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Universal Studios Hollywood is turned Upside Down with their latest Halloween Horror Nights’ maze, Stranger Things. Socalthrills was invited for an Exclusive behind the scenes look at the latest pop culture-themed maze that is coming September 14, 2018.
John Murdy, Creative Director and Producer of Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” transported us to Hawkins, Indiana for a tour of the work-in-progress maze. The Stranger Things Maze showcases the eerily-authentic TV show sets and environments including the Byers’ “Alphabet” living room dressed with an unpredictable display of flashing Christmas lights, the creepy Hawkins National Laboratory and the particle drifting Upside Down, plus Will’s sweet makeshift fort called Castle Byers and more.
Here are some cool facts about the maze:
Murdy credits the Halloween Horror Night fans for pointing out the brand to him. He talks to fans every day on twitter. They are the ones who pointed out Stranger Things to him the moment it aired. He watched it because of the fans, “If all of my fans are telling me to check out something, I should probably check it out. So they very much made me aware of this brand.”
The maze is based on the first season of stranger things. Initially, the creators toyed with the idea of combining season 1 and 2 but changed directions when they felt they were missing stuff. Luckily the duffer brothers were on board with the plans.
Murdy shared an interesting fact from a props and dressing standpoint. Stranger Things takes place in the 1980s but when you really start digging into the series, that really means its a blend of the 80s and 70s. The Byers family doesn’t have a lot of money so most of the decor in the home looks like it’s from the 1970s. Props were sent out to source items that would match the decor from the show. The team had to replicate sequences to the best of their ability from matching the wallpaper to the Christmas tree lights that created the iconic alphabet wall in the Byer’s living room which Will uses to communicate with his mom.
One of the big decisions from a creative standpoint was how to deal with the kids characters because they are all middle schoolers. The average age of the actors working the Halloween event is around 20. One of the ways the creative team delivered the kids in the maze is through audio. The kids are always talking on their walkie-talkies, particularly when they are out looking for Will. You’ll hear the Demogorgon in the woods but you’ll also hear all the kids searching for their friend as well as the search party looking for him.
Speaking of audio, there is multi-channel audio in every scene. You are hearing real music from the show, real audio from the show, sound effects from the show and real dialogue from the show.
You’ll see about 15-16 Demogorgans throughout the maze. Some will be actors in full-bodied suits while others are holding casts of a Demogorgon arm on a stick. But know that they all can see you and will be looming in the darkness.
The Maze starts with Will’s journey as he leaves the Dungeon and Dragon’s games, just like in the pilot episode, where he is abducted by the Demogorgon in the woods. The woods is where guests will enter the maze. Will’s bike will be there with the wheels spinning and the headlights going on and off. The ending is also true to the series, as guests will step into the science lab at Hawkins High School where Eleven is vanquishing the Demogorgon.
One thing that Murdy shared, is that over the years, they’ve noticed visitors will drop their guard at the end of mazes. They can actually see it in people’s body language. This is the best opportunity to prey upon them. We hit them when they stop looking for the scares.
So, don’t ever let your guard down, and channel Eleven’s bravery by clutching onto that box of Eggos!
“Halloween Horror Nights” begins Friday, September 14 at Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando. Tickets and vacation packages are on sale now. For more information click here: https://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/