A couple of pages ago, I posted what turned out to be a pretty inaccurate plan of attack for HHN Hollywood. This year, a good deal has changed, so please consider the following if you want to do everything in one night:
Although the park has more HHN-type attractions this year, the following are closed for HHN: All of Potter (not even a sip of Butterbeer during HHN), Despicable Me, Super Silly Fun Land, Waterworld, Shrek. Some of these have never been open for HHN, but some are new to the list. Bottom line is that these people-eaters being closed make for longer lines.
This year was the first ever where Opening Night was sold out. That is a daunting fact. The crowds were so thick, that you need to be prepared to NOT do everything in one night. I am convinced of that. I'm also thinking that Thursdays will end up sold out, too. In past years many Thursdays sold out. My other reason for believing this is that they are STILL selling the 15-night HHN season pass online. In years past, they sold only a couple hundred of these through a special link. Now they are offering them as regular tickets. That means they plan on selling ALOT. It could also mean that few are biting, but I don't buy it for a minute...
They are no longer offering FOTL as an add-on to your ticket. FOTL now is exclusively available with built in admission.
If you really want to see all of HHN in one night, FOTL is the ONLY WAY. Buy it soon, because they are actually beginning to sell out online. Sep 24 is already sold out.
In years past, I would have said that being first in the gate for HHN would allow you to hit everything. Not anymore. Past gameplans no longer work.
Here is the way things work:
If you have a day/night combo, you have the right kind of ticket. As people are exiting for the day, go to Guest Services or to the tallest building at the central plaza. There they will give you a wristband. Once you have this, Immediately head to lower lot. Get to lower lot no later than 5:30
If you ONLY have an HHN ticket, get through security and into the RIGHT MOST gate line no later than 5:00. They will start letting HHN people into the park early. This will be through a gate even to the right of the right-hand turnstyles. You will essentially be entering next to Waterworld. Remember, do NOT queue up for a turnstyle at the front gate. You are going into a special early entry entrance. Ask for help if you need to. The line will be LONG, so the earlier the better. They will scan you and give you a wristband. Head down to lower lot immediately.
If you are in the park for daytime admission (i.e. have a season pass) and you purchased a separate HHN ticket, you are treated like garbage. You are going to need to EXIT the park, go through security AGAIN and re-enter for HHN. God help you if you won a big plush toy, because they won't let you in with it. So, exit the park around 4:45, go through security again, and follow the advice in the previous paragraph. Once you get your wristband, head to the lower lot.
So now everyone is in the lower lot and it is about 5:30. Freaking event doesn't officially start for 90 minutes, so you are good to go, right? Pfffft!
HHN opens Exorcist at 6:00 on the dot, but they let people in line around 5:45. Halloween maze does not open until 7:00.
At the queue entrance for Exorcist, you have the option to skip Exorcist and instead walk to the backlot for AHS, Krampus, and FvJ. One or two of those mazes opens at 6:30. They are all open by 7:00.
So here is the reality of the situation - what I experienced Sat 9/17 (which was also a sold-out night). I arrived at Exorcist at 5:30. Queue for Exorcist opened at 5:45 and I was the TENTH person into the maze. Entered the house at 6:03 and exited at 6:07. Walked back to the queue entrance, and saw the Exorcist already had a 45 minute wait built up. And HHN had not even officially opened!!
Walked to backlot (15 minute trek) and by the time I got there, Krampus was at 20 min wait, AHS was 30 min, and FvJ was 60 min!! Mind you, it was only 6:25pm. HHN still not open!
Went into Krampus and when I got out, FvJ was 120 minutes, Krampus was 40 min and AHS was 70 min.
At this point, HHN was opening for real, and it was about to get really bad. So I decided to hit AHS. Wait was indeed about 70 min. By he time I got out, FvJ was up to 140 min.
Sadly, they did not have a wait time posting for all houses in the backlot. According to the app, Halloween was 140 min, TWD was 45 min, TCM was 90 min, and Exorcist was 140 min. Good luck with cell reception in backlot or lower lot. T-mobile doesn't work at all, and AT&T has very bad reception. I was able to get something to work by forcing my phone onto 4G, as everyone was sucking up LTE.
