Coming soon to Universal Studios Hollywood is an intense, cutting-edge, immersive experience based on AMC’s top rated show The Walking Dead. On Thursday, Universal held auditions for the “walkers” of the attraction, part of the total 100 person cast they have cast a wide net to find.
However, the journey didn’t begin here.
“We’ve been working on this attraction for over two years,” says John Murdy, Univesal’s Creative Director who has been deeply involved in this project. “There were twelve iterations before we finally selected what is the final design,” he said. What will be an authentic, real-life interpretation of the show, much like the several-year maze theme predecessors of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, the Universal creative team partnered with The Walking Dead’s creative team headed by visionary executive producer and director, Greg Nicotero and his special effects company KNB Efx.
Utilizing the expertise of Nicotero and his team’s masterful creation of the show’s realistic decaying walkers, Universal used original molds and prosthetics to painstakingly recreate the walkers from the TV series in combination with sophisticated animatronic walkers. Fans can look forward to some of the iconic, frightening walker characters which will be revealed when the attraction opens.
Park goers can also look forward to iconic props, live scare actors portraying not only a few walkers, but also some of the equally dangerous humans who have caused problems for Rick and his crew in the TV show. Fans will have a chance to walk in Rick’s footsteps from the very beginning with many surprises along the way. “When we were bringing the attraction into concept,” said Murdy, “we knew we had to start at the hospital. That’s really the beginning of Rick’s journey and that’s where we knew we had to begin the experience.”
Potential scare actors lined up within the Universal gates and after they were numbered, were brought into groups to provide an expert panel of judges with a group as well as an individual performance. Auditioners were asked to become a “horde” of walkers and provided a soundtrack of music and walker growls straight from the highly-rated series, they contorted their bodies and transformed themselves into the flesh-craving zombies stomping into AMC’s prime-time.
After their group performance they were lined up and instructed one by one to “scare the chair” which was in lieu of an actual park guest. Although they were not allowed to touch the chair in any way (part of the park rules to protect both scare actors and guests), each potential future walker tried their hardest to fulfill the role and join the 100 individuals who would be cast for the exciting new horror experience.
The Walking Dead attraction will be located within an entirely new, custom-built structure, situated just inside the theme park’s main entry. Although many Universal Studio Hollywood’s horror fans still feel the pangs of sorrow after the closure of House of Horrors a few years prior, they will surely be pleased to see a high-caliber horror attraction return to the place where horror was made history.
Fans can look forward to the new attraction opening in Summer 2016. We will be sure to keep our readers updated and check back soon for a video interview with Creative Director John Murdy, and some footage of actors and actresses giving it their all.
For more information visit the Universal Studios Hollywood website.