30 Years of Fear – A History of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights: 2001 (Eddie, a Foam Party, Changes in the Wake of Tragedy, and More)
Welcome back to 30 Years of Fear – A History of Halloween Horror Nights. 2001’s event was, much like the rest of the country, affected by the events of September 11th. As such, a toned-down version of Halloween Horror Nights was pulled together at the last minute. Let’s take a look at the changes that took place.
2001 – Halloween Horror Nights XI
As opposed to the normally gruesome event, all references to violence, blood, and gore were removed. Marketing for the event was minimal and low profile.
Halloween Horror Nights guests were now subjected to additional security checks using a metal detector wand.
The event once again ran for 19 nights, with a $2 ticket increase.
Eddie: The Icon That Never Was
The Icon for Halloween Horror Nights XI was supposed to be Jack’s brother Eddie Schmidt. In the end, Eddie was pulled and replaced by Jack for his second consecutive year. This was all very last minute, and so some of the marketing featuring Eddie persisted.
Eddie also wears clown makeup, though his is worn and faded. He is covered in burn scars from an accident in his youth where he was trapped in a burning trailer. Universal ultimately decided that his appearance was not suited to the sensitive cultural climate and made the swap.
Some of the original marketing read, “Say Goodbye to Jack,” which is a little ironic, in retrospect. However, this was a situation nobody could have foreseen.
Jack, while still creepy looking, didn’t evoke any upsetting imagery. Eddie would go on to make several more appearances at the event (and is set to appear this year), but would never get his time to shine as the Icon. Maybe someday!
Pitch Black was a nice and literal title for a house that plunged you into complete darkness. Strobe lighting was occasionally flashed to throw guests off balance.
The sign for Pitch Black can be seen on the right truss in the photo above. It shared Soundstage 22 with Scary Tales (the sign on the left truss).
The story was that an atmospheric disturbance in the form of a zone of complete darkness over a warehouse. Government agents and guests alike vanished into the pitch black. Scareactors dressed as eerie glowing creatures lurked in the shadows.
Scary Tales, originally called Terrorland before the changes, was a twisted storybook of classic children’s stories. Trapped in an abandoned carnival attraction, the fairy tale characters became warped and angry.
Some included tales were Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, and more. It also featured the revolving tunnel effect.
The concept art above and below depicts rooms based on “Alice in Wonderland.”
The Mummy Returns: The Curse Continues
Originally known as The Mummy Returns: Temple of Terror, the post-9/11 changes to the event gave the house a redundant new name.
As seen in the photo above, The Mummy Returns and Run were both located in the extended queue for Earthquake: The Big One.
Based on The Mummy Returns, which premiered that summer, the house led guests through the Temple of the Scorpion King.
Run was supposed to be Eddie’s house, before he was ousted. A penchant for drama and love of the limelight must run in families, because Eddie had designed a game show where he and his horde of chainsaw-wielding maniacs forced guests to run a gauntlet of horror in hopes of survival.
With Eddie removed, the house was run by Gameskeepers, who forced guests to literally run through the maze.
This house explored the warehouse of an original character, Theodore Raven. Raven was an archaeologist specializing in all things supernatural. His warehouse was home to artifacts from urban legends and superstitions, such as broken mirrors and the Chupacabra.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
2001 marked Bill and Ted’s last year at the Wild Wild West Stage (in name only) as it would spend a few years at the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater. It would return to the former Wild Wild West Stage in 2006 after the stunt show had been retired and replaced by Fear Factor.
This year’s Excellent Halloween Adventure saw Bill and Ted meeting Jay and Silent Bob, appearances from Shrek and Lord Farquaad, and a performance of “Lady Marmalade” for the opening dance number.
Nightmares on Parade
Nightmares on Parade was the same as the Festival of the Dead Parade from the previous year, just with a name change to remove the reference to death.
In the Pantages Theater, which normally houses Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show, guests could watch a clip show featuring popular horror movies.
Dangerous D’Illusions, formerly known as Deadly D’Illusions, returned to the event. This time, it starred Franz Harary, a famed illusionist who had created magic using advanced technology (for the time) for performers like Michael Jackson and Usher.
The Scare Zones
Midway of the Bizarre
The Midway of the Bizarre returned, albeit smaller, for a final year in Amity. A version of the Midway would appear in a few years, but Amity would never house a scare zone again.
Originally slated to be Slasher Alley, Nightmare Alley was another part of the changes to the event for 2001.
It contained a variety of random props. You may recognize the buoy above from 1998’s S.S. Frightanic house. Horror pop culture figures such as Michael Myers and Chucky lurked in the dark to scare unsuspecting guests in the alley.
The Unknown was another area affected by the sensitivity changes, having been called Dead Zone. It featured a Gothic aesthetic complete with “stone” gargoyles (as pictured below). Scareactors in Ghillie suits would blend in with the surrounding Central Park and perform jump scares. Ghillie suits are often used in this area because of the existing foliage.
Honorable Mention: The Ooze Zone
The area below Kongfrontation designed to look like the streets of New York was often used for small experiences, and this year it became a foam party called the Ooze Zone.
Pictured above are guests enjoying the foam, which was allegedly green.
Honorable Mention: VIP Tours
2001 marked the arrival of the VIP Tour for Halloween Horror Nights (now known as the RIP Tour).
VIP Tours ran at rates starting at $79.99 per person. For comparison, rates for this year’s RIP Tours start at $279.99 per person.
We’ll see you next time when we take a look back at Halloween Horror Nights XII, when the event takes over Islands of Adventure for the first time.
For more Halloween Horror Nights history, check out the rest of the series below.