Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby Mater » Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:30 pm

Probably been asked over and over and over, but was wondering how friendly the Forbidden Journey cars are for bigger dudes?

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby Jew » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:25 am

Not very. There is a test seat outside the castle.
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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby hauntguy » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:43 pm

WolfBobs wrote:
hauntguy wrote:
jray21 wrote:Ok, USH experts, what is the recommended order of attach for USH? Potter first, or still the tram first?


I will be making my first trip to USH for HHN with a after 2pm combo ticket. Do most of these same tips apply? I will be there on a Thursday evening.

Thanks!


I would first recommend following John Murdy on Twitter (@horrornights). He is the HHN director and offers lots of good advice for HHN newbies and especially for those entering the park early (which you will be doing by default).

I cannot really speak as to how weekday crowds would look like on an HHN day. If it is not crowded during the day all advice should be valid. You need to be especially aware of last call for daytime tram and the daytime early closure of WD. If Walking Dead is a short line, I would hit it. We have heard rumors that HHN WD will have additional scareactors, but in my opinion, the attraction is a yawn. I cannot see what additional actors would add. As it stands, the thing seems like half the length of a normal HHN maze. A lot fewer rooms, just bigger ones.

Your ticket will let you into HHN early. They will corral you for about 30 minutes somewhere inside the park. I would guess it is at the new plaza. The reality is they will also be letting other HHN guests into the park as well at the same time. So this perk is not exclusive to you, but you should have a slight head start on them. No rides will be open at this time. You will be guided to the lower lot, where 2-3 HHN mazes will be open up to an hour before HHN officially starts. If you do those 2-3 mazes, HHN will be open by then and you COULD do JP, Mummy, and Transformers while you are down there. Of course this will eat into your HHN evening a bit.


So in my opinion a good battle plan is:
Enter turnstyles AT 2pm (no later) and try to do as much stuff in upper lot as you can (using single rider lines) and the tram. Get these out of the way:
Daytime Tram, Potter rides, Simpsons, Shrek, Despicable Me, TWD. Quite possible you will not be able to do one of these in the time allotted. Again, do NOT get stuck on the tram when people are heading to lower lot early. Likewise, do NOT get stuck in a Potter queue. I say this because daytime park will still be bleeding off queues even when HHN people start entering park early. If you decide to do Terror Tram instead of daytime tram, you will miss some tram attractions. But if you do daytime tram it will eat 25% of your 2PM-6PM time. Up to you.

Once you are ushered into lower lot, take advantage of the early entry into houses. Hit the three rides down there. And do the backlot mazes. To be perfectly honest, I do not know all of the mazes this year. This is the first year I have purposely avoided finding out so I can be surprised for once. When I heard about Exorcist, I stopped looking at social media for HHN. I assume the majority of mazes will be accessible through the lower lot and backlot, so for HHN you will probably spend a good deal of your time here. Take advantage of the hour or two you will have in this uncrowded part of the park. Check the wait times often to monitor Terror Tram and whatever mazes are in upper lot. Head upstairs when you feel like it and close out your night.

HHN crowd patterns are pretty consistent:
When general public gets into HHN, TWD will have very long wait time, as will any other mazes in upper lot. Potter will have long wait also.
When those lines get too long, people will split with most going to Terror Tram and the rest to lower lot.
So lower lot tends to be the last area to fill up.
When people stop entering the park, TWD lines will subside. Hard to say if they will ever be small for HHN. Terror Tram will probably never be below 20 min.
Whatever maze they have in the Parisian streets will become less crowded as the evening goes on.
Lower lot will spike around 9 PM and will remain high for rest of evening.
During HHN, the rides are not necessarily less of a wait than daytime.
Be aware of the Jabbawockeez showtimes; when those shows let out, there is a rush for Potter, Simpsons, lower Lot, and Terror Tram.
If Waterworld has shows, there will be a rush for Potter and TWD when it lets out.

