HHNTalk with Speculation Matt Episode 5

April 11, 2021 – Join your host, Speculation Matt, as he talks about some of the rumors for HHN30 that nobody is really talking about. He talks about the possibility of a Halloween daytime event, how tickets will look, how the event will function, and more!

TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE

Hello and welcome back to HHN Talk with Speculation Matt. I am your host, Matthew Prevor. Today we are going to do what we do best around here and that’s speculate. There’s lots of rumors going around the Fog for HHN 30 that a lot of people are just not talking about. Everyone’s kind of just distracted by that speculation map or what the content is going to be. But we’re going to get into some things that just people aren’t really thinking about. So first off, be sure to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @hhnspeculationmatt on Instagram and @speculationmatt on Twitter.

So let’s get started and as always, there is that possibility of some spoilers. So the first thing we have to address is we do have some news, I guess you can call it. This is out for everyone to see. There are team members posting. There are…there’s all this stuff about it. Auditions have started. This is very early. I don’t think it’s ever happened this early, but this is going on right now. Right now there are team member submissions, so this is only for people who work for Universal. They are looking for puppeteers, Bigfoot and hybrid stilt walkers, haunted house and street performers. So that is for team members and then this is for everyone: they are looking for some dancer submissions for Halloween Horror Nights 30. So that’s awesome. So if you are looking to scare, to dance, to just be a part of the screams, then be sure to check that out and audition. And hopefully, we will see you out there in September. I’m very much looking forward to seeing all those scare actors back in the Fog.

So now for some of these rumors that we’re just hearing right now. I’m sure you all have heard but Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort has been extended to May 2nd. So there has been a lot of talk going on right now and I bet you’re all wondering why are we talking about Mardi Gras. This is Horror Nights. Well, there’s a lot of talk about Horror Nights kind of expanding into kind of the food event category. So for those not really aware of what’s going on right now at Mardi Gras, you can…they have all these different food groups all around the park and they all represent different countries and they have all these different great offerings and the food’s fantastic. So this has become a huge success and obviously, a big moneymaker because there’s food everywhere for people to have. And then of course they do have a tribute store for Mardi Gras and because there is no parade this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic, they do have the parade floats positioned around the park and they’ll like throw beads at you.

So a lot of people have been speculating that maybe not necessarily at night but during the day, we could have some sort of Halloween event. And this is not like HHN Light, which we discussed last week, so be sure and check that out. This would be completely different. I think it’d be significantly scaled down, especially this year due to just budget reasons because obviously, Covid has not been very kind to the parks when it comes to money. But I think it will be interesting to see. Obviously, if you guys went to HHN Light, you saw those food trucks with the Twisted Taters. Of course, you could go to Louie’s and get some of those Pizza Fries and then, of course, the food in the tribute store, like the Beating Heart Gummies. So maybe what they’ll do is they will do something a little similar, whether they put booths all around the park and kind of just have all those different Horror Nights snacks that we all know and love. I’m sure some alcohol somewhere around there, and I also hope that the Skeleton Bar returns. I love that Candy Corn Drink. That was really good. So that’d be really cool.

And then also, another little rumor going around is that we could see some return of some more family friendly entertainment when it comes to daytime operations during the Halloween season at Universal. Obviously, the trick or treating as an adventure was a bit of a success. We also had the Scarecrow Hunt over in Universal. We went to all the different stores and you got to try and find all the different scarecrows. I’m sure when this was initially planned, this was supposed to be just a one-year thing cos obviously, no Horror Nights. But I’m sure they looked at this and were like, “Huh, we could possibly do something with this.”

Not too long ago, you could go into the park and see Woody Woodpecker, Scooby, Shaggy, Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat in special Halloween outfits. I don’t know if you guys have seen, but all the characters or most of the characters are wearing Mardi Gras outfits right now. So maybe we’ll see the return of that. Who knows cos of budget. But I think there’s a lot of potential.

And then there was also one more little rumor going around that maybe they would open a house during the day just to kind of people a little preview, and then kind of show them, hey, if you like that, buy a ticket for tonight. So I do not think that would happen. I just don’t see the reason for it and I wouldn’t know which house they would open. Like I just don’t see the reason for it. But I mean if the house is open during the day, I mean I’ll go circle back 50 times. Hopefully, it’s a good one. But yeah, so I think it’ll be interesting to see what they do. I definitely think there will be some sort of daytime Halloween thing, but nothing like HHN Light. I think this would be a much more child friendly, family friendly type event, but I think it would be great for Universal financially and I’m excited to see what happens.

