Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

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Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby KBrylczyk » Wed Oct 08, 2014 11:54 pm

I guess it's about that time to write up my trip report from this past week's adventure in LA for two halloween events. I headed on down to LA from Vegas on Thursday afternoon last week ready to have my first ever visit to Knott's Scary Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights! Let's begin with Knott's.

I've been to Knott's before and I love the park. It's small, cute, full of charm, very well run, has a fantastic selection of rides, and always delivers a great day! Having heard so much about Scary Farm over the years I couldn't wait to finally experience it myself! So without further ado, let's just get right down to it!

I pulled into my hotel around 4:30pm on Thursday after getting caught in the mid-afternoon traffic. I had left Vegas right around 12pm hoping that I'd beat rush hour and, for the most part, I did. That is until I reached Ontario, CA. Dead stop on the interstate. It sped up, it slowed down, it teased with high speeds for about two miles before becoming a parking lot again. I hate driving in LA during the day. Ugh. Anyways, like I said, I made it to the hotel around 4:30pm so I was able to get a few hours to relax before heading across the street to Knott's. I stayed at the local 5-star hotel, Rodeway Inn, sharing a parking lot with IHOP. Yeah, it's a pretty crap hotel but the proximity to the front gate (5 minute walk) and the fact that I avoid the $20 parking charge makes it an awesome place! Plus, the view from out front of Supreme Scream and Xcelerator is awesome! Unfortunately my room didn't face out front. Instead I got a lovely view of a creepy parking lot and stalker pigeons awkwardly staring at me.

Anyways, enough of that nonsense. Let's get on with the actual review! I made it to the front gate around 6:30pm and they had just opened the turnstiles to allow everyone into the main entrance plaza. Even though the park was not officially open yet there were still a ton of scareactors out and about including a bunch of sliders getting warmed up! Luckily I had the forethought to ask and found out that they were already handing out tickets for Special Ops: Infected! I managed to grab mine for Point Alpha at 8:45pm!

This guy was checking bags at the entrance.


PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT - Some of the park employees are misinformed. I asked if I should get a second ticket for Point Bravo or if they were the same thing. I was told that they were the exact same experience, just that Bravo was handicap accessible. I didn't find out until too late that she was wrong and Point Bravo is it's own mission completely different than Alpha. So if you're planning on murdering a ton of zombies, GET ONE TICKET FOR BOTH ENTRY POINTS RIGHT AWAY!!!!!!!!!! Avoid my disappointment!



After the short opening ceremony the ropes were dropped and everyone was let loose into the park. I headed directly through Ghost Town towards GhostRider and into the secluded corner where four haunts were crammed in. Along with pretty much everyone else. Hint hint, go here first to avoid the absolutely massive lines that will form quickly!



Voodoo - My first haunt of the night and, unfortunately, not the best way to get pumped for the rest of the night. The haunt was a lot of fun and was GORGEOUS on the inside! However it is also an extremely, EXTREMELY short haunt. You're in the front door and out the back within two minutes if you're taking your time. Again, beautiful design on the inside! The level of detail on the outdoor facade extends all the way through this haunt! Also there are separate paths to choose from throughout the haunt creating the need to take at least two laps through. There weren't any real standout scares. This haunt seemed to be more of a showcase for what the scenic department could do. I was thoroughly impressed with the design and the opportunity to choose your fate, I just really wish they had made it a lot longer and pumped up the scares.

Trick Or Treat - Second haunt of the night after two laps through Voodoo. This one was also on the shorter side but was still at least a decent length. I didn't come out the end feeling like I'd just begun, you know? Some pretty great effects at work in this house! I was the first person in the group so I got to ring the doorbell on the facade, which also meant I got the first scare as the Green Witch came rushing to greet me with her cane in my face! There's great interaction between the scareactors and the guests in this house! Lots of actual conversation instead of just "boo!" Right from the start I was impressed by the environmental effects at work in this one! Bookshelves came to life with shaking books, pages being flipped by ghosts, books flying through the air, lamps being turned on and off by unseen forces, just everything was alive and had energy! Another huge win by the scenic and technical crew! The scares were sporadic in this haunt due to an abundance of larger, open rooms rather than tight spaces but when they got you, they got you good. The finale is also on a pretty grand scale! Thumbs up!

Dominion Of The Damned - Ah, yes, the necessary vampire haunt! This one was great! The scares begin before you even get inside!! Really, I jumped and yelled twice before I even got into the front door. Great job! Once inside the design varied from great detail to bland walls. It didn't distract from the experience, though. This is a haunt that relies on tight spaces and hidden corners to scare the crap out of you! There are a ton of hiding spaces for the scareactors, including some good scrim wall effects that double and hiding spots, allowing the scareactors that get the double scare on you! Also, this haunt is pretty darn long! It just goes and goes and goes, moving you from inside the castle to the graveyard to the crypt and back to the castle. Very well done and had some top notch scares!

Turns out that Dominion Of The Damned leads directly into The Tooth Fairy. There isn't a separate queue line. You simply finish up Dominion Of The Damned and go through two switchbacks and straight into The Tooth Fairy! Excellent way to keep people happy and diminish lines!

