“The Walking Dead” is coming to Universal Halloween Horror Nights … again. After a successful outing at both the Orlando and Hollywood theme parks in 2012, Zap2it can reveal that Season 3 of “The Walking Dead” is going to be transformed into new Halloween Horror Nights mazes.
Like last year, both the Orlando and Hollywood “The Walking Dead” experiences will be unique to one another. Zap2it spoke with John Murdy, Creative Director of Universal Studios Hollywood, and Jim Timon, Senior Vice President of Entertainment, about how the two horror mazes will differ.
At Universal Orlando, guests will enter the haunted house in Woodbury and head through the Prison for a “survivor’s experience,” Timon says. The theme park also decided that its “scare zones,” the areas of the park where employees dressed up as “scaracters” will terrorize Halloween Horror Nights attendees, will be dedicated entirely to recreating iconic moments from “The Walking Dead” Season 1 and 2. The maze itself will feature some different scenes from the ones used at Hollywood, including the zombie gladiator arena from Season 3’s midseason finale.
“We had the arena portion of Woodbury where you have to kind of, for lack of a better term, run the gauntlet of getting through the arena alive, so there will be some chained walkers there that you’ve got to be able to get past,” Timon teases.
In Hollywood, guests will enter in the Prison and then head through Woodbury. Instead of using scare zones to expand “The Walking Dead” Halloween Horror Nights experience, Murdy is turning the Terror Tram into an extension of the haunted house. If being in the Halloween Horror Nights maze is like being in the Prison and Woodbury, then the Terror Tram will be like being outside of Woodbury’s walls. Expect to see some human Woodbury scaracters there in addition to zombie ones.
In terms of scenes that will be unique to Hollywood, Murdy opted to go big by recreating the helicopter crash and the walker who gets cut in half during that scene. The Hollywood maze will also incorporate video elements, and feature iconic walkers like Michonne’s pets and what Murdy likes to call the “Big Fat Walker” who eats Lori after her death.
“Oh yeah, you’re going to go into that particular room,” Murdy confirms of the “Big Fat Walker” with excitement. “I love the audio in that particular scene. Both parks, we spend every single season, every single maze has multi-channel audio. It’s very, very sophisticated. There’s a couple of things — and these are where we speak to more the true, true fans, the little subtle references that we drop so they can go, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that from the show.'”
He continues, “There’s two things that really stick out about that scene in my mind. One is that telephone ringing and ringing and ringing that Rick is hearing in his head, it’s not even real. The other is obviously his daughter was born in that scene and his wife died in that scene and you’ll see remnants of that, And you’ll hear that ethereal cry of the baby, which is another thing that, in watching the show, you just pick up on these little details and you think, ‘That’s really disturbing. Let’s put it in.'”
Another big moment that will be recreated is the Governor’s “man cave,” in which he keeps the heads of those he killed in aquarium tanks. Both Murdy and Timon seem like huge fans of that Season 3 scene in particular.
“As soon as we saw that scene, it just screamed something that we want to replicate in Halloween Horror Nights, but then you have to actually figure out how to do it,” Murdy says. “Immediately that was one of the scenes that we gravitated to because it was so iconic on the show.” He adds of scenes they’ll be creating, “Obviously cell block C and the Prison, and that’s a very large set, but trying to replicate key scenes in the Prison and the tombs part of the Prison.”
Once again “The Walking Dead’s” Greg Nicotero will be consulting on both Halloween Horror Nights mazes. Murdy says the two of them talk frequently and “it’s fabulous to work with partners who are equally passionate — and also get what we do.”
As for people who aren’t fans of “The Walking Dead,” both Timon and Murdy feel like there’s enough flat-out horror in these two new mazes to keep all fans happy and screaming. Besides, they always have the “Evil Dead” house to enjoy at both parks and “The Cabin in the Woods” maze to go through in Universal Orlando. Halloween Horror Nights start running select nights in both Orlando and Hollywood on Sept. 20.