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YMMV / Halloween Horror Nights

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  • Awesome Ego: While some have gotten irritated at Jack the Clown's constant reappearances, as the first original Orlando icon, he remains consistently popular. And he knows it.
  • Awesome Music: Halloween Horror Nights events have music playing from various horror movies, artists like Nine Inch Nails, Halloween event favorite Midnight Syndicate... See the playlists from previous Orlando events here.
    • Alice Cooper had houses at the Orlando and Hollywood events. This is practically a given.
    • Who else gets a house at the Hollywood event? Black Sabbath!
    • The Academy of Villains shows in Orlando have run entirely off the music and dance to create a huge fanbase that clamors for new shows every year. It's typical for later shows each year to have audience members shouting lines from the songs as they come up.
  • Breather Level:
    • For the 2009 event, the "Leave It To Cleaver" house. Sure, it's set in a meat factory, but the mask is actually funny rather than creepy (and every single scareactor wears one), the intro video is borderline Black Comedy, the antagonist is cheerful, you get to see a nice restaurant at the end and the freezer looks like a dance floor. The only thing creepy is the rotting smell, but that's pretty much it.
    • Most of the 2001 event was far tamer then would ever be considered for the event. It's justified as 9/11 had just happened and people were still reeling.
  • Broken Base:
    • The news that all of the scarezones at the 2013 event in Orlando would be based on The Walking Dead in some form. Some were excited about the idea of a full-on Zombie Apocalypse brought to life across a park, while others felt that the event was either sacrificing its creativity to make a quick buck and cash in on a popular show, or AMC prioritizing promotion of their show over Orlando's typical attention to cohesive theming. Not even Hollywood, with its focus on licensed properties, was excused from people who were either excited to see more Walking Dead or thought of it as more Product Placement that threatened to overshadow the event. For example, the Terror Tram usually operates under the pretense that characters from the properties that the Terror Tram is themed after have taken over the Backlot that's usually home to the Studio Tour. The Tram announcer and a convenient video help explain to guests what went down before they're unceremoniously dumped onto the Backlot to face the impending terror for themselves. For 2012's Terror Tram: Invaded By The Walking Dead? Merely promos for the show, both when you're entering and exiting the attraction.
      • In general, The Walking Dead breaks the base even further every year. From 2012 to 2016, not a single year in Orlando passed without a Walking Dead house. These houses were often centerpieces of the event, ranging from 2013's total scarezone theming to 2014's Walking Dead house being twice the size of any other. While fans of the show and comic have plenty of shout outs and Easter Eggs to spot in the houses and may just be happy to have a property they love being seen so often, others are upset at the prevalence of the show every year taking away a spot for an original creation or a more interesting TV show, movie, or video game. The prominence decreased until 2016 simply had a "best of" house compiling scenes from the past, and the property has disappeared since.
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    • Lack of Icons for 2012, 2013, and 2014. Putting more emphasis on the event as a whole instead of one single character, or a horrible mistake that gives the Orlando event nothing unique to differentiate itself from the licensed-property-focused Hollywood event?
    • The use of intellectual properties like films and TV shows to make houses and scarezones is probably the largest controversy in the entire event. Some want to see their favorite horror films get made into haunted houses, others want to see Art & Design stretch their creative muscles and turn out brilliant original houses, and still others don't care and want good houses no matter what they're based on.
    • The announcement that 2017 would be the final year of Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure led to a wide variety of reactions. In particular, some felt that it was a terrible decision that destroys a valuable staple of the event, while others felt that the show had long since past its prime and needed to go. The show had recently faced some online controversy regarding the new show runner's quality and more partisan political content, creating what some considered a decline from 2012 onward that (combined with Bill & Ted's lack of pop culture presence) hastened the cancellation. The blow was deadened among non-fans by the moving of Academy of Villains into the larger stage, giving them the biggest dance shows of their company's history with packed theaters every performance.
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    • Orlando's lack of social media reveals for the 2017 event, especially compared to Hollywood wasn't well received, especially when a cryptic tease turned out to be for a sweepstakes event. The lack of a proper icon also got a mixed reception, with some co-opting the skull prominently featured in the marketing as one.
