When you walk into Halloween Horror Nights, you’re greeted by the sounds of chainsaws and screams. A thick, smokey atmosphere brews in the ambient streets of the Orlando theme park, where thousands of dedicated fans flood in, ready for a good scare. And the park has got them covered. There are the five Scare Zones scattered around the park, which are packed to the brim with scareactors and spooky sights, inspired by original creations and Hollywood fare like The Purge and Trick ‘r Treat. There are two live performances, including the HHN icon Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, which takes a final bow this year after 26 years of bringing brash comedy and scantily clad dancers to audiences. Oh, and watch out for the roving horde of clowns, one of which gave me my first genuine scream in years. Cheers, dude.
And then, of course, there are the mazes. There are nine mazes this year; a healthy mix of original creations — including vampires, a jaunt through hell, killer scarecrows, and a voodoo queen — and the big name mazes, culled from recognizable film and television IPs, including Ash vs. Evil Dead, American Horror Story, Saw, and arguably the biggest draw of the year, The Shining.
And if it’s a big deal for the cinephile park guests, it’s an even bigger accomplishment for the Horror Nights team, who have been trying to get their hands on the property for decades. Before I headed into the park for the night’s activities, I spoke a bit with HHN veteran Patrick Braillard, a key member of the Creative Development team that handles live entertainment and marquee events, who explained that The Shining was a dream project; one they worked on for years to make a reality.
“We have been working on, on our wishlist of wants above all else, bringing The Shining to our guests,” Braillard explained. “We have grown up watching that film, thinking about how amazing that would be to be able to have that as a live, interactive experience for our guests. To be able to walk through the halls of the Overlook and have that Overlook take control of them. ”
He continued, “Not only do we dissect the film intently, we go through scene by scene, character by character, costume by costume… but also, because we’re fans, we have a memory that’s associated with hat and how we want to translate that memory to our guests.”
And they succeeded. Not only is The Shining a real treat of a maze, the year’s haul in 2017 is particularly strong. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to attend Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights a number of times, at both the Hollywood and Orlando locations, and this year’s Orlando presentation easily ranks as one of my favorite years yet. I’d also like to send a shout out to my guides Jared and Kayleigh, who went above and beyond to make it a great experience, give us insight into each attraction, and make sure we got to see just about everything. So without further ado, here are the mazes of HHN 27, ranked.