This year, the Universal Orlando and Hollywood theme parks are trying something a little different with their Halloween Horror Nights scare mazes. The production teams announced at Comic-Con that they would be working alongside AMC to bring some of the most iconic moments from “The Walking Dead” TV series to life at their Halloween mazes in both U.S. locations. Meet “The Walking Dead: Dead Rising.”
With only two weeks until the two theme parks open the doors to their Halloween Horror Nights mazes, Universal Orlando invited MTV News to be one of the first to get a walkthrough of “The Walking Dead” maze. On hand was Greg Nicotero, co-executive producer, director and special effects makeup artist for “The Walking Dead,” who worked hand-in-hand with Orlando production show director Patrick Braillard and Hollywood creative director John Murdy to make sure these mazes and their walkers did his show justice. According to him, they did.
“It’s actually amazing. Standing on the set and looking around and seeing all the stuff, I just think it’s a great opportunity for people to step into the show,” he told MTV News while standing in front of the maze’s take on the iconic “Don’t open, dead inside” doors. “Genre fans are unlike any other type of people because they really want to experience every aspect of a show, so for them to be able to walk through and see the bullet holes in the wall and the blood splattered on there and the imprints and stuff, I think it’s great.”
The Orlando “Walking Dead: Dead Inside” maze wasn’t in full working order when we got our walkthrough, but it’s clear that the theme park’s team put their best efforts into re-creating some of the show’s most iconic moments. Guests will enter the maze through the hospital Rick wakes up in in “The Walking Dead” pilot and walk through the department store out onto the rooftop where Rick left Merle. (He’s not there in the maze; a slight nod to Michael Rooker’s reappearance in “The Walking Dead” season three.)
From there, guests will walk through the Sheriff’s Office and past Rick’s bag of weapons to the RV, and then finally exit through Hershell’s barn which, as we last see it in the TV show, is on fire. When asked if there would be a nod to Sophia in the barn, Braillard replied with a smile, “No comment.” The maze will be populated with more than 20 actors acting as walkers at any given point in time.
Attendees who visit Universal Hollywood’s maze will be treated to some different set pieces, like the tank Rick hides in in Atlanta and the “God Forgive Us” house Rick stumbles across in season one, but the general experience should be the same.
“There are so many iconic moments that it really is difficult to pick and choose which ones, so I think it’s cool that Orlando and Hollywood have both chosen different moments but they still have that same iconic flair to them,” Nicotero said.
Halloween Horror Nights has tackled a variety of popular properties over the past 22 years, making mazes that incorporated characters like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. This year, Universal Studios is expanding to include television and video game characters from properties like “The Walking Dead” and “Silent Hill.” Halloween Horror Nights kicks off at both Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood starting September 21, and runs select nights through October 31.