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30 Years of Fear – A History of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights: 1995 (The Curse of the Cryptkeeper)

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Welcome back to 30 Years of Fear – A History of Halloween Horror Nights. It’s been another exciting week to be a horror fan! Halloween Horror Nights is returning to Universal Studios Hollywood, and both coasts are getting a maze based on “The Haunting of Hill House.” Today, we’ll take a journey back in time to 1995 to see what the Cryptkeeper has in store for us. Let’s jump right in!

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1995 – Halloween Horror Nights V: The Curse of the Cryptkeeper

An Icon! A real Icon! The time has finally come. The Cryptkeeper, of “Tales From the Crypt” fame, served as the star for Halloween Horror Nights V, garnering his own event subtitle and spotlight in the marketing campaigns.

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Image source: Orlando Sentinel

The event gained not only an icon but an additional scare zone, and ran for an expanded 12 nights. These additions seemingly came at a cost, as only three houses were available. In fact, the event would stay stagnant at three houses until 1998.

The Icon

Beetlejuice may have been the defacto Icon for Fright Nights, but the Cryptkeeper was the first Icon to meet modern definitions. Universal doubled down on marketing for 1995, promoting the event across the country.

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Image source: Orlando Sentinel
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Image source: Orlando Sentinel

Universal’s marketing campaign was a success resulting in several sold-out nights. However, some locals found the advertisements too scary, like the 4-year old who had nightmares from the “rotting skull.” According to the Orlando Sentinel, Universal promptly removed the billboard after a call from the child’s mother.

The Houses

Cryptkeeper’s Dungeon of Terror

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Image source: Tampa Tribune

The Dungeon of Terror returned to the queue for Earthquake: The Big One. However, the house shifted focus to the Cryptkeeper, setting it far apart from its previous iterations.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

Guests journeyed through the Cryptkeeper’s Mansion, encountering the Rat Lady, assorted creepy crawlies, and the Icon himself.

Terror Underground: Transit to Torment

Bearing no relation to 1992’s horror overlay of Earthquake: The Big One, Terror Underground: Transit to Torment was situated in the Sting Alley space behind the Nazarman’s façade.

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Guests would stumble their way through an abandoned subway straight out of urban legends. Mutants and tunnel-dwellers stalked (and skated — literally, on inline skates) through a station filled with toxic waste.

Universal’s House of Horror

I love to see Universal lean on its horror legacy, and nothing showcases it better than the Classic Monsters. Located in Soundstage 22, the House of Horror was chockful of favorites from Dracula to The Wolfman.

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Image source: Central New Jersey Home News

An advertisement featuring Frankenstein’s Monster and his bride appeared in the Central New Jersey Home News, demonstrating Universal’s push for cross-country marketing.

The Shows

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure IV

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Image source: James Keaton

Bill S. Preston and Theodore “Ted” Logan make a triumphant return for the fourth year. The latest Halloween adventure featured good-natured knocks at 1989’s “Batman,” “Pulp Fiction,” and more.

The Price is Fright

The ghost host with the most, Beetlejuice, and his co-host Vanna Fright returned to host this twisted game show. Guests competed for tricks and treats alike.

Cryptkeeper’s Revenge: The Knights of Hell

Cryptkeeper’s Revenge: The Knights of Hell was the first lagoon show at Halloween Horror Nights. Much like modern-day lagoon shows, this show utilized a water screen to project movie clips. It also featured pyrotechnics and lasers.

Youtube user Pedro Navarro uploaded footage originally found on the Halloween Horror Nights website showing clips from the lagoon show. Watch the video below.

The Scare Zones

Horrorwood Boulevard

Despite the slight name change, very little was different from 1994’s Horrorwood scare zone. The Chainsaw Drill Team returned here for another year.

Midway of the Bizarre

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Image source: Halloween Horror Nights Wiki

A macabre carnival took over Amity Island, filled with clowns and carnival sideshows.

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Image source: HorrorUnearthed

Pictured above are some of the Renaissance Witches, or Pigerellas, from Midway of the Bizarre. This photograph was found in 2020’s Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store.

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Image source: Universal Orlando

Honorable Mention: Halloween Horror Nights Has Reached Capacity

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Image source: Tampa Bay Times

In an age where capacity updates come via social media, it’s almost bizarre to think about checking a newspaper. However, this very punny advertisement was exactly how these updates were delivered back in the nineties.

We’ll see you next time when we “journey into fear” with a look at Halloween Horror Nights VI.

For more Halloween Horror Nights history, check out the rest of the series below.

1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

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