30 Years of Fear – A History of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights: 2002 (The Caretaker Welcomes You to the Islands of Fear)
Welcome back to 30 Years of Fear – A History of Halloween Horror Nights. 2002 held a monumental change for the event — it moved to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
2002 – Halloween Horror Nights: Islands of Fear
“Your time has come.” Islands of Adventure was still shiny and new. With its focus on thrills, it seemed like the perfect place for Halloween Horror Nights.
The event grew to 21 nights, and the price grew with it to $49.95.
Universal claimed that the 2002 event sold out four times faster than the previous 11 years. Florida Today agreed that the event seemed more crowded than usual, noting that “In Screamhouse, for instance, I stood in place so long, that I was soon on a first-name basis with the contents of a suspended body bag.”
Another year, another scrapped Icon. The Caretaker, also known as Albert Caine, was the result, but at the start of development, the event was helmed by Cindy. (Or Sindy, if you’d like. There isn’t an official consensus). Cindy would eventually appear as Albert’s daughter, but like Eddie, she hasn’t had her own event… yet!
The former surgeon, Dr. Albert Caine, became a mortician in the Victorian era along with the rest of his family. He sought to understand humans and what lie inside them, seeking victims from around the nearby village. With their taste for the taboo, the Caine family was eventually pursued by the villagers and presumably killed. When guests entered the Screamhouse, they would find this to be unfortunately untrue.
Is it just me, or is it super weird to see Albert without his hat?
The Caretaker was aided by Adaru, the head honcho of Halloween Horror Nights Icons, also known as Fear. Adaru gave him the power to control Nightmare and his other minions to take over Islands of Adventure.
Rebecca Swain Vadnie of the Orlando Sentinel had an opportunity to sit down with the Caretaker and chat, as pictured above. His responses were unsettling, to say the least. And if you’re not afraid to encounter the Caretaker this year, another quote from the same interview may prove evergreen:
The Screamhouse was the charred remains of The Caretaker’s mortuary. Caine and his family held no respect for the dead — often staging the bodies to suit their whims and dancing with them. They were witnessed by local villagers who formed a mob and set fire to the mortuary as fictional villagers are wont to do. The Caines were never heard from again (at least, until 2002).
There was an absolutely enormous picture of the Caretaker near the entrance to the house.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, there were Scareactors in the queue, including one who had a snake slithering through his nostrils. Old school HHN had a lot more creepy-crawlies than we do these days.
Guests would enter the dilapidated funeral parlor after passing by the adjacent graveyard.
Inside, guests would discover that the Caines were alive and well, carrying on with their macabre mutilation of corpses. The various rooms were teeming with guts and gore. In addition to not cleaning up after they cooked, the house was overrun with cobwebs.
The smell of dead flowers was heavy in the Screamhouse. Apparently, Albert decided the floral side of the business wasn’t important without living clientele.
Evilution is our answer to the perennial question of “Wouldn’t a Jurassic Park house be awesome?” The answer was… “Um, kind of.” It depends on how much of a Jurassic Park purist you are since the house’s story was that an InGen geneticist created human-dinosaur hybrids.
The house was located in the defunct Triceratops Discovery Trail (now home to VelociCoaster), but don’t worry, no triceratops were harmed in the making of the house The one pictured above was not really the same gentle giant from the attraction, no matter the implication.
The same cannot be said of the InGen geneticist, who was ultimately killed by his creations in the finale. The human-dinosaur hybrids could be found roaming the streets of Jurassic Park in the JP Extinction scare zone.
Nearly twenty years ago, when Fear Factor was popular, Halloween Horror Nights hosted a house devoted to the television show. This predated Fear Factor Live, which didn’t open at Universal Studios Florida until 2005. Much like the previous year’s Pitch Black, this house was, well, nearly pitch black. It was a house designed to assault the senses, with everything from slimy walls and the smell of rotting fish to the legendary Rat Lady.
Scary Tales II
Scary Tales II followed its predecessor’s footsteps by bringing familiar children’s stories to life in the worst way (measured by pixie dust, not quality). “Alice in Wonderland” made another appearance alongside other classics like “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
A reporter from Florida Today best remembered a “spider-stroking, black-clad woman who could have very well been the love goth child of Marilyn Manson and Angelina Jolie,” likely in imitation of “Little Miss Muffet.”
Ah, Maximum Carnage. The house that allegedly ensured we will never see Marvel at Halloween Horror Nights again. As per the Marvel-Universal contract, Universal is allowed to, in perpetuity, do anything with the characters under their umbrella unless they misrepresent them (to put it simply).
