Universal Orlando Woos Horror Fans With The Cabin in the Woods Tie-In

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It’s not a collapsible bong coffee thermos, but for fans it may be the next best thing. Cult hit “horror” film The Cabin in the Woods is set to become a real-life experience, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

At Universal Orlando, a Cabin in the Woods haunted house was just announced for the 23rd annual Halloween Horror Nights lineup of haunted houses, which will be open to park visitors from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2nd.

The creepy attraction—based on the Lionsgate (not Universal) movie—joins a long line of branded entertainment popping up at theme parks. Along with the hugely successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter park, branded attractions include the Macy’s Holiday Parade, Transformers: The Ride 3D, The Simpsons Ride, Shrek 4D, Men in Black Alien Attack, Terminator 2: 3D, ET Adventure, Curious George Goes to Town, and Twister… Ride It Out..[more]

It’s been years now since Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film series revived the dying ride that inspired the billion-dollar franchise. Now the flow has reversed and it seems almost any franchise or brand that becomes remotely popular is vetted for possibility as a real-life tourist attraction.

Are these extensions popular? Universal’s website suggests you purchase two-day park tickets “due to the popularity of our new attractions like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” Translation: There are very long lines, but then again, there are always lines at theme parks (which is why Disney, for example, is testing digital wristbands and fighting line-cutting scams.)

It’s not just Americans clamoring for branded entertainment at their theme parks. To add an east coast location to its California destination, a new Legoland Florida park (opening July 3 in a 150-acre spot in Winter Haven) brings the Legoland global empire to six, including parks in England, Germany, Malaysia and, of course, Denmark.

Legoland and Disney aren’t the only international brand experience heavyweights though. In addition to a park in its home nation of Finland, Rovio has Angry Birds parks in Nottinghamshire, England with plans to open another 150,000 square foot park there in Yorkshire.

That will match “several” Angry Birds parks planned for China (which is also expecting the world’s largest Disneyland in Shanghai in 2015), all of which will potentially be dwarfed by a park in either Jordan, Qatar or the UAE. And don’t forget Sanrio’s Japanese destination for Hello Kitty and her friends, with a Sanriotown featuring four attractions opening July 20th.

Meanwhile, Disney has also added to its offerings. Cars Land at Disney California Adventure recently opened, bringing the world of Radiator Springs to life.

As an adult extension, The Cabin in the Woods is part of a new trend to give mom and dad the childhood theme park experience using adult material. At Universal alone, the Cabin experience will be alongside Fear Factor Live, Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Review and for the AARP set, Lucille Ball: A Tribute.

These theme park extensions are just the high profile tip of the experience iceberg. Any brand with any kind of history is—or should be—exploring the possibility of creating an experience. Breweries have done this exceptionally for years, as has Hershey’s. But other brands are getting into the game, from Harley-Davidson to pro-sports teams like the Green Bay Packers which renovated legendary Lambeau Field into a year-round tourist destination. A brand needn’t be glamorous to get in the game; if Greyhound Bus can create a museum experience, anyone can.

Below, the comedy wags at Upright Citizens Brigade spoof Brooklyn hipsters with “Brookland: America’s Hippest Theme Park.”

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