From screens to screams — a preview of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 25

An American Werewolf in London, Freddy vs. Jason, Asylum in Wonderland and more.

I would not advise eating 25 pieces of chocolate-covered bacon just to honor Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights and their monumental 25th year. Nor would I advise enjoying leftover cotton candy and trying to type on your computer at the same time. Both would be huge mistakes. Huge, scary mistakes that I too could have avoided had I had a version of me to help me prepare for HHN25 like I am here for you right now.

So forget the 25 pieces of bacon and just buy a cool HHN 25th anniversary T-shirt with feared icon Jack the Clown on it because if you don’t already know, Jack is back. And he seems pissed that people are obsessed with pumpkin lattes. You know what else is back? The fan-favorite An American Werewolf in London house, based on John Landis’ humorous horror film, and promising more ferocious wolves than 2013’s version. You can also count on “The Walking Dead” maze to once again deliver more memorable scenes, this year from season 5 as guests begin their journey at Terminus safe-haven compound and soon realize what a huge mistake that was. Yeah, it’s like me eating the bacon…but it’s not bacon.

And speaking of overindulging, then there is The Purge. What was just a terrifying scare zone last year filled with crazy mask wearing vigilantes satisfying their need to kill, the sick people at HHN have this year decided to throw those lunatics in the confines of a house with us as their targets just as their annual purge has commenced. Which is almost as bad as being trapped in a house with Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. Which is exactly what HHN Creative Director Michael Aiello and his cohorts have planned next. From Elm Street to Camp Crystal Lake, expect to re-experience A Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th at this Camp Elm Street collaboration reuniting two of film’s greatest terrorizing icons.

Did I mention there are 9 houses this year? NINE. I’ve already been through the Insidious house and even without having seen the three films it was based on, I still screamed my head off like a possessed psychic at a séance. Also plan on checking out RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears, Body Collectors: Recollections, Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem, and the one this librarian is most excited about, Asylum in Wonderland 3D honoring Alice, the White Rabbit, and an even more disturbed Mad Hatter.

I spoke with HHN’s Charles Gray about the house and how they planned on utilizing Lewis Carroll’s literature to make it even crazier for HHN25.

“We actually use pieces from Through the Looking-Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is in a lot of the audio. We have the actors quoting from the book so as you go through the vortex, you will hear snippets and pieces of the actual literature. So it is especially fun for those who know the book.”

But I don’t recall reading that Alice wore a straitjacket or that John Tenniel’s art included the White Rabbit wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask, Charles…

“Well, she’s in the asylum. Or is she? All the characters that you will see, the White Rabbit, Tweedledum and Tweedledee-type characters, are there as references to her journey through the asylum, which leads you to wonder. Is this a patient in the asylum or the White Rabbit? Is it her imagination?” Gray teases.

Add in a pair of 3D glasses and some Steampunk music and we now have HHN’s version of one of my favorite books.

“Well, literature is always a great place to take from.”

So maybe he’s not crazy after all?

But thankfully, everybody else at HHN25 is, which is why this 25th year is going to be explosive in so many ways. Expect the return of icons, scareactors, scare zones, shows, and so much more that they still refuse to share until opening night on Sept. 18, where yours truly will be outfitted in some kind of homemade horror attire with a caramel apple in one hand and a bag of cotton candy in the other.

Get ready Jack. Meredith’s coming back too.

Halloween Horror Nights 25 at Universal Orlando runs on select nights from Sept. 18 thru Nov 1st. For more information on offers and vacation packages, visit

Meredith Myers, the "Stand-Up Librarian," has a master's degree in library and information sciences from USF and has been performing stand-up comedy since 2002 after checking out a comedy book from her local library. Binding her experiences in comedy and libraries, she created in 2010 to educate and entertain people about the importance of libraries and literacy through literary comedy shows that she performs at libraries and book events across the country. In 2012, she launched Stand-Up Librarian Designs, creating literary fashions inspired by her favorite books and authors that she sells at her shows and Etsy shop. Meredith also works as a cataloging librarian and is a volunteer for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a contributing writer for Creative Loafing Tampa.



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