The Tooth Fairy - This was, for me, the haunt of the night. Why? Well, aside from some great effects, it's the one haunt that managed time and again to result in me on the floor screaming like a girl! Just like Dominion Of The Damned, this is another long haunt. It's also one of the best for scenic and technical design! Lots of cool stuff happening in this one! Funky projection effects, moving rooms, very detailed environments, great scares, and it also gets quite gruesome as the haunt goes on. This was probably the goriest haunt in the park. There's some sick stuff you'll see the deeper you go. The finale is pretty gross. Oh, also, this is the one haunt I can say I was scared poopless by a little kid. Twice. Well, a little kid being played by an adult actor. But you get the idea. Fantastic haunt!

I did a double shot of each of the houses in this corner of the park simply because they were so far from everything else I didn't want to come walking back a whole lot throughout the night. Moving along I was going to check out Forevermore and Pinnochio Unstrung but I realized that The Hanging would be starting in just a few minutes! Yeah, I had done four haunts, at least twice each, in less than an hour.

The Hanging - Since this was my first ever Scary Farm I can't comment on how this Hanging compares to years past, but I can say it was full of offensive jokes, blood, fights, songs, and fire! They ragged on everything, be it Frozen, The Lego Movie, Agents Of SHIELD, Malaysian Airlines, Ebola, and, of course, there's a huge jab at Universal and Bill & Ted. Judging by the crowd I saw the show with, everyone agrees that Universal is a bunch of pansies for cancelling Bill & Ted. The one thing Knott's wouldn't touch was the chance of getting sued by Disney, so they had The Averagers rather than The Avengers. The show was hugely entertaining and is definitely not to be missed!

After The Hanging it was about time for my Special Ops: Infected appointment!

Special Ops: Infected - HOLY CRAP ON A STICK! AWESOME DOESN'T EVEN DO THIS JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! I had no idea what to expect leading up to this. I had skimmed through the video Robb posted after the first week but not even that will prepare you for the sheer adrenaline surge you'll have while doing this! It is completely insane from start to finish! Like, here I am expecting a few zombies here and there to shoot at. What I got was a complete TON of zombies FRIGGING EVERYWHERE TRYING TO RIP MY FACE OFF AND HOLY GEEZE WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!! Yes, it is that good. I was the unlucky SOB who got picked to re-establish communication while the sergeant was screaming his head off at me. Oh, did I mention this experience is rated R? Yeah, the actors are completely uncensored! When I chose the wrong plug? "WHAT THE %$&@?! GET IT RIGHT! COME ON, ^$#@HEAD! PUT IT IN THE HOLE! I NEVER HAD THAT PROBLEM WITH YOUR MOTHER!" It's incredible. I got to re-establish communication, blow up a bridge, defend a helicopter, and relay the gate code throughout the entire experience. Most intense and awesome thing I've done in a long time! Have you ever been bum-rushed by 10 zombies in a confined space? I have. Have you ever defended a helicopter from an endless onslaught of zombies from every direction, including dropping from trees? I have. Have you ever ran past a radioactive barrel that your teammate shoots and have it explode water all over you while being chased by a horde of zombies? I HAVE! I'm not kidding when I say that this is every bit as good as it sounds!

After battling the zombie apocalypse I decided to calm things down a bit and ride Montezooma, Jaguar, Supreme Scream, and the ever wonderful Timber Mountain Log Ride. All of which are just as awesome as they always are!



Timber Mountain I actually rode four times throughout the night. I'm a sucker for log flumes and this one is probably my favorite, even over Splash Mountain!

Recognize this song?




Calico Mine Ride: Witch's Keep - It's the Calico Mind Ride with some seasonal effects thrown in. It's always a fun diversion but I still think it would be way better to fill it with live actors during haunt nights rather than the animatronic witch.

Black Magic - This was another fun, long haunt that's hiding beneath Xcelerator. The facade had some cool projection mapping effects that cause the building to burn down, slowly decay, collapse, etc. I love little touches like that! The haunt itself was along the lines of Dominion Of The Damned in the scenic and technical department. It varied from being greatly detailed to being quite bland. However it didn't detract from the experience. It relied on the more tried and true scare tactics of having something divert your attention over here while someone sneaks up on you over here. I can appreciate that, though, being not only super effective in haunts, but also because it pays homage to the good ol' Magician's method of making you watch this hand while the real trick happens in this hand. Subtle but well done, Knott's!



The Gunslinger's Grave - This was a more lighthearted haunt. It didn't really seem all too scary to begin with but I was very happy with it. It had much more an air of fun rather than scary, if you know what I mean. It was long, lots of outdoor sections, good scenic design! Nothing extremely noteworthy but still a solid entry that is enjoyable even if it doesn't deliver on the scares.

Pinocchio Unstrung - Another very long haunt that had a great atmosphere to it. Basically take the tale of Pinocchio but make everything about it demonic. Geppetto was scary as hell, the donkey creatures tried to murder me, the clowns were pretty evil looking, and Pinocchio himself was huge and ready to rip my head off. Don't even get me started on the Fairy Godmother, though she was quite nice to look at. Until she tries to kill you, of course. Again major points to the scenic department on this one. The environments were very well done! Also, the narration while in line is appropriately creepy.