    • The 2018 announcement that the The Purge would once again be featured at both Orlando and Hollywood's events earned a lot of groans from fans that believe that the property has already been way overused at the event and has essentially become the new Walking Dead when it comes to Wolverine Publicity.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Island Under Siege scarezone & "Maximum Carnage": In this alternate version of the Maximum Carnage storyline, Carnage proves to be as despicable and vile as his comic book counterpart, if not more so. After winning against Spider-Man and killing him, Carnage uses Shriek's psychic powers to drive the populace insane while he frees inmates and forms a cult-like gang in his service. He and his hordes of destructive minions then lay waste to the area, with Carnage killing any other heroes that attempt to intervene and putting their corpses on display. When guests arrive, Carnage uses them as living target practice for laser guns, sics his henchmen and several freed supervillains on them, and puts both them and his own henchmen in a nuclear reactor and exposes them to gamma radiation just for fun.
    • "El Cucuy: The Boogeyman": The titular El Cucuy is a sadistic shapeshifter and tormentor of children. Taking delight in causing pain, El Cucuy murders children and adults alike, including massacring an entire birthday party and movie theater audience. He disguises himself as a child's grandmother, then kills the child for staying up past bedtime. His lair is decorated with stolen toys and children's bones, and filled with children who he keeps trapped in cages and bags so he can keep them alive as he tortures and eats them.
    • "Clowns 3D": The clown simply known as Sweet Licks was once a normal businessman and entrepreneur running the company/attraction Sweet Licks Family Fun Center and Ice Cream Emporium. After the company fell on hard times, Sweet Licks went mad with rage and began a criminal enterprise of killing humans and turning them into "all natural, high protein ice cream". He then used his attraction to lure in and trap visitors, who he proceeds to kill by using pickaxes and chainsaws to mutilate them while they are still alive, fill with ice cream until they burst, or hang from meat hooks, harvesting their organs and vomit to use as ingredients. As guests try to flee, he attacks them with a chainsaw to ensure there are no witnesses.
  • Crazy Awesome: Any of the icons and characters who are legitimately insane and popular, like The Director, Jack, and the Shadybrook inmates.
  • Creepy Awesome: The Icons elicit this reaction when they're not eliciting screams.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Bill & Ted shows were practically made of this trope.
  • Death of the Author: During 2017's event, HHN's social media had explicitly denied that the character Bones was the Icon for that year, however, many of the event's fans chose to view him as one anyway, primarily due to his prominence on all of the 2017 HHN merchandise.
  • Dork Age: Some feel that the event entered one around 2012-2014 due to the increased focus on licensed properties (especially The Walking Dead) and lack of icons in favor of "having the event represent itself" (which usually translated to a heavy emphasis on TWD in the marketing). With the 25th anniversary featuring the return of many popular characters, a more generous ratio of licensed to original content, and TWD being kept to one house, said Dork Age might have ended.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Eddie Schmidt and Cindy Caine, fullstop. They were both planned to be Icons for Halloween Horror Nights for 2001 and 2003 respectively, but real life events, the 9/11 attacks and child kidnappings at the time, caused them to be quickly Demoted to Extra. Doesn't stop fans from seeing them as honorary Icons for the events. Their creepy designs as well as their relations with official Icons, Eddie being Jack's brother and Cindy being the Caretaker's daughter, certainly helps.
    • The Usher and The Storyteller get this treatment. Julian gets it for having the requisite detailed character backstory but getting completely shafted in the advertising for his event, and also being the only Icon to not be featured on any of the event's merchandise. Meanwhile, The Storyteller gets it for having nearly no backstory whatsoever yet having a prominent role in the advertising for her event and making reappearances at anniversary events since then.
    • H.R. Bloodengutz, the lead character in HHN 21's "H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror" has a small but dedicated following that really, really wouldn't mind seeing him as an Icon in the near future.