Terror Tram had 40 min wait posted. Went there and the line moved FAST. You never stop walking - just a long queue. Real wait time was about 20 min. Kind of a shame, since the Terror Tram queue videos are GREAT! For the record, this is the best TT in the past 7 years. While shorter than any other year, it had a feel of 2006, which was best year of all.
Because I have an HHN 15-night season pass, I then decided to leave and revisit another day. I went to HHN the first two nights and BETWEEN them was able to see everything except Halloween. I refused to stand in any line that was longer than 70 minutes when I had a pass for 15 nights. I will try on an upcoming Thursday but if it's equally crowded, I will not go again until Nov 2nd and 3rd.
Here is what you can honestly expect for house wait time patterns:
Exorcist - will have 2hr+ waits all night. Only chance of no wait is to be in the queue at 5:45
TCM - will have enormous waits from 7PM until about 10:30 as people entering event taper off. Because TCM is located at park entrance, most GP will tend to hit it first. So this one will have good wait times at the end of the evening.
TWD - People-eater and unchanged from daytime attraction. 10 min waits will happen much of the night. Pulse of people will be seen each time Jabbocrapeez lets out.
Terror Tram - 20-40 min most of the night. Just be aware of closing time.
Halloween - Will be extremely long all night. Maybe save for last thing to do before heading back up? Remember there are FIVE houses between lower lot and backlot.
Backlot houses are a bit different this year. No Soundstage this year. And queues are staggered - exit of one house "leads to" queue of the next. You can choose not to queue for next house, but entrances are far apart. The "flow" is for Krampus to be first, then FvJ, then AHS.
Krampus - always shortest of the lines of backlot houses. People don't seem to be into the theme compared to FvJ and AHS.
AHS - expect VERY long waits all night. Probably will never be < 90 min.
FvJ - expect massive waits all night. Probably will never be < 90 min.
Jurassic Park - 40 min waits most of the time. Single rider will be more like 10 min
Mummy - 40-60 min waits most of the time. Single rider will be more like 15 min
Transformers - 10-20 min waits most of the time. Single rider will be more like 5 min.
Simpsons - 30 min waits all night except then Jabbasuckfest lets out, when it gets slammed to 60 min.
It is a good HHN year. While I hate IP houses, they did a very good job for the most part. Even the repeat houses don't feel too repeated. I have not been in Halloween yet, so I cannot fully say for sure on that one.
Exorcist was OUTSTANDING. Who woulda thunk it? They really pulled it off nicely. It perfected what they tried at Dead Exposure at HHN Orlando.
AHS was quite long and very good. Yes, an actual long maze for HHN Hollywood.
FvJ was nothing like Orlando's version (which was better). Was also on the long side.
Krampus was....interesting. I had no idea the movie was comedy-horror. As such, what they presented was unexpected and a bit confusing. Check @HorrorNights for the nightly password to give to the delivery man outside the house. Prize is really nice. Bring a 1qt ziplock bag with you to protect it or get small bag from store in upper lot first. WARNING - they run out of prizes by 7:30. Might want to hit Krampus first when you get to backlot!
TCM was most like a rehash of what we saw many times before. Only thing really new was appearance of Chop Top and Dayton, because it was based on the original movie. Even so, same old same old. Seriously, this house was totally not necessary, and I will probably feel the same about Halloween.
TWD was same as daytime version.
Terror Tram - they shook things up this year, with a mini-maze at Bates Motel and just before WOTW. Keep expectations low and you will be pleasantly surprised.
And the scarezones this year.... All of them Purge.... While I am a bit over it, make sure to hit the Gauntlet in the central plaza. It is actually a fairly large maze. A shame that you could experience a queue for a scarezone, but that is the reality this year.
Seriously, get the FOTL if it is available. If you do not, you will NOT get into everything. The year will only get busier, so I think counting on a "slow Thursday' is wishful thinking.
I would definitely make sure to see Exorcist, AHS, Terror Tram, and the Purge Gauntlet.
Because this is HHN Hollywood, you will probably get a chance to see Freddy, Jason, Leatherface and Michael Meyers many times again in upcoming years, so don't feel too bad if you miss them.