The friendly daytime atmosphere of Universal Studios Orlando is transformed by night into a fright-filled adventure as Halloween Horror Nights takes over the theme park on select nights. The event is recommended for ages 13 and up due to its intense scares and overall foreboding atmosphere. Even those of the appropriate age are not always a perfect fit for this Halloween haunt, with the promise of startles around every corner proving to be too much to handle. But for every adult who’s too afraid to attend Halloween Horror Nights, there’s another who is dying to soak in every gory detail presented.
For both types, the timid and the curious, Universal Orlando offers daytime walking tours of some of its most popular haunted houses, providing a chance to roam scare-free through the elaborately decorated environments. Coupled with a stroll around the street scare zones during daylight hours, any theme park fan can enjoy these tours.
Two different daytime Halloween Horror Nights “Behind the Screams” tours are available for 2011 – “Unmasking the Horror” and “Face the Fear-Makers.” Both take guests on “lights-on” walking tours of three haunted houses: “Nevermore: The Madness of Poe,” “The Forsaken,” and “Winter’s Night: The Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetery.” In both types of tours, guides also walk guests through most of the event’s scare zones, minus the scares, offering information about the houses and street zones along the way. “Face the Fear-Makers” also adds a Q&A sesion with members of the Universal Orlando art and design team.
Even without the actors present, lighting lit, sound effects playing, or effects running, there is plenty to take in while walking through the mazes of Halloween Horror Nights. In fact, with the “house” lights turned on, many additional details are visible during the tours that are otherwise unseeable during the event, due to low light, fog, and all the activity that makes up an active haunted house. The tours allow a slow stroll through each scene, absorbing every horrifying (in a good way) aspect. And unlike during the nighttime event, photography and video recording are permitted during the daytime Behind the Screams tours, allowing us to share a detailed look inside.
Lights-on look at Halloween Horror Nights 2011 haunted houses
With tour guide Agmar leading the way, on Sunday I explored three of the most detailed haunted houses of Halloween Horror Nights 2011. Juggling four cameras, I along with our photographer Michael Gavin captured every detail featured in the mazes and with this year’s event containing some of the most elaborately dressed environments in event history, even a two-hour tour wasn’t enough time to properly take it all in. And despite there being no scareactors inside or effects running within the mazes, the environments alone offer a sufficiently spooky sensation to give a good feel of what Halloween Horror Nights is all about, with movie-quality sets helping to tell the story of each haunted attraction.