    • Chance, Jack's harlequin girlfriend, such that she eventually got promoted to the main Icon of the 2016 event.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Numerous characters, though Chance and Lady Luck come to mind in particular.
    • The Director also has his fair share of fangirls, along with The Usher.
    • Some fans even find Bloody Mary to be very attractive, albeit in a more macabre fashion.
    • Vamp 55, because handsome vampire greasers.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: At the end of an "interview" with The Director that was done to promote the event in 2003, he mentions that he finds Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez annoying and wishes he could make them breakup for real. A mere three months later, Ben and Jennifer actually did permanently breakup.
  • Growing the Beard: The 2002 event in Orlando (which got covered in a Travel Channel documentary, "The Art of the Scare"), and the 2006 event in Hollywood.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In 2016's Tomb of the Ancients house, the inclusion of "Amut" — a crocodile-headed Egyptian monster, could be seen as a case of particularly bad timing considering that just a few miles away at Walt Disney World, a toddler was killed by an alligator back in June of that year.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Before The Usher's final kill in 2015, he gave a female helper a kiss on the hand and a Headbutt of Love. We also got a far more macabre but still kind of sweet moment after the kill, where he used the victim's blood to write "Love J.Bnote " on a wall and "See You 26" inside a heart on the glass.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: During the "Sweet 16" event of 2006, Jack the Clown took over Shady Brook and had the inmates run wild. In 2009, another clown did something quite similar.
  • Just Here for Godzilla:
    • Marketing for the event in the '2010s is pretty much based entirely around this concept, putting the spotlight on huge properties like Stranger Things so as to attract fans of said properties to the event that they may not have attended otherwise.
    • The 2002 event, Islands of Fear, has attracted the fascination of both the Marvel Comics fanbase and the Jurassic Park fandom that wouldn't have known about the event otherwise, due to the event that year featuring Maximum Carnage and JP Extinction, both of which were centered around twisted takes on the Marvel and Jurassic Park mythos, respectively.
  • Memetic Mutation: Universal fans (and some Disney fans) ran with the jokes made in 2014's Bill and Ted show about Animal Kingdom's Pandora – The World of Avatar at Universal Orlando's crosstown rival Walt Disney World. Mainly the jokes related to the Development Hell the area went through ("coming soon in 2085!") note , Disney basing the area off a movie that fell way off the pop culture radar since its release, and the subtle nuances of Na'vi love making, much like a similar bit in Robot Chicken. ("THEY HAVE SEX! WITH THEIR TAILS!")
    • The Carnage Returns show at HHN 25 gave us "HELL YEAH, JACK!"
    • 2008's Scary Tales: Once Upon A Nightmare featured a scare from a gigantic Papa Bear. Since then, the bear has gone on to make many more appearances at the event due to the popularity of the scare. Fans have now dubbed the bear the "HHN Bear" and always see his return as cause for celebration.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: Horror Nights originally started off in Hollywood but ended up canned for several years after a scareactor got run over by the Terror Tram. It wasn't until Orlando tried to pull off its own Halloween event with "Fright Nights" that it eventually took on the Halloween Horror Nights name and ran with it. Universal Studios Hollywood would eventually reintroduce Halloween Horror Nights, with their version being more movie-centric, but it's the event in Orlando that most people are familiar with.
    • Hollywood even canceled their event for a number of years after the '90s, and only brought it back in 2006 after Orlando's event got even more massive.
  • Narm/Nightmare Retardant:
    • Many feel the commercial for 2011 (Lady Luck's year) falls victim to this, due to the over-the-top acting and poor editing in it.
    • Lady Luck herself didn't fare much better in the actual event, as people generally agree that the monster mask she wore in her scarezone was hilariously bad.
    • One of 2013's taglines: "So this is what fear tastes like!"
  • Nausea Fuel: With the amount of gore throughout the event, you will find it everywhere. Additionally, many houses throughout the event's history have made use of certain scents, meaning that some houses have had the smells of dead bodies, burning flesh, and extremely disgusting bathrooms pumped into certain rooms.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis:
    • The promo images and ads of Bloody Mary in her depiction at the event in 2008 are nowadays typically used as stock images for things discussing the famous urban legend, or for creepy internet stuff in general, without people realizing where all these images actually originated from.
