Saturday, August 31, 2013

Halloween Horror Nights III - 1993

The third annual Halloween Horror Nights was a five night event and featured three mazes: The Slaughterhouse, The Psycho Path Maze, based around the Bates Motel, and the return of The People Under the Stairs. One of the highlights of HHN 3 was Burn and Bury, a traveling burial show.

Halloween Horror Nights II - 1992


      Halloween Horror Nights began as (fright nights make link after its published) in 1991. In 1992 Universal changed the name to Halloween Horror Nights due to legal disputes over ownership of the name Fright Nights. The event was called "The second annual" and was expand from three nights to five. HHN 2 introduced what would become two staples of the event: Robosaurus and Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure  a satirical recap of the events that transpired over the past year. Some of the parks rides were re-themed to make them scarier. For example The E.T. Adventure was turned into a journey through dark forest to an alien world and renamed Alien Forest, while Kongfrontation took on a Darkman theme, and Earthquake became Terror Underground replacing the flood of water during the climax with blood.

      The event also featured two haunted mazes: Dungeon of Terror (returned from the previous year, and a house based off if the Wes Craven movie "People Under the Stairs". Also introduced this year was a "live" woman in a glass coffin, full of sewer dwelling rodents, wheeled through the streets at Horror Nights. Affectionately named "The Rat Lady", she is one of the longest continually appearing characters and has become a staple of Halloween Horror Nights.

The first Bill and Ted PT1


Interviews with the actors

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fright Nights - 1991

   This year marks the 23rd year for Universal Orlando’s annual Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights. Over the past twenty two years the event has built itself quite a history and has continued to bring new levels of thrills and chills to guests. Over the next twenty two  days, I will take a bit of time to look at the hallowed halls of HHN's past and show you how Halloween Horror Nights has become the premier event it is today.

  Horror Nights began after Universal execs saw Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California become the undisputed king of haunted attractions with Knott's Scary Farm. They decided to jump into the fray and unleash their own brand of horror on the public. Fright Nights made its debut on October 25, 1991. It was a three night special Halloween event held at  Universal Studios Florida.  Dungeon of Terror was the only maze at the event, located in the queue of the Jaws attraction. The story was, the Dungeon of Terror was the storage room for the unmade Universal horror films that eventually grew a mind of their own, and began to attack all who entered the Dungeon. There were no scarezones the first year, but guests were provided with plenty of entertainment throughout the park including freak shows, fortune tellers, and of course chainsaws. Fright Nights also featured specially themed shows for the event like Dr. Frankenstein's Theater and Beetle Juice's Graveyard Tours.

Beetle Juice's Grave Yard Tours

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shockwave (Six Flags Great America) June 3, 1988 - 2002

   Shockwave opened in 1988 as the world's tallest and fastest looping roller coaster.
Standing 170 feet tall and reaching speeds of 65 miles per hour as well as a record-breaking seven inversions: three vertical loops, two corkscrews and a boomerang. Shockwave was closed and dismantled in 2002.

     Shockwave was my first "big"coaster experience. It was during the summer of 1995 and my uncle took my sister and twelve year old me to Six Flags in Gurnee, IL. The whole way there I was talking a big game like "I love roller coasters" and "I've been on soooo many coasters. I'm not scared." Well my coaster résumé at the time consisted of The Mountains at Magic Kingdom, and a few wild mouse style coasters at local fairs.
   That being said we finally got to the park and I see this incredibly huge coaster with three giant loops protruding out into the parking lot. My uncle sees me looking at it a informs me that it will be the first roller coaster we go on that day. I was overcome right then and there with a "screw that" feeling. I did anything and everything I could to avoid going on that coaster: "Hey Uncle Rick, let's go on the bumper cars.", "Hey Uncle Rick, the line for the log flume is short.",  "I'm hungry",  "Who's down for more bumper cars?" didn't work. We still ended up in front of Shockwave. That's when it hit me " Hey Uncle Rick, I have to use the bathroom." And it worked he let me use the bathroom, such an idea of pure genius, why hadn't I thought of it sooner? Except I didn't actually have to go, and the line for the restrooms was pretty long so hiding in a stall for a while was out of the question.
     I walked out defeated, resigned to my fate. We get in line and we're getting closer and closer. The panic sets in and over and over I futilely try to use the bathroom gamble again...he ain't buying it. We finally get strapped in, the ride car pulls forward and I shut my eyes as tight as I can. When I finally open them we're halfway out of the second loop. The panic was gone, the terror was gone, all the apprehension I had felt was stripped away and replaced with exhilaration and excitement. I absolutely loved it and I've been a coaster addict ever since.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Magic, The Memories and You January 18, 2011 - September 3, 2012

