The eight haunted houses at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights are a big draw for the event. Obviously, much of the scare factor comes from the scareactors’ abilities to single out the most scare-prone guests and attack them at just the right time, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that. Click the video at left, which is a lights-on house tour that also includes some discussion of the various tactics and devices that the scareactors use. Here is a summary of common methods:
1. Boo doors: A boo door is a door worked into the scenery that you shouldn’t even notice until a scareactor opens it and is suddenly in your face. Not all scareactors hide behind doors. Some are concealed around corners, behind scenery, and even disguised as common household objects. Last year, a scareactor disguised as a chair was very effective in the Legendary Truth house, and this year HowlOScream is using the same tactic in one of its houses.
2. Sound effects: The scareactors would lose their voices if they screamed at guests all night. Instead, they trigger a well-timed sound effect as a likely victim passes. When coordinated with an attack, the sound is very effective. You can see a trigger button in the photo at left.
3. Other effects: The scareactors have buttons, foot pedals and other triggers for various effects within the houses. You’ll never notice this in the dark, but you can see them during the lights-on tours. After you watch the Winter’s Night video at left, you might enjoy learning about some of the effects in videos on these houses:
4. Scrims: The Nevermore video shows how scrims effectively change a scene within a house, revealing a scareactor lurking behind. This effect was used in Legendary Truth last year and is put to good use with Poe and his deceased wife for HHN 21.
5. Mirrors: Mirrors are a venerable old trick. They can make you think a scareactor is in one spot, when he’s really lurking in another. They can make a small area look enormous, and they even transform a regular floor so it looks like there’s a huge drop beneath you.
6. Forced perspective: Winter’s Night features an amazing example of how forced perspective can make you think you’re looking at an entire landscape, as you can see in the video. It’s great for wowing guests with scenery, and also for setting them up for a scare because their attention wanders. This leads into the next tactic…
7. Diversion: The best way to scare some one is to move in for the kill when they attention is elsewhere. Many of the houses purposely draw your attention in a certain direction while a scareactor sneaks up on you from the opposite spot.
This year’s houses all have one thing in common: a tie-in to icon Lady Luck. Click here for a video that explains the backstories. Click here for three differences between Halloween Horror Nights and HowlOScream. Click here to read more of my articles, and click here to follow me on Twitter. Click here to sign up for my pets newsletter if you love animals, and click here for my Pet Supplies & Product Reviews site on About.com. I’ve taken over 80 Disney cruises and can book yours and give you a special stateroom credit. Visit www.dclexpert.com.