Forevermore - Biggest disappointment of the night and it is entirely because of the staff. After everything else being so great this was the final haunt for me to go through in the lineup. Unfortunately it was terrible. Nothing against the scenic and technical staff. They did their jobs and they did it damn well. This haunt was extremely long and very well put together! I was incredibly impressed by the level of detail to each Edgar Allen Poe story! If I were judging haunts on only design this would be in the top two. Unfortunately the staff is essential and they failed miserably here. I wish I were kidding when I said this, but I saw monsters on cells phones, line attendants using foul language in front of guests and also being on their cell phones texting people, staff all over generally not paying attention or caring about delivering a semi-decent experience. In fact, throughout the entire, super long haunt, I only came across ONE, yes, ONE, actor that was doing his job of scaring people. One. This haunt was an unfortunate waste of space and time. I really hope I caught it on a bad night because if that's standard operating procedure then Knott's should burn this thing to the ground immediately. Ugh.

Anyways, after the extremely poor showing of Forevermore I decided to go hit a bunch of the other haunts again to wash the bad taste out. I also hit some other rides, eventually closing out the night on Silver Bullet. I missed Elvira's show but it's not something I had made it a point to get to, so I'm not worried about it, haha.

People were wondering what kind of effect the Scary Farm Season Pass would have on crowds and I can tell you all with confidence that it doesn't seem to have any effect at all. I showed up with a general admission ticket that I bought online a few days prior. I did not have a front of the line pass. I managed to get through every haunt multiple times (except Forevermore) and never once encountered a haunt line longer than 10 minutes. It was a fantastic night! The park had a steady crowd but nothing overwhelming. The longest lines of the night belonged to GhostRider and Xcelerator which were about one hour each. Why so long? Single train operation. Extremely slow single train operation. The kind of slow that made me pass up riding either of them even though I love them both. Silver Bullet was running two trains and were pumping them out without stacking at all, though! Huge points to them for being so darn good!

I really enjoyed my first ever Scary Farm! Even though there were a few low notes it didn't come close to ruining the night! Here's some pictures!
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The lovely 5-star view from my hotel room!
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The way better view from the front of the hotel!
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Ooooooh, pretty sunset and coasters.
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The insanely massive gargantuan crowd. /s
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Scareactor alert!
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Bag check scareactor alert!
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Mickey's Fun Wheel broke down far longer than was initially reported.
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Whoo! Awesome stuff!
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Funky atmosphere!
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Voodoo
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Very cool facade at Voodoo.
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Tooth Fairy's awesome entrance.
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I dare you to ring the doorbell!
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Trick Or Treat had some actors to entertain the (very small) line!
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More themeing
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Creepy...
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WE WANT A HANGING!
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Godzilla Vs. "Unknown Deity In The Sky Of Your Choice"-Zilla
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Explosions!
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Fire!
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Seriously you have no idea how awesome this is.
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Timber Mountain Log Ride...OF DEATH!
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Ohhhhh, the deathening!
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I am on a log flume...
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Witches mean green.
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Black Magic's facade under Xcelerator.
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Hmmph.
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Last edited by KBrylczyk on Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:16 pm.
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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby singforfood » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:22 am

I'm really glad you liked Trick or Treat! We've had HORRIBLE luck with staffing for the entire run so far (one night, we had 1/3 of our talent out) , and some of our special effects still aren't working properly because Infected and Voodoo keep pulling the technical staff away.

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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby KBrylczyk » Thu Oct 09, 2014 4:25 pm

^ Yeah, Trick Or Treat was one of those houses that tried to do something unique! I really appreciate when people try something new or go bigger. Trick Or Treat, like I said, was a great haunt that was a bit light on the scares but delivered in the overall fun factor!

Part 2 will be coming later tonight.
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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby KBrylczyk » Thu Oct 09, 2014 10:15 pm

Alright, part 2 of the photo trip report that apparently nobody except Singforfood cares about! I'm getting flashbacks to my WCB and Disneyland trip report.

This adventure? Just wasting all day on Friday bouncing around LA. Halloween Horror Nights didn't start until 7pm. Hotel checkout was 11am. That means I had 8 hours to kill. Plan of attack? Well, first, off to Disneyland to grab some breakfast! On the way I stopped by Adventure City to see how the Rewind Racers construction was coming along. Long story short, it isn't. At all. The land is clear-ish and all of the tracks and supports are just sitting in the parking lot untouched. On to Disneyland!

In case you're wondering "Did Kyle really drive the 5 miles from Knott's to Disneyland just to go to the Downtown Disney Starbucks even though there is a Starbucks LITERALLY around the corner from his hotel?" Yes. Yes I did. So eat it. I like Disney.

I parked the car and wandered along the nice and pretty Downtown Disney concourse towards Starbucks. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, partly cloudy with a light breeze. Everyone was super friendly, good music was playing, just an all around great morning! I noticed Anna & Elsa's Boutique was brand spankin' new (it wasn't there when I visited after West Coast Bash) but not quite open yet. I missed it by three days. Dammit! I really wanted a new dress! The girlfriend would have loved the ol' switcheroo!

