Another year, another Halloween Horror Nights and this incredible fall event brings new IP mazes and 5 original scare mazes to really whet the appetite of horror fans across the globe. Let’s dive right in with our Halloween Horror Nights 2023 maze review.
For a record-breaking 48 select nights September 1 through November 4, the world’s premier Halloween event is back with 10 eerily immersive haunted houses, five terrifying scare zones, outrageous live entertainment and so much more that brings to life top icons in horror and chilling original stories, including one that resurrects a bit of Universal’s past.
Let’s being with our IP mazes and take it from there! Let’s dive right into this Halloween Horror Nights 2023 maze review!
The Last of Us – Rating – 2/5
For the first time ever, Naughty Dog and PlayStation’s award-winning post-pandemic video game The Last of Us comes to life in an all-new haunted house that propels guests into an obstacle course of carnage and mayhem as they join a brutal journey in a world overtaken by a fungal virus that turns humans into various forms of a new threat known as the Infected.
Guests will find themselves navigating iconic locations from the video game in a desperate attempt to escape and survive.
Whilst the maze is jaw droopingly beautiful I couldn’t help but think that all of the actor jump scare timings within this particular maze were out of sync.
Actors were jumping out at the wrong team or even standing infront of you as you walk towards them adding to absolutely zero scare factor. You were essentially just walking around a beautifully immersive maze with theatre around you.
As far as a scare maze goes and for scare factor alone, this sadly was just not it apart from towards the end where it finally synched up a little better but sadly it was too little, too late.
Detailing was on point as you’re transported into the games and the costumes were meticulously crafted with gory realistic detail. It’s just a shame there was no element of surprise throughout this particular maze and that’s the exact point of what a scare maze should be!
Stranger Things 4 – Rating – 5/5
Season 4 of Netflix’s original series Stranger Things is brought to life in a terrifying all-new haunted house that transports guests to Hawkins, Indiana where they will be immersed in the eerie Upside Down for a heart-pounding experience while traveling through iconic scenes.
Guests will confront their deepest fears and come face to face with otherworldly creatures like demobats, and even Vecna himself within his blood-red Mind Lair in a race against the clock to escape and save mankind from his deadly curse.
Stepping inside Vecna’s lair within the upside down is truly astonishing. Floating Cuckoo Clocks, the iconic rose on the Victor Creel house door and vines that wrap around the attraction fully immersing guests into Season 4 of Stranger Things.
Set dressing is an absolute masterpiece and with it being one of the main focus mazes for this season the curse of Vecna scene is jaw dropping let alone the rest of the maze!
Iconic scenes are beautifully replicated such as Chrissy’s kill in the trailer with Eddie Munson and then revisiting Eddie’s unfortunate encounter with those bats in the Upside Down with Dustin looking on.
Take a tour of Hawkins lab as Eleven comes face to face with 001 who is soon to become Vecna and you’re inside the show, you’re front and centre within these iconic scenes and there’s a jump around every corner each and every step of the way.
Seeing the Creel house in the upside down blew me away and the actor who played Eleven was absolutely superb, I genuinely thought it was Millie Bobby Brown at one point!
Mask and costume detailing on Vecna in particular was of the highest quality but Stranger Things 4 weaved the story of the series before my eyes.
If that wasn’t enough the Dustin and Eddie (my favourite Stranger Things characters) Master of Puppets scene is included as two actors stood before a virtual zombats screen ready to do battle. I’m not a HUGE Stranger Things fan but with every corridor of this maze I was falling in love with the show more and more.
This maze had everything, visuals, scares and storytelling and for one of the top billed mazes it certainly didn’t disappoint. Absolutely phenomenal.
I genuinely think this Halloween Horror Nights 2023 maze review ends here.
There will NOT be a better maze than this as an all round package. This one maze alone shows the world just how it’s done.
The Exorcist: Believer – Rating – 3/5
Inspired by Universal Pictures’ terrifying new horror film from Blumhouse and Morgan Creek Entertainment (in theaters Friday, October 13), The Exorcist: Believer haunted house will transport guests to a bustling street market in Haiti, where an innocent purchase of a strange folk doll with three eyes leads to the opening of a demonic portal, the awakening of sinister spirits and the subsequent disappearance of two 12-year-old girls in the U.S.
