Just like at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Orlando has a CityWalk outside: an area full of restaurants and shops designed to part you from your money before you even make it into the park. What separates it from nearby Downtown Disney is that at Universal Studios, they charge you for parking, too. The walkways to the park lead you directly past Hollywood Drive-In Golf, a minigolf course that appeared entirely too spectacular to miss, so we vowed to go there at least once during our trip. We actually ended up going twice: once before Halloween Horror Nights and once on the last day of the trip as we had a significant amount of time to kill after we checked out of our hotel but before we had to go to the airport (enough to play 36 holes of minigolf, see Gravity, AND have lunch), and the amount of fun we had didn’t diminish upon replay. In addition to the fun themes, it’s actually well-designed so that skill plays a larger role than luck and balls can’t just go willy-nilly all over the place and get stuck like one particularly shitty course I’ve played. They have two 18 hole courses: The Haunting of Ghostly Greens and Invaders from Planet Putt.
Each course was super detailed, with sound effects, moving parts, and hilarious decorative touches. For instance, they had swamp creatures all around one hole. As you walked toward the hole, they’d spit water at you. One was additionally positioned directly above the hole and would shoot a puff of air out at you as you bent over to pick up your ball. I went first and it startled a screech out of me.
Incidentally, that scream that the golf course got out of me the first time we played was the only time I screamed that night, which was pretty sad since it was immediately followed by Halloween Horror Nights, the entire reason we waited until later in September to go on our honeymoon. Halloween Horror Nights Orlando was horrible.
First of all, the scare zones were just zombies, zombies, and more zombies, which as you’ll see, contrasted with the maze’s themes of zombies, zombies, and more zombies. Ugh. Cabin in the woods? Redneck zombies. Resident Evil? Lab zombies. Walking dead? Zombie zombies. Evil dead? Zombie zombie zombies! ENOUGH WITH THE ZOMBIES. Zombies have been played out for a long time, let’s try something new. Two of the non-zombie mazes were repeats: La llorona, and An American Werewolf in London (which essentially recycled all of the stuff from The Wolfman maze even if it wasn’t exactly the same), so the only two that brought something new to the table were Havoc and After Life: Death’s Vengeance. Havoc boiled down to army dudes yelling on a train; one literally yelled at me for not being scared. After Life: Death’s Vengeance was at least decent, as it was about the victims of a serial killer taking their vengeance on him after he was electrocuted–in 3D. The 3D effects made it visually interesting, but distracting, not scary. Every few feet, there were zombie nurses selling shots, which I don’t remember from Horror Nights Hollywood. Maybe there’s a difference between the state’s liquor laws that allow for it in one park but not the other, but the only message it sent to me was that they knew the mazes and scare zones sucked this year so you’d need to be hammered to enjoy yourself. If we go back to another Horror Nights, it will be to Hollywood, it’s not worth the trip to Florida.