New terrors and twists as Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights turns 20

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Halloween Horror Nights XX -- Fear

Fear, the icon for the 20th edition of Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.


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(MATT STROSHANE, UNIVERSAL ORLANDO)

"You walk into the soundstage and see that we built a house. It's not that we built a façade — we didn't build just one wall. You see a house, and you walk into this gigantic estate," Braillard says.

Greek to me

This skull-lined maze called Hades: The Gates of Ruin is based on Greek mythology and populated by Medusa, Hydra and the like. It should be difficult to miss a 7-foot-5 Cyclops.

"You'll see some minor characters that you haven't seen very prevalently as far as Greek mythology is concerned," Braillard says. "That was part of the fun of that because we got to design or put our take on what we consider to be ancient monsters."

Zombie alert

"There are two very divisive camps in the zombie-fan realm," Braillard says. "It's like this: I like slow-moving zombies or I like fast-moving zombies."

In Zombiegeddon? "We give them both," he says.

In the story, guests learn to deal with zombie infestation from not-too-bright guys who managed to develop "pacification suits" and collars for zombies.

"As long as electricity is flowing to these collars, everything is fine. When the light is yellow, your zombie's mellow. When the light is red, you're dead," Braillard says.

Oh, but there's a power outage — time for those fast-moving zombies.

This house exits into a similarly themed scare zone in the theme park called Zombie Gras.

Close shave

None of the keys words for Havoc: Dogs of War are particularly inviting. Terms such as hyper-aggressive, supersoldier, bunker, muzzle, gas mask and heavy gore.

Shadowcreek Enterprise, the story goes, was contracted by the government to create a warrior that could do the work of 10. They achieved this with a gas that increases adrenalin and testosterone but decreases sensitivity to pain. Cue the gas leak.

Havoc's scare actors have a distinctive look. "Every single person in this house — male and female — is shaven," Braillard says. "Their heads are completely shaved, and they all have UPC symbols tattooed on their head. They're our property."

Sick

The Catacombs: Black Death Rising house contains a little history lesson. Meet the plague doctors, public servants charged with helping those dying from the black plague in the 1500s. Best of all, they wear rose-colored glasses and dress like the Spy vs. Spy guys in Mad magazine.

Panicked townspeople locked the diseased under the city. Fast-forward 500 years, when a museum is being built on the site.

"They knock down a wall and, lo and behold, the victims of the plague — as well as the plague doctors — are still very much alive, and they're not very happy that they've been there," Braillard says.

Burn, baby, burn

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