Spoilers for the Stranger Things 4 haunted house at Universal Studios' Hollywood Horror Nights 2023. So proceed with caution.
Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights events are in full swing on both coasts, and the Stranger Things 4 house is rightfully one of the most popular houses of the night. That's not surprising considering it's been years since a location based on the hit Netflix show made an appearance at the park. That's because the last one planned was canceled due to COVID-19 in 2020. Considering I'm avid fan myself of the show myself, the attraction was on the top of my list during my visit to the theme park, and I'm happy to report that it ranks high amongst Universal Hollywood's other Halloween offerings, but it's not perfect.
I was lucky enough to go through the house twice, which gave me ample opportunities to soak up every detail it had to offer. While I definitely think it's worth the scary wait times it's currently boasting, it's not without its faults. In true ST fashion, the experience is perfectly imperfect.
The Stranger Things 4 House Brings Some Great Scenes From Season 4 To Life
While Stranger Things is featured at both Horror Nights, the experiences in the two locations slightly differ. Unfortunately, I can’t speak on the one that's part of Universal Orlando's spooky offerings, but the one in Hollywood does a good job of utilizing the space it was allotted. The first segment of the attraction kicks off where the first episode of Season 4 ends, with guests witnessing Chrissy Cunningham’s death alongside a screaming Eddie Munson. And yes, the internet-famous “Chrissy Wake Up” moment (which was a surreal part of actor Joseph Quinn's experience on the show) is featured.
As you continue to move through the place, you’re haunted by Vecnas left and right. Fans step into several iconic scenes, including Nancy getting tortured in her vision with the mutated human and a brief scene in the Upside Down trailer park where a demobat attacks Eddie while Dustin watches.
The real show-stoppers, though, are the rainbow room, where Eleven sends Henry into the Upside Down for the first time. There's also a callback to the finale, which has guests wading through the dismembered Creel House where Vecna keeps his victims.
I definitely found myself screaming in terror and joy as I walked through. The scare actors were great, and the added effect of the show’s actors lending their voices to the house definitely made it feel all the more real. It was hard not getting emotional hearing Eddie Munson again.
So What Exactly Could've Been Handled Better?
Hopefully, this isn’t a precursor to what’s to come when the final season goes into production, but I found the conclusion of the Hollywood house to be underwhelming. The final room is the aforementioned Upside Down Creel house, which is an incredible set piece but leaves little resolution. After all, fans of the series, like myself, know Vecna is not totally defeated by El by this point. It feels like a wasted opportunity not to have one more jump scare from the villain as parkgoers exit the house.
I was also slightly disappointed that Kate Bush’s iconic “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” wasn’t featured at any time. I understand the impossible feat of bringing that stunning scene in which it was featured to life on a small scale. But at the very least, the song could've been playing in some portion of the location for dramatic effect.
Perhaps my biggest complaint, though, is that some other fan-favorite scenes were left out. While the room dedicated to Fred's Vecna vision in the woods was cool and made for a great character interaction, I would've preferred the space be used for another moment. Perhaps Eddie’s torn-apart trailer with the gaping hole or the iconic “Master of Puppets” scene would've been better. The same is true for the small hallway dedicated to the desert where the lab was hidden. I can think of at least three sequences that would've been so much more impactful there.
I’d be remiss not to also bring up the lack of love for the California Crew. After all, the series begins and presumably will end with Will Byers, yet he wasn’t featured even once in the entirety of the location. That definitely seemed like a missed opportunity.
Despite its flaws, the Stranger Things house at Universal Studios Hollywood definitely delivered on its promise of bringing Season 4 to life. It also was the perfect fix for my ST-obsessed heart, as I await for the delayed Season 5 (which we know a little about at this point).