I just sat down on a conference call with TJ Mannarino, Director of Art & Design for Entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort, and Patrick Braillard, Show Director of Entertainment for Universal Orlando Resort, for the latest information on the big reveal for Halloween Horror Nights XX!  The sound quality was pretty much hideous, so my original plans to release the audio for the call (we spent half of the call time figuring out call quality – seriously people, learn how to mute your phones) didn’t pan out (I’m sure Universal will upload the audio to their Facebook page), but it’s probably still not a pleasant listen), but I can still tell you all the goodies we talked about (after the jump)!

  • They were stuck between two events – a “best of” event, or something new and original.  They decided to give their fans a mixture of both.
  • A number of houses recollect back on previous houses, and present them in a different way, while others are entirely new.
  • They set out with the idea of trying to create new ideas that would set up the themes and possible characters and themes for future years.
  • One of the houses will have a bit more of a “dark comedic” tone, because they’re a big fan of horror comedy.
  • FEAR, the icon character for this year, was intended to be an icon worthy of the 20th anniversary of HHN.  They wanted a character that would encompass all of the HHN themes, as well as stand among the other icons.  Visually, they want to imply that FEAR controls the other icons.
  • Fans can expect to see previous icons this year – there are both a haunted house and a scarezone that pay homage to all 19 previous HHN’s.  You’ll see the Body Collectors, for definite.  They threw in as many of their favorite characters as possible.
  • Everything in the event was driven by the story this year.  They intentionally withheld the information this year, and will be revealing more and more information over the coming weeks.
  • Rocky Horror is not returning this year, because it didn’t fit in with this year’s theme.
  • There doesn’t seem to be an official documentary in the works for HHN’s anniversary.  Bummer.
  • Legendary Truth (website here) will be heavily involved in this year’s theme heavily.  Keep an eye on their website (there will be a house this year based on the Legendary Truth plotlines).
  • There will be a lot of experimental technology this year that they’ve never used before.  For example, open flame will be incorporated into one of their houses this year.
  • There are no plans for production diaries via YouTube this year, but keep an eye on the official site for more videos.
  • They’re trying to come up with ways for the audience to be involved with the experience of the houses in the lines, including expanding the text-message based games that were begun two years ago.
  • No creature is off-limits as far as you may see in the houses or scarezones.  We may even see Bloody Mary again.
  • There’s hints that we’ll see queue videos (like last year) this year.
  • The Legendary Truth house is their attempt at producing ghosts to guests – a lot of work went into making things as realistic as possible.
  • The idea of not including any licensed properties this year was intentional – “Halloween Horror Nights itself is a strong enough IP.”  You may see some IP characters roaming around, but you won’t see a scarezone or house dedicated to a licensed theme.
  • The only coordination between the Orlando and California events is the Bill and Ted show.
  • The Lantern that you see on the official site is an key piece to this year’s storyline.
  • Bill and Ted is in it’s 19th year at HHN (ouch).  The structure of the show is meant to bring something new every minute or minute and a half to appeal to the “YouTube audience.”  The story involves Bill and Ted facing possible replacement (but not for real – just in the story).
  • Unmasking the Horror will be returning this year!  Heck yeah!
  • Whether it was purposeful or not, all previous years have some kind of link to something else.  They tried to find a common thread between all the events in order to present the one unifying theme this year.  FEAR is that common thread – what does FEAR look like, if FEAR is a physical presence?
  • If you’re a fan of the event storylines, definitely keep an eye out on the Legendary Truth Facebook page.
  • 2002’s child abduction theme caused controversy and had to be changed last minute.  The original icon for that event, Cindy, will be returning this year, in a house centered around her story.
  • They wouldn’t go into much detail as to what FEAR (the character) looks like, but they did say the glimpses you’ve seen are just the beginning.  “There’s a lot going on.”  As the week’s progress, more of him will be revealed, as well as his links to past HHN’s.  You will see FEAR in the park – he’s an all encompassing figure.
  • The opening event has yet to be decided…they’re gauging fan interest over the next few weeks to make the best experience for the guests.

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