Halloween Horror Nights 2012: Already?

I know what you’re thinking. “It’s February. What the heck are you doing posting a Halloween Horror Nights article?” And you’re absolutely right. It is February, and it is way too early for there to be any substantial rumors about Halloween Horror Nights 2012. But that most certainly doesn’t mean we can’t throw some speculation into the mix about what this year might hold, right?

We already know the masterminds behind Halloween Horror Nights are hard at work on this year’s event, thanks to our friend social media. Michael Burnett, Senior Designer and Make-Up/Prothetics Artist for Universal Orlando, posted this Facebook status update on January 5th, 2012:

IT’S HHN TIME AGAIN Most of you wont start thinking about Halloween until September or October. It’s pretty much year round for me. I had my first full day working on HHN 22 today.

Then, on January 29th, Kim Gromoll, one of the designers for Universal Art & Design, posted this Facebook status update:

It’s January 29th and I just spent all day Saturday and Sunday, two gorgeous days, tied to my computer in the office working on Halloween!!! What’s wrong with this picture?

Followed by this comment comment:

Thanks all for the encouraging words. I get it that it’s all part of the gig. And it’s the best Job in the world. But January? I usually start this doodoo in August! Oh Well, the houses are gonna be awesome!

While these quotes tell us absolutely nothing about what might be in store for this year’s event, it’s definitely cool to get a little peek behind the curtain and know that HHN 22 is already well into development.


So how about some speculation? With the lack of any substantial rumors, I’ll be focusing primarily on the event’s location and layout, because one thing’s for certain; the event as we’ve known it since 2006, taking place solely within Universal Studios, is most definitely out of the question this year, thanks to the closure of Amity. Given the current pace of construction, the entire area looks as if it will be completely leveled within the next month, allowing the serious construction to start, likely closing off the entire back corner of the park. During an event like Halloween Horror Nights, and specifically with the Bill & Ted show taking place in the adjacent Fear Factor Live amphitheater, this would create an absolute crowd flow nightmare. So what’s Universal to do in a situation like this? Have the event take place across both parks, of course! Bill & Ted have performed in the Toon Lagoon amphitheater before, and it seats roughly the same amount of people as the Fear Factor live theater, so that’s one problem solved already.

But logistically, a two park event sounds like a nightmare. Where would they even be able to put houses in Islands of Adventure nowadays? Previous house locations have included the warehouse behind Dr. Doom, the Thunder Falls Terrace restaurant, Discovery Center, and the Popeye and Bluto’s queue. But with HHN construction starting in May, and IOA being super busy during the summer months, thanks to Mr. Potter, it’s very unlikely they would be able to use those last three locations this year, leaving only the Doom warehouse as a possible house location. Seems like kind of a waste of IOA for only one house, Bill & Ted, and way too much walking to get from the Toon side of IOA to the Sprungs in the studios, doesn’t it?

But wait, who says they have to keep the Sprung tents where they are? After all, one of the benefits of Sprung tents is that they’re easily relocatable. And there’s a very large field located between Ripsaw Falls and Jurassic Park River Adventure that would make an excellent temporary home for a Sprung tent. They used the back of house pathway for queue when they put houses in Thunder Falls Terrace, why not use that same area for queue again, only this time for a Sprung house. Not only would this allow them to keep the restaurant open, but it would also give them more freedom in house design, not having to be constrained by the existing dimensions of Thunder Falls.

JP Sprung

So now we have two houses and a show in IOA. Improvement for sure. But what about the rest of the houses? Well, one of the benefits of a two park event is having access to both sides of the sound stages. We saw them put two houses in SS20 in 2008, so why not do that again, with the entrances be in IOA. One could be where the Grinchmas show entrance is during the holidays, and the other near where Maldakken Pass was in 2005. They could use that area as either a food and games like in 2005, or as a scarezone like in 2004, and have the exits of both SS20 houses dump right back into it.

SS20 Area

Speaking of scarezones, they pose a bit of a problem in IOA. Seuss is a guaranteed dead zone, and with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter under strict third party guidelines as well, it’s very likely that it would have to be a dead zone as well, if it could even be opened at all, but we’ll get to that later. Then, with Bill & Ted in the Toon amphitheater, it’s likely we’d see Toon Lagoon lacking a scarezone as well. So that leaves Point of Entry, Marvel, JP, and what’s left of Lost Continent. Not too bad.

That would pretty much cover it for IOA. Four houses, the Bill and Ted show, and potentially four scarezones. All spread pretty nicely throughout the park. And with the bypass bridge between JP and Lost Continent, it also gives them the option of closing off the Wizarding World entirely during the event, if the rumor of ‘nothing can happen in The Wizarding World during HHN’ is true. However, given that Forbidden Journey is the most popular attraction in the park, it’s hard to believe the area would be closed off.

Now comes the fun part, the park to park crossover. Thanks to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, there’s really only one access point between the two parks, and that’s through the gate in Lost Continent, behind sound stages 25 and 24 past sound stage 33 and in through New York. That area in New York is typically reserved for the SS23A queue, but a simple solution could be to just move the entrance of that house somewhere along the park crossover path. Again, like in 2004, they could put a scarezone along the park crossover, or just use the area as a party/food/games zone. Either way, that leaves only three more houses for the Studios side.


And wouldn’t you know it, there are only three quickly accessible locations for houses at this point on the Studios side. A second house in SS23, with its entrance through Twister, as usual. A house in SS22, with its entrance in the Music Plaza field, as usual, and one final house in the Disaster queue, bringing us to the dead end that would be Amity. The other cutoff points could be the entrances to Shrek Alley and Hollywood Blvd. This Studios layout would allow them to still utilize New York and Production Central as scarezones, and operate The Mummy, Rockit, plus the new Despicable Me ride. They could even bring back a show in the Beetlejuice theater if they wanted.

USF Layout

Overall, this proposed two park layout doesn’t seem like that terrible of an idea. While it would still require a bit of walking, the simple move of one Sprung tent negates the need to open up the back half of the studios, and allows Universal to keep the house count at eight, gives them the option of at least six scarezones and two shows, one in each park. The event, however, would be a vast departure from what we’ve known for the last six years, with the bulk of the event located in Islands of Adventure. But with the popularity of The Wizarding World, it’s hard to believe they haven’t been trying to figure out a way to get the event back over there.

Whew, that sure was a long post. Thanks to anyone who actually reads all of it. And keep in mind, this is all based purely on speculation, and we could easily see the event return only to the Studios this year, however unlikely that may seem. This is simply my ideal two park layout. Not a crazy amount of walking, the optimal number of houses and scarezones, and the option of a full IOA experience at night. What will HHN 22 really hold? I personally can’t wait to find out!

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