Full disclosure: Monsters & Critics received free entry to the attraction mentioned in this article for review. However, the opinions expressed are independent and our own.
If there’s something that can be learn from the rapport between Universal Studios and the creative minds behind AMC’s The Walking Dead, when they work together the result is one of the most immersive, gory experiences you can have at a theme park.
Having gone to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando for the past four years, it is immediately clear that the must-go maze or house of choice when you attend has to be The Walking Dead.
The AMC horror-drama has been a constant for HHN for years now and show no sign of stopping. Every year there is a new maze to reflect what is happening on the show that year and attendees can relive it all through a scream-worthy maze rife with walkers, rogues and death.
Universal Studios Hollywood has taken their reverence to the IP one step further and created a year-round Walking Dead walkthrough attraction, and it is fricking terrifying.
For the Walking Dead Attraction media event on Tuesday, press members got introduced to the year-round experience with some opening words from Senior Vice President of Entertainment at Universal Studios Hollywood Tim Runco.
He assured true fans of series that there will be nothing left unturned from the show when walking through the maze thanks to Universal Creative’s meticulous attention to deal in delivering the most tactile and experiential Walking Dead maze to date.
Walking Dead, exec-producer, director and SFX wizard Greg Nicotero then brought out cast members from the series and some rogues you would expect to be Negan acolytes to usher in the new attraction in a staged scenario I could only describe as one of the most exciting openings I’ve seen at Universal Studios yet.
The mean-faced marauders unleashed a veritable swarm of walkers to smash up against a precariously shut up fence gate (great for photo opportunities as pictured below) and corralled the media and special guests in attendance into the Walking Dead Attraction.
The gate, with a crashed helicopter hanging overhead, sends shivers down your spine as the line leading into the building feels more like a desolate street with newspaper and blood on the ground (the attention to detail is no joke).
Entering the attraction you will see the iconic barred off doors that started off the series with the infamous “Don’t Open, Dead Inside” written across them.
The flickering lights, radio transmissions and other eerie sonics make the wait getting into the walkthrough especially harrowing.
Once inside, as the doors suggested, the dead are there and without spoiling too much, the walkers, blood, viscera and dismembered limbs come full force.
As I’ve mentioned three times now, no one has a more painstakingly accurate approach to theme park attractions as Universal.
Their creative team has delivered some of the most terrifyingly immersive Walking Dead mazes and this one is nothing short of breathtaking.
Every corridor is replete with highlights from the show’s six season run, and every scene and walker within was designed with every possible nuance in mind.
Every sight, sound and even smell was perfectly calculated and executed in order to make even the most fastidious Walking Dead fan feel as if they had actually stepped into the show.
This is a great experience for both casual Walking Dead viewers and hardcore fans alike.
The maze feels like an abridged version of the show where a handful of memorable scenes are made into terrifying, practically tactile reality.
If you’re not cowering in terror from the lurking walkers, every room has some form of Easter Egg from the series to highlight the events of each season.
The Walking Dead attraction, which opens on July 4 (this coming Monday), is another triumph for Universal Studios Hollywood, which finally opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade in Spring to much acclaim.
The zombie-centric series is a true pop-culture staple that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and this new year-round attraction is another great chapter in Universal’s successful relationship with the brand.