I've been attending Halloween Horror Nights almost every night since the Team Preview in September. It's always a pleasure to see how the houses change and mature over time. Often my initial favorites shift and change as the event goes on. Twice, my least favorite houses early on became my favorites by the last weekend (Leave it to Cleaver and Doomsday).
This year, my top-house opinions are holding pretty so far, although there is some movement among the other houses. Here are my reviews (caution: containers some spoilers):
Catacombs: Number one with a bullet! It does not have elaborate costumes or effects, and it actually has an educational aspect (although no one stops to read the signs). But the scareactors are aggressive and stealthy and will double and triple team you in spots. Most houses have an off-night now and then, but this one has been spot on every time I've gone through it. It's an old-school haunted house for lovers of narrow passages, disorientation and things jumping out at you constantly.
Hades: Much like Catacombs in scare quality, but with some special effects and a lot of detail thrown in for good measure. The special effects are a matter of timing, so you might or might not see them. It really spoils some houses if your timing is off because the effects are what make it, but Hades has enough scareactor interaction to make it a great experience either way.
Havoc: A very solid house. Military themes are a dime a dozen, but this one is similar to Catacombs in how the scareactors make it work through their energy.
Zombiegeddon: This one has been low on my list, but I noticed vast improvement last night. Not sure if it was a different cast (each house has two casts) or they're just getting into their element now, but there was more comedic interaction as well as more scares. It will never come close to last year's comedy house, Leave it to Cleaver, but may move up from "meh" to enjoyable if it continues in the same vein as last night.
Hallow'd Past: I want to love this house because of all the memorabilia, but I've had some extremely boring runs through it that have caused it to drop like a rock on my list. Our first run-through last night fit that category, although the second time was much, much better. The Dead Exposure room tends to be a highlight, and when the Frightanic room is good, it's very, very good. They got me with a wicked triple teaming in there last night. I just wish it wasn't so hit or miss, and it often seems like there are (live) bodies missing. Click here for a lights-on tour of this house.
Psychoscareapy: I neither love nor hate this house, I wish it were a comedy version, but alas, it's just standard fare this year. I've never had a really terrible run-through, and sometimes there are stand-out scares. We got one last night when they somehow managed to triple team both my husband and I together. Usually just one of us get it, but they pulled off the perfect dual scare on us. Look for and press the red button in this one. Click here for a lights-on tour of this house.
Orfange: The one remains as a "meh" to me. No really good or shocking scares, and sometimes there is very little interaction. The fire effect is only impressive in the fact that it's the first time it's been done. I was expecting a lot more from a Cindy house. You're better off finding Cindy out in the scarezone (you can see her in the photo at left). She is a hoot to interact with.
Legendary Truth: I usually give this one a good rank for special effects, but last night it was a disappointment on both run throughs. The first time through (right at opening), the scareactors were mostly just standing around. Special effects only go so far; you need some live interaction too. The second time through many of the special effects, like the floor were just plain not working right and the interaction had not stepped up (this time it seems like people were missing). Usually I peg Orfanage in last place, but I'm afraid I have to put LT there last night. Click here for a lights-on tour of this house