What's that? It's getting weird? Alright, change the subject.

STARBUCKS! Yay Starbucks. Bringer of caffeine into my life while away from home! Also bringer of delicious Spinach Feta Wraps! Also home to the glorious Orlando Spying Chalkboard! Is it creepy? Kind of. Is it cool? YUP! Anyways, I sat on the porch enjoying the morning while I had my yummy Starbucks breakfast but a little bit sad that I wasn't going into either of the parks. Oh, well. Time to hit the road and get across town to Santa Monica to get a new credit! West Coaster!

Shockingly the drive across LA was painless. No traffic at all! I managed to get from Anaheim to the Santa Monica Pier in under an hour! Whooooo! Mark that one down in the record books.

The Santa Monica Pier was as I expected it to be. Nothing spectacular but a tourist trap for sure. Overpriced everything, typical beach shops, and tasty food. But forget all that. I was here for a credit that happens to be one of the most famous coasters in the world, West Coaster!



West Coaster - I was honestly expecting a super boring ride. It's tiny and consists of two helices with some jokey-looking bunny hops between them. I bought my ticket and headed up to the station and opted for the back row because if there will be any airtime at all, it'll be in the back. Coming off the lift actually had a bit of force to it! The first helix is taken at a low speed but leads directly into a drop on the way out, resulting in a surprising pop of airtime that lasts for the entire drop! Granted, it's a small drop, but it still good airtime! There's a second bunny hop immediately following with a second pop of airtime before you head into the second helix. This one is taken at a high speed and has a curving drop on the exit to get back into the station. There's some decent laterals to be found here, too! Once back in the station the operators asked everyone if they wanted to go a second time, which of course we said yes to! Free ride! West Coaster really surprised me. I was expecting a glorified kiddie coaster and got a nice, fun little ride! I'd say if you're in the western LA area to give it a shot but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

After West Coaster I headed back to my car to head up into the Hollywood Hills for a drive along Mulholland Drive. This road itself is like a coaster, just add in a bunch of horrible Californian drivers who take blind curves at 50+mph cutting across the center line. If you're looking for a butt-clenching experience, take a trip down this stretch of road.

I stopped at one of the overlook points for Sun Valley as well as the LA valley before heading back down the hills to Hollywood proper and making a stop as Pink's Hot Dogs. Because, you know, Pink's. It's awesome! Once I finished up there I decided I should get going towards Universal to take advantage of their free early entry. On with the pictures!
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One last look at the Knott's skyline from the hotel's parking lot!
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Rewind Racers is coming along extremely slowly. And by extremely slowly I mean not at all. :-(
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Hiya, Disney!
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STITCH!!!!! I own a print of this now, by the way. Totally awesome!!!!!!!!!
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Anna & Elsa weren't quite thawed yet.
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Hi, Robb! ...again!
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Went into the Grand Californian.
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Saw the big lobby.
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Also saw a boat.
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The final stop of Route 66, Pier Burger!
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Gorgeous signs here on the pier! /s
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They really just plopped the rides down all willy-nilly.
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Ooooo, pretty.
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Ah, the Pacific Ocean. Please note the distinct yellow-brown line of smog along the waterline on the horizon.
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Tour groups everywhere at the pier.
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I was extremely tempted to stick around that evening to watch!
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Free movies on the pier! Great idea!
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BENI-F$^%IN-HANA?! (Wolf Of Wall Street fans?)
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This image is not edited. The palm trees really are that wavy.
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Of course this would be in Hollywood.
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Hiya, Sun Valley!
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Hiya, LA valley...and your disgusting huge layer of smog and yuck.
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Hollywoooooooood! (1941 fans?)
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Yummy yummy hot dogs and sausages!
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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby StuckInSD » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:06 pm

KBrylczyk wrote:Image


How true that is. Lovin' the TR, by the way! :b
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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby KBrylczyk » Wed Oct 15, 2014 3:15 pm

Time to close out this ignored trip report. Big thanks to StuckInSD and Singforfood for showing signs of appreciation for the amount of time that goes into making these reports! You two are awesome!

Universal Studios Hollywood - Halloween Horror Nights

I parked my car around 5pm, yeah, two hours prior to the actual event starting. Why? Well, to be completely honest, I was just tired of being in my car driving around LA all day. I needed to stretch my legs! After paying the non-extortion parking fee ($16, as opposed to basically everyone else's $20+ these days) I had the fun of driving around one of the parking garages hunting for a space. I'm not used to this. See, in Vegas, I enter a garage and go straight to the roof. It's easier to remember and 99% of the time there's an open space directly next to the elevators. Every time I've been to a park's garage I'm generally there early in the morning and either get directed by the staff or park on the first level right by the entry point. Since this was the middle of the day and the park had been in full swing since 10am the garage was already basically full.

Did I mention that Universal's parking garages are also very strangely laid out? They're like a trapezoid. Also, the ramps between levels make no sense at all. They keep changing location on every floor! Eh, whatever. I'll chalk it up to "being unique." Anyways, after driving around trying to make sense of where the heck I was going, I ended up on the 8th floor in a row that was completely empty. Every other row on the level was full, no empty spaces. This row, though, was untouched. I felt like I was doing something wrong by parking there, haha. There weren't any signs or orange cones, though, so I figured I was safe! Huzzah!

