Just got back from HoS and the Steelers vs. Bucs game this past weekend....
Game was good, far more Steelers fans at Tampa than Bucs fans, which isn't saying much for how "well" the team has been doing.
HoS on Saturday was a good night. It was the first time I was able to do the majority of the coasters + houses in one night as in years past on the first two nights it was a choice of seeing the houses or doing the rides.
Rating of the Houses: How these things come about...
I'm not trying to sound like a big, bad-ass motha f.... who is impervious to being scared, I just have a history of working within the same parameters as the designers. For ~5 years my friends and I were responsible for setting up a volunteer fire fighter's station haunted hayride. I get how these things work, and I've got a pretty sick sense of humor. I often am more impressed with things being "cool" than scary. If people jump out I laugh more than "scream" just because it is all in good fun and I'm more impressed that I couldn't see it coming that I tend to clap/congratulate them. My girlfriend? Completely opposite case... she is a wimp. I could squeeze her hand and make her jump.... She likes the houses, but is very jittery throughout them.
Thus, the technical side of things are my opinions. The "scare factor" is how bad my hands hurt from her squeezing them... tightly.
Sorry for the lack of pictures. Our wonderful water proof camera bit the dust at Adventure Island Saturday morning, so... no photos, just a wall of text. My X House:
The new house is pretty cool. You can tell they gave this thing a pretty sizable budget. Lots of good scenes throughout, including how they pull off the 'stage' effect. The hecklers in front were a nice touch, as well as the multi-level scares. This one suffered from too much ambient light though... you often could see the actors coming well before they "startle" you. And hey, the music isn't all that bad. We did this one first, and the line was pretty long. A consistent stream throughout in front of us...Technical:
3.5 out of 5. Too much ambient light really holds it back. Lots of actors, but many not doing much but asking for help.... Scare Factor.
1 out of 5 fingers had lost feeling. A couple good jump outs plus loud noises, but... a lot of actors doing little throughout. Sorority House:
I don't recall much being different from last year to this year. It always struck me more as a darkly comical house than a scare fest, so a good deal of laughing with these naughty Co-Eds. I will give props to a bunch of the girls because the ones who were there were very witty with some sexually charged comebacks to my groups' drunken debauchery. Technical:
3 out of 5. Some good details throughout. The ceremonial room is pretty cool and sticks out in my mind as being cool to see. Scare Factor:
1 of 5 fingers had lost feeling. Taste of Blood:
I've always liked this house for some reason. The new queue for it is SOOOOOOO
much better than years past when you've had to walk from the bumper cars, all the way around Kumba back to the Congo River rapids just to enter the line.... and then backtrack while in line... The reverse of the path also seemed to help it move faster. I didn't notice that much different throughout. I think they got rid of the lifting platform as I didn't see it work in 2 different passes. Technical:
4 out of 5. Good ambient sounds. Good amount of details in the scenes. Scare Factor:
3 of 5 fingers had lost feeling. They had a couple of areas that made great use of people coming from below and it got nearly everyone in the group to jump. Lots of loud noises and fake wall sections. The line paused for a bit and I think we actually gave one of the actors a bigger scare because we were all huddled around her window just looking at it because it was a pretty cool poster. Trapped in the Walls:
The beginning hallway or two is really the only thing I noticed that was different, and that just set up this paranormal investigation that seemingly dissipated after those areas as nothing else kept it up throughout. Good amount of scenes. Some nice hallways with that claustrophobic feel... Technical:
3 out of 5. Compared to some of the newer houses, the effects are a bit quaint and seem small scale. Wouldn't be surprised to see this one not return next year. Scare Factor:
3 out of 5 fingers had lost feeling. Good ambiance music throughout. A few good jump scares, lots of loud noises throughout that got us a few times.
Intermission for some night time Kumba and it was awesome! The paint job/chemical treatment really makes her shine. She seemed to roar even more as the cars felt like they were flying through everything... Props on the ops team for running a < 5 minute wait even with nearly 20 of us all in the group vying to get on the same train. Always nice to remind oneself of just how awesome a good B&M is....