Definitely hit Waterworld if you have not seen it before.
Jabowackeez is a crappy, crappy show. If you miss it, you miss nothing. However, if you are a member of a violent street gang, did not complete middle school, and/or have diminished mental capacity you may enjoy it.

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby hauntguy » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:53 pm

Mater wrote:Probably been asked over and over and over, but was wondering how friendly the Forbidden Journey cars are for bigger dudes?


Good question! USH does NOT have any Big Boy seats on their version of the ride. Really surprising since they were added by necessity in Florida. Not only is there a test seat outside the ride, they may pull "suspect" people aside just before final part of the queue to be test fitted in a seat in front of everyone else in line. It must be humiliating for them, and it's bad form for Universal.

I think the main reason they do this is that Potter is continuously moving and loading must be completed within about 30 seconds. Now here's the crazy part- at most other parks, employees will give restraints a good push to help people fit. At the USH Forbidden Journey, they will NOT push the restraints into place. The rider must pull them to the fully engaged position. So someone who is having trouble with that second "click" may end up stopping the ride. The last few times I visited, I saw from the queue this happening multiple times. Employees yelling at people to "sit back and pull hard". Anyone else witness this? Half the time I rode, there was one or two stops mid ride.

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby hauntguy » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:56 pm

edgeboy wrote:I would argue that USH and USO Mummy attractions are not really that similar. In fact, they are quite different. It's pretty much universally thought that USO's Mummy is much, much better.

That said, ours, while inferior, does have some perks, and is substantially different enough that I'd ride it even if I have done USO's. Just way, way lower your expectations.


Well said. The storyline is substantially different at the two parks, and that's probably the one area where USH is better, because the whole Brendan Fraiser thing is just incomprehensible.

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby wrs28330 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 1:26 pm

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 - Opening Day Review

On Friday, Sept. 16, Theme Park Review was invited to the Opening Night of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights! For many, *this* season is the “most wonderful time of the year”, as the theme park industry continues to capitalize on the continued popularity of the horror genre.

Halloween Horror Nights continues to reign as a premier Halloween event in Southern California. We heard many comments from folks as we waited for the event to being, that this year’s maze lineups looked to be of the strongest the event has ever seen.

(For you pictures-only kind of folks, skip below to the photos.)

The maze line up:
The Exorcist – Join in Regan MacNeil’s possession, and run in terror as you attempt to escape the horrific battle between innocence and evil. Our thoughts: This maze boasted the longest wait of the night. Buzz outside of the maze was high, as fans were excited about the prospect of seeing some pretty awesome moments brought to life. A levitating Regan is seen going up and down the entry stairs, and we wind through different rooms before seeing Regan in her bedroom with the Priest. Some of the effect were really well done, but the pacing of the maze fell a bit flat. We go through her bedroom several times as if we are seeing the story progress, but the rooms between Regan’s bedrooms were plain “palate cleansers”.


American Horror Story – Three chapters from three different AHS seasons are brought to life: Seasons 1, 4, and 5. Our thoughts: Fans of the show, especially those who have seen the first 5 seasons will really enjoy this maze. Admittedly, I have only seen the 5th season and am going to follow along with the (just starting) 6th season. Focusing on the 3rd Chapter, “Hotel”, the architecture of the Hotel Cortez is perfectly brought to life with the iconic characters and voice overs straight from the series are used to give context to what you are seeing. A very enjoyable maze!

Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield – An all-new maze inspired by the second film in the classic “Halloween: horror franchise. Our thoughts: USH more often than not has a maze featuring Michael Myers. Although Michael Myers can be seen in almost every room in the maze (sadly, some are mistakenly visible at the same time), I want to focus on one of the most inventive and original ideas I have seen from more than the 100+ mazes I have seen over the past few years. The final scene has you walking through what looks like the inside of an uncarved pumpkin with a dreamland like music track playing. The texture used to create this visual is the simple stretching of cheesecloth, exactly what Knott’s uses to create the patches of spider webs on their building exteriors. For this room, the cheesecloth was drastically thickened and dipped in what looked like orange paint with a thickener to create a gourd-like texture. The smell of pumpkin also filled the air, creating one of the most simple “wow, I have *never* seen this before!” moments I have had for mazes. Although it is a simple and somewhat silly room, it is so rare to have those wow moments because props and gags are recycled and repurposed every year industry wide.


