Halloween Horror Nights Orlando - A History
In the spirit of this year's Halloween Horror Nights: Ripped from the Screen being around the corner...
Halloween Horror Nights began at Universal Orlando in 1991 under the title "Fright Nights" but was re-christened Halloween Horror Nights in 1992 (after legal disputes over ownership of the name Fright Nights), advertising it as the "second annual." It began as a 3 night event but has since been extended to 23 nights. Every year the brains behind the event have gone above and beyond to make each year's event more thrilling and scary than the previous.
1992 - Halloween Horror Nights II
Introduced what would become two staples of the event: Robosaurus (at least for the early years) and Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure (which is basically a humorous recap of the events that have transpired in the past year). The parks rides were changed a bit to make them scarier and even threw in whole new back stories. For example E.T. Adventure was turned into a dark forest with an alien world and renamed "Alien Forest" for the event.
1993 - Halloween Horror Nights III
Only featured three haunted houses but had several shows, including a traveling burial show called Burn and Bury.
1994 - Halloween Horror Nights IV
This year was the first use of a scarezone at Halloween Horror Nights. The scarezone was created to centralize the scareactors to create better scares and safer environments. This also marked the last time Robosaurus would appear at the event for twelve years
1995 - Halloween Horror Nights V
In 1995 was the first use of an icon at Halloween Horror Nights: The Crypt Keeper, ghoulish host from the TV series Tales from the Crypt.
1996 - Halloween Horror Nights VI
Return of the Cryptkeeper, the icon from 1995.
1997 - Halloween Horror Nights VII: Frightmares
1998 - Halloween Horror Nights VIII: Primal Scream
1999 - Halloween Horror Nights IX: Last Gasp
2000 - Halloween Horror Nights X: Not afraid of the dark? You don't know Jack
This was the first of the events to feature an original icon. Jack, the evil clown took over for the event and part of the theming was based on his character, including a haunted carnival and a scarezone taken over by clowns. According to the event, Universal Studios brought some of the original pieces of Dr. Oddfellow's Carnival of Thrills to highlight the event.
2001 - Halloween Horror Nights XI: I.C.U.
Coming so close after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US, Universal hurried to change the event to tone it down so it would be for accepting among the society at that time. Therefore the original mascot "Eddie" was scrapped at last minute. He was Jack's demented evil brother who led mass gangs of chainsaws. Eddie was replaced by the return of Jack. Taglines such as "Jack's Back" and "There's no more clowning around", were used. Anything graphic or violent was scrapped from the event, displaying no blood or gore, and several names of characters, haunted houses, and even shows were changed.
2002 - Halloween Horror Nights XII: Islands of Fear
This event was moved from the Universal Studios park to its adjacent sister park, Islands of Adventure. The year's mazes revolved around the imaginations of Dr. Albert Caine, also known as The Caretaker.
Dr. Caine would lure his victims to his Victorian Manor (Scream House) to operate on them and find their soul.
The Caretaker was not the original icon for HHN XII. Cindy, the demented little daughter of mortuary owner Paul Bearer, was originally the icon of the event. In the event's premise, every land would be ruled over by her "playthings. Unfortunately, after a string of child abductions in the area, Cindy was abandoned and her father Paul Bearer morphed into Albert Caine.
2003 - Halloween Horror Nights XIII: The Director will see you now
The event's theme was based on the evil mind of the Director , a film creator who often did short snuff films in which his victims died on camera.
2004 - Halloween Horror Nights XIV: What's Your Breaking Point?
For the first time since 1999 the event didn't have an icon. The event took place in a condensed form in both parks. Portions of the parks were closed with only some attractions operating. The parks became so crowded, that Universal opened designated closed sections on Saturdays and Sundays to alleviate crowd control, and began inserting actors throughout IOA to fill the dead space.
2005 - Halloween Horror Nights XV: Tales of Terror
The Storyteller was introduced in 2005 as our narrator for this "Tale of Terror," hypnotizing her listeners and transporting them right into the story.
Once inside the event, the Storyteller was virtually unheard of and the Terra Queen became the main master of horror. The Terra Queen would often be spotted driving her motorcycle in front of her throne - capturing unlucky victims that she would "sacrifice" in many different and painful ways to the giant Gorewood tree. At the end of the event, on the final night at the stroke of midnight, the Queen herself was sacrificed to the tree, thus ending the month-long "Season of the Queen."
2006 - Halloween Horror Nights XVI: Sweet 16
Halloween Horror Nights: Sweet 16 served as a "homecoming" celebration as the event moved back from Islands of Adventure to its originally territory - Universal Studios Florida.
To honor this, Universal decided to bring back all four icons from Horror Nights past. Jack from Halloween Horror Nights X, The Caretaker from Halloween Horror Nights: Islands of Fear, The Director from Halloween Horror Nights 13, and The Storyteller from Halloween Horror Nights: Tales of Terror all united to ensure that no one would escape this year's event alive.
2007 - Halloween Horror Nights XVII: Carnival of Carnage
This year Universal licensed three of the most horrific movie icons Hollywood has ever seen - Freddy Krueger from the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, Leatherface from the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" re-make and prequel, and Jason Voorhees from the "Friday the 13th" films. To add to the mix, Jack the Clown was brought in as a "ringleader" to offer these three "sideshows" up for viewings in his "Carnival of Carnage."
2008 - Halloween Horror Nights XVIII: Reflections of Fear
In one of the most involved and interactive websites ever created for the event, Universal Studios created a world based on phobias with a psychopathic psychologist as ringleader. The website showed a detailed list of her treatment and murder of patients and her own eventual demise.
"Noted Psychiatrist Dr. Mary Agana believed that if a subject was constantly forced to experience what they feared the most, then over time they would become numb to the idea of actually fearing it. Unfortunately for us, Dr. Mary's fear is that of death and the only way for her to cure herself is to watch the light leave your eyes as your soul leaves your body."
2009 - HHN XIX: Ripped From The Silver Screen
Universal announced on June 25, 2009 that this years event will incorporate characters from the movie franchises, Child's Play (Chucky), Saw, and Universals upcoming remake of the Wolfman. By way of press releases and leaked photos it is confirmed that Dracula and Frankenstein will have their own houses in Soundstages.
A backstory for the event is slowly being revealed on the official website, concerning the rather morbid history surrounding an old movie house known as the Universal Palace Theater, which is currently undergoing refurbishment by a historical society. The macabre incidents in question all happened during the showings of classic horror films, including cases labeled Severed, Missing, and Insane.
Ripped from the Silver Screen will be open on select nights starting on September 25th and continuing through October 31st.