So now let’s get into actually HHN 30. Just a couple of like operational things that people have been talking about but really, you don’t see it. So let’s start with tickets. I get this question a lot. When will tickets go on sale? Cos usually by this point, we do have that BOGO deal going where you can buy one night, get a second night free. Me personally, I don’t even think that BOGO deal will happen this year. I think that Universal’s going to wait. They are going to wait and see what happens with this pandemic. How is this all going to work as far as capacity? I don’t know if you all have been paying attention but I think as of today, this is the eighth day in a row that Universal has hit capacity. So no more guests can come in.

So but if you’re really paying attention, I know that they say that they are at this limited capacity. But if you’re really paying attention, I have a very…I believe it is still limited but I do not believe that it’s at like a…it’s definitely somewhere above 50, if you ask me, because the lines are just too long right now. They are, I will see, just check the gap and I will see multiple rides over 100 minutes on some of these weekends. And I have a very hard time believing that like a true limited capacity, that rides can actually reach those wait times. So I think by the time we get to the fall, it will be full…if not full, then maybe 90, 95 percent capacity. I know that this may not necessarily apply to Halloween Horror Nights but the NFL – I think they’re the only sports, the first sports network to come out and say that they are planning to be at 100 percent capacity in their stadiums – so if that can happen, I see no reason why Halloween Horror Nights cannot be at full capacity. I just don’t.

I feel like you are way more packed into an NFL stadium than you are a theme park. So I don’t see why we can’t be at full capacity as far as…I’m aware right now the vaccination process is going very well. I know that they are saying that anyone over the age of 18 will be able to be vaccinated by July. So I could totally see this being not a completely normal event, but a mostly normal event with a couple modifications.

But back to tickets. Will we get frequent viewer passes this year? I would say yes. Like I was just kind of saying, I don’t see a reason for them to not have them. I just think that they will let you know when you buy that frequent viewer pass, like hey, show up early because if you don’t, you are most likely not going to get in. Cos I assume that we will still be at some sort of limited but I think the possibility’s very much there for it not to be that limited. So I think frequent viewer passes will happen. I do not think Russia viewer passes will happen. I know that rumor was going around and I don’t think that’s going to happen only because that’s just what we’re hearing. We will obviously see…my guess is tickets will go on sale no later than July, but that’s just what I’m guessing right now. I am expecting a bit of a price increase as well, just trying to make back some revenue. But we will see.

Next order of business and one that I think is very important and that’s Stay and Scream. Will Stay and Scream happen? For those of you who don’t really know what Stay and Scream is, essentially it is a holding area for you to wait in. So the park tends to close at 5:00 on Halloween Horror Nights evenings. At that time, you can go into a holding area and they’ll hold you there until they release you to the houses. So last year there were two, sometimes three. One was by Finnegan’s in the New York section of the park and that released to Stranger Things and Ghostbusters. Then you had the one in the back of the park by…it was in Springfield. So that’s a Deaf Gardens location. And that released to Universal Monsters, House of 1,000 Corpses and Depths of Fear. And then you would have first crack when they eventually did open at Graveyard Games and Nightingales. But those did not open with Stay and Scream. Those opened, I think, around 6:15, 6:30. And Stay and Scream usually lets right around 5:45, 5:50. So essentially the point of Stay and Scream is you get first access to the houses, so that’s huge. Cos if you do it right, I’ve been able to get five house done before the park opened. But that was a couple years ago when they used to keep the gates closed a little longer, so you had more time.

Oh, and that third location that they sometimes used was up by the front by the Today Café. It was sort of a Stay and Scream. It was more for you to watch the opening scaramonies. And then you would have first crack at Killer Clowns from Outer Space. But that was…they didn’t use it all the time. It was only when like Finnegan’s would get full or neither of the Stay and Screams were available, so that was just another option for you to use.

So do I think this will happen? Well, I think it will happen, but this is going to be insanely different because what you did was you essentially crowded all shoulder-to-shoulder together in this tight holding pen. It got really hot in there. There was not much water around. It was…it’s bad sometimes, especially if you tend to be one of the first people in like I am. And I’ll just sit at that barricade waiting to go starting at like 3:45. Sometimes they would open up that Stay and Scream area really early for…especially if Finnegan’s wanted just so they can get some people in. And it’s very cramped in there. And obviously, this is not the time to just be cramming people together. So I think there are a couple ways they can do it.

So one thing I think they could do, and I know that this may not be necessarily the best idea, is to just have the queues open all day. So let’s say I think Universal on Halloween Horror Nights days, they do early park admission at 7:00. Normal park opens at 8:00. Starting at 7:00 a.m., if you want to be that crazy person who’s going to go get in line right then and there, you can do that. Just show that you have that Halloween Horror Nights ticket and you can go get in line for whatever house you want. I would be that crazy person, I am telling you that right now. I will gladly wait there all day for a Halloween Horror Nights house. So I think that’s a way to do it but I understand that, especially up in the sound stages where a lot of work gets done during the day, it might be a little harder to do that, cos you can’t just have guests sitting there all day. But maybe for the tent houses and the parade building houses, it’s definitely a little more possible. But I feel that’s the least likely to happen.

