Nobody does Halloween fright like Universal Studios, with their history of making horror films for over 80 years, and the line-up for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights will not disappoint. Featuring the most authentic scares from some of the biggest horror properties in film and TV, the event includes the permanent walk-through attraction for The Walking Dead, mazes for The Exorcist, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Freddy vs. Jason, Krampus and American Horror Story, The Purge scare zones, an all-new Terror Tram from the mind of director Eli Roth, a new Jabbawockeez show, and access to Transformers: The Ride 3D, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Jurassic Park in the Dark and The Simpsons Ride.
Collider (along with a handful of other press outlets) was recently invited to preview the American Horror Story maze and find out what went into bringing the hugely popular property to life for HHN. After taking the tour and chatting with maze creator John Murdy, we’ve compiled a list of 23 things to know about the American Horror Story maze, which features Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel.
Along with The Exorcist, American Horror Story is the most requested property that fans have wanted to see at Halloween Horror Nights, in recent years. They knew around December 2015 that they were going to include it, and then met with Ryan Murphy in February 2016, after they did the initial design. Ryan Murphy is a big fan of HHN and goes every year, so he was very enthusiastic about including the property and contributing ideas.
- The maze is comprised of three seasons of the show – Murder House (Season 1), Freak Show (Season 4) and Hotel (Season 5). At first, they thought they’d do all of the seasons, but quickly realized that wouldn’t be possible. So, they wanted to start with where it started (Murder House) and where it had just ended (Hotel), and they just like the visual of Twisty (Freak Show). As it is now, the maze is the longest one at this year’s HHN.
- The outside of the maze will incorporate video with graphics of Twisty the Clown, Rubber Man and the Addiction Demon, along with the opening title sequences. Throughout the opening title sequences, there are characters that never actually appear in the show, and some of those characters will be Easter eggs in the maze.
- Tying the seasons together is a challenge because they’re so radically different, visually. They’re connected together in certain ways, but more by plot and dialogue. Each season is its own unique setting and story.
To divide each season, there will be archways with video that will set up each season to let you know what you’re going to be walking into. That way, even people who have never seen AHS will know what’s going on.
- Every season on AHS, they do a Halloween episode or pair of episodes, so in the maze, you arrive into each section on Halloween.
- In the Murder House portion of the maze, Rubber Man will be one of the scares. In the Freak Show portion, Twisty the Clown will be one of the scares. In the Hotel portion, the Addiction Demon will be one of the scares.
- Because Murder House jumps back and forth between time periods, the maze has radical environmental jumps throughout.
- The entryway of the Murder House takes its look from the pilot episode, and Addy will be up on the stairs with her “pretty girl” mask, telling everybody, “You’re going to die in there!”
- Larry Harvey, with the half-burned face, will drive people into the burned bedroom where he murdered his wife and kids. The room is ravaged by fire, with everything burned to a crisp, and there will be smoke coming from the walls with the scent of burning in the air. The Harvey kids and Larry’s wife will be live performers, all in silicone masks with UV, for a hot-spot, burning ember look on their faces.
- Piggy Man, like Bloody Mary, will appear and disappear in the mirror of the bathroom.
- Charles Montgomery will be in the basement sawing the Black Dahlia in half, after he’s already carved the smile in her face.
Early on in the season, Constance mentioned having four kids, but you only see three of them. They actually cast an actor to play that other son and filmed him, but it ended up on the editing room floor, even though the show still mentioned him. So, as you leave the last section of Murder House, you will run into Constance’s fourth kid.
- Once you enter the Freak Show portion, you will find yourself in the picnic scene where Twisty brutally murdered that guy.
- Twisty’s bus has foam tires because you can’t have real tires in a maze. They had to build a bus that they could use because everything has to be 100% fire proof. The bus was designed as a 3D model and built by KUKA robots, which are the type of robots that are used in automotive assembly lines to put cars together. In recent years, Universal has incorporated them into attractions, even using KUKA robot arms for the Harry Potter ride, The Forbidden Journey. Inside the school bus will be the victims that Twisty kidnapped.
- The face of the clown will greet you outside the Freak Show big top. The banners for the Freak Show performers, leading up to the stage area, are from the hi-res images that were used for the show.
- Mordrake arrives on Halloween night, and if you’re in the Freak Show, you don’t perform on Halloween night, so that you don’t risk him dragging you off to the Netherworld, forever. As you go through the green fog, you’ll run into Mordrake.
- Inside of the big top, Chester will perform be on stage, sawing a woman in half, while his ventriloquist dummy, Marjorie, taunts him. There will be an audience of freaks watching the performance, with Dandy among them.
- In the opening title sequence for Freak Show, there is a symbol-clapping monkey, which will be featured in that portion of the maze.
- For the Hotel portion, you will arrive at the Cortez Hotel on Devil’s Night, with The Countess and James March there to scare you.
- Down at the end of a hallway is Room 64, where there’s a bed that the Mattress Demon comes out of. He has a video monitor that lets him know when to come out of the bed to scare people walking through. The Addiction Demon is also in the room and appears in the mirror.
- James March’s trophy room contains shelves with displays of gross and grotesque items.
- Before exiting the maze, you’ll go through Bartholomew’s nursery. In there, The Countess will be singing a lullaby to her horribly mutated baby, as he cries in his bassinet.
Halloween Horror Nights is at Universal Studios Hollywood on select nights from September 16th through November 5th. You can find more details at the official Halloween Horror Nights website.