Halloween Horror Nights XVII

"Man, you shouldn't be out here. With Doc Oc on the loose this could be the most dangerous night of my life -- and yours. Be careful!" -- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man

Halloween Horror Nights is the premiere theme park scare-fest in the country. It is so popular that many of the nights, especially Saturday nights, sell out. Ever since Halloween Horror Nights XII, the attraction moved from Universal Studios Florida to Islands of Adventure. That's the way it was for Halloween Horror Nights XIII and then, last year, HHN XIV raised the stakes by including both parks. Since 2005, HHN has included all of IOA and a good chunk of USF. The haunted houses change every year, but if you want an idea as to the kind of mayhem that takes place, check out our review of Halloween Horror Night XV mazes from 2005.

The Dates? Glad you asked. For 2007, eight haunted mazes and four live shows will make you forget that many of the rides have short lines. The event will take place on September 28, 29, October, October 4-7, 11-14, 18-21, 24-28, 31, and November 1-3. HHN starts at 6:30pm and ends at 2am on Oct. 12, 13, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, and Nov. 3. It ends at midnight on the other nights. Islands of Adventure closes an hour earlier on those nights. The lines can get long (for the mazes, not the rides) and now the park is selling Halloween Express Plus -- a pass that will allow you to go to the front of the line of every ride, maze and attraction once.

Tickets? You need them. This is not included with your park's stay. It is a separate hard ticket event, and peak periods may sell out. You can buy tickets at the gate, by phone or online. It's not cheap. $64.95 a head during the peak weekend nights. Ask about Florida Resident discounts if you buy the tickets ahead of time. Every year there tend to be coupon offers. In 2005 it was at Burger King and on specially marked Coke products. In 2007, Florida residents get a break with UPC codes off Coke products on pre-purchases. If you are going to be at the park earlier in the day, ask about a discount for day guests.

The Haunted Houses? There are eight this year, and Carnival of Carnage is themed to the recent Hollywood horror stars like Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface. Dead Silence may have been a dud at the box office, but the dummy-fueled flick gets its own scare maze too.

Costumes? Don't wear them. They are strictly for the scare actors. In fact, it's the one time that you can't wear a costume to the park. However, if you still want to have that Islands of Adventure look when you're not in the park check out these IOA costumes! And if you want to get into a Halloween mood check out TopEight.com's 8 Scariest Movies of All-Time or read up on some ghost stories at Ghost to Ghost.

Okay, as far as what will be open, the attraction listings only had two closures two years ago -- Pteranadon Flyers and Triceratops Encounter. With Universal Studios Florida in the mix, there may be a few more closures but all of the major attractions will be running alongside the various haunted house mazes scattered through the park.

One question that is all too common with families is whether young children should attend. Let's be frank. This isn't some low-tech puppet on a string or a scare actor with a sheet on yelling "Boo!" This is the real deal in terms of shock value. It's all make-believe, but will your child be strong enough to laugh off the fake gore and spooks at every corner? Many children can, but you know your own children the best.

As for getting ready for the big event, horror and Islands of Adventure already have a place in movie history. It was The Incredible Hulk roller coaster that served as the opening scare sequence in House on Haunted Hill. The segment was filmed just as the park was set to open back in 1999 and, heck, the DVD is now on sale at Amazon, so it's worth picking one up just to get in the right IOA fright mode!

Since this is an all-night affair, one big tip is to consider staying at one of the park's three on-site resorts. From the Italian elegance of the Portofino Bay Hotel to the hip style of the Hard Rock Hotel to the value-fueled Polynesian experience at the new Royal Pacific Resort staying within walking distance -- or a short complimentary boat ride -- will be a major benefit when it's time to head out at 2am. Just click on any of the three links to find more about each of the three on-site resorts along with rates and availability.

While the buzz is building on what each maze will include, we will all find out for sure come October. So, share your thoughts and post your HHN reviews on our message board area. Don't worry, we won't spook you there!

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