Another option that they can do is you could, instead of having the Stay and Screams open, like at 3:30, 3:45, you have it open at 5:00. No one can come near that area before 5:00. You just have to enforce it somehow. And then what you do is as the park is transitioning, you let people into the Stay and Scream area maybe 20-30 people at a time, and you put them in like a line, right? So let’s use the Finnegan’s one for example and let’s say it’s opening night. Let’s look at the map, right? And we have…I’m going to assume that the Stay and Scream this year is going to be Universal Monsters, the Bride of Frankenstein Lives and HHN Icons Captured. Or maybe they’ll do Texas Chainsaw and HHN Icons Captured. One of those two. But imagine they take in 20-30 people at a time, starting at 5:00. They’ll walk you in a line, socially distant, of course. I assume social distancing will be a little less then, maybe three feet by then, but we’ll see. You walk in a line and then eventually, as they are transforming the park, they will walk you to the house. And they will say, “Okay, do you want Icons or do you want Bride, or Icons or Texas Chainsaw?” And you just tell them and they will point you in that direction and then you can get in line. So that way it’s not a mass of people walking together and you’re not having people all crammed together in barricades.

Another thing you can do, and this is the last thing I think they will do, possibly do, is use the Universal app and their virtual queues to join Stay and Screams. We will get into virtual queue in a minute but they could use virtual queue to get into Stay and Screams. And then if you don’t make it, maybe you will get…maybe then they will put you into another Stay and Scream that won’t really get you in any house but it will maybe get you into the park in general before everyone outside the gates. But I think that’s a way that they could possibly do it.

The reason that they really need to do Stay and Scream is for those of you that don’t know, the entrance process to get into Halloween Horror Nights is one of the worst. They pack you in there like crazy outside the park. There is like no room to move on a really crowded night. So Stay and Scream is just going to help with that process because you already have people inside the park and I think that’s just so important. So that’s why that just needs to happen. So hopefully, Stay and Scream will happen. I think in the actual Stay and Scream, if they choose to do it a little bit more normally, you can have markers in the holding area and you can kind of take everyone out line by line, so row by row, and you kind of make that choice again like which house do you want, and you can go from there. So that’s my thoughts on Stay and Scream.

Next up is virtual queueing. I pray every day that they do not use the virtual queue, like I just pray because I don’t know if you guys have tried to get that virtual queue time for Hagrid’s. It is awful if you do not get it because one, it’s not really a virtual queue. You are…they bring up all these times and you just pick one. And then you get there and I’ve waited like two hours for Hagrid’s, even with the virtual queue time. And I totally get it. It’s super popular. But still, I just don’t like the whole idea because it’s almost like you’re better off like just having a real line because you’re probably going to get more people through, actually. And then I’m sure you all remember, if anybody went, the virtual queue situation for Beetlejuice, that sold out in negative five seconds, it was insane. And it was horrible if you couldn’t get one. Luckily, they had that fake standby line for a couple people to use, and they did release a couple more throughout the day but it still was just…it was just so like, I don’t even know what word to use. But it was just so stressful, just so stressful cos you didn’t know what was going to happen. And if you were only going to Halloween Horror Nights one night and all they’re going to do is virtual queues and you can’t get a virtual queue time, so you just wasted hundreds of dollars to not get in any house. So I just pray that they don’t use virtual queue. Luckily, I do tend to go to the event a lot so if they do use the virtual queue, I’m sure I could get into everything at least once. But I would like to see things more than once. I just hope that they do not use it, but we shall see.

Another thing to discuss is express passes. I 100 percent believe that these will be there. I know that there’s a rumor going around that you might not be able to buy it online and you’ll have to buy it at the gate. Something to note. Just get there early. But I don’t believe that either. I don’t see why that’s a rumor at all because they’re selling express pass online right now for the normal park. I just don’t see why. So that’s that.

And then the next topic is the scare actor dining. I know if you look on the Halloween Horror Nights website, it does say that that will be there in the event extras page. There’s a link out there for the event extras page, so be sure to look out for that if you see it on Twitter cos that has all that information there. They’re not on sale yet. Don’t freak out. Do not go running for the link. It’s not selling anything yet but it’s just something to be aware of. So that will probably happen. What I assume will happen is you’ll go in, you’ll get your food, they’ll sit you down, and they will call you up. I know that there is a list out there of possible characters for scare actor dining but I don’t want to give you that list cos who knows if it will actually be those characters.