Since I was so early I took a bit of a walk around the garage to check out the view of Studio City / Burbank / Van Nuys / Sun Valley / The entire northern portion of LA that isn't coated by (as much) smog. I ended up on the roof and was surprised to see the amount of insane construction going on all around the property. Seriously, it's totally nuckin' futs. Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Springfield, Fast & Furious, some other huge project I'm guessing is another parking garage, you get the idea.

I'm so excited to see what this park will look like in another year or two. They're not just adding new things, they're completely overhauling the park. I think it's going to be fantastic! Especially Fast & Furious: Supercharged. I know details are pretty scarce so far but holy crap what I'm seeing looks incredible. It's going to be very similar to Kong 360, only bigger and crazier. For instance, Kong is one show building. Fast & Furious is three. The main show building is housing the world's largest 360-degree screen, yeah, even bigger than Kong. Judging by the size of the building I'm gonna say it's close to twice the height. Holy crap. I was only barely able to peek into one of the preshow buildings so I may be wrong, but it looked like they were building some physical sets, no doubt they will be fileld with pyrotechnics and all kinds of blowy-uppy goodness. It seems like they're taking Earthquake and Kong, mixing them together, and then making it even bigger and crazier. I cannot wait for this to open!

Anyways, enough of my gushing about a ride that's not even open yet. Back to Horror Nights!

I got to the front gate around 5:45 and was directed to my super special awesome people of coolness gate for the Front Of Line Pass. Security was tighter than I'd ever seen before, making me finish my Starbucks (yeah, of course I stopped at the one in CityWalk) and dumping out my water bottle before being allowed to pass through the metal detector. Oh, yeah, the metal detectors. Those have never been there before. I noticed the same thing at Knott's. During normal operation there's light security, no metal detectors or pat downs, but for the Halloween events they go bugnuts. Universal has outlawed alcohol on the property, though, so that helps immensely with the douchebaggery. People still drink their faces off before showing up but at least they sober up during the night rather than get worse.

Once through security and chugging the everloving crap out of my 32-ounce iced coffee, I was caffeinated beyond belief and ready to get scared! They directed me towards the free early entry area...yes, FREE EARLY ENTRY AREA, not just for the VIP or Front Of Line people, but for friggin EVERYONE, it's FREE, and it's awesome. Again, it is FREE, for EVERYONE, so if you're smart enough to show up on time you'll get first dibs on the haunts, particularly the ones in the backlot. Take my advice, DO THIS!!!!!!!!!! You won't believe how insanely crowded this event gets within the first hour. And every goes straight to the backlot. Those haunts get a huge line and they stay a huge line all night long. Early entry allows you to forget all that and go straight there, bang them out, then work your way forward.

Being a Front Of Line pass awesome person, I managed to get through every haunt on the property (except Dracula) without using the pass at all. Yeah, the pass is good for only one time at each maze, so I told the people at the gates directing me to the Gate A entrance that I didn't want to waste the ticket when the standby was only 10 minutes. They certainly didn't argue with me. That Front Of Line pass came in handy later in the evening, though!

OK, back on track here, Early Entry area! We were let in a side entrance and corralled by the WaterWorld stadium. Here is where they checked our tickets and I got my Front Of Line credentials. While we were waiting I was glancing around the crowd and noticed that I was the only person with Front Of Line access. The amount of people that were coming in simply for standby was immense. I mean, being early entry they were smart and were most likely able to get through every haunt in the park in a reasonable amount of time, but later on in the night they were gonna have a bad time.

Around 6:20 they had their hype girl give a big announcement about the haunts and scare zones. She was getting the crowd nice and pumped until she mentioned Walking Dead. I really, really hope this is sending a message to Universal. Every haunt that was mentioned got a huge cheer. As soon as she mentioned The Walking Dead, she was met with crickets. Yeah, turns out when you re-use the same theme for three years in a row people really get sick of it. She mentioned the scare zone, the haunt, and the Terror Tram, all three barely got a "yay" out of the crowd. By contrast, as soon as she said "Alien Vs. Predator" the crowd erupted into cheers that rivaled a World Series game. So, Universal, if you're listening, get rid of Walking Dead next year.

Finally 6:30 rolls around and we're allowed into the lower lot and backlot! Yup, 6:30, not 7. Every haunt was open and allowing guests to enter as soon as they dropped the ropes. Gotta love free early entry!

Of course I headed straight to the backlot. There are no express trams this year so you're walking about 1/4-mile from Tranny Robots to the backlot NY streets. They break up the boring-ness of it by offering a train tunnel scare zone...themed to Walking Dead...around the halfway point. It's just a long, straight tunnel with zombies creeping around inside of it with some chaser lights along the wall. While it wasn't anything super creative it at least got you pumped up for some haunts! Here's a video!



