Friday, January 3, 2014
The Universe of Energy was an opening day attraction at Epcot, which educated it's riders on various fuel ans power sources, mostly focusing on the creation and harvesting of crude oil before touching on alternative power sources. The ride building even had solar panels outside that powered the ride vehicles. Probably the most unique aspect of the attraction was a new vehicle system developed by the Imagineers called " The Traveling Theater". The six ride vehicles, which could carry 97 people each didn't travel on a traditional track. They instead followed computer signals received through an eighth-inch thick wire in the floor. This allowed the vehicles to break formation and follow the same path through the dinosaur scene without needing to use several mechanical switches, which most any type of track would require. This same system would later be used in the Great Movie Ride and the Tower of Terror. The Universe of Energy Operated until early 1996 when it was re-imagined and updated. Don't worry baby birds the animatronic dinosaurs - which are the only part of this trek that kids really cared about anyway- have not gone extinct. What has been lost is this attraction's atmosphere and mood. It used to have loud, awe-inspiring music and movies about energy that surrounded you on giant, shifting, wrap around mosaic screens. The journey into the past to see the dinosaurs was both exciting and frightening; it really felt like you had traveled back in time. Sadly, in 1996 this ride was changed to Ellen's Energy Adventure and featured Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy playing it for laughs. Sure, it's probably more entertaining for some, but the epic nature the ride once possessed is gone. Instead of learning about the energy process through the projected movies and surrounding effects, we're being force fed the information through a game of Jeopardy. It has been transformed from the must visit attraction of my younger years to a 45 minute air conditioned nap after drinking around the world. Which I guess still makes the ride very much enjoyable.
It seems the full ride video was taken off of YouTube so I am unable to embed it. I can however provide a link to The Universe of Energy: Ultimate Tribute on Vimeo.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Snow White's Scary Adventure was an opening day attraction at Magic Kingdom. The ride was designed so that riders felt as if they were the main character in the story. Many people didn't understand this concept, and some wondered why Snow White wasn't featured in the ride. In 1994 the ride was refurbished to include more scenes with Snow White, and remove many of the scenes which were deemed too scary for children.
2012 was the year to close down classic attractions; Jaws, Sounds Dangerous, and Snow White's Scary Adventure. I remember the first time I went on it, I cried the entire time. I was five, so shut it. Like Jaws and Back to the Future I went to ride this on it's final day of operation. Although this has never been a favorite ride of mine I couldn't help thinking "Wow! A little piece of my childhood has vanished." as I left the park that day. It’s always sad to see a classic like this close (with Mr. Toad and Journey into Imagination being true travesties), but I’m especially sad that they will be replacing it with another “meet and greet" attraction which is something I didn’t really ever enjoy when as a child. It just feels like the “Imagineers” are resorting more and more to what’s easier instead of what’s inspiring. That's just my two cents though, and it's probably worth just about that…
Friday, September 20, 2013
Halloween Horror Nights 22 was the first event since 2007 to have one huge parkwide scarezone rather than multiple scarezones scattered throughout the park. It was also the first time since 2006 to have only seven houses instead of eight, due to the demolition of the Jaws. Even though there were a lot of great things about this years event, there were just enough misses to make it a decent event instead of a great one.
Houses based on Silent Hill and The Walking Dead were featured this year, with The Walking Dead being considered the events Icon. Silent Hill was a decent house but not one I felt needed to be experienced more than once. Walking Dead: Dead Inside on the other hand was a great house that brought scenes from the AMC TV show to life. The only complaint I had about it was that there weren't enough zombies, I was hoping it would have a Dead Exposure-esque finale. Universal also teamed up with shock rocker Alice Cooper and magicians Penn & Teller to make Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare and Penn & Teller: New(kd) Las Vegas. Once again one of these houses I absolutely loved the other not so much. Welcome to my Nightmare took you through a different Alice Cooper song in each room, it also took home that much coveted "not so much award". New(kd) las Vegas was a comedy house that took guest to a radio active Las Vegas caused be a failed Penn & Teller magic trick. Penn & Teller were even on hand certain nights to greet guests at the end of the house. I never got the chance to meet them, but end up having an awkward encounter with Teller when we used neighboring urinals.
The last three houses were original houses from the great minds at Universal. Universal's House of Horrors featured classic Universal movie monsters in a house that made it look like you were in a black and white film, which was a very cool effect. Gothic took into the rafters of a Gothic cathedral where the stone gargoyles that keep watch came to life to protect the against intrusion. Finally Dead End was took you through a haunted house much like The Wyandot Estate from HHN 20.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Lady Luck was the icon for Halloween Horror Nights XXI. She was a beautiful and seductive woman, that would morph into her true form of a twisted monster the more chances her prey took. Lady Luck was the first Icon not to have an "Icon house", although Your Luck Has Run Out can be viewed as being her "Icon scarezone". She also played a key role in the back stories to each house, while also making cameo appearances many of them.
