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Lights on and behind the scenes of Halloween Horror Nights 2013, showing off details (and easter eggs) of haunted houses

in Entertainment, Events, Theme Parks, Universal Orlando, Universal Studios Florida

The devil’s in the details, as they say, an adage that is exceptionally true at Halloween Horror Nights, where dastardly deeds occur by night but by day the haunted houses become places of beauty, revealing the artistry behind the scenes.

Universal Orlando’s art and design team carefully crafts craziness into every corner of the all-new haunted attractions they unveil each year at the anticipated Halloween event. And every year the theme park offers lights-on, behind-the-scenes tours during the day, away from the screams and scares to allow guests to take their time and appreciate all the fine details that go into it. This year, Universal expanded their Unmasking the Horror tours to include two separate versions spanning six of the eight haunted houses: An American Werewolf in London, The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, Cabin in the Woods, La Llorona, and Resident Evil.

Now, just in time for Halloween, we bring you inside each via the exhaustive photos below, pointing out a few fun hidden references and easter eggs along the way. Unfortunately, no video was allowed during these tours this year, but the hundreds of photos here leave nothing unseen. (We do have video of all eight haunted houses under show conditions here.)

An American Werewolf in London

After attempting to woo director John Landis for around five years, he finally gave Universal Orlando permission this year to produce a haunted house based on “An American Werewolf in London” and their passion for the property shines through the experience. With an extreme attention to detail following every step of the classic horror film, this experience is among the highest rated at Halloween Horror Nights 23.

It all begins at the Slaughtered Lamb, the iconic pub that sets the stage of the film and informs everyone to “beware the moon.” It’s been recreated perfectly at Horror Nights, tempting to just pull up a chair and order a drink.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

A closer look at the bottles on a table reveals a reference to last year’s event, featuring the 20 Penny Circus act.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

Crossing the English moors, guests encounter a cemetery that pays tribute to a few of Universal Orlando’s extinct attractions: Jaws and King Kong. These tombstones were created for last year’s street experience.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

The highlights of this haunted house, and perhaps this year’s entire event, are the incredible werewolf puppets Universal Orlando created with intricate attention to accuracy from the film. They’re human-controlled from behind with a steering wheel for movement and a push button to make the jaw operate. The first one encountered is a full bodied puppet, seen under show conditions mauling a victim, while the second pops out of the darkness face-to-face with guests. Impressive doesn’t even begin to describe these creations.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

The next couple scenes put guests inside David’s nightmares as seen in the film, from the hospital to his living room.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

A closer look at one of the bloodied victims reveals a Woody Woodpecker shirt, one of Universal’s own mascots.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

Bullet holes line the walls and furniture, shot up by deranged Nazi demons.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

Then guests see the film’s famous werewolf transformation scene right before their eyes, recreated using an elaborate costume. Pedals control the legs and feet while the actors’ real head and arms pop through the floor, completing the effect.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

Just like in the movie, a few Disney knick-knacks populate this apartment scene.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London at Universal Orlando

Into the tubes of the London Underground, another werewolf attack is the most startling of all. This set also features a rare detail in a Horror Nights house, a ceiling, and a curved one at that at the insistence of Landis.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London at Universal Orlando

Inside the movie theater, guests encounter undead Jack amidst the rather dead moviegoers. The source of the carnage is revealed to be the werewolf at the end, having just mauled what appears to be the Usher from Halloween Horror Nights’ past – or at least his flashlight-holding hand.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

In Piccadilly Circus, Horror Nights creative director Mike Aiello couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fit in a traditional London police call box, a nod to “Doctor Who.”

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

It all ends with a bang as the werewolf is put down, but not before one last close encounter.

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

An American Werewolf in London lights-on at Universal Orlando

More photos from An American Werewolf in London:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


Cabin in the Woods

Like Werewolf, Guests have also ranked Cabin in the Woods high this year, noting its impressive recreations of movie scenes, making visitors feel like they’ve stepped into that freaky world. From the namesake cabin to a trip down into the facility just as the “purge” button has been hit, there’s no shortage of insanity inside. But while the characters of this show are truly the stars, the scenes feel like the real Hollywood sets.

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Indeed even the wolf’s head is mounted on the wall, perfect for a make-out photo op during the Unmasking the Horror tours.

