. Pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.
Horrorwood Die-In – The Hollywood Drive-in has been closed for years, and some say the abandoned grounds are haunted, where late at night the dim flickering images of carnage and chaos, monsters and madmen leave the screen and enter the real world looking for fresh victims to star in their latest horrors.
Apocalypse: City of Cannibals – A whole civilization of war-like carnivorous humanoids emerges from the sewers and underground tunnels of New York, looking for fresh food. Half-humanoid, half-beast and ravenous, these tribal cannibals invade the streets of Manhattan. No one is safe!
Containment – When an experimental bio-nerve gas is accidentally released into the atmosphere, the streets are filled with a toxic green mist that turns anyone that comes in contact with it into an infected, melting glob of flesh and blood.
War of the Living Dead – On a remote island in the Pacific during the last days of World War II, German military attempted to create the unthinkable – a new breed of super-soldier made from the reanimated corpses of the dead. American forces quickly seized the island compound, but not before the reanimate agent was released. The island was quarantined and has remained a secret until now. Fifty years later, the two opposing dead forces are still locked in immortal combat with you caught in the crosshairs.

Still want more? Behind The Thrills managed to record and post today’s conference call with the producers of the SAW film series and Michael Roddy. And by the way… the all new HHN Website is now live, featuring that creepy movie usher character I’ve been telling you about for months now as this year’s host / icon character. Want to see something extra interesting? Check out the downloadable wallpaper at the Concessions Counter and look closely at the bottom of the Leave It To Cleaver and Spawning movie posters which include a Fangoria logo. A future announcement to come or did they back out of the deal and someone forgot to remove this extra from the wallpaper graphics? A good video about the making of the haunts has also been posted to YouTube and embedded below.

(8/25/09) The newest update to the HHN website wasn’t the big update I was expecting, perhaps revealing our host icon, instead it just added the next chapter, Electrocuted. Given the theme of lightning blasts, electrocution and organ harvesting, I can only guess that they are hinting at the Frankenstein haunt with this one. They have also dropped hints that new updates could start appearing very frequently from now on, and you may want to check out the official HHN page on Facebook, as they will be hosting an official Q&A session there on Thursday between 3-3:30pm EST with Michael Roddy.
(8/21/09) For anyone curious, a new trailer for the new Wolfman film can be found at
AintItCool, which actually gives a plug for Halloween Horror Nights at the end.
(8/19/09) Like most people, I’m afraid I’ve become a little disappointed with the rather slow progress of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights website. Compared to years past where we were treated to huge story building events online, this year’s attempt is moving at a snail’s pace and has yet to really draw me in. Of course, this has led some to wonder, just what happened to the whole Legendary Truth storyline from last year? After the Bloody Mary story evolved into the big investigation story during HHN itself from The Collective, many expected to see that story bridge the gap into this year’s event. So far... we’ve got nothing... or do we?
According to a post over at Behind The Thrills, they have made a great and possible connection between the old Legendary Truth site and this year’s site. It all has to do with the color coding of those little buttons at the bottom of this year’s screen and how they match up with what we’ve seen before.
(8/6/09) Screamscape sources have come forward with the names and basic themed of the unknown haunts. The Parade Building maze (codename: Flashlight) will indeed be themed as the haunted Universal Palace Theater and possibly use the name Silver Screams. Meanwhile the Disaster queue area (codename: Plea Sant Vielle) will indeed be given a quiet small neighborhood theme with various storefronts, and I’m betting a butcher shop may also be a big part of this. I’ve also heard that Fangoria is involved here in some fashion, possibly with the design, and the rumored name for this haunt is: Fangoria Presents: Leave It To Cleaver. Fangoria isn’t done there though, as they are also rumored to be involved with our last unknown maze in Sprung Two entitled, Fangoria Presents: The Spawning. I’ve still got no idea what the theme of that one may be yet however.
(8/3/09) I’m going to recap a bit on what we think we know about this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. First off... lets talk about the mazes, rumored themes and locations. Over in Soundstage 23 I believe we have two mazes fully built right now for Dracula and Frankenstein. The nearby Soundstage 22 is also thought to be home to the Wolfman maze. The Jaws Queue area has been pretty much confirmed as the location of the SAW maze this year, though the Disaster queue area still isn’t entirely known. It was one thought that this may be the Universal Theater themed concept, codenamed Flashlight, but now that maze is thought to be the one going into the Parade building instead. So what is going into Disaster? A series of weird building facades... which we’ve heard was codenamed “Plea Sant Vielle”. I’ve also heard something about a possible butcher shop and pet stores being part of the scenery used here. Anyone have an idea? Finally this brings us to the two mazes in the “Sprung One” and “Sprung Two” structures betwee MIB and Simpsons. We know one of these has been confirmed as the Chucky themed maze but the other is still not known. The only clue was a codename... Civic Duty. Again... these are all still rumors for the most part, so anything is subject to change or not being entirely correct.
(6/29/09) While we still don’t know much more about this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, an early rumor we received a few weeks ago does now hold more water. At the time they claimed that this year’s event would be more ‘movie’ themed once again, and that this year’s icon character may actually be some kind of twisted old-fashioned movie theater Usher character with a flashlight. Time will tell if this rumor also holds water.

