Go Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour

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Its Halloween… the day when you are busy shuffling kids from door to door for candy or putting the last minute touches on your costume before you hit the local party, or passing the ‘candy duty’ back and forth between you and your spouse as you watch your favorite tv show, or generally just trying to avoid all the creeps and scares. Maybe a combination?

Or if you are like me, you are unavoidably on the road and looking for a way to get into the spirit or something to sink your teeth into. (see what I did there?).  Luckily, I happen to be in Orlando where you can find all kinds of Halloween theme park treats from family friendly parties to places where you can really get your Halloween on.

This year I’m spending the evening at Universal Studios Orlando, home of the Halloween Horror Nights event that’s in its 26th year.  Running from September thru the first week in November 2016, event goers can experience up to 9 scare houses and select theme park rides that starts at approx 6:30 pm and goes into the early hours of 1 or 2 am depending on the date. This event is so popular that you have to consider purchasing an express pass or an RIP tour if you want to see all the houses in one visit.

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For those who love a scary movie, love the feeling of adrenaline coursing through your veins and giggle with excitement at the thought of a masked stranger chasing you with a chainsaw… this event is for you!

But this post isn’t really about Halloween Horror Nights and those people described above. Its about people like me. But before we go down this rabbit hole, let me explain a bit about my psyche.

I love a great horror flick.  Exorcist, Halloween, Carrie, The Omen,  Scream, Friday the 13th, Jaws (ended my swimming career right there) , etc   You know… all those where you are following the girl who should have known she should have … picked up the gun before walking away, or not tried to escape in the car cause it isn’t going to start, or double checked to be sure the monster was really dead before thinking she was safe, or not gone in there (water, building, fill in the blank) in the first place! And I also like the psychological thrillers… Silence of the Lambs, The Ring, Psycho, The Shining, The Sixth Sense, Saw, etc – Im all in!

However I have learned through the years that when it comes to fight or flight responses…  my fight far outweighs my flight. This makes it even more stressful thinking of the possible innocent person I might accidentally maim if I don’t spot that zombie jumping out at me from the hidden box 10 inches from my nose. While its true the scare-actors aren’t allowed to touch you at all during your visit, no one told my fight instincts and they don’t tend to listen.

This makes it rather tough to truly enjoy the Halloween experience of Halloween Horror Nights and the various scare zones.  Until now.

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This trip I tried the “Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour” that’s offered two times a day on Halloween Horror Nights Event days. For approx $75 per guest you get a 2-2.5 hour tour of up to 15 guests that allows you a peek at 3 house… with the lights on. No scares,  just allows you to wander through three pre-selected houses with a VIP guide who walks you through explaining the story behind each house and the details of the rooms, hallways, and facades. If three houses aren’t enough, you can do morning and afternoon tours as a combination for a discount, and see even more! Even with the lights on, scenes can be a little intense so they recommend no one under the age of 13 go on this particular tour.

The tour starts at a gathering spot where you are divided into your groups and introduced to your guide.

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Then you are led to each house for a walk through. Most of the ones with intellectual property considerations wouldn’t allow us to take pics through the houses, but each person was allowed to have a picture taken in front of some icons for each house we toured.

The outside of the The Exorcist brownstone just before you enter to live the movie.

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The Walking Dead trailer – just as you exit the Walking Dead house

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And the giant American Horror Story poster located backstage right before you enter to experience three of the seasons.  (A FAV of mine!!)

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We walked through one of their original houses with a western theme called Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch.

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One key to the success of the tour is the VIP Guide. Ours was David and he was a wealth of information about the houses, the stories, the movies and pointed out details you will certainly miss in the darkness of the house when its fully operational and might even miss with the lights on. For example, in Ghost Town, there is a desk just inside the entrance with a piece of paper on it next to a wanted poster. On the paper is a list of people … maybe people the sheriff is trying to hunt down?  But the guide explains, the list is actually the names of infamous serial killers like Ted Bundy, Charlie Manson and Eileen Wuornors.

This tour is great for anyone with a love for Halloween and all things scary. It provides the opportunity to see what all the buzz is about by allowing you to view the houses without fear of someone jumping out at you. But its also great for those who many want to try a house when its dark and scare-actors are on the loose, but want to know what to expect before trying the experience. Unmasking the fear a little so you may be able to enjoy it a bit more when you do venture in at full-scare. Its also great for the super fan.  The person who wants to know exactly how the sausage is made, the story behind the story and the Easter eggs and hidden gems that you will never see when the lights are off an you are watching for the next monster around the corner.

What kind of Halloween person are you? Will you do Halloween Horror Nights or no? Do you have scary movies queued up on your DVR or no?

Either way..  I hope to see you on one of the Unmasked Tours!

Happy Halloween!

Beci Mahnken is Chief Magic Maker at MEI-Travel & Mouse Fan Travel. With over 16 years in the travel biz, she is a frequent guest on many travel and Disney community podcasts including WDW Radio, Mousetalgia & Mickey Miles & More. She was also recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine as the Super A-List Agent for Disney travel. Beci has long worked with the Disney fan community to help support fan efforts and create high profile events and has a passion for supporting deserving charities with a special emphasis on animal welfare efforts. Beci's dedicated to her craft of sharing the magic of travel with anyone who will listen.

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