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Recognizable locations from the cabin include the mirror room and ultimately the basement filled with knick-knacks that are used to ultimately choose victims’ own doom.

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

One actor in the basement hides behind hanging film strips. A closer look reveals a print of “Psycho” and a couple other yet-to-be-identified films. (Any help?)

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Once the purge button is hit and guests enter the facility, madness ensues through the cube room, bloody elevators, and past the infamous Merman.

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

The final room of Cabin in the Woods not only features film characters, but also brings back a few from Halloween Horror Nights history, including Jack the clown, the Caretaker, and a gruesome creature from The Thing.

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

Cabin in the Woods lights-on at Universal Orlando

More photos from Cabin in the Woods:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


The Walking Dead

Though “The Walking Dead” on AMC is hugely popular, having just debuted to 16 million viewers for the season 4 premiere, the Halloween Horror Nights haunted house isn’t particularly interesting with the lights on. It’s exciting while walkers are haunting it at night, but by day it’s mostly a series of rooms filled with brick, concrete, and metal. After all, it’s meant to be gritty real rather than featuring over-the-top looks like many of the other mazes. But it does have its interesting moments.

The haunted house is based on season 3, but seems to play out backwards, starting with the events in Woodbury and leading back to the prison. It all begins with walker Milton, then leading into the Governor’s office.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The fish tanks holding walker heads are drained each day and refilled the next night for the event.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Next to the Governor’s chair is a hairbrush filled with bloodied walker hair, from the man brushing his undead daughter’s head.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The escape from Woodbury provides a few noteworthy details on the trip to the prison.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

There’s a makeshift driving range, a reference to a past time seen on the show.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

And Universal has paid tribute to Carla Young, a stage manager who sadly lost her battle with cancer recently.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The prison winds through chain link fences with its tower overhead. Despite its size, it’s easy to miss amidst the chaos under the dim show lighting.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Note the raven perched on the railing. There’s one in every haunted house.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The cell blocks reveal more references to the show, including a dead woman in a corner who looks a whole lot like Lori, post-childbirth. And there’s a phone nearby that can be lifted to hear her voice.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

A half-eaten body effect is demonstrated by tour guides.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Ultimately the experience ends up in the famous cell block that Rick and the gang spend much of season 3 inside, with Hershel’s leg still lying around.

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Walking Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

More photos from The Walking Dead:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


Evil Dead

The haunted house based on the 2013 remake of “Evil Dead” is quite repetitive with the lights on, as the same scenes are replicated multiple times over throughout the experience. Under show conditions, these duplicate scenes represent different moments from the film taking place in the same setting. But without actors, the scenes just look like different angles on the same room – which is what they are. Regardless, there is plenty of gory fun to be found inside.

It starts outside the maze where the large red wall by night is revealed to be a large white wall by day, used for a variety of film and TV production techniques.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The book of the dead starts the madness.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The main cabin room has been intricately recreated in a scene that features a scrim in the corner featuring projection effects.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

A quick trip through the forest brings guests back into the living room where a “blood vomit” effect was never fully realized. I saw it in action only once, the rest of the time simply leaving two actresses on top of each other on the floor.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The bathroom features a quick startle scare from the shower, with an actress plunging a shard of glass into her cheek.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Just past that is a rather odd room off to the right, fully decorated yet completely unused during the experience. The graphics on the wall have a watermark across them reading “Reference Only,” so something definitely went wrong in here.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

The kitchen is particularly memorable, filled with bloody moments stemming from a handheld meat slicer.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Back into the living room again, demon Mia has now been chained under the floorboards with a handy shotgun nearby.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Changing scenery, guests travel into the depths of the cabin and ultimately through the woods to its exterior for the grand finale.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Some of the details along the way can be a bit baffling when seen during the lights-on opportunity.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

These lights-on tours occasionally offer an opportunity to peek behind the walls as well, revealing just how uninteresting the backsides of these elaborately detailed mazes are.

Evil Dead lights-on at Universal Orlando

More photos from Evil Dead:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


Resident Evil

The haunted house based on the “Resident Evil” video game series, specifically the second and third installments, is definitely not the scariest or highest rated this year, but it is a wonderful walkthrough opportunity for fans of the games, particularly with the lights on. There are ample references to tiny details of the series along with a few from Horror Nights history.

