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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY TIFFANY TOWNSLEY, Palm Harbor University High
Halloween Horror Nights vs. Me. Howl-O-Scream’s older brother, the big boss, the real nightmare on Elm Street, against a second-rate horror attraction novice. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of surviving my first trip to HHN at Universal Orlando.
Or as my friend comfortingly put it: Dude, you’re zombie chow.
Except, it was worse. I wasn’t going to be just any zombie’s chow, I was going to be Walking Dead chow.
We headed for the deadlands, designed by the producers of AMC’s hit show. Word to the wise: If you want to avoid being lost, pick up a map first.
We passed through packed streets, zombies ambling by in their torn, blood splattered clothes and ripped flesh, lurching after human snacks while undead nurses sold blood packets at the corners. Grim Reapers, all dressed in variations of the original cloak and hood, opened their jaws in silent screams as their red eyes lit up the fog.
All these scare-actors shared the same simple tactic: Sneak up right behind me, breath down my neck, snicker as I scream in bloody terror, then flee.
Haunted houses both new and old line the way to the AMC’s the Walking Dead: Dead Inside. Some of the new haunted houses are Penn & Teller, Newkd Las Vegas, a nuked gambling wasteland with high radioactivity; Welcome to Silent Hill — hell incarnate — with special guest: Pyramid Head; Alice Cooper, Welcome to My Nightmare, which tests your sanity as you enter the warped mind of Alice Cooper and his twisted tormentors, and, of course, the Walking Dead. Veteran haunted houses are Gothic, Universal’s House of Horrors and Dead End. I do suggest keeping an eye on the corners.
Another word to the wise: Make sure to have your iPhone, iPod or a book, and some comfortable shoes, for those very long lines. The shortest wait time is likely to be 30 minutes, but for some houses (like the Walking Dead) it can be 75 minutes or more. There are no benches to give your aching feet a rest, but there are pizza and hotdog stands.
But there are plenty of street experiences to, well, experience along the way. Scare-actors lurk about, and shows such as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure and 20 Penny Circus, Fully Exposed, will keep you on your toes. Be careful of vengeful chain saw wielding prisoners, and look out for a woman caged in a glass coffin filled with live rats.
Finally we reached Walking Dead: Dead Inside. It was worth the wait. The house follows significant settings from the first season of the show, such as the destroyed hospital and the RV. Scenes are realistically scary, and provided the best hiding spots for the scare-actors. The decor, sound track and lighting helped increase the suspense, as well as a few other sneaky tricks that will catch you off guard such as the spray of water that feels exactly like blood.
If you manage to survive all the zombies, demented patients, undead ghouls, Pyramid Head and long lines, you deserve a survivalist star.
I, on the other hand, was zombie chow. The scare-actors did a wonderful job scaring 10 years off my life, the eerie music and lighting increased my tension to record levels. These folks are terrifying professionals.
It was even worth having zombies breathe down my neck.
IF YOU GO
Admission: Go to halloweenhorrornights.com, click on tickets and packaging for Florida residents. Prices vary according to day of event, from $41.99 to $88.99. Save up to 50 percent on ticket prices by purchasing specifically marked Coca-Cola products and cups from participating Burger King restaurants.
Check online for upgrades and more special offers on Florida resident tickets. Halloween Horror Nights starts at 6:30 p.m. with ending times varying from midnight to 2 a.m. depending on date.