As with the past few years the houses were exceptional. The only one I found to be a weak link was The Forsaken. The Forsaken took place on a haunted conquistador ship, and although it was an excellently themed and produced house, all of the scare-actors had glowing green eyes which made it easy to spot them in the dark thus ruining the scare.
Nevermore: The Madness of Poe took you through some of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, with each room focusing on a different story or poem. The Thing took you through the Arctic station from the prequel/ remake movie of the same name. Saws N' Steam: Into the Machine was the only house to ever be based off of a previous scarezone. It took you through a future utopia world called "The Horizon" where those who were no longer worthy of the civilization were harvested to power the city.
H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror was the years comedy house and brought you into different horror movies based off of holidays, each room had an introduction from H.R. Bloodengutz himself. On a side note Mr Bloodengutz really hated it when you called him Bludengootz. The In-Between was a 3D house that brought you into the pages of a deranged comic book. Winter's Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetery was the best house of the year in my opinion. It took you through a cemetery in the dead of winter. The house was even cooled down to 40°F with frost covering many of the set pieces. In Nightingales: Blood Prey guest walked through the trenches of WWI where demon nurses preyed on the wounded and dying. This house is right up there with Winter's Night as best house of the year, the cramped feeling of the trenches and war sound effects really immersed you in the world of the Nightingales.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The logo for 20 Years of Fear, was a lantern featuring the faces of past icons within it's flames. Eventually XX logo would become a new official logo, appearing on maps, and the website. The Icon for the event was none other than Fear himself. Fear was revealed to be the mastermind of the past 19 years of horror. Influencing events through an old Lantern kept in the Universal Studios Art & Design Department, Fear had been slowly using others to prepare the way for his eventual return.
The houses were revealed on August 20, at exactly 8:20pm (20:20 military time). Horror Nights: The Hallow'd Past was kind of a greatest hits house, each room was taken from a past Horror Nights maze including; Scary Tales, Bone Collectors, Dead Exposure and S.S. Frightanic. Cindy finally got her own house in The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes, where guests entered the charred remains of her orphanage.
In Hades: The Gates of Ruin you made your way into the Underworld, and came face to face creatures of legend. PsychoScareapy: Echoes of Shadybrook brought gusts back to Shadybrook Asylum who's doors had been closed for the last 15 years, but some patients still linger. Havoc: Dogs of War was a house filled with genetic soldiers. Catacombs: Black Death Rising walked you through a medieval town during a plague outbreak. Zombiegeddon was a comedy house where you learned skills to survive the zombie apocalypse. Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate took guests through a haunted bed and breakfast. Most of the houses were either a sequel or contained references to past houses. Each house also had a cameo from one of the events past Icons.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Subtitled "Ripped from the Silver Screen, the event relied heavily on characters from the movie franchises Child's Play (Chucky), Saw (Billy /Jigsaw), and Universal's The Wolfman remake. It also featured classic mocie monsters Dracula and Frankenstein. Halloween Horror Nights XIX's theme revolved around a mysterious old movie theater called the Universal Palace Theater.
The Icon of the event was The Usher, a mysterious, undead usher who haunts and cares for the theater. The Universal Palace itself is an evil entity that attacks those who do not show it respect. The event held six scarezones and eight haunted mazes.
The Icon houae was Silver Screams where The Usher welcomed guests into the Universal Palace Theater, where scenes from some of horror's biggest movies like Phantom of the Opera, Shaun of the Dead, and Army of Darkness. are brought to life.
Saw was inspired by the popular Saw series of movies. In The Wolfman, based off the remake of the same name, guests travel through the England countryside while being hunted by The Wolfman. In Chucky: Friends till the End you would enter into Chucky's world, where the demented doll has been turning harmless toys into pure evil. Dracula: Legacy in Blood took guests Count Dracula's castle on the night of "The Calling", and are given the choice of either becoming an undead servant of Dracula, or suffering a painful demise. In Frankenstein: Creation of the Damned, Frankenstein's monster has taken revenge against his creator, and you are caught in the middle of his destructive rampage.
The Spawning was a house loosly based on the movie C.H.U.D. where guests traveled through sewers filled with Underground Dwellers.
Leave it to Cleaver was a comedy/horror house where Sam Meetz works as a butcher in Carey, Ohio with a steady supply of vagrants, vagabonds, and ne're do wells as his livestock.
Horror Nights XIX was pretty solid as far as the houses go. It was also the first time I went through houses completely alone, and let me tell you that is how these houses are meant to be experienced. The Dracula house and Leave it to Clever tie for the best house this year. Saw was my least favorite, but it was also the most popular, which means everyone else was wrong.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Reflections of fear was held for 23 nights September 26 - November 1. It included eight houses and six scarezones, making it the largest Halloween Horror Nights in the event's history. Bloody Mary was introduced on the Halloween Horror Nights website as the years icon, with her back story being expanded on up to and during the event. With Bloody Mary as icon, fears, fairy tales, and urban legends formed the theme to the event. Although there was no elaborate Opening Scare-emony featuring Bloody Mary , she made numerous appearances throughout the event.
