Trivia / Halloween Horror Nights

The following is a partial list of film, television, literary, and video game properties that have been adapted over the years in Orlando; being owned by Universal Studios, the park has had access to many properties to turn into houses, scarezones, and shows. Some of these may not seem like traditional properties, but they can be quite effective....

Properties below that are marked with an asterisk indicate that it was "unofficially" at the event, meaning that it was an IP that was sneaked in by using the Bland-Name Product method on casting sheets.

    HHN Properties 


  • Creative Differences:
    • What caused the event's long-time Creative Director, J. Michael Roddy, to part after 2009.
    • The reason behind the planned Scream house being scrapped at the last minute in 2015 (see What Could Have Been below).
  • Dawson Casting: For obvious reasons, all of the child-aged characters in the event (such as Cindy) are portrayed by shorter adults. Usually the child characters are depicted as wearing masks in order to hide this.
  • Disabled Character, Disabled Actor: The event has featured several wheelchair-bound characters that are portrayed by scareactors that cannot walk. There have also been a few cases of actors with deformities being hired to play up their unusual appearance.
  • Dueling Works: In 2011, both Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream had a haunted house based around Edgar Allan Poe, and both houses were even titled ''Nevermore''.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: Many scareactors and show actors have had to undergo physical changes for their characters, but the most extreme example may be for Orlando in 2010's Havoc: Dogs of War and its 2013 sequel Havoc: Derailed, where every actor (male and female) shaved their head bald to play psycho super soldiers.
  • Executive Meddling: The event has experienced in some form since the beginning; and in particular, it's the reason why there has been an increase in IP houses over the past couple of years.
  • Executive Veto:
    • During the event's earlier years, there were once plans to have scare actors inside the queue line for E.T. Adventure. When Steven Spielberg found out about this, he immediately said no.
    • When the 2002 event, Islands of Fear, was held in the Islands of Adventure part of Universal Orlando, Dr. Seuss' widow Audrey Geisel vetoed attempts to host a scarezone in the Seuss Landing area of the park, feeling that it would be a disgrace to Seuss' family-friendly work and threatening to end the Seuss estate's partnership with Universal if it did so. They ultimately settled on Boo-Ville, a (somewhat) Lighter and Softer Halloween area that did not have any scareactors, but still maintained the same kind of creepy music and unsettling atmosphere that the rest of the event has.
    • Also during 2002's event, in a rather odd instance, one veto occurred after the event had already started. Supposedly, Universal did not give Marvel Comics the full details on what they were going to do with the event's "Island Under Siege" scare zone and "Maximum Carnage" house. When Marvel found out about the event's depiction of the heroes being brutally killed by the villains and their bodies strung up as trophies, they were less than amused. Even before Marvel got bought out by Disney, this incident pretty much ensured that Marvel's characters would never appear in the event again. note 
    • A common fan discussion is on the viability of Universal's new Harry Potter attractions for HHN, with the common statement being that J. K. Rowling has barred the use of her properties for such uses (to the point that Diagon Alley was closed to the public during HHN Orlando in 2014, though it was open in '15). According to some, Rowling actually approves of the series being used for an adult event, and the only obstacle is the corporate side....
      • It appears that this has now become Jossed, at least overseas, as Universal Studios Japan had a Death Eaters scarezone inside Hogsmeade for their Halloween event in 2016.
    • When the event returned to the Studios park in 2006, the Jaws skippers created their own script for the ride that was more adult and profane, which they hoped that they would be able to use during the event. However for reasons unknown, the script ended up getting shot down by the higher-ups.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: This is universally the case with the event's scare actors.
  • Meaningful Release Date: Subverted. The first night of Halloween Horror Nights 25 was originally planned to be on September 25th, and it was also going to last for 25 nights; but due to fan demand for more nights, this plan was scrapped and the event instead started earlier on September 18th, and ran for 30 nights.
