HHN Editorial: What’s in an Icon? I Don’t Know Jack!

The Director, the only Icon that was semi-shared with Hollywood

On both coasts, Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights is all about one thing, the houses.  Usually,  the Hollywood and Orlando parks have some overlapping themes, like this year’s “The Shining,” but there is one thing that the parks have really never had in common.  Say it with me, “Hollywood always skimps out on an icon!!!”

Year after year, around this time before the season, I find myself refreshing the Horror Nights web page, and solving clues on Twitter for both parks, eager to get that next taste of what is to come.  Also, year after year, I see Orlando get a cool, new icon, or a re-vamped favorite like “Jack the Clown” or “The Caretaker,” while the Hollywood park chooses to go without an icon.

I have always wondered why Universal Hollywood just can’t seem to get this right.  Every year I see fans of the event plead for an icon, and every year, we are disappointed, even when HHN Hollywood makes an attempt at creating an icon.

I know, I sound like a spoiled child, but come on!  Universal aside from 2006 and

Photo Credit: Undercover Tourist; Hollywood Harry stalks guests on the backlot near Bates Motel.

2007 when you used “Jack the Clown” and “The Director” as mainly marketing devices, with little use in the actual event, you haven’t really given the fans much in the way of an icon.

At the 2016 event, there was a fine attempt to create an iconic character in “Hollywood Harry” in the month leading up to the event.  The entire Terror Tram was even themed around this character who was really, quite cool.  Sadly, the only place you could glimpse “Harry” was by waiting to board the Terror Tram, one of the park’s most popular attractions.  Even a scare zone with “Harry” would have at least created the guise of a mascot.

The scare zone tactic was tried in previous years with La Llorona as a scare zone theme, and the face of the 2010 event in most marketing campaigns.  She even came out to meet the press at the Eyegore Awards, but sadly, her scare zone was pretty sparse and seemed more like a sneak preview for the maze she would own the next two years at the event.

Eli Roth at The Eyegore Awards Photo Credit: Metroplague

Hollywood has been lucky enough to have iconic celebrities in horror sponsor mazes.  Some of them include Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper to start.  While these mazes were popular, it would have been interesting for at least one of them to create an icon in their name that would control the madness consuming the park.

This begs me to question, why hasn’t HHN Hollywood taken the steps that it’s bigger sibling in Orlando has?  Does it really cost that much more to create a new character, or even utilize characters from Orlando’s prior years in a larger scale way, OUTSIDE of the Terror Tram?  I personally feel like it would increase appeal for the event and make the event seem a little more streamlined and themed as a whole.

La Llorona meets and greets the press

Don’t get me wrong, I love my HHN Hollywood but with Orlando having original mazes on epic scales (that’s another topic), and awesome icons,  I feel like Hollywood is severely lacking in the unique aspect of its production value, especially when it shares mazes with big names like “The Exorcist” and “Krampus” with the Orlando crowd.  Where’s the reciprocation, Mike Aiello?

Orlando and Hollywood fans alike, I am dying to know what you think of the lack of icons in one park and the abundance of icons in the other.  Is there something that Hollywood has that evens out the scale for Orlando?  Let’s get a discussion going.

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