Once through the tunnel you've still got a bit of walking until you reach the backlot. Once there, though, you're forced into a second Walking Dead scare zone, Welcome To Terminus. This one was better than the train tunnel, mainly because it had a ton of fog and strobe lights, but also had some of the most awesome scareactors I've ever seen. These guys were dedicated! It pains me to think about what they're doing to their vocal chords with some of the sounds they made. There were a bunch of shipping containers around for them to hide but they also mingle in the crowds and manage to scare people they've been in front of the entire time!

Once through the second scare zone you're given your choice of three haunts, Walking Dead, Alien Vs Predator, or Dusk Til Dawn. I opted to go to Walking Dead first, simply because it was the first entrance I saw. Wait time? Well, the sign said 10 minutes. Actual wait time was 0 minutes.

The Walking Dead - Holy crap, this haunt really surprised me. Prior to my trip to LA I had binge-watched season 4 of The Walking Dead so I could be up to date with what the heck is happening in this haunt. Being so fresh on the series really helped me appreciate the haunt that much more. It takes you through the entirety of season 4, hitting all of the main beats of the show such as the prison attack, the funeral home, the wall of ivy, the shopping center, the train tunnel, and Terminus, among other scenes. Tons of actors in this haunt! Zombies everywhere trying to eat your face! The finale scare got me reallllllly good and had me jump backwards into a wall, subsequently falling onto the floor screaming and laughing! It was fun, long, had a bunch of great scares, excellent attention to detail, great haunt all around!

Alien Vs. Predator - OH MY GOD YES!!!!!!!!! Believe the hype, this is THE haunt of the year! I ended up against a wall, on the floor, jumping 10 feet in the air, ducking under claws, everything! IT WAS AWESOME! Completely relentless with the scares! They don't ever give you a chance to breathe in this haunt! It's one thing after another and it's about as close to full-contact as you can imagine. Seriously, how did the actors not accidentally hit me in the face? Imagine a claw or hand coming as close to your face as possible without actually hitting you. These guys are good! This was the only haunt that was inside a soundstage and it shows. The level of detail was incredible and it was super long. The entrance scene is a crashed spaceship in a forest. You would never even think twice that you're in a soundstage. The amount of care that went into this haunt is incredible! Every last thing was paid attention to. The scares are genius, and whoever the sick and twisted bastard that thought of the gauntlet scare is awesome! Allow me to explain "the gauntlet." You're walking through the house, you turn a corner, and suddenly you're caught in the crossfire between an Alien and Predator, both bursting out of the wall on either side of you, almost ripping your face off in the process, causing you to scream like a little girl and fall to the floor in the fetal position. This happens at least 3 times throughout the haunt and each time has the same effect. Screaming on the floor. Yup. The facehugger scares are also among the best! Those little pricks come out of nowhere and SLAM on the glass. I'm surprised it doesn't break! The Hollywood version of this haunt takes place on Earth, you go through a forest, neighborhood, etc. From what I saw of the Orlando version they went with the space angle, what with the space marines and spaceship setting. So yes, the haunts share themes but are completely different in execution. Like I said earlier, this is the haunt of the year for me. From beginning to end it was nonstop with the scares and atmosphere. It completely blew me away!

From Dusk Til Dawn - Good setup, nicely themed inside, but it was light on the scares. The actors were good but there were a lot of more open rooms and you were able to see where the actors would be hiding more often than not. My first trip through was more just walking around appreciating the design. My second trip was much better as there were a few different scares, including one in particular in the bar massacre scene. Without ruining anything, let's just say the prop and makeup team fooled the crap out of me. It wasn't a mannequin. Excellent job! The actors in front of the haunt to entertain the line were also doing a bang-up job! Not the best but certainly a lot of fun.

After hitting the three backlot haunts I looked at the time. 6:57. Yeah, the event hadn't even officially begun yet and I had gotten through the three largest haunts. Early entry is AWESOME!!!! Time to head away from the backlot and get through the other haunts, as well as some rides! First stop? Shemales In Disguise. I mean Tranny Robots. I mean Transformers.

Transformers - Always an awesome ride, though I prefer Spidey in Orlando (makes better use of the technology, IMO). I used the single rider line and got quite the surprise...a ride by myself! There was nobody in line, the only people in the station were the employees. Yup, I got to save the world all by myself. It was pretty funky! I think Evac was confused, though, since he kept saying "you guys" when it was just me. Oh, well. Robots can be dumb sometimes.

Revenge Of The Mummy - Yep, it's still Mummy. Good to see they have all of the effects working again. Last time I visited there were a few lighting effects that were out and the mummy soldiers that drop in before the launch were out of commission. Good to have them back! It's a fun little ride with lots of twists and some airtime, nothing insane, though. Orlando got the way better version.

What's that? Jurassic Park In The Dark? OK!

Jurassic Park: In The Dark - Soooooooo, take the usual Jurassic Park and change the interior portion to be blasting Guns N Roses with strobe lights. Kinda underwhelming. I do love the ride but I feel like if they're gonna change it for HHN they could do soooooooo much more! I got drenched on my first ride thanks to a random second wave after the drop coming directly into my face. The second trip through I got away with next to nothing splashing me, which was nice since I didn't exactly want to drive the 4 hours back to Vegas in wet clothes.

