'The Handmaid's Tale' and every other rumor we've heard about Universal's Halloween Horror Nights 27


  • Photo via HULU
We’re still months away from Halloween, but the rumors of what Universal's Halloween Horror Nights will include are already strong.

Now in its 27th year, the annual Halloween-themed upcharge event at Universal Orlando Resort has become one of the most attended and popular holiday events in the world.

The planning for the haunted houses, known as mazes, begins well over a year in advance with the team, led by Michael Aiello, giving fans numerous hints of what they’re working on throughout the year.

We now have a few confirmed houses for this year and some very strong rumors of what to expect.

On the confirmed side of things we have houses based on American Horror Story, where the focus will be on Seasons 2 ("Asylum"), 3 ("Coven") and 6 ("Roanoke"), and a house based on the Stanley Kubrick film The Shining. Both of those have been rumored for some time.
Image courtesy of Universal
  • Image courtesy of Universal
The strongest rumors point to houses based on the film franchises like Saw, Insidious, The Walking Dead (again) and The Evil Dead. All of those rumors were shared in a post we did just over a month ago.

The Insidious house, while featuring scenes from the 2010 film, may also feature scenes from the hit films Get Out and Sinister. All three of these films are from Blumhouse Productions, who has also produced films like The Purge and Paranormal Activity, both of which have been received well at previous HHN events.

It’s likely that Universal will begin releasing more information on these houses in the coming weeks due in part to the fact that more photos of the construction sites have been posted online recently, though the exact IP of the photos is yet to be confirmed.

Now we're getting new details on the non-IP aspects of this year’s event. The strongest rumors point to a mash-up of two popular houses from previous years: Gothic, a 2012 house featuring gargoyles, and Catacombs, a 2010 house based around the famous underground lair in Paris. Mash-up houses have been used in previous years at HHN, so this wouldn’t be anything unique.

Another non-IP house this year, and one of the only to feature an entirely original concept, would be one based around wicked scarecrows set in the 1930s Dust Bowl. Few specifics are known on this house, with some saying it might be Wizard of Oz-themed while others deny this.

Rumors point to a return of The Bayou of Blood, though this year we’ll likely see a house instead of a scarezone. This HHN 24 scarezone featured a small show where the Voodoo Queen would sacrifice a person in a graphic short show. That show was canceled after only one week due to ISIS videos being released around the same time that featured graphic killings.

The following year Jack the Clown had a show with many graphic and gory scenes including some that simulated a person being tortured and killed via various carnival-style props such as an oversized whack-a-mole game and a big saw similar to a tree grinder.

Few scarezone themes have been leaked or even rumored at this point. Just like the houses, where the IP based ones are leaking much sooner than the original themes, the scarezones are the same way.

Some chatter around the Terra Queen, a lesser-known icon from HHN 15, might point to a new scarezone. In 2005 the Terra Queen had a show in the entrance scarezone. She is usually seen with her interrupter, Eel Mouth.

One odd, albeit quiet, rumor is a scarezone based around the Republic of Gilead, the dystopian future setting for the breakout Hulu hit The Handmaid’s Tale. Hulu, where the show is released, is co-owned by Universal Orlando parent company Comcast. MGM Television, who produces the show, has a long history with Comcast, as well. If the scarezone based around The Handmaid’s Tale is realized, it would be the first time a Hulu original series has been featured at HHN.

Finally, and for many most importantly, HHN often has an icon who essentially is the host of the event. Not all years have an icon, but the last two years the icons have proven very popular. The icon typically has their own scarezone or show where guests can take photos with the icon and is used in most of the marketing for the event. Some years do include multiple icons, with some theorizing we might see an all-female icon list at this year’s event, though that seems highly unlikely.

While yet to be confirmed, this year’s icon is widely believed to be Cindy Caine.

Cindy is the daughter of 2002’s icon, Dr. Albert Caine, better known as The Caretaker. Cindy appeared in a house at HHN 16. She was also the central character in the HHN 20 house The Orphanage: Ashes to Ashes. During the HHN 20 event, Cindy was also seen in one of the scarezone meet-and-greet style areas. Now Cindy, also known as SINdy, is all grown up and is finally able to host her own HHN.

The icon typically gets their own house, with Cindy’s likely to include various throwbacks to her previous houses while developing more of the story around modern-day Cindy, who is rumored to now be able to talk with the spirits and tell the future. Cindy is much less known that the recent icons, such as Jack the Clown and Chance. Cindy was featured in the Legendary Truth: Legions of Horror interactive game at HHN 22 where it was revealed that she was in the same legion as Jack the Clown and the evil doll Chucky.

While Cindy does seem to take after her father, The Caretaker, is many ways it’s unlikely that her house or event will be similar to his. HHN 12 was one of the few that took place at Islands of Adventure, and that hasn’t happened in years.

While much of the talk regarding this year’s HHN is still speculative, there is one that is all but confirmed, and that’s the return of Bill & Ted. Now with Pandora finally open it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll be laughing it (but it probably won’t be the opening before it’s done Volcano Bay).

Halloween Horror Nights 27 runs on select nights between Sept. 15 and Nov. 4.

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