    • This particularly nightmarish picture of a girl being eaten by a giant monster has gained notoriety on the internet, to the point that it's basically become a stock image for creepypastas, and was ranked #1 on TheRichest's list of "15 Disturbing Images You Shouldn't See In The Dark". What most people don't realize is that this image is actually of one of the scenes in the La Llorona: Villa De Almas Perdidas house that was at Hollywood's HHN in 2011; the scene in question is of an over-sized La Llorona eating a girl that's desperately trying to cling on to her bed.
  • Praising Shows You Don't Watch: There are a good amount of people that follow and are impressed by the event that haven't actually gone to it, mainly due to not living near either park it takes place in and/or not having the cash. Those who do actually manage to go tend to have their opinions validated, however.
    • Fans of the Orlando event have been very favorable to Singapore's version, as it so far has only featured original houses, featured The Director & Jack, and has had very creative icons with impressive opening shows. As you can guess, most of them actually haven't set foot at the Singapore event for the reasons listed above.
  • Shallow Parody: The formerly-annual Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure shows did sometimes veer into this, occasionally settling for referencing the year's events and pop culture trends instead of making fun of them. The fact that they often had moments where they don't do this makes the parts that follow this trope stand out even more.
  • Spiritual Adaptation:
    • RUN is this to The Running Man. The sequel house, RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears makes it even more clear, right down to the '80s retro-apocalypse setting, while also drawing inspiration from The Hunger Games (itself often seen as a YA version of The Running Man.)
    • Its sequel, RUN: Hostile Terrority, is this to Hostel.
    • 2004's Horror In Wax is this to House of Wax (1953).
    • 2005's Demon Cantina is this to From Dusk Till Dawn. They eventually got a From Dusk Till Dawn house in 2014, albeit based on its TV adaptation.
    • 2007's Vampyr: Blood Bath's vampire nightclub setting was based on the Blade movies.
    • 2008's Interstellar Terror is this to Event Horizon.
    • 2010's Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate is this to The Legend of Hell House.
    • 2011's The Forsaken is this to The Fog.
    • The "Body Collectors" are strongly based off of the "Gentlemen" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
    • The Director, one of the event's most popular Icon characters, is heavily modeled after Mark Lewis from the movie Peeping Tom.
    • Universal will likely never be able to use The Joker or Harley Quinn at their parks (not with Six Flags holding the rights to use DC Comics characters), but for the time being, they have Jack and his sidekick Chance, the Monster Clowns who delight in terrorizing, torturing, and killing people with sick games. Chance's 2015 redesign especially is almost a dead ringer for Harley in the Batman: Arkham Series. This became even more apparent when Chance was made the icon of the event in 2016, the same year that Suicide Squad (2016) was released, making many fans believe the decision to make her the icon was done in part to capitalize off of Margot Robbie's popular take on Harley Quinn in the film.
  • Stuck in Their Shadow:
    • Eddie. Originally intended to be a rival to Jack the Clown, the events of 9/11 led him to be retconned into Jack's brother then replaced entirely with Jack. He's gone from that to being given equal billing with other Icons in a house at HHN 14 (notable for being an Iconless year despite having an Icon house) to being given his own house yet treated as a sub-Icon at HHN 16 (where the website material implies he's very much aware of his status at this trope) and again given equal billing with the other Icons in a scarezone at HHN 20 (although technically, all the Icons were sub-Icons compared to the main Icon, Fear).
    • Due to a string of child kidnappings in the Orlando area, Cindy Caine was replaced with her father, Albert Caine aka The Caretaker, for HHN 12. She had made later cameos in houses when her father reappeared at the event, but eventually got her own house and appeared on an equal footing with other Icons in a scarezone in 2010. This trope would have been averted if one of the initial concepts for HHN 20 had gone through: instead of Fear, Cindy was going to be the Icon.