Time to check out the two lower lot haunts, Clowns 3D and An American Werewolf In London!

Clowns 3D - Ugh. Crap. Crappy crap mixed with crappier crap on top of a mountain of crap. Total waste of space. It seems I wasn't the only person with this opinion, either, as almost everyone I saw leaving the haunt had a look of complete uninterest. I also heard no screams coming from the tent. Oh sure, the damn car horn was blasting every 5 seconds but nobody was getting scared. Just skip this one. It's terrible.

An American Werewolf In London - AWESOME! It's nice to see an old horror movie getting recognition. There's always something to be said for nostalgia. The best thing about this haunt was that they not only went old school on the licensed property but they also went old school on the entire house. It was very back to basics. The effects were impressive as hell but they weren't anything groundbreaking, just tried and true methods! The actual werewolves were huge and terrifying when they jumped out at you! Seeing the guy transform into a werewolf directly in front of you was super cool! The makeup and puppetry at work in this house is nothing short of extraordinary! Just like the Walking Dead haunt, this also takes you through the story beat by beat. If you're a fan of the movie you'll fall in love with this house. Yes, they really did include the Nazi Werewolf dream sequence! There's also a few times throughout the house where they make use of some cleverly hidden water squirters to make it seem like you're getting blood sprayed onto you. This haunt was my second favorite behind Alien Vs. Predator. Awesome!

Heading up to to upper lot I began to see the insane crowds arrive. Up until now I had not yet used my Front Of Line pass. It was around 8pm and the escalators were packed to the brim. Gotta love that early entry!

The upper lot was home to the final two haunts, Face/Off In The Flesh and Dracula Untold: Reign Of Blood. Unfortunately these were both pretty weak, Face/off being especially bad. Also, Terror Tram!

Face/Off In The Flesh - What in the hell did they try to do here? Was this supposed to be a haunted house or a nightclub? As soon as you enter the haunt you're bombarded by insanely loud techno music with thumping bass, lights moving everywhere, strobes, etc. It's like you walked into a nightclub, not even close to joking. This goes on throughout the entire haunt. Nonstop crappy techno music, lights going insane. It never stops. The scares were non-existant. Half of the actors weren't even trying to scare people, they were just dancing to the music in their rooms. I mean, it wasn't as bad as Clowns 3D was, but it was pretty darn close. Ugh.

Dracula Untold: Reign Of Blood - Ehhhhhhhh, it had potential to be so much more. I enjoyed it and there were a few effective scares but it got extremely repetitive in the second half. It seems like this was the budget haunt of the year. The scenery was lackluster and involved a lot of solid colors and drapery, not a whole lot going on in the theme department. Still, though, they did make me jump a few times so it did it's job well enough. I just wish they had put some more time and effort into this one because it could have been great. The length was nice but like I said about it being repetitive, it seems like they were just adding length for the sake of adding length by putting the same scare tactic to use over and over again.

Terror Tram - Cool idea, terrible execution. It was fun to walk through the Bates Motel and the War Of The Worlds plane crash, but they really need more actors in this. They seemed to be concentrated right where the tram lets you off and barely anywhere else. It's a whole lot of uphill walking for little to no reward. If they had more people hiding and made the actual scare areas more dense it would be muuuuuuch better. As it stands there are long sections of just walking along a pathway until you reach the next set where maybe one or two actors will be hiding, followed by another long stretch of path to the next thing. Again, cool idea but needs to be executed much better.

Once I finished up the first round of haunts I headed back to the Backlot to give it another go round...as well as take some videos.





Once back in the backlor (heh) I realized my Front Of Line pass would actually come in handy! Every haunt down here was over an hour for standby. I went through all three haunts a second time using the FOL pass and waited maybe 2 minutes for each haunt. Gotta love that privilege! I also did a second trip through An American Werewolf In London because, well, it's awesome. Clowns I didn't bother using my FOL pass for a second go-round because it sucked. Dracula and Face/Off I used my FOL pass already and had no desire for a second trip through either of them, anyway.

Overall it was an awesome time at Halloween Horror Nights! With the exception of two terrible haunts and one "meh" haunt, everything else was incredible! I can't wait to see what they have in store for next year! Hopefully they'll get a new license that isn't Walking Dead.