Resort News - (7/28/09) Good news today for those of you with with cheaper $99 “Season Passes” to Universal Orlando. According to the Orlando Sentinel Universal has lifted the blackout dates from those passes. The blackout dates however remain in effect for the Power Passes. By the way... check out the Halloween Horror Nights website again for a few new updates to the Theater site.
(7/2/09) Good news for Universal Orlando this week as a lengthy lawsuit between them and the Orange County Property Appraiser’s Office has reached a settlement that will give the resort a $1.4 million tax refund. Read more here.
(4/21/09) Bad news for Universal Orlando, as the Orlando Sentinel reports that attendance at the resort is down 20% so far for the year (Q1) compared to the same period the year before. This has been caused by a combination of the downturn in the economy as well as the moving of Spring Break out of Q1 and into Q2 this year.
(3/26/09) Universal Orlando has reported a $9.3 million decline in profits for Q4 (55%), dropping from $16.8 million in 2007 to just $7.5 million this past year. While the parks are only responsible for a 4% attendance loss, the company lost out the rest due to investment losses, and troublesome interest-rate swaps.

Future Resorts, Parks & other Expansions - (12/4/07) Screamscape sources



have sent a piece of concept artwork discovered showing off what the proposed new 16-story tall 1,800 room hotel project may look like. As described in the master plan amendment, this hotel would go right across Hollywood Way behind the Jurassic Park building, between Turkey Lake Road and Adventure Way. We also have map over the overall new master plan, a small piece of artwork showing off what the proposed employee apartment building would look like. There is also a photo of the billboard showing off The Promenade (mixed use office/retail/restaurant) going in across from the Hess station as well as a construction photo of the site posted to OrlandoRocks.
(8/2/07) Today we have to discuss the fate of Wet ‘n Wild. It’s been a few years since anyone talked about this, but the latest rumors claim that the end of the road for Wet ‘n Wild may be in sight. For those who need a little history lesson, I confirmed a few years back that the property under Wet ‘n Wild is actually not owned by the park or Universal, but was part of a land lease deal signed by the creators of Wet ‘n Wild back before it opened in 1977.
Even today no one really knows for sure just how long the term of the lease was for, but shortly after I uncovered that fact one of the local Orlando papers did their own research to contact the property owners who confirmed that there was little chance of them signing a deal to renew the lease due to the increased value of the property and it’s key location on I-Drive that could be put to better (and more profitable) uses. An older article in the Orlando Sentinel about Aquatica once mentions that the terms of their lease start to change in 2007 and the price is expected to rise through the roof by 2012.
The bottom line… Wet ‘n Wild is living on borrowed time. This has led many to speculate about when and if Universal Orlando may take the next step to build their own new water park on their own resort property. It’s also been noted that all of the “new attractions” added to the waterpark over the last few years have either been rehabs of older attractions (The lazy river, The Blast) or larger above ground attractions (Storm, Disco H2O, Brain Wash) that would be fairly simple to move to a new location when the time comes.
These days the rumor mill has picked up once again claiming that 2009 could very well be the last summer for Wet ‘n Wild. If this is true, then my best guess may be that Wet ‘n Wild signed a 35 year lease possibly as early as 1975 which could come to an end in 2010. Remember that the park will need time to remove their property from the site, so you can see where the 2009 closure idea may be coming from.
Keep in mind that other than the fact that there is a ticking clock… everything else is just speculation right now. For all we know the park may have another 10 years left on their lease… or they could already be in some kind of overtime extension where the fees grow higher and higher each additional year. If the end is near, I’m sure we’ll hear more about this very soon and Universal is likely to promote this fact to drive up attendance in the final season when they find themselves up against the new waterpark on the block, Aquatica.
(5/15/07) According to a post at, Universal Orlando is asking for an amendment to their master plan to add Timeshare Units and Multi Family Residential units to their 800 acre property. Currently only 104 acres are undeveloped and this plan pretty much fills up almost all the rest of the holes. The Residential section of the plan will add up to 316 units along Vineland that are intended to be used as Workforce Housing, most likely in much the same manor that Disney offers housing for their International and College Workforce programs. A new four story tall office building will be added not far from the current office building(s) along Turkey Lake Road. Meanwhile it looks the plot of land next to the Royal Pacific will become home to an 800 room 8-story tall hotel property and the land between Adventure Way and Turkey Lake Road will become home to a 1,800 room 16-story tall hotel project. From the look of the new Masterplan Map, the river system will be expanded to allow for transportation to these two new hotel projects. Looks like those rumors last week about the new Premium and Moderate sized resort projects were right on the money. Meanwhile the only big holes left open for future development include what’s left of the property from the new 1,800 room resort down the South end of Universal’s property on Turkey Lake (enough room to build a new waterpark still) and the large plot of land between the Men In Black ride building and Universal Blvd where they set up a few mazes at last year’s Halloween Horror Nights. Here’s another look at the Sat Map showing off the various site plans.

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