New terrors and twists as Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights turns 20

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Halloween Horror Nights XX -- Fear

Fear, the icon for the 20th edition of Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.

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A burned-out orphanage is the setting for the Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes. The person responsible is Cindy, who fans have latched onto through previous Horror Nights, but she's never had a starring role.

Braillard provides this back story for Cindy: "She has taken under her wing all of the orphans, and they're not going to take it anymore. So therefore they decide to burn it to the ground and go after any guests that may try to enter their domain."

Must be insane

It's the fourth installment of the "Psychoscarepy" brand at Horror Nights. This year, the story takes place 15 years after asylum closed, but criminally insane souls abound still. (The cells were spooky even in daylight.)

HHN fans are familiar with this scene, but Psychoscarepy: Echoes of Shadybrook will be a throwback. Braillard says it has been carrying the "I'm going to laugh as hard as I scream" reputation.

"That's not what it's going to be this year," he says. "This year it goes back to its roots where it's going to be a terrifying house."

Cold storage

The Horror Nights: The Hallow'd Past house plays off the idea that Universal has a museum-quality warehouse devoted to its Horror Nights paraphernalia. (Fun fact: It doesn't.)

"We wanted to take our favorite rooms from the last two decades and put them in an experience for our guests," says show director Mike Aiello. "You could literally walk through this house 10 times with no scare actors in it at all and you would see something different in every single time."

Universal expects the house to get repeated visits from hard-core HHN fans.

Look for banners, favorite set pieces and icons stacked high as if in a Sam's Club. (And "maximum carnage," Aiello says.)

Halloween Horror Nights

What: Intense Halloween event featuring eight haunted houses, six "scare zones," shows by illusionist Brian Brushwood and "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure"

Where: Universal Studios, Interstate 4 and Kirkman Road, Orlando

When: 6:30 p.m., Sept. 24, 25, 30; Oct. 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 20-24, 27-31

Cost: Admission varies with day and frequency and ranges from $39.99 to $239.98

Call: 407-363-8000

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