So well, actually, we are a speculation podcast here, so I’m going to give you that list anyway. So the rumor is Jack, The Bride of Frankenstein in her scientist version outfit, Beetlejuice, some random scare zone character and original character. This unfortunately does sound probably right cos recently, scare actor dining is not really delivered with the best characters. I mean Jack’s cool but Bride of Frankenstein and Beetlejuice, the Bride was there last year and Beetlejuice meets everyday in the park. Like come on, give us something, Horror Nights. If you’re listening to this, a little bit more, especially for a 30th anniversary. I’m sure maybe the original character, maybe it’ll be like the Terror Queen or something. I heard something that the icons might switch out. But who knows? We will see.

And then our last topic is how will scare zones and shows work? So first scare zones. I think these will be very close to normal. So last year, before the cancellation of the event, we were told that it was going…well, Universal didn’t come out with this information but I was told that it was going to be mostly stilt walkers and almost all stages. So maybe like two characters running around keeping their distance from guests. I’m sure in like Central Park, you would’ve never seen anybody because there’s just no room there. But with the improvement with the pandemic at this point and especially of it by September, I do not see it being impossible for there to be characters on the floor. They may scare from a little farther away, but I can totally see them being a little bit more normal. Definitely still, though, I would guess a lot of stages and a lot of stilt walkers.

So something to note about scare zones this year, for those that don’t know in the normal day right now, the Universal Super Star Parade is not running. Now the Super Star Parade has caused a lot of problems for Halloween Horror Nights recently, as they have not been able to build like big elaborate sets in some of the scare zones, especially like in New York and Hollywood scare zone because the parade goes right through there. If you guys remember from HHN 20, they built the giant prop warehouse in Hollywood. So it’s just been a little harder to build things like that because that parade goes through there. But because of the pandemic, there is no parade right now so maybe they will capitalize on that and they will add some larger set pieces to make up for maybe the lack of scare actors in the streets. I could totally see that being a thing.

I know that we touched briefly on what could possibly be in these scare zones, but I’m going to say just for the scare zone mashup, I could definitely see – and this is just quick speculation of characters in there – I could see Vamp making an appearance, Psycho Scare, Body Collectors…let’s see. What else? Maybe Twisted Traditions. I could see oh, Survive or Die. I’m just trying to think things from the last couple years cos what they usually tend to do these anniversary years, they tend to lean on these like five year periods. So I think that those scare zones could definitely make an appearance, definitely a couple more. Thirtieth anniversary, as I mentioned, thirtieth anniversary zone is in Plaza of the Stars, so I think that will end up being icons. Maybe they won’t call it icons but something about the Lantern. And then you can listen to my past episode for more speculation on the other schedules. And by the Lantern, I mean Fierce Lantern, which we will go into more detail about in an upcoming episode.

As for shows, the speculation map from HN Nightmares only says one show. They say a lagoon show and I said on one of my past episodes that I did believe there was going to be a lagoon show. Marathon [??] [00:28:43] was incredibly popular. I loved that show, and I think that this will be kind of a 30th anniversary show with the icons introducing the different intellectual properties and then a giant icon finale. That’s just my guess. Or maybe something a little bit similar to what they did in HHN 16, where they had the icon lagoon show. That could possibly be a thing, kind of give homage to their past. So that could be interesting. But there is no show in the Fear Factor Live Theater. For those not aware, Universal has not…they’ve not kind of like stopped doing live entertainment in theaters like some of these other places have, like Disney. You can right now go and see the [??] [00:29:44], which is an indoor show, and they will social distance in there and they’ll do all that stuff. You can go see the Horror Makeup Show right now. I think Animal Actors is running right now. So you can go to Universal and see a good majority of their live entertainment. And Fear Factor’s an outdoor stage venue.

Now I know that Academy Villains, obviously, will not be coming back because they had their whole issue. We won’t really get into that here. But they had their thing. So what will replace it? Who knows? I know with these dancer auditions, some Bill and Ted rumors came out. Let’s not get anyone’s hopes up. But who knows? I saw something about a puppet show. I do not think that will be happening. I think those puppet auditions were just for puppet theater, captive audience. But that was an interesting rumor to read, I’ll tell you that. But I do believe that we will see something in that theater because gosh, when was the last time that there wasn’t anything in that theater? I mean I guess at Fright Nights, didn’t they do the Wild West Show? It wasn’t a Halloween Horror Nights show but it was still something in that theater and then, obviously, at the very first like when it was…when it was first called Halloween Horror Nights, they had Bill and Ted in there and they were in there forever and then Academy Villains came in. So it would just be weird to not have a stage show there.

So that’s kind of it for those rumors and that is going to be it for this episode. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode. Hopefully, you’re now even more excited how HHN 30 works and just to see Halloween Horror Nights 30. So be sure to tune in for our next episode, where we’re going to have our very first special guest. So you’re going to have to stay tuned to see who that is. And don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @hhnspeculationmatt on Instagram and @speculationmatt on Twitter. Thank you again for listening, and I will see you in the Fog.