  • Milestone Celebration: Special anniversary years were done for the "Sweet 16", 20th, and 25th events.
  • Missing Episode: In a sense. Up until around 2001/2002 or so, the event was not widely documented by people, and several websites that did are no longer existent. Because of this, very few photos and videos of the event in its earlier years can be found, meaning that the only way to really get an understanding of what those years were like would be to listen to the stories of those who actually went back then.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Many of the A&D members at Universal Studios in Orlando and Hollywood that helm the events started out as mere Scareactors/huge horror fans.
  • Prop Recycling: Very common, to the point of fans trying to identify what other houses and scarezones the props have been used in. Being Universal, they also get to use some movie props (such as a piece from Van Helsing or a Triceratops head from The Lost World: Jurassic Park). Props from former attractions like Kongfrontation and Ghostbusters Spooktacular are even sometimes used.
  • Recycled Set: The event has done this from time to time, one notable example being that 2010's Havoc: Dogs of War re-used many of the sets from The Spawning house from the year before it.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure is much more limited in what it can do with its parodies now than in the past. For a long time, the show had absolute freedom in what it would lampoon, as the general assumption is that it falls under the "Parody" clause of Fair Use. Things changed in 2006, when Disney seemed to disagree and threatened to sue Universal over how the show that year utilized Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann. The controversy only worsened when on that same year DC Comics came down on Universal for its usage of Lex Luthor as the main villain of the show, and ultimately filed a cease-and-desist letter against them, which resulted in Lex Luthor being replaced by Dr. Evil on the final night of the show. Since then, the show has avoided putting certain copyrighted characters in the spotlight for too long, instead doing things like using a celebrity as the show's main villain rather than a movie villain. This also led to them completely banning videotaping and photography of the show, so as to prevent it from getting onto the internet and attracting unwanted attention.
  • Sequel Gap:
    • 2004's Hellgate Prison house, despite being a fan-favorite, would not get a sequel until 11 years later in 2015's RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears, which is set inside the prison.
    • Another house from 2004, Ghost Town, went without a sequel for 12 years until 2016 with Ghost Town - The Curse of Lightning Gulch.
    • The People Under the Stairs was one of the houses in 1992 and 1993, with it not being until 13 years later that it got a sequel in 2006 called The People Under The Stairs: Under Construction.
  • Series Hiatus: Universal Studios Hollywood for a while stopped doing HHN after 2000; and it wouldn't be until 2006 that it was brought back.
  • Sleeper Hit: When the Orlando event first began in 1991, management was not expecting it to be very successful and were unsure if they would be doing it again the next year. The event ended up being a huge success, with lines for that year's only house, Dungeon of Terror, reaching over three hours long. Its success would then of course go on to make Horror Nights a yearly occurrence.
  • Throw It In: Jack and Chance were fully allowed to improvise heavily in 2015's The Carnage Returns show, resulting in numerous Shout Outs and other random fun moments.
  • Too Soon:
    • The reason why both Eddie and Cindy never came to be as icons. Universal was afraid Eddie would be considered too violent in light of the 9/11 attacks, so he was cut and Jack, a more fantasy-kind of villain, was brought back instead. With Cindy, she was cut due to child murders that had been happening around the area at the time.
    • In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Universal postponed the release of any new announcements concerning 2016's event until July.
  • Viral Marketing: Several of the event's years utilize this in advertising.
  • What Could Have Been: Many icons, houses, scarezones, and event concepts have been scrapped over the years; infamous examples include Eddie, the chainsaw-wielding horror movie addict who was changed into Jack's brother, then dumped completely due to the 9/11 attacks, Cindy being replaced by The Caretaker after a rash of child kidnappings, and an almost-finished extreme house, Extreme Fear, in 2003 that was scrapped due to fear of litigation just before the event (see below).
