On July 4th, the post-apocalyptic world of AMC’s The Walking Dead will come to life in an all-new year-round attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood. Guests at the park can fight for survival in this fully immersive journey while navigating through a world overrun by hungry Walkers. And as you follow in the footsteps of the human survivors and battle your way through nightmarish iconic landscapes that bring the most popular cable TV show in history to life, be prepared to get scared.
Collider (along with a couple other media outlets) was recently invited to take a behind-the-scenes tour with the attraction’s Creative Director John Murdy, who’s been hard at work on designing the story and effects, as well as training the live performers, all with the input of the show’s executive producer/director Greg Nicotero. During the preview, Murdy talked about the difference between the Halloween Horror Nights mazes and this permanent attraction, the opportunity to explore all of the show’s seasons, the suggested age restriction, Easter eggs, the elaborate special effects, using a combination of live performers and animatronics, and what made a walk-through attraction the best way to have such an immersive experience.
Here’s a list of 25 things that you should know at “The Walking Dead” attraction.
- It speaks to the brand of The Walking Dead that they can even open a permanent attraction like this at Universal Studios. Permanent, walk-through, scary attractions are very rare and unique these days. This type of attraction was popular at Coney Island in the 1920s, but they’ve disappeared over time, as people’s tastes have evolved and changed.
- The new permanent attraction is radically different from the previous Halloween Horror Nights mazes that they’ve done, particularly in the level of special effects. They are in a building that was custom built for the attraction, instead of in a tent, and there are a lot of animatronics, which they can’t do with temporary mazes. There are more than 20 animatronic pieces throughout.
- Show executive producer/director Greg Nicotero has always consulted on the mazes done at Universal Studios, but he was much more heavily involved with this permanent attraction, as part of the creative team. Nicotero and his shop, KNB Effects, helped to create the animatronics in the attraction, with the skins and cores all being done off the molds of the show.
- Instead of just exploring one season of the show, the permanent attraction covers all of the seasons. They went on the fan sites and blogs to read about the fans’ favorite scariest moments and scenes, when figuring out the moments and scenes they wanted to use.
- Universal Studios Hollywood has gone through an epic transformation, over the last three to five years, with over 70% of the park having been changed. One of the aesthetic challenges for the attraction is the contemporary Atlanta architecture of the show, so they had to figure out a way to make the facade co-exist with both the street in the park and the brand itself.