Freddy vs. Jason – Inspired by the 2003 film which brought together two of the biggest horror icons. Our thoughts: Simply, and enjoyable maze with these two killers. Although the film had an outcome for “who wins” and we saw the finale with that same outcome, other visitors were reporting that they saw a different outcome when they went through. Either folks are mistaken, or the finale changes a bit throughout the night. Let us know who “won” when you went through!


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers – Guests are pit against Leatherface and his brother ChopTop. Our thoughts: The opening room is rich in detail, but the rest of the maze was sadly forgettable. It didn’t help that all of the talent triggers happened after we walked out of each room. It happens.

Krampus – The terrifying dark Christmas legend is manifested into a maze based on the Christmas-themed horror film. Our thought: Our favorite maze of the night! I am admittedly a holiday Grinch, and although the last thing I want to see is more holiday decorations, the blend between Halloween and Christmas makes for excellent storytelling and leaving room for so many holiday things to go awry. Beautifully themed, with haunting holiday music playing Krampus is seen throughout a family home, with you as the main target. Very enjoyable!



The Walking Dead– This year round maze stays open for HHN, and helps absorb the crowds in the upper lot.

Eli Roth presents Terror Tram – Hollywood Harry, a “has-been” Clown and some of his minions who live in the rolling Hollywood Hills come out to play with folks who are venturing through. Our thoughts: Although the footprint is the same as in past years, our experience somehow felt shorter that in the past. The clown theme was fun and different, making use of the bright colors in this area of the Backlot. Although, as I am writing this, I am now realizing that the iconic backgrounds of the Bates Motel, and War of the Worlds set are virtually ignored and not used. (I recall only a clown attacking a victim next to the back of an open ambulance in the WotW set. Again, new and bright, but didn’t make use of the awesome background as much as they could have.

The Scare Zone line up:
Unlike past years, it was *so nice* to not have The Walking Dead everywhere. Of all the types of Halloween “monsters”, the Zombie has the lowest energy and relies heavily on the least effective scare tactic “the stare”. This year, all four scare zones were themed to The Purge: Election Year. It was interesting to see this change from separately themed scare zones to just one theme. Our thoughts: It worked, and it didn’t work. It worked because it is based off of high-energy characters in a bizarre version of America. It was fun and fresh at the beginning of the night, but by the end of the night people were a bit numb to it because they saw it everywhere they went. I would love to see them keep this type of set up and enhance each area even more to make them each feel a bit more unique.

The Jabbawoceez perform six times a night in the Special Effect Stage Theater on the upper lot. Our thoughts: With a show concurrently running in Las Vegas, we were expecting to see six or eight dancers in the show. We were shocked to see at least 13 dancers in this 25-minute show. They did a great job with their performance, integrating lasers and storytelling into their act. It’s certainly worth a watch.

Final thoughts: We LOVE Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights! It’s always fun to see what Creative Director John Murdy and his team come up with each year for horror fans. We caution everyone who goes that although they hit it out of the park creatively, operationally it can be a very trying experience. Wait times for the most popular mazes had posted wait times of 150 minutes. We firmly believe that in order to enjoy this event and to see all its offerings, waiting in lines of that length are not the way to go. The only way to see everything is to purchase a Gate A pass. We used Gate A passes for our visit, and although the Gate A lines actually took up to 15 minutes to get into some of the mazes, it pales into comparison of the stand-by lines. Again, get your Gate A pass and enjoy your visit!

