The original Stranger Things maze from last year's Halloween Horror Nights was a break out attraction. It arrived after Season 2 had already debuted on Netflix, but it was firmly based in the show's first episodes, bringing back familiar scenes, characters and ideas. This year, Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood have decided to resurrect the maze for a second time. But this version is all-new and very different from that first go around. So what are we getting this time? And is it better than the standout maze from 2018?
That perhaps is all a matter of opinion. The original Stranger Things maze utilized elements of the long-closed E.T. attraction, and allowed guests to entire a forest environment like we see in the show. Revamping parts of the E.T. ride made sense, as the show often nods to the iconic Steve Spielberg sci-fi family adventure, sometimes even paying direct homage. The entire maze has changed locations this time out, though, and now the Us maze, based on Jordan Peele's horror hit from earlier this year, is utilizing the E.T. forest to showcase the Tethered.
With the first Stranger Things maze, guests entered the Hawkins forest, where they were greeted with an electrified fence, and terrorized by the Demogorgon, who liked to jump out from behind trees. This led directly to the Byers house, recreated with the Christmas Light ouija board, and another Demogorgon threatening to burst from the wall. As you made your way through the house, you eventually came face to face with Joyce Byers, wielding in axe to fight the monster, screaming for Will at the top of her lungs.
Fans got to visit the shed where Will was abducted, which had since been taken over by another Demogorgon. Dustin could be found hiding behind a tree. And this all eventually led to Castle Byers. This trek through the woods quickly turned into the Upside Down, where Nancy was found trying to navigate her way out with a flashlight.
Further inside, an abandoned Hawkins Power and Light van was waiting. Eventually, you were led into the Hawkins Lab, where Jim Hopper provided a nice jump scare. He's a friend, though, and quickly urged guests to run through the lab, to save their lives. Doctor Brenner is also inside the Lab, marveling at the evil he has brought into our world.
Halloween Horror Nights maze goers are then allowed to go through the Upside Down portal in the Lab, where they see Barb's dead body, along with a frail, weak, pale white Will. From there, the maze took guests directly into Hawkins Middle School, were they got to walk the hallways, eventually leading to the classroom confrontation between Eleven and the Demogorgon.
This first maze made perfect use of the show, and actually tells the story of the first season in perfect little chunks. All the iconic moments and characters are utilized. And it was the perfect immersive experience for fans of the hit Netflix series. The new maze turns that on its ear, and depending on your tastes, they accomplish there goal a little differently this second time around.
The first maze is planted squarely in that first season. The new maze utilizes scenes and moments from the second season. But there aren't as many sets and locations, or even characters utilized this time around. The Strange Things Season 2 maze takes place primarily inside the Hawkins Lab. The one thing it has in common with the original is that there are plenty of Demogorgons jumping out of holes.
The maze kicks off in the Byers household, bringing fans into the bathroom, where they are greeted by Will puking slugs into the sink. We do get to see the big maze he drew, decorating the walls of the hallway, leading into the living room. Will stands at the front door, staring at the Mind Flayer.
The maze is very Will centric, which is good for the character since he was mostly absent from the first season. We see him outside on the porch, fighting the Mind Flayer in smoke form. From there, guests are led into the contaminated pumpkin patch, which is swarming with team members from Hawkins Lab. Then the path descends into the tunnels, where Joyce is trapped, screaming for Hopper. Too bad, Hopper himself is wrapped up in some deadly vines.
Men in containment suits and Demogorgons provide the most jump scares. The tunnels go on for quite some time, eventually leading into Hawkins Lab. Bob Newby can be spotted getting eaten by a couple of Demodogs. The last half of the maze includes a scene from Stranger Things season three, where the kids are attacked by the Flayed, with its vine like arms crashing through the walls, attempting to eat your eyeballs out.
There is no Palace Arcade, there is no Starcourt Mall. With the exception of one scene, most of Season 3 is ignored. We don't see any of the kids this time around. Eleven doesn't even make an appearance. If this is your first time visiting Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, you'll probably be pleasantly pleased with what you come in contact with here. Though it doesn't quite match the intensity and scares from that first go around. If you came to encounter a Demogorgon, you won't be disappointed.
With so many great new mazes this year, including Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Creepshow and Ghostbusters, this version of the Stranger Things maze gets a little left in the dust. It's not a complete disappointment. But the second maze, much like the second season, is a slight let down. As this maze includes Stranger Things Season 3, albeit very briefly, it'll be interesting to see what they have in store for next year.