"The Walking Dead" will no longer exist in a world separate from our own starting later this month. The folks at the two U.S. Universal Studios theme parks have taken it upon themselves to bring the post-zombie apocalypse world of AMC's hit show to life in their Halloween Horror Nights mazes, "The Walking Dead: Dead Alive." Don't expect an appearance from Rick, Daryl or Glenn here, though -- this time, we're the survivors.
MTV News had the chance to visit the "Walking Dead" inspired mazes at Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando last week. Though they're both taken from the same source material, the two Halloween Horror Nights installments will provide different experiences for guests. Here's our detailed rundown of the Universal Hollywood maze, where they've put a lot of effort into recreating Bicycle Girl, the Well Walker and the tank Rick holes up in for your enjoyment.
Warning: several gruesome, NSFW photos lie ahead. It's all make believe, but still, be cautious when proceeding — there's dead inside!
It's worth noting up front that "The Walking Dead: Dead Alive" won't open to the public until September 21 and so it wasn't in its completed form when we got our walkthrough Friday. Universal Hollywood creative director John Murdy and art director Chris Williams were both on hand to bring us through the maze, which features some of the most ambitious scares Hollywood's HHN has ever tried to create. If it looks especially similar to the TV series, it's because Greg Nicotero was on hand to supervise the creation of the maze and also use the same FX molds and sound effects as the ones used in the show.
The maze opens up in the hospital where Rick awakens in the pilot of "The Walking Dead." The set was created to emulate the same post-apocalyptic world that Rick finds himself in, replete with hanging wires and blood smears on the wall. Attendees will even walk by the "Don't open, dead inside" doors that have become one of "The Walking Dead's" most iconic images. Murdy, Williams and their team rigged the doors so that it will seem like walkers are actually trying to break through and get to you. And since this is their version of a haunted house, don't be shocked if an actor dressed as a walker actually does come and scare you while your defenses are down.
From there, guests will be treated to one of the most exciting moments in the maze: the introduction of Bicycle Girl. We don't want to give too much away up front, but Murdy and Williams managed to recreate the scene (this time at night instead of during the day) with surprising accuracy, and will have one of their 40-something actors on hand to bring the fan-favorite zombie to life in a suit designed by Nicotero. "She's literally cut in half," Williams said.
After Bicycle Girl, visitors will come across the "God forgive us" farm house Rick stumbles upon in season one. No expense or gory scene was spared, so you will in fact see a prop of a man who has blown his head open in this room. The farmer's wife will be added to the set when fans get to visit it starting the 21st. "We'll be pumping in the scent of dead bodies as you walk through the scene," Murdy promised.
By then it's time to head to Atlanta. One of Murdy and Williams' crowning achievements was that they managed to create a life-sized tank for one of their Atlanta sets, and even managed to find a prop in Universal storage to make a good recreation of Rick's unfortunate horse. Of course, as Nicotero later told us, they could have just asked him for the actual prop horse used in the show, since he still had it on hand.
Another big moment comes with the deer-eating zombie scene. A lot of effort went into making the deer prop look as authentic as possible, but don't worry, no wildlife were killed in the making of this maze. From there, HHN attendees will walk by the hanging man, a "The Walking Dead" character who had tried to hang himself but ended up turning into a zombie before he kicked the bucket. He'll be hanging along the wall of the maze, along with his suicide poem.
After the hanging man, guests will stumble across a massacre at a campsite. As you can see in the above picture, it's a pretty gory set. And those cans you see hanging there? Try to touch them, and an actor in hiding will yank them to scare the living daylights out of you. Then attendees will head through a tent where they'll find an actor being eaten alive by a walker, and be assaulted by zombies themselves while they watch. Consider yourself warned.
Once out of the tent, fans will finally get to see the Well Walker. Murdy and Williams were able to dig down into Universal Hollywood property so that the actor portraying the zombie will be able to be partially underground during this scene. In its final form, the Universal Hollywood Well Walker should be just as gruesome as the one on the show, replete with intestines spilling out everywhere.
The final set of the maze is, appropriately, Hershel's barn. Hurdy called this scene "an onslaught" as six walkers will bombard guests as they walk through the barn. Don't expect that to be the end, though -- Murdy then promised that there will be a surprise "final final scare" after visitors get out of the barn.
All together, it should take attendees anywhere from eight to 11 minutes to walk through the entire maze.
Halloween Horror Nights kicks off with "Walking Dead: Dead Alive" and other Halloween mazes at Universal Hollywood starting September 21, and runs select nights through October 31.
Do you plan to attend Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights this year? Are you glad they tackled "The Walking Dead"? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!