Halloween Horror Nights run on:

September 23, 24, 29, 30 October 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 November 4 and 5.

The event begins nightly at 7:00pm and closes at 2:00am.

Ticket Information: http://www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com/hollywood - Advance purchase is highly recommended as event nights will sell out!

A big "thank you" to our Media Host Gail for inviting us to attend! We wish USH a great Halloween season and we look forward to covering future USH events!


And now, we invite you to join us as we take you through Halloween Horror Nights! (Check back for partial maze videos soon!)
Photos by Daniel Barsky
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Welcome to HHN 2016!
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Theme Park Review is on the blood-red carpet!
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Fancy.
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Creative Director John Murdy.
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A great strategy to cover as much ground as possible at start of the event is to head to the Lower Lot where a ton of mazes can be found.
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Starting off at The Exorcist. Hello Mr. Priest, please save our souls!
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Doin' his magic.
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"Penn and Teller have nothing on me!"
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Devil child!
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Next up is American Horror Story!
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That's not very nice of him...
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Chapter 4: Freak Show.
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Beautifully themed!
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Chapter 5: Hotel. The Mattress demon seen here.
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Next maze is Halloween.
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You can't catch the Boogieman!
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Such an awesome and unique ending!
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Freddy vs. Jason
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Who will win? Freddy or Jason?
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Texas Chainsaw Massacre
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Krampus!
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One of the best Scare Actors we have ever seen, this ice delivery guy outside the Krampus maze entertains guests as the wait!
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That is definitely NOT Santa.
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Walking Dead year-round maze.
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Eli Roth presents Tram Tour. Here is Hollywood Harry!
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We were there as Eli walked through his own maze!
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Nice bright theming new for the Backlot area.
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Here is the entrance to one of the Purge scare zones.
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Nice little scenes here and there.
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The chainsaw folks are always entertaining. Perfect strobe-lit moment!
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Be sure to catch the Jabbawockeez in the Upper lot!
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Thank you again to USH for having us! We hope you can make it out to their event!
Last edited by robbalvey on Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:36 pm.

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby Jew » Sun Sep 18, 2016 2:00 pm

The terror tram route is slightly shorter...it doesn't go all the way up the hill anymore. The cheesecloth maze was finally retired and replaced with shipping containers with clown vignettes...I thought that was an upgrade. I loved the firefighter clowns on the War of the Worlds portion as well. One thing I wish they'd do again is the very first year when the director was the icon, they had him throwing a body into a woodchipper as a final vignette as your tram was heading back to the unload area. Wish they'd do that again!
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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby wrs28330 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 3:52 pm

Jew wrote: One thing I wish they'd do again is the very first year when the director was the icon, they had him throwing a body into a woodchipper as a final vignette as your tram was heading back to the unload area. Wish they'd do that again!


Agreed! It was such a gross but effective visual!

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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby Mr. Corn » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:07 pm

Awesome TR!!! I don't like scare mazes, as the most I'll comfortably do is the Walking Dead maze. This was just a question I had, since Spiderman is such a top rated ride, and Transformers seems to get Eh reviews (and I just rode it a couple day ago and I agree), how hard do you think it would be to turn Transformer's into Spidey. Just a question I had, again, awesome TR!
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Re: Universal Studios Hollywood (USH) Discussion Thread

Postby JGuy » Sun Sep 18, 2016 6:32 pm

Mr. Corn wrote:Awesome TR!!! I don't like scare mazes, as the most I'll comfortably do is the Walking Dead maze. This was just a question I had, since Spiderman is such a top rated ride, and Transformers seems to get Eh reviews (and I just rode it a couple day ago and I agree), how hard do you think it would be to turn Transformer's into Spidey. Just a question I had, again, awesome TR!


Impossible. Disney owns the theme park rights to Marvel everywhere but East of the Mississippi River and Japan. Universal Hollywood will never get a Spider-Man ride.

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