September 25, 2021

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30 Years of Fear – A History of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights: 1994 (The Dawn of Scare Zones, Bill and Ted Meet Timecop, and More)

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Welcome back to 30 Years of Fear – A History of Halloween Horror Nights. What a week, huh? Jack’s back, announcement season is ramping up, and merchandise has begun to arrive. So, to keep in the spooky spirit, let’s take a dive into 1994’s Halloween Horror Nights IV.

1994 – Halloween Horror Nights IV

Officially billed as the 4th Annual Halloween Horror Nights, 1994’s event continued the pattern of expansion. The event had really found its rhythm and used that momentum to grow. A big development arrived in 1994: scare zones. Additionally, the house count rose to four, the highest number of houses until 1998.

Image source: Halloween Horror Nights Wiki

The event expanded to eight nights, with ticket prices only rising by $1.

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Image source: Orlando Sentinel

The Houses

The Psycho Path Maze

The Psycho Path Maze returned for a second year. Located in a tent behind the infamous Bates Motel, guests would enter through the nearby Bates House. The maze remained largely the same, with the addition of a few new scenes.

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Image source: Tampa Bay Times

Pictured above is the legendary Julie Zimmerman, a co-creator of Halloween Horror Nights, pictured next to Mrs. Bates.

The Boneyard

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Image source: Universal Orlando

The Boneyard was typically a prop display area located where the Universal Music Plaza stands today. For Halloween Horror Nights, the team removed the props and created an excavated 19th-century insane asylum filled with murderous doctors and the patients trying to escape them.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

The Boneyard had a unique feature: it actually contained two houses with unique rooms. Both sides reportedly followed the same theme but had to be entered individually to get the full experience.

Dungeon of Terror

The Dungeon of Terror returned for the third time in 1994. This time, it was located in the queue for Earthquake: The Big One. It was filled with monsters and things that go bump in the night. The Rat Lady made her return here, and this year, she was joined by a Snake Master.

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Image source: Florida Today
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Image source: Miami Herald

The hiring ads for the Snake Masters, Rat Ladies, and Roach Men were equal parts creepy and blunt.

For those concerned about the welfare of the Scareactors and the animals, a representative for Universal told the Orlando Sentinel that all the creepy crawlies were guaranteed disease-free and came either from laboratories or were raised from birth specifically for Halloween Horror Nights. The rats were adopted out as pets to employees after the season.

Hell’s Kitchen

Located behind the Nazarman’s façade in New York, Hell’s Kitchen was very similar in theme to The Slaughterhouse, which occupied the same space the year previously. Hell’s Kitchen was a butcher shop and meat packing facility that processed human meat.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

Both Disney and Universal fans may be familiar with the use of special effects to pipe in scents to enhance theming or entice hungry guests. The same effects are used for Halloween Horror Nights, though usually with less pleasant results (Looking at you, dirty diaper smell from 2014’s Dollhouse of the Damned). To further the immersion, Hell’s Kitchen reportedly smelled of rotting meat.

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Image source: Tampa Bay Times

In the above snippet, Jacquin Sanders with the Tampa Bay Times recounted her encounter with one of the Roach Men, who took the moniker Rickie the Roach Boy for Hell’s Kitchen.

The Shows

Halloween Horror Nights IV had a handful of shows, including the returning fan-favorite Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. Rock ‘n’ Roll Inferno returned as the live music show on the Mel’s Drive-In Stage, and The Devil and His Showgirls joined the lineup as a small show outside Louie’s Restaurant in New York. It was exactly as it sounds — the devil and “fiendish femme fatales” dancing.

Bill and Ted Meet Timecop/Excellent Halloween Adventure III

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Image source: Halloween Horror Nights Wiki

The show started its transformation into a comedy feature during 1994’s event. Jason Surrell, who would go on to work for both Disney Imagineering and Universal Creative, joined the team behind Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

“I pitched a more SNL-like approach, in which the show would essentially be a 25-minute-long sketch with music and stunts,” said Surrell in a Facebook post reminiscing on the show’s history,

Set to a score of classic rock, Bill and Ted encountered pop culture galore: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding fighting, The Terminator, and, most questionably, O.J. Simpson driving a white Ford Bronco. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure would become no stranger to controversial topics throughout the years. This time, it paid off.

“I’ll never forget the meeting in which I timidly asked Julie, ‘Um, do you think we could put O.J. and the White Bronco in the show?’ To this day, I’ll never forget the crowd’s eruption when the police sirens sounded, and the Bronco drove out onto the stage,” Surrell said.

The Price is Fright

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Image source: Universal Orlando

Beetlejuice returned with a new show at the Animal Actors Stage, hosting a parody of “The Price is Right” alongside his co-host, Vanna Fright.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

Pictured above was “The Wheel of Miss Fortune,” which lucky guests would spin during the games. The concept art above may look familiar to those who attended Halloween Horror Nights 25.

Fun fact: According to the Orlando Sentinel, a couple was married on The Price is Fright stage during Halloween Horror Nights. This was not the first and certainly not the last wedding during the event. Blood and monsters may not be everyone’s idea of romance, but you have to admit it makes for a memorable event. (I might be biased; I got engaged at Halloween Horror Nights.)

Robosaurus

If you’ve been following this series, you might be getting tired of me waxing poetic about Robosaurus, but trust me when I say this was the best iteration of the 30-ton robot dinosaur yet. Inexplicably, the marketing billed this year’s show as “Robosaurus II,” even though this would mark the robot’s third year at the event.

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Image source: Halloween Horror Nights Wiki

Robosaurus came to crush cars and fight zombies, but he’s all out of cars. Yes, you heard me correctly: Robosaurus versus zombies. How cool is that?

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The official description reads, “Deadtropolis has become a quarantine zone for the undead. Out of the chaos, something orderly is happening. The zombies are organizing, ready to break from their detainment. Returning from Halloween Horror Night’s past is the fire-breathing, car-eating monster Robosaurus sent in to stop the zombie uprising.” Awesome.

The Scare Zones

Horrorwood

Scare zones finally arrive at HHN! Well, a scare zone, at least. The streets of Hollywood became Horrorwood, filled with all manner of nefarious villains.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

The returning Chainsaw Drill Team was joined by the likes of the Lizzie Borden Band, the Axe Corps, and the Monks in the Hood.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

Horrorwood certainly wasn’t as elaborate as we expect from modern-day scare zones, but everybody’s got to start somewhere.

Honorable Mention: The Fox Halloween Bash

FOX’s Halloween Bash, a week of prime-time programming themed to the season, was sponsored by Universal Studios Florida, and many FOX stars filmed promotions from Halloween Horror Nights.

In the clip below, see George Carlin on the set of Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show.

“Married With Children” star David Faustino spent some time with The Devil and His Showgirls in the clip below:

We’ll see you next time when we take a look back at Halloween Horror Nights V: The Curse of the Cryptkeeper.

For more Halloween Horror Nights history, check out the rest of the series below.

1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

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