The Magic, the Memories and You was a night time multimedia show presented before and sometimes after Wishes. Using sixteen projectors, images are projected onto Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World. The show featured as many as 500 photographs and videos of park guests, taken throughout the day by cast members. These were combined with projections of Disney characters, attractions, and music. I was in complete awe the first (and every) time I saw this show, it is absolutely spectacular. unfortunately the show ended it's run in September 2012 and was replaced by a similar nighttime show called Celebrate the Magic. I have yet to see the new show, but have heard it's just as great.

Opening night

Valentines Day version

Summer Version

Christmas version

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Wonders of Life Pavilion October 19, 1989 - January 1, 2007

Over the past few days I've been debating on if I wanted to post Body Wars next or Cranium Command. I finally just decided to go big or go home and post a blog consisting of the entire Wonders of Life pavilion. Located in between Horizons and the Universe of Energy, the pavilion had one of the most beautiful and impressive exteriors in Epcot. From the well manicured flowers and hedges lining the entrance walkway, to the double helix rising out of the reflection pool and the sun reflecting off the golden dome of the building.The Wonders of Life consisted of exhibits and attractions dedicated to body and health education. The Wonders of Life was probably one of Epcot's most interactive attractions, offering exhibits like health quizzes, video enhanced exercise bikes, and a crooked room that showed you how your body and mind worked for and against each other. The Wonders of Life closed for good in 2007, but the pavilion building is still used for various events like The Food and Wine, and Flower and Garden Festivals.

The main attraction of the pavilion was Body Wars.  Body Wars was a simulator ride where the riders were shrunk down to the size of bacteria and had to carry out a mission inside a human body. This was the first thrill ride to be included at Epcot, and I couldn't get enough of it. I rode it so much when I was younger I could recite the lines word for word along with the actors, much to the annoyance of my family and other park guests. The future me would become an even bigger geek for this ride after finding out it's directed by Leonard Nimoy.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kitchen Kabaret October 1, 1982 - January 3, 1994/ Food Rocks March 26, 1994 - January 3, 2004

So which show was better? The purists will say Kabaret is the only way to go, but in a rare occurrence I would have to disagree. Not that Kitchen Kabaret was a bad show necessarily. The animatronics were great as was the old fashioned theater theme of the venue, but the shows parodies which included Mae West, The Andrews Sisters, and Carmen Miranda were easily dated 30 or 40 years already when the show opened. I did enjoy the vaudeville part of the show with Hamm and Eggz, and still to this day say yokes on you. As a whole I think it was a well put together show, but it just fell a bit flat with the younger generation it was geared towards.

    Food Rocks boasted an updated song list and new characters including The Peach Boys, Pita Gabriel, and host Fud Wrapper voiced by Tone-Lōc. Many of the acts used the voices of the parodied musicians themselves: Tone- Lōc, Little Richard, The Pointer Sisters, and Chubby Checker.  This show had more of a concert feel with it's light show and pipped in cheers to make it sound like a there was huge crowd. The animatronics were of a cheaper quality with limited motion and I always kind of hated the Junk Rock band. In 2004 the attraction was shut down, with the theater becoming part of the queue  for Soarin'. The stage was left abandoned and hidden behind a wall.