Halloween Horror Nights XVII had one of the most interactive websites ever created for the event. Universal creative invented a world based on phobias with a psychopathic psychologist as ringleader. The website showed a detailed list of her treatment and murder of patients and finally her own demise.
"Noted Psychiatrist Dr. Mary Agana believed that if a subject was constantly forced to experience what they feared the most, then over time they would become numb to the idea of actually fearing it. Unfortunately for us, Dr. Mary's fear is that of death and the only way for her to cure herself is to watch the light leave your eyes as your soul leaves your body."
Reflections of Fear was Bloody Mary's feature haunted house, where guests stepped into her experiments. Scary Tales: Once Upon a Nightmare was the third of the "Scary Tales" houses (the other two being Scary Tales in 2001 and Scary Tales II in 2002 in 2002), this house took guests through wicked versions of fairy-tales. In Creatures! guests traveled through the Butchered Buck Roadhouse as demonic creatures attacked its backwoods inhabitants. In Interstellar Terror guests boarded the NSO Columbus 1492, a spaceship that had disappeared for several years and has now returned to the orbit of Earth's moon with a mysterious artifact on board. Dead Exposure allowed guests to witness a zombie invasion as seen through the lens of a Private Investigator's camera. Doomsday was based on Universal's film Doomsday, where guests must survive a post-apocalyptic Scotland ravaged by a deadly virus. In The Hallow guests traveled through an ancient ceremonial ruin haunted by the servants of the Lord of the Underworld. Body Collectors: Collections of the Past was a follow-up to the 2005 Body Collectors house, took guests through the back streets of Victorian London, where the Collectors are using Jack the Ripper as a cover-up for their deeds.
The houses this year were pretty hit or miss, but when they hit they knocked it out of the park. Dead exposure is by far the scariest house I've ever been in with a group of people and still remains my favorite Horror Nights house thus far. The last room featured wall to wall zombies that moved in closer to you with every flash of the strobe light, it really made you feel like there was no way out. The Hallow was pretty decent house but it was the giant animatronic Lord of the Underworld that made it great. Scary Tales and Body Collectors absolutely delivered and I can't wait for the Universal team to bring them back for another round. The rest of the houses were complete misses, with the Reflections of Fear house uprooting Camp Blood as the most disappointing house I've been in. It wasn't the worst house that year, just disappointing. Interstellar Terror grabs the title for the years and possibly even all time worst house.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Halloween Horror Nights XVII was the first time Universal used licensed properties for the majority of it's attractions. This included three of the most popular horror movie icons of all time. Freddy Krueger from the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, Leatherface from the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movies and Jason Voorhees from the "Friday the 13th" films.
Jack the Clown returned to acting "ringleader" offering these three as the main attractions for his "Carnival of Carnage."
Houses based on the movies "The Thing" and "Dead Silence" were also added to the mix. The event also included three original houses;
Vampyr: Blood Bath a sequel house to Castle Vampyr, PsychoScareapy: Home for the Holidays where escaped inmates from Shady Brook terrorize a neighborhood during Christmas, and finally Jack's Funhouse in Clown-O-Vision a 3-D funhouse featuring Jack's gang of demented clowns.
Carnival of Carnage dethroned Islands of Fear as my favorite Horror Nights event. Every house (with the exception of Camp Blood) were top notch, I couldn't pick a favorite if I wanted to. Dream Walkers still stands out as on of the most intense houses they've ever produced while Jack's Funhouse used the 3-D effect to it's maximum potential, making it probably the most disorienting house I've ever been in. This was the first year I purchesed a Frequent Fear Pass so I was able to experience 100% of the event multiple times.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure 2007 overview
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Halloween Horror Nights: Sweet 16 was advertised as "Horror Comes Home". The Caretaker, The Director, The Story Teller, and Jack the Clown were all brought back from hell by Darkness and his minions in the show "The Arrival". Sweet 16 also saw the return of Robosaurus, who battled zombies in the Deadtropolis scare zone. All of the houses were sequels to popular houses from past Halloween Horror Nights. I would have loved to have seen a Body Collectors or Scary Tales house, but it just wasn't meant to be. The Caretaker returned in ScreamHouse: Resurrection. Jack was re-incarcerated in Shady Brook Asylum in PsychoScareapy: Maximum Madness where he incited a patient rebellion. The Director returned in All Nite Die-In: Take 2 where he showed off his new sadistic "cut" of films to guests. The Storyteller revived the Dungeon of Terror: Re -Told, where her whispers called guests deeper into hell. Other classic mazes to return were: RUN: Hostile Territory, where Jacks brother Eddie and his gang terrorized park guests in a house inspired by the films Hostel and Saw. People Under the Stairs : Under Construction, brought back the special effects helmets used in Terror Mines the previous year. In Psycho Path: Return of Norman Bates, guests took a journey through the mind of Norman Bates.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure 2006 overview
Bill and Ted
The Directors Cut
Scream House: Resurrection