The first scene features “Aruka’s” from the beginning of Resident Evil 2, a reference to Sakura, a Street Fighter game character (also from Capcom).

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

But looking in the distance, an Elm St sign is easy to find, from “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

This is Raccoon City, complete with a marked police car that Leon normally stands on during show hours.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Tony’s Pizza is not only from the game, but also includes a familiar Horror Nights face.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

It’s none other than creative director Mike Aiello himself, as he portrayed Sam Meetz from the “Leave it to Cleaver” haunted house a few years ago.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

The Resident Evil adventure continues through the kitchen and into a laundry facility.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

There, guests get a close encounter with the iconic zombie dog / cerberus.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Around the corner, Lickers have invaded.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

And there are plenty of rejuvenating herbs lying around.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Nemesis attacks from above using a gatling gun just before entering a save point room, complete with typewriter and ammo for restocking.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Then the game is paused with a static scene featuring statues of Leon fighting off Tyrant as the T-virus canisters go flying.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Winding through a back alley, graffiti lines the walls including one featuring game character Hunk.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

It all culminates in another battle with Nemesis outside the Raccoon Police Department with a helicopter overhead and Lickers swarming.

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

Resident Evil lights-on at Universal Orlando

More photos from Resident Evil:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


La Llorona

Lastly, La Llorona is the only Universal original maze to be featured on this year’s lights-on tours, leaving out Havoc and Afterlife. It’s a beautiful haunted house set inside an old Mexican church, but ultimately descending into another world.

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

The facade hides the large tent behind it, which gets brutally hot during the day if the air conditioner isn’t cranked up.

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

The experience begins in the chapel amidst a funeral for La Llorona’s drowned children.

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

It continues through stone corridors into a cellar where La Llorona materializes via a video projection Pepper’s Ghost effect.

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

Those who experienced The Forsaken haunted house two years ago should recognize this cellar.

Halls of children’s skeletons lead up to the maze’s most shocking moment, seeing La Llorona hovering over her freshly-drowned kids in the river. Like the fish tanks in The Walking Dead, this river is drained and refilled daily.

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

Passing through a watery portal, guests find themselves in the haunted and disturbed world of La Llorona as she weeps for her lost children, ending the haunted house.

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

La Llorona lights-on at Universal Orlando

More photos from La Llorona:
(Photos by Ricky Brigante and Michael Gavin)


Halloween Horror Nights 23 continues at Universal Orlando for three more nights: Halloween, November 1, and 2.

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for a great walkthrough of HHN23 haunted houses. We were able to attend this year and I deliberately avoided viewing any of your coverage or YouTube videos prior to us attending. I was thoroughly impressed with the level of detail that was achieved this year. The sets and props were truly impressive and were greatly improved over what I remember seeing probably 10 years ago the last time I attended a HHN event. I would have loved to take part in one of the daytime walkthroughs but decided since we were only going to attend one night, we would do the RIP tour which was definitely worth the cost. This will be the only way we will do it in years to come. The only complaint we would make of the haunted houses this year would be that we went through them too quickly. I would have loved to be able to slow our pace to really take in all of the details, I admit that there were definitely things I missed seeing now having seen all your great photos. Thanks again for all the coverage and the great work you do to bring us inside the magic.

  2. Eric B. Freeman

    I saw those three pictures that shows all the Disney stuff. I mean Disney stuff at Universal?! No way!!!

    1. Ryan

      The reason why they have Disney stuff in that scene is because in the film, when he is transforming to the Wolf, you see a little Mickey in the apartment in the movie. Just to show how much detail they go to for these mazes.

      1. Eric B. Freeman

        Oh, that’t explains everything. Well, would that be funny if all Disney characters and/or Disney-themed attractions would be at all Universal parks?

  3. Thank you so much for this! My husband and I went in early October for the sole purpose of seeing the Resident Evil house. It wasn’t until after that we realized they had walkthroughs during the day for a larger fee. So I greatly appreciate the pictures!

    We enjoyed all the houses, especially Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, and Walking Dead. (We had insanely slow people in front of us for American Werewolf so we missed ALL the scares and the line was simply too long for a 2nd run.)

    Again thank you! I know we won’t be able to attend next year so I look forward to another post like this then!

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