Universal Studios Is Making Every Day as Scary as Halloween
Your next trip to Universal Studios is going to involve a lot more screaming.
If you've ever wished you could pee your pants in haunted horror all year round and not just at Halloween, Universal Studios is quickly expanding its bone-chilling frights into permanent 12-month fixtures, starting with an apocalyptic Walking Dead experience that opens July 4th at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Walk through The Walking Dead
Previously limited to Halloween Horror Nights programming at both Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood, the new yet-to-be-named Walking Dead walk-through experience will be a real-life re-creation of the show with animatronic undead walkers and live human actors designed, outfitted, and made up by the same people who make the TV show, including co-executive producer and special-effects makeup whiz Greg Nicotero. The attraction features scenes ripped straight from plotlines, including Daryl and Beth's cabin engulfed in flames, and the hospital, complete with its iconic "Don't Open Dead Inside" doors for its interactive queue. Decaying teeth, bloodshot eyes, and silicone masks will make it difficult to tell who was once alive, and who was created in Nicotero's KNB EFX studio -- and from the first peek at the Walking Dead attraction just released (video below), you won't want to get up close to find out.
"This is more intense than Halloween Horror Nights," Universal Studios' Don Burgess told IGN this spring. "We're really surprised we're allowed to do something this intense."
Get crushed by Kong
The terrors coming to Universal Studios aren't uniquely undead, though. Skull Island: Reign of Kong is set to shake Florida to its core when it opens at Universal's Islands of Adventure later this summer, injecting the park with Halloween-level scares on a day-to-day basis.
Guests will travel in a 72-person Jeep-like vehicle through the island as part of Universal's longest-ever and first-ever trackless ride, driving through 3D battles between dinosaurs and monsters and culminating in a face-to-face interaction with a 30ft-tall animatronic of Kong himself. Promising fully immersive interaction through caverns and jungles as visitors are to "feel his breath sweep across your skin" and hear his "thunderous roar reverberate through every bone of your body," it should be as realistic as being there in the flesh -- that is, if the massive mutant spiders, insects, and nightmarish slugs you'll encounter don't consume you first.
Universal Studios has a storied history with horror, having created the original Frankenstein, Dracula, and Creature from the Black Lagoon among others, but staked its claim 25 years ago when Halloween Horror Nights began in Florida and made their debut at Universal Studios Hollywood six years later, employing mazes, scare zones, and haunted houses themed to mega-popular movies like Insidious, The Purge, and -- new for 2016 -- The Exorcist.
Universal Studios is not the only park to program seasonal blood-curdling fear -- Six Flags has been holding Fright Fests at its parks since 1989, and Knott's Berry Farm has transformed into the terror-packed Knott's Scary Farm for the past 43 Halloweens -- but with the expansion of frights on both coasts, Universal is going all in on terror.
"With Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, we've continued to raise the bar by working directly with the creators of top film and TV properties to bring the most terrifying scenes to life," said John Murdy, creative director at Universal Studios Hollywood and executive producer of Halloween Horror Nights. "Soon guests will have a chance to face their fears year-round."
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