The girls are found three days later with no memory of what happened to them. After the girls begin to exhibit unsettling behavior, it soon becomes clear that only an exorcism can save them – and everyone who comes in contact with them, including unwitting guests, is suddenly at risk of losing their souls.
Similar to the Stranger Things 4 maze the Exorcist Believer maze starts weaving the story of the upcoming movie with the girls lost in the woods.
Beautifully replicated and instantly we’re in the heart of the story which hopefully isn’t spoiling it too much ahead of the films release but we obviously know what’s going to happen to the poor girls.
I’m used to basic bedroom sets when it comes to Exorcist mazes but you certainly won’t find basic sets in this maze. Even the children’s bedroom has been beautifully recreated to the highest of quality and whilst jump scares have been dialled down in favour of a creepy atmosphere it’s executed wonderfully.
I wasn’t a big fan of seeing the film before experiencing this maze but I certainly want to check it out now!
Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count – Rating – 1/5
Inspired by the hit USA & SYFY series and cult classic films, Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count casts this killer doll as the star of his very own haunted house for the first time.
A true sadistic killer, Chucky has been mired in the agony of disrespect he feels from his peers at not being taken seriously. Thus begins his quest to turn his haunted house into a living slaughterhouse by killing every person who enters.
Walking through Chucky Ultimate Kill Count feels instantly as though the maze budget went elsewhere, the maze feels a little basic to say the least.
An incredible Chucky animatronic sets the scene and raises the bar and your expectations to then have them collapse like a house of cards.
Simple set design is not something I’d EVER associate with Universal Studios but sadly the Chucky maze almost feels one dimensional. It lacks scares, it lacks in many visual areas and feels like you’re walking through a Trick Or Treat Studios prop collection as opposed to a scare maze.
The maze gets a little more detailed in terms of set design but it’s too little too late as Chucky Ultimate Kill Count sadly didn’t live up to expectations.
Universal Monsters: Unmasked – Rating – 4/5
The dank Catacombs of Paris house a much darker secret sixty feet beneath the bustling streets, as the all-new haunted house Universal Monsters: Unmasked takes guests down into the infamous burial grounds where every corner and crevice overflows with millions of skeletal remains and even more sinister secrets.
Deep within the Catacombs, Universal’s most notorious creatures – The Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and his deranged alternate personality Mr. Hyde, and Dr. Jack Griffin, aka The Invisible Man – lie in wait as they bide their time and seek vengeance against guests after the opening of the Catacombs to public visitation.
These desperate and dangerous fiends have become filled with a rage toward guests navigating the twisted tunnels of their underground labyrinth home.
Now that the IP Halloween Horror Nights 2023 mazes are out of the way let’s dive into the original ones!
Transported around the world we are thrown into the world of Universal monsters where from start to finish there’s a classic vibe oozing from every corner.
There’s an air of class and distain and every step feels like a step backwards to a time where these monsters were first on the big screen terrifying audiences and introducing their legacies to the world.
Comprising of more outdoor scenes the atmosphere and intensity never relinquish and whilst some of the masks were a little cheesy it couldn’t possible overshadow the nostalgia and appreciation for old school horror that was being injected into my veins every second.
Dr. Oddfellow: Twisted Origins – Rating – 2/5
In the 1930s Dust Bowl era, guests won’t be able to resist going inside Dr. Oddfellow’s menacing menagerie of twisted oddities where they’ll encounter grotesquely distorted animals and freakish fiends.
In Dr. Oddfellow: Twisted Origins, the price to enter this creepy caravan is steep as souls feed his immortal power.
A mix of magic and the macabre as guests follow in the story of Dr Oddfellow.
It always surprises me how little jump scares Universal mazes have in comparison to UK attractions as they opt for detail over genuine scares but the immersion usually makes up for the lack of them.
Dr Oddfellow’s is by no means a terrible maze but once again it feels as though you’re walking through a theatre play as opposed to a scare maze and all you can do is stop and admire the view.
With zero scare factor of note which is what these mazes are supposed to be I can’t really give it a strong score.
At the very least it gets one better than the Chucky maze because at least they’ve made an effort within this one.
Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate – Rating – 2/5
The great wizard Merlyn has been transformed into the Enchanted Oak, leaving a power vacuum. When two powerful warlocks invade his castle to steal his spell book, they are turned into dragons of fire and ice.