Though the house was based on an actual event from the comics, reportedly, Marvel was so unhappy with Maximum Carnage that they forbade any future use of the characters for HHN. Why were they so angry? Well, it’s an urban legend. So far, no photographic or video evidence has emerged, but several eyewitnesses claim that the bloodied corpses of superheroes such as Captain America and Wolverine were visible in the house.
It’s hard to discount the various eyewitness reports, but it’s also the kind of thing you’d think would have been photographed. Alas, the truth is more than likely lost due to a combination of early 2000’s technology and fading memories.
What this house DID have was villains like Carnage and Crossbones wreaking terror on guests. The Punisher also appeared, and before anyone takes to the comments to argue, yes, he’s an anti-hero, not a villain. But The Caretaker saw the darkness within him and influenced him to join the evildoers.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
The location may have changed, but the formula did not. Not that it needed to, as most years Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure received the highest guest satisfaction scores of the whole event.
This year, Bill and Ted go face-to-face against Dr. Evil (again!). Dr. Evil claims to have killed Bill and Ted, which is devastating for Kelly and Ozzy Ozbourne, who wanted Bill and Ted to protect them.
Naturally, the Mystery, Inc. gang and the Powerpuff Girls arrive to help. Darth Vader fights Gandalf, only to find out that Vader is really Martha Stewart.
Eventually, Sharon Osbourne is revealed as the evil mastermind but with good intentions at heart. Everyone joins together for a dance number finale (featuring “Crazy Train,” of course).
Town Square of Tortured Souls
Inside the Port of Evil, the Caretaker oversaw the torture of guests and villagers. It wasn’t so much of a scheduled show like Bill and Ted, but more like a mini-show inside a scare zone. These are fairly common in modern-day HHN, but they aren’t advertised separately anymore.
Various torture devices such as the electric chair and the Iron Maiden were set up around the zone.
Fountain of Evil
The Mystic Fountain in the Lost Continent had a dark side unleashed at Halloween Horror Nights. It functioned much like the Mystic Fountain does in the daytime, only with red lighting and darker jokes.
Also in the Lost Continent, near the Enchanted Oak Tavern (now The Three Broomsticks), was a dance party. (What is this, the Magic Kingdom?)
The Island of Evil Souls likes to get down, I guess.
The Scare Zones
Port of Evil
The Port of Entry transformed into the Port of Evil, where The Caretaker orchestrated his aforementioned torture sessions.
Strolling through the zone, guests could bear witness to unsettling devices.
Because all of Islands of Adventure was under the Caretaker’s reign, Seuss Landing (or Who-ville) became Boo-ville. In respect of the wishes of Audrey Geisel, Dr. Seuss’ widow, this was kept to the very tame limit of lighting FX and fog.
Island of Evil Souls
The Lost Continent became the Island of Evil Souls, presided over by Nightmare. Nightmare was the head honcho of the Caretaker’s minions.
Like Cindy, this is another situation where no one can seem to agree on how to spell his name — not even Universal.
Nightmare and his legion of orcs were in charge of transforming Islands of Adventure into the Islands of Fear.
In classic Jurassic Park fashion, asset containment seems to be the least of InGen’s concerns. The human-dinosaur hybrids from Project Evilution made it out onto the streets, looking for tasty guests.
Walking through Jurassic Park at night is already a little spooky without Velociraptors.
Treaks and Foons
The Treaks and Foons were terrifying pranksters who would go on to reappear throughout the years of Halloween Horror Nights. In fact, it’d be safe to suspect we may see a few this year, given the set that popped up for Lights Camera Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge.
Guests had to trek their way through the foam-covered streets of Toon Lagoon and avoid sinister pranks from the cartoonish creeps.
(I have to assume these were inspired by Floop’s Fooglies from “Spy Kids.” The resemblance is uncanny.)
Island Under Siege
If you survived Maximum Carnage, you were spat out onto the streets of the Island Under Siege with Doctor Doom, Carnage, and the Green Goblin.
A reporter from the Orlando Sentinel disgruntedly told of Scareactors up in towers armed with water guns, showing no mercy to passersby.
Honorable Mention: Eternal Rest in the Rooms from Hell
The Hard Rock Hotel offered a special Eternal Rest package for Halloween Horror Nights guests that included more than tickets. It claimed to be “the first haunted hotel room.”
I don’t know about you, but I sleep like the dead when I get back to my room after HHN! But the spirits weren’t intent on letting you rest. Your stay included a 2:45 a.m. metaphysical wake-up call as haunting music would play, a chill would set into the air, and objects around the room would start moving.
We’ll see you next time when we take a look back at Halloween Horror Nights 13 and the introduction of The Director.
For more Halloween Horror Nights history, check out the rest of the series below.