    • Most of the Icons generally seem to get this when compared to Jack, as he's the only character that's been used as the sole Icon more than once (he's been used as an Icon four times, mind you) and altogether has made the most appearances in the event along with having most of the merchandise dedicated to him (whereas some Icons, like The Usher, have zero merchandise).
  • Tear Jerker:
    • 2018's Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After featured a dungeon scene that depicted Dorothy in chains and crying on about how she just wants to get back home to Kansas. This scene, of course, acted as the distraction for an incoming scareactor.
    • From the same year at Hollywood's event, Universal Monsters had Frankenstein's monster holding a dead little girl, presumably the one he unintentionally drowned. He doesn't jump out and scare you (that's the Wolfman's job); all he does is pace back and forth and say the word "friend" over and over again.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • While Eddie and Cindy have made repeated appearances at Halloween Horror Nights after getting scrapped from their intended years, there are still many that would like them to become full Icons, complete with the fleshed out backstories and advertising focus that results in.
    • The Storyteller was used in event advertising for HHN 15 but only appeared in her own house and hadn't had much in the way of backstory revealed about her. If one was to ask her about it at HHN 20, she'd threaten to cut their tongue off!
    • Some feel this way about the Iniquitus, the mysterious demonic characters who raised the legions from their graves in 2012. Despite being original content and generally far more interesting than the houses (which were almost exclusively based on existing properties), the Iniquitus are relegated to the background except for the Horror Unearthed interactive game that took place online and in the park.
    • 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 now nearly no creatures in the house called "Creatures".
    • The concept for Adaru aka Fear, an ancient god summoned by his heralds, (Jack, The Storyteller, The Director, The Caretaker, and the Usher) was interesting. Sadly, his characterization was lacking beyond "evil scary god" and to some, his existence as being an important character in charge of characters that acted on their own prior motivations came off as an Ass Pull. While he appeared in some of the advertisements, he was shown up at the event itself and some press appearances by the more well known Icons and other characters in the Fear Revealed scarezone like Eddie, Chance, and Cindy. There were even people who didn't realize that he was an Icon even when he appeared in the Fear Revealed icon scarezone. Unlike the other Iconsnote , all that has shown of Fear at the 25th anniversary was one of his Lantern minions, who were actually better received during HHN 25 than he was.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Evil Takes Root was a framing device for hinting at the various houses of the year, furthered the Legendary Truth storyline, and had hinted at a mysterious evil that shouldn't be unleashed. Said evil was never expanded on and the campaign was mainly for diehard HHN fans. Instead of expanding the concept further into the park or the marketing, we got one of the most The Walking Dead heavy events in years when it came to in-park presence and promotion.
  • Unexpected Character:
    • For no particular reason besides why not, a zombified Tony Montana from Scarface (1983) made several appearances at Hollywood's event over the years. He later made his debut at Florida's event with 2009's Horrorwood Die-In scarezone.
    • Hollywood's 2019 event had the Spirits & Demons of the East scarezone, featuring many traditional eastern monsters... and Momo, a distinctly modern creation.
  • Values Dissonance: In Singapore, having a storyline about a demonic "Minister of Evil" who deceives the human race into giving him power as the first ruler of a One World Order, only to reveal his true nature after a failed assassination attempt, was an awesome theme for HHN 4. In the United States, such an Icon at either the Orlando or Hollywood events would open a massive can of worms due to hitting too close to home and running the risk of attracting widespread controversy due to the hostile US political climate, even if any political figures involved, like Singapore's Minister, were 100% purely fictional. The United States has had several high-profile (and in some cases successful) assassination attempts on politicians, as well as a large contingent of the population who firmly oppose the idea of a one world government and/or think that it actually exists. The fact that Minister Jonah Goodwill's story bears many parallels to a common Christian conception of The Antichrist (albeit without making overt reference to Christianity) only makes the idea that much more untenable in the US.
  • Win Back the Crowd: So far, the 25th anniversary has been enough to bring back lapsed Orlando fans concerned about the previous years' lackluster theming and concentration on licensed houses.


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