Now guests are caught in the middle of their battle and are forced to choose a path and a victor. But beware, one never knows who will win in Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate.
Mystic spells, dragons and utilising fog effects to their absolute best Duelling Dragons is a maze that revolves around the old Universal Studios ride that opened in 1999.
Dueling Dragons is definitely another walkthrough experience as opposed to a scare maze as it feels like a very extended queueline but once again scare factor has been thrown out of the window in favour of fancy effects and actors reenacting lines / easter eggs from the old instalments of the ride.
YETI: Campground Kills – Rating 3/5
In a 1950s campground, a group of towering, terrifying yetis are running rampant, ripping apart campers, rangers and anyone else who gets in their way.
In YETI: Campground Kills, guests must flee through the campground into cabins, a bait shack and even the outhouse in hopes of making it to the ranger tower before it’s too late.
Shadow Creek State Park is the home of this HHN maze and I have a feeling that many people will have a soft spot for the Yeti this year.
The jump areas are actually incredible within this maze and the animatronics perfectly compliment what the actors are doing within the immersive space.
When it comes to mazes that are this detailed it’s the sense of adventure that I have to judge mixed with the scares and storytelling and it was done beautifully.
Whilst not on the level of Stranger Things in terms of the all round package, I have a feeling it’ll be right up there with most peoples favourites out of the original storyline mazes.
The Darkest Deal – Rating – 2/5
In the Mississippi Delta, blues musician Pinestraw Spruce meets at a crossroads with a diabolical entity known as The Collector to make a deal: his soul for musical glory.
Guests will witness his big break performing for a crowd before The Collector drags him to Hades with the other musicians who learned the terrible price of fame in The Darkest Deal.
A fusion blend of Jazz music and scare maze as this quite wonderful idea is fused creatively and with a flair that you just don’t see within mazes anymore.
Soothed by jazz tones one minute and selling your soul to the devil for fame the next I can appreciate the rather quirky story but a scare maze, it is not.
Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings – Rating – 2/5
Colonial-era villagers begin to worship the moon obsessively. When the blood moon rises at their fall festival, they take it as a sign that they must hunt down any non-followers within their village.
Guests will need to try not to become part of the sacrifice as they gather body parts to form a grisly offering in Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings.
Blood Moon was stunningly beautiful with its red tint throughout and rustic theming.
Once again sacrificing scares for immaculate theming these mazes can’t really be judged as scare mazes at times.
There’s so much effort that goes into making them look incredible yet their whole purpose is wasted when the scares aren’t being utilised correctly.
Once again on display here is a case of all visuals and zero scares. A real shame.
Halloween Horror Nights 2023 Maze Review Overall
It’s quite rare that the IP mazes come out on top during any given HHN event but that’s exactly what’s happened here.
Whilst the original ideas have been beautifully executed visually they lack in terms of the scares department and focus more on creating the ambience.
There’s no story as opposed to the IP mazes this year, you’re just thrown into a particular genre of movie or theme and have a wander around there for a bit.
It’s only really the Yeti maze that installs that sense of journey to proceedings whilst the others feel a little disjointed in their execution.
The original IP mazes stepped up this year and whilst the weakest of them all was The Last Of Us maze it was certainly a stronger maze than that of all the original IP mazes.
Stranger Things 4 has taken the crown for me this year as easily the best maze of the entire line-up.
Every element of what makes a scare maze great has been ticked off here as visuals, storytelling and scares combine for one hell of a treat.
Halloween Horror Nights this year certainly feels short in the scare department and that really is a shame but the IP’s not only seem to be carrying this years maze line-up but weaving better more crafted stories.
This could simply be a case of having history behind the IP to structure the stories better or it could be a case of the storytellers not expanding enough on the original ideas.
Whichever of the two, movie and TV horror fans will absolutely adore the line-up this year but I hope and pray scares take precedence over all at next years event.
Even a maze as basic as Chucky could have had a better score had the scares been utilised to their highest potential. Here in the UK we don’t get many well themed mazes on this level or scale but all it takes is a few actors and a good scare and the worst themed maze can instantly become one of the best overall.
Thank you for checking out this Halloween Horror Nights 2023 maze review.
What has been your favourite maze of this 2023 Halloween calendar event?