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Photos: Inside Universal Studios' New 'Walking Dead' Attraction
Universal Studios Hollywood gave us a sneak peek of their new permanent Walking Dead attraction, set to open to the public July 4.
The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are two dramas loved by millions, even though everyone you grow to love will probably die horribly. While the zombie franchise has had a home at Universal for Halloween Horror Nights for the past several Octobers, this new attraction, crafted by Walking Dead exec producer Greg Nicotero and his team at KNB Efx, will be the first time park guests can experience the terror year-round and during the day.
(Editors' note: Mild Walking Dead spoilers ahead)
You'll find the attraction in the park's upper lot. The entrance has been surrounded by spikes, the kind that loner Morgan erected around his one-time fortress. But, you can also grab a coffee and a cinnamon roll nearby, so it doesn't feel too end of the world.
Nicotero spoke before the opening of the attraction, noting that many of the effects used in the AMC show were also incorporated into the haunt.
"This is a great opportunity for them to walk in the footsteps that Rick has walked in, that Daryl has walked in, by entering this attraction and getting a little bit of the greatest hits of what we've done over the last six years," he said.
And, of course, just as we were about to go in, current show villains The Saviors showed up and demanded we give our cameras and phones to Negan, their treacherous leader. This particular group's ringleader was equipped with Negan's trademark bat Lucille, though spouted many of the same lines we heard uttered to heroes Sasha, Abraham and Daryl by one of his men in the season 6 mid-season premiere. Later, he armed himself with a sword he must have stolen from fan favorite badass Michonne. The Saviors also brought out a chain of walkers as well as a rampaging walker horde. We were saved by Universal's quick-thinking security guards, who closed a conveniently-located chainlink fence. While the walkers pawed and clawed at the fence, we dared to go inside the attraction.
The queue area, where are you sure to wait for quite a bit once the maze is up and running, is the dimly lit and post-apocalyptic Harrison Memorial Hospital in Atlanta where our hero, Rick Grimes, first awakens from a coma to realize everything's gone to shit. You first pass a pile of bodies and an ominous message reading, 'Wolves not far,' before entering the pleasantly air-conditioned hospital. The lights flicker, a speaker plays lines from the show about the battle between the living and the dead, and an ominous whistling signals that The Saviors are not far off. There's plenty to look at, including the iconic 'Don't Open, Dead Inside' door, complete with encroaching hands.
Once inside, the attraction is a well-crafted, meticulously-detailed dark maze, full of hiding places for creeping walkers to lurch out at you. Fans will recognize a cabin where two beloved characters locate the good kind of moonshine, as well as the West Georgia Correctional Facility, and the Del Arno Foods warehouse. Animatronics, projections and real-life actors merge to create a fully immersive and visually spectacular scene. The whole thing only takes a few minutes to traverse, but if you splurge for the front-of-the-line pass, it might be worth it to go through again and hunt for easter eggs, such as Carl Grime's giant tub of pudding or a particularly memorable walker from Season One.