    • Eddie would reappear with other icons in the Horror Night Nightmares house in 2006 and in the Horror Nights: The Hallow'd Past house & Fear Revealed scarezone in 2010. He received his own house, RUN: Hostile Territory (a sequel to the 2001 house RUN he was originally supposed to appear in) in 2006. The original RUN was intended to be his house before he was scrapped from the toned down event. In his original incarnation as Edgar Sawyer, he would have pulled a Hostile Show Takeover and killed Jack in the Opening Scaremonies. Whether Jack would have stayed dead is another story with how many times Edgar had to try before it stuck.
    • Cindy's case is interesting, as she had a cameo in Scream House: Resurrection in 2006 and her own house, The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes in 2010. However, Universal was considering having her be the icon for the 2010 event and aren't against the idea of having her as an icon in the future.
    • In addition to having Cindy as the icon, 2002's Islands of Fear event was originally going to be even more elaborate than what the ultimate final product turned out as.
      • One notable thing is that the event would've had the park's rides be changed to reflect the theme of their respective scare zones, for instance, at Island Under Siege (Marvel Superhero Island), The Incredible Hulk Coaster would've been themed to the Green Goblin, Storm Force Accelatron would've been themed to the Kingpin and had heavy metal music playing, while Doctor Doom's Fearfall would have sound effects of blood-curdling screams added to the ride. At "JP Extinction", (Jurassic Park) the River Adventure would've had extra effects added to make the ride scarier, along with having scare actors at the ride's exit. Finally, at "Island of Evil Souls" (Lost Continent) there would have been scare actors in the queue lines for "Dueling Dragons" and "The Flying Unicorn", and the vehicles of the latter ride would've been facing backwards.
      • A haunted house for The Thing (1982) was originally going to be at this event for its 20th anniversary, but fell through due to budget cuts. It did ultimately come to life five years later at 2007's event, fortunately.
      • The original finale for the "Project Evilution" house would've included a giant Tyrannosaurus puppet.
      • Early drafts of the event included there being another comedy show inside the Sinbad theater.
      • At one point, there would have been a big nighttime show on the lagoon called "Danse Macabre".
    • Concepts for an "extreme house" (a house in which, with full permission, visitors would be taken through more intense scares and scareactors would be allowed to break the cardinal rule: no touching the guests!) have been brought up for the Orlando event for quite some time. The most concrete example of this was the "Severe Fear" house for HHN 13 that was scrapped at the very last minute due to fear that someone might get injured and sue the park. The full treatment and construction documents can be found here. Elements from this house treatment (the door scene, the use of live flame in a house, a chainsaw wielding drill sergeant, etc.) would be reused in future houses and scarezones.
    • Early plans for 2003 had the icon being an evil Walt Disney-inspired animator that would've unleashed his creations upon the different islands, but in the end, A&D decided to take that year's icon into a different direction.
    • 2005's "Blood Ruins" house was originally going to be located inside the queue line for Dueling Dragons, but ended up getting moved to one of the soundstages. That same year, there were also plans for there to be an eighth house that would've carried a voodoo-type theme.
    • A scarezone for Army of Darkness was in the works for 2009's event, but cut and replaced with Lights, Camera, Hacktion due to Universal not being able to secure the license for it. A scene for the film was still sneaked into the Silver Screams house from that same year, however (via the Bland-Name Product method).
    • Many Icon concepts are gone through before Univeral A&D finalizes the Icon to be used for the event. Most of these are lost to the archives but some of them eventually get used in some way, shape, or form. For example, Jack's girlfriend Chance actually had her origins as the Icon concept, Jack's EX-girlfriend Jill, in an event that would span both the main park and Islands of Adventure. Lady Luck had her origins in an earlier Icon concept as well, known as Fate (who was originally planned for the 2005 event as well).
    • 2004 originally would've featured an icon called "Dr. Payne", who also would've been involved in the Disorientorium house.
    • Earlier plans for 2001 had it being a two-park event and being about Jack going up against a modern biker-gang sort of guy. Another idea is that Eddie would've been Jack all along, and that Jack merely would've been a mask on him that he would rip off.