2nd Intermission: Stumbled upon their new show "Blood Relations" at the Desert Grill(?). And it was mildly entertaining. A cheap knock-off of a Bill & Ted show but some good laughs were had throughout. Interesting show idea too in that the audience gets to pick who murdered someone, and I'm curious if on repeat viewings the ending changes. Our group chose the Justin Beiber character and it was hilarious/gratifying to see what happened to him after that. His ending song number was some Queen so that was pretty cool. Interested to know what the other characters do when they're chosen as the killer.... It was a great time to grab a drink, a snack, and sit down. We didn't really pay attention walking in to what was going on and the show sort of started on top of us... The place did get packed though and there was standing room only around the edges by the first few minutes of it... so might want to get there early if you want to sit and take a load off. Also, the show seemed a bit off balance. The opening 3 spoofs were pretty good. Lady Gaga, TIger Woods, and Justin Beiber.... the last ones just seemed to fall flat. Myley Cyrus and Brett Michaels... Death Row:
I've really liked a lot of the things they've done in this house in the past, and this year it was pretty much just as I remember. Nothing really much different, so it sort of lessens the effects when you can remember what happens.... Technical:
3 of 5. The floating sections is still cool, but maybe darken it a bit more to hide how its done. Scare Factor:
2 out of 5 fingers had lost feeling. Some good areas where you know something will happen, but don't know who is real and who is fake.Nightshade Toys:
Easily my favorite house last year. It might not have the sort of gross out effects that others do, but it surely makes up for that with ample doses of creepiness. The posters for the toys are nice and quite comical. The stuffed teddy bear hallways got a few of the girls. Baby dolls with glowing eyes? Creepy? Check. I will say that the new layout is nice, but it lacked some of the neater effects from the old location (namely the flying boxes) but they are a small price to pay for that sexy green track sitting in an empty field. Technical:
4 out of 5. Lots of unnerving scenes, but a lot of ambient light that let you see a lot
of what was coming. Scare Factor:
2 out of 5 had lost feeling. The extra light made it hard for good scares, but it definitely is a house that sort of oozes an odd unnerving feeling... so it might be a bit better than I'm allowing it to based on the review criteria.
Last house of the night. Another repeat one, but... seemed better than I remember. The crowds had started to head out as it was getting late, so there wasn't the constant stream in front of us in it at all times and that might have helped, but it seemed to offer far more than it did in years past. Some great ambiance music/sounds throughout saws/screams/cries for help really kind of get you in the mood. Whether it was intended or not, a bunch of areas had all of the lights go dark a few times and provided some quick scares. A certain gurney also provided one of the best scares of the evening and I'm man enough to admit that I indeed did jump back. Technical:
3 out of 5. Same thing as some of the other repeat houses: a lot of the effects are looking cheap compared to the newer houses. Scare factor:
2 out of 5 still had feeling left.
Night time at Montu, awesome as well. The trains really hauled A$$ through the course, its a pity that with 3 trains, the ops team was stacking for a solid 3-5 minutes at each block coming into the station. I think we waited for about 15 minutes to get onto the ride, and then another 10 to just get off of it.
The scare zones were probably the weakest of the years I've been. I don't recall the names off hand.... but the section that is near the Seasame Street stuff was easily the best. The bungy corded actors were crazy good at their jobs.
The jungala area was just plain dumb. It had something to do with a road/accident/whatever at first and then..... werewolves start popping out? Que?
The lovers one was also weak. They had more (or they moved throughout the evening) of the people hiding in bushes it seemed this year. Quite a few times when we weren't expecting something.... Boo! The roving groupies were once again the best part. Metal plates on their shoes and knee pads just sound and look awesome at night when scraped against the concrete.
All in all, had a really good time. The crowds seemed pretty large, but my group had a bunch of those "man I'm glad we got in line when we did" moments as we would enter a line only to exit the house and find it nearly double the length it was. Another complaint was the Front of the Line access passes. Two seperate houses they split our group up. Once wasn't too bad, 2 people, who then let the others meet us back up once inside.... The 2nd was worse as they put one of the guided tours between us. Twice. I understand we had over 20ish people at the largest but letting 3 or 4 of us go. Then stopping the rest, even when we say that we're with the ones they just let in. Putting about 20 people from the guided tour in front of us. Then allowing 3 more of us to go, then putting the rest of the guided tour (another 20 or so) in was just odd.
Universal definitely needs to keep an eye out for Busch Gardens. If they aren't careful, HoS has the potential to be a serious contender to their title.