On with the pictures!
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The scariest place to park...
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Movie stuffs! Also Harry Potter themeing under construction. Those rock walls are gonna be Hogwarts.
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Hogwarts building construction!
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CRANE!
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Big thing under construction, I'm guessing another parking garage!
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Fast & Furious: Supercharged construction!
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Panorama gives a better idea of the sheer size of this attraction.
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Cinnabon...more like SIN-a-bon for HHN. No? I'll see myself out...
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Yup, I think this was the third Starbucks of the day.
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Hooray! Early entry!
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I'm more awesome than most people at the park.
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Early entry crowd waiting for the ropes to drop.
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They let us further into the park as more people showed up for early entry.
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While waiting around The Purge scare zone we got the hype announcement.
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Themeing!
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I don't think that guy got the memo.
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Hogsmeade construction!
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Gotta love them lines with early entry!
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Springfield construction!
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I can't wait for these damn walls to come down. They choke foot traffic to a standstill.
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Haunts!
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Nice sunset.
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Among the first with early entry! There were employees walking everyone back so nobody got trampled.
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Purty LA sunset. The one thing all that smog is good for.
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Another Starbucks! This one is new, right next to Transformers.
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Apologies for the blurriness, there was a lot of fast walking going on to get to the backlot.
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The beginning of a long walk.
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This is why you get here early! I like those wait times a lot!
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Entering the train tunnel scare zone.
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Zombie says "Grar!"
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Eek!
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Zombies everywhere!
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I hear Terminus has spectacular BBQ.
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Fog and zombies!
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Check out these lines! Early entry is awesome!!!!!
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Walking Dead haunt.
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Tanks. Fog. Zombies.
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These were next to the line for AvP, no clue what they're for, though. There's no haunt in that building.
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Yup, early entry is awesome.
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OMG BEST HAUNT EVER!
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The themeing was excellent in the backlot.
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Dusk Til Dawn's facade.
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Themeing everywher.e
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After getting all of the backlot haunts taken care of before 7pm, I started heading back to the main park and saw the insane amount of people just getting in. EARLY ENTRY!!!
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Tee hee
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Shemale Robots!
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Waiting a grand total of 3 minutes for An American Werewolf In London.
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The facade was pretty cool. Shame the rest of it was so terrible.
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Oh, hi, ridiculously large amount of people just heading to the lower lot and backlot. You should have been here earlier.
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Total foot traffic nightmare around Simpsons and the tram with all of the construction.
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Huge line for Terror Tram. Yup.
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The terror! Not the bottled water!
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We ended up stuck in the tram for about 10 minutes. emergency vehicles were scrambling around the backlot for something.
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Terror Tram theming at Bates Motel.
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Yay Terminus stuff. Wait, wasn't this already in the haunt in the backlot?
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Plane crash!
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The minions seem to love Dracula.
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The facade for Dracula. Lot's of effort there...
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Despicable Me was open. I got to ride with someone who has no idea what a shower is.
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Scare zone themeing!
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FIRE!
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Bad.
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Fire!
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FIRE!
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Heading to the backlot a second time, this is exactly why early entry is the greatest thing ever. Also why I bought the front of line pass!
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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby OrlandoGuy » Thu Oct 16, 2014 6:29 am

What an awesome TR. I enjoyed every second of it.

Based solely on this, I am very impressed with Hollywood's Horror Nights. It honestly seems better than Orlando's in a couple of ways this year based on your write-up and photos. Obviously, having the backlot open is something Orlando can never replicate but the overall atmosphere seems so much more complete there. Also, the props in the Purge scarezone seem more violent/imposing, but that might just be because of the size of the area they're in. Also sounds like California got the better AVP house...while ours wasn't bad, it was low on scares. Plus, having that AND AWiL (2 puppet houses!!) seems awesome. I feel like as soon as Hollywood starts getting an eighth house and hitting their stride with original content (seems hit or miss with originals over there) then they may very well become the superior haunt event compared to Orlando.

As for Knott's, I had heard really good things about their event and your review solidified all of them. They seem to have a very dedicated team who love what they do which is awesome. For a regional amusement park they seem to throw a hell of an event. I really want to try this zombie laser tag thing...that sounds like a blast.

Overall great write-up, seems like a very fun trip. Thanks for posting!

EDIT: About the smog...that looks really bad. That otherwise beautiful picture of the ocean is ruined by the brown air. Are we 100% sure that thats all pollution, though, and not in some way the marine layer of the atmosphere?

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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby cfc » Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:24 am

I haven't been to Knott's Scary Farm since 2001, but I really enjoyed it back then. Unfortunately, I rarely have the chance to get out to southern California during the fall; but it is nice to love vicariously through someone else's TR.

Looks like "zombie hunting" is the big thing this year. I wonder if Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens Williamsburg will jump on the bandwagon next year. KD's Dinosaurs Alive area would be ideal for it, and BGW could use some of their backstage area where Root of All Evil is now (or the current location of the Cutthroat Cove maze in Festa Italia).
Last edited by cfc on Fri Oct 17, 2014 10:24 am.
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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby milndog » Sat Oct 18, 2014 7:47 am

Fantastic trip report! I'm definitely more of a "lurker" on tpr but this trip report made me want to log in again to say thanks - really insightful and one of the most enjoyable trip reports I've ever read. Cheers!

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Re: Photo TR - A SoCal Halloween Adventure!

Postby KBrylczyk » Sat Oct 18, 2014 9:57 am

I forgot I was also testing out a new, non-phone, camera. I originally took a bunch more with this camera but unfortunately low-light shots are extremely difficult to get without them being blurry. It drops the shutter speed so unless I mount the camera I need to pray my hands and arms don't movie at all while it snaps the picture.

When I don't mess it up, though, the results are fantastic! Check it out!
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We want a hanging! again!
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Awesome ambient lighting at Knott's.
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Fire!!!
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More fire!!!!
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I love all of the ambient and accent lighting around the park.
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FIRE!!!
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Fire! I like the fire.
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Wait times. I took this around 8pm.
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All of those colors!
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