    • One concept for the Sweet 16 year had a scare zone that would've been located in "The Boneyard" and would've themed around Jack's "extended clown family". Another concept would've had there being a giant birthday cake prop with candles that would shoot fireworks off into the sky.
    • Supposedly, the 2012 house Gothic, set in a medieval cathedral filled with menacing gargoyles, is based on a canceled room concept for an old house.
    • Many of the masks worn by the Beasts in 2012 were based on the masks of older characters, but several of them were a more unique design. Rumor has it that these masks were part of a canceled house based on the Chupacabra.
    • There were initially plans to have 2012's event return to being in both parks due to the construction for Diagon Alley and Transformers going on at the time, but the plans were ultimately scrapped.
    • An American Werewolf in London was set to be a house in two previous years, believed to be 2008 and 2012, and came close enough to completion that props and sets had to be scrapped or retooled. 2013 was when John Landis finally gave personal approval... and the positive reception to the house was enough for Landis to give approval again for the houses' return in 2015.
    • 2008's house Creatures! was a fun, campy house inspired by EC Comics. Set in a Southern roadhouse called the Butchered Buck, the house chronicled the battle between a group of rednecks and goofy-yet-scary aliens. That's all well and good. The problem? The alien costumes were too large and cumbersome and were deemed to be a safety hazard shortly before the event begun. With the exception of one creature seen behind a fence, there were nearly no creatures in the house called "Creatures".
    • American Horror Story was one of the planned IPs for 2013, but due to creative conflicts with the show's owners, it was scrapped and replaced with an Evil Dead (2013) house. It wouldn't be until 2016 that the show finally got its own house.
    • 2013 was going to have scarezones with a forest-type theme to tie into the "What Evil Has Taken Root?" theme that was being marketed. It ended up getting replaced when Marketing insisted on having the scarezones all be themed around The Walking Dead.
    • 2014 would've had an icon called the "Prop Master" that was cut for reasons unknown.
    • A house based off of the movie Scream almost made it into 2015's event, to the point that the house had already been fully constructed, leaked early marketing materials listed it as a marquee attraction, and an alternate version of the commercial for the event that included Ghostface had been filmed (though never aired). Things fell apart due to serious creative disagreements between Universal and The Weinstein Company, the short version being that the Weinsteins wanted the maze to be based on the new MTV reboot series while Universal's Art & Design department wanted to base it on the original movie. This led to the house being scrapped (with the scareactors getting less than two weeks' warning before rehearsals) and converted into a house based on The Purge. Numerous aspects of the planned Scream house were still very noticeable in the final product.
    • Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem was originally going to feature scenes from 2010's Catacombs and 2011's Nevermore: The Madness of Poe houses, but both wounded up being cut from the budget.
    • A third "Sprung Tent" was to be constructed in 2015 for the ninth house; but due to budget, creatives ultimately opted to use one of the Shrek 4-D theaters for the house instead. It later would be built in 2016, next to the queue for Men In Black: Alien Attack; as the loss of the Disaster! queue line meant that a new house location needed to be added.
    • A house based on the films of Alfred Hitchcock has been proposed multiple times in the past, but has yet to materialize.
  • You Look Familiar: It's very common to see recurring scare actors throughout the event's years playing a different role. Even within the same year one scare actor can play multiple roles.
    • Erin Nicole Cline, the main actress that portrays Chance, also played Princess Anna in 2014's Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure show as well as the "Ring Mistress" in the 20 Penny Circus show from 2012. In the regular daytime park, she has also occasionally played Lucy Ricardo.
    • Likewise, James Keaton, the main actor that portrays Jack the Clown, has also played the title character from the park's former Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue show, and also has had several roles in the Bill and Ted shows from over the years.
    • Bryce Ward, one of the most known people to play The Caretaker, has also been one of the hosts for Universal's Horror Make-Up Show and one of the people to play "Lonnie" in the former Disaster! attraction.


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