If you’ve been to Halloween horror Nights in the last couple years you’ll recognize this:
This was the advertisement for “Halloween Horror Nights 23”. You’ll recal this year was the year that The Walking Dead took over the entire park.
Sure, we had a Walking Dead maze at HHN 22, but The Walking Dead was the pervasive theme throughout the park in 2013. There was the the obligatory maze (last year was the 4th installment), every scare zone was The Walking Dead and you couldn’t go 5 minutes without hearing that familiar theme song anywhere in the park.
With that in mind, you may be confused how the marketing had anything to do with the actual event. You could say it loosely tied to The Evil Dead maze and you’d be right. Roots were prevalent in the movie. Looser still, maybe a tangent with the Cabin in the Woods maze as it has a woods theme. But, what if I told you the overall theme was dramatically overhauled due to The Walking Dead overlay?
This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows how corporate decisions are made. Deals are made/lost all the time and sometimes last minute. Last year’s Scream vs The Purge maze was a prime example of that. Whether you love or hate The Walking Dead, the powers that be green lit the overhaul and everything changed.
Before I get into the details, Let me add a bit of a disclaimer: No one knows the exact plans and the changes made except the people involved. All of the information I’m about to give you is culminated from reliable sources but they aren’t (all) direct sources. So take it with a grain of salt.
Are we good? Good. So here is the event theme we did not get:
Halloween horror Nights 2013: What Evil Has Taken Root was supposed to be a literal tie in to the advertisements. Rather than The Walking Dead being “the scare that is everywhere”, it was supposed to be an evil woods that was pushing up from the ground to invade the park. Rumor has it there was a malevolent force (possible icon) that was causing it. This idea makes sense with the face that shows up in the marketing. There was even talk that it would somehow tie canon to the 2010 lantern and would tell us how our icons were released from it. It was probably a cross between the Evil Dead house they had planned for that year and their love for traditional Halloween themes.
Of course, this would have been populated with everything you would imagine goes with that theme. Gnarled twisted roots everywhere, stilted tree monsters, deformed scare crows, Chainsaw actors, Pumpkin heads, fairies… is this starting to sound familiar? Because it sounds an awful lot like the Evil’s Roots scare zone we got last year.
That’s right, last year’s scare zone was a recycling of the original overall theme from 2013! Practically all of the elements were present… INCLUDING the lantern. Even the name Evil’s Roots of the zone is a direct tie in to the marketing.
Would Evil’s Roots have been a better theme? It certainly would have made more sense with the marketing. But, I guess it depends on your opinion. 2013 was a year that catapulted Halloween Horror Nights to record breaking attendance. So in the eyes of the people behind the money the event was a success. Either way, it is an interesting “peek behind the curtain” to see the inner workings and what it takes to conceptualize and artistically create an event of such epic proportions.
If you are into the the design aspect I highly recommend you check out the Entertainment Designer Forum. This is a charity event put on every year by people in the business. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society in honor of Stephanie Girard. Stephanie was an entertainment designer who worked on many projects for Universal including Halloween Horror Nights. In fact, one of the panels is dedicated to one of her designs “The Skool house” from 2008. The other one will have many designer and entertainers from all over the entertainment industry including Jack the Clown (James Keaton) and Chance (Erin Nicole Kline). Both Panels will be amazing so I suggest signing up for both. Also, there is a silent auction that is hosted every year where you can bid on some amazing props, concept art, and memorabilia from various theme parks. It a great time and a great cause so go see it!