Although Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 28 ended its run roughly two months ago, fans of the event know that it’s never too early to begin speculating what the next event will bring. Considering that Universal Orlando recently announced dates to this year’s event, it’s actually a prime time to start discussing what is in store. Based on the record number of nights for Halloween Horror Nights 29 (the event is scheduled to begin at the beginning of September), it appears that Universal Orlando is expecting large crowds. Perhaps larger crowds than what we experienced at the 2018 event. With more people attending the event, it only makes sense for Universal to step up their game. Whether we’ll see more intellectual properties (IPs) or more original creations is yet to be seen. However, I won’t be highlighting the houses that are predicted to come to the 2019 event. Rather, I will list the properties that I believe could provide stellar experiences for guests.
1. Universal Monsters
The Universal Monsters is a rich part of Universal’s history. It dates back to the 1920s with the release of The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon—they’re timeless creatures that are all part of this iconic horror collection, and we’re all familiar with them. Universal wouldn’t be the same without them. It is because of these creatures and the films they were featured in that Universal experienced great success.
These monsters are such a vital part of Universal’s history, so it would be nice to see them featured at Orlando’s event once again. They were last incorporated into a house at Halloween Horror Nights 22, but they haven’t reappeared in Orlando since then. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead, Halloween, and The Purge have received haunted houses countless times. Universal should embrace their past more often, and what better way to do so than with a Universal Monsters house? That’s not to say that Universal should continuously use this horror collection, but they should definitely consider resurrecting them. The success of the Universal Monsters maze at Hollywood’s 2018 event proves that it could actually be an excellent choice. Either the house could include numerous monsters from the collection or focus on one specific monster.
2. The Curse of La Llorona
The Curse of La Llorona is an upcoming horror film that is set to be released in April. The movie revolves around the Latin American folklore La Llorona, which translates to the Weeping Woman. As the urban legend goes, a woman drowned her children in a river, later killing herself. Unable to enter the afterlife, she is forced to roam Earth. The ghost of the woman is said to be searching for her children in rivers, and those who hear her cries may face death.
While the film may not necessarily go into detail on the legend, its storyline will incorporate the weeping woman. Current descriptions of the production state that the film will be set in Los Angeles and follow the experiences of a social worker and her kids, who are drawn into the supernatural realm of La Llorona.
It should be mentioned that the legend of La Llorona was previously used at Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights event; however, a version based on the film would allow for a vastly different experience. Because the film is not yet available, I cannot determine whether it is a good movie or not, but I don’t believe the outcome of the movie will impact my decision as there have been numerous horror films that I feel were not top-quality but made fantastic haunted houses. This is because they were properly executed as a house. Universal’s La Llorona house during Halloween Horror Nights 23 was of fantastic quality, and a version based on the upcoming movie has the ability to be even better.
It should be noted that The Curse of La Llorona is being distributed by Warner Bros. The fact that the movie is not yet released and is under the works of a competitor studio that likely did not permit Universal to use its recent horror films (The Conjuring, IT) due to the launch of its own Halloween event makes it rather unlikely to be featured at Halloween Horror Nights 29. Regardless, I would still like to see it come to fruition, but if it doesn’t, I encourage Universal Orlando to develop an original house based on an urban legend as they did in 2013.
About the film (Warner Bros.): Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother suspected of child endangerment, a social worker and her own small kids are soon drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope to survive La Llorona’s deadly wrath may be a disillusioned priest and the mysticism he practices to keep evil at bay, on the fringes where fear and faith collide.
3. The Haunting of Hill House
Universal Orlando partnered with Netflix for the first time last year to bring the Stranger Things series to life, and it was the most popular house at the event, often exceeding wait times of 100 minutes, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Universal were to bring another hit Netflix series to Halloween Horror Nights. The Haunting of Hill House is currently one of the top-rated shows on the streaming service. It has an average audience score of 91% on Rotton Tomatoes, an 8.8/10 rating on IMDb based on more than 90,000 votes, and is liked by 97% of Google users who rated the show. The Haunting of Hill House was one of the best-reviewed shows in 2018, and there’s a reason why it’s so highly regarded.
The new Netflix series is based on the book of the same name. The series essentially shows viewers the life of the Crain family, who moved into what would become the nation’s most famous haunted house. The family’s plan was to renovate the home and put it on the market, but the project only led to their misfortune. The Crain children experienced horrors in the house, many of which still haunt them as adults, and they must now revisit the ghosts of their past as a result of a recent family tragedy.
As Stephen King said, The Haunting of Hill House is “a work of genius”—he’s not wrong. For a famed writer critical of films based on his own works, this speaks volumes. The show has an intriguing and puzzling storyline that keeps you guessing as to what’s going to occur next and always surprises you. Plus, the show has a phenomenal backstory for each of the main characters as well as terrifying creatures that would work perfectly for a haunted experience. The set pieces and settings also lend themselves great for Halloween Horror Nights. This would truly have the potential of becoming an awe-inspiring haunted house, and a house that doesn’t just bring an intellectual property to life but brilliantly immerses guests into horrific atmospheres and situations that they can’t unsee. In my opinion, films featuring paranormal events (e.g. Insidious, Poltergeist) make for some of the best-haunted houses, and The Haunting of Hill House is no exception.
About the show (Rotton Tomatoes): The Haunting of Hill House is a modern reimagining of Shirley Jackson’s legendary novel of the same name, about five siblings who grew up in the most famous haunted house in America. Now adults, they’re reunited by the suicide of their youngest sister, which forces them to finally confront the ghosts of their own pasts… some of which lurk in their minds… and some which may really be lurking in the shadows of the iconic Hill House.