The field trip allowed students to further explore the horror genre in conjunction with the texts they’ve been reading in class.
Recently, seniors in Mark Nigara and Dee Williams' English Seminar classes on horror took a field trip to Universal Studios to attend the theme park’s Hollywood Horror Nights—an annual experience featuring themed shows, haunted houses and “scare zones.”
The field trip allowed students to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and experiences of a horror scene, building upon the texts they’ve been reading in class, including “Selected Tales” by Edgar Allan Poe, “Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen and “Severance” by Ling Ma.
Below is a reflection from Jamie Schimmer ’24 describing the field trip experience and her takeaways:
My Experiences at Horror Nights by Jamie Schimmer
“Never Go Alone,” the advice from Universal Studios’ Hollywood Horror Nights, is very true. Going to Horror Nights with the Senior English Seminar horror classes was a great experience (even though I get scared so easily). The scariest part of the night was probably the parking lot-like traffic on the way there. Finally, we got there and it was awesome. The second we entered the theme park it was a mad dash to “The Last of Us” haunted house. There was a large group power walking there, but only a small portion of it stayed together. Coming from New York City (when I was younger), this ‘run’ was easy! “The Last of Us” maze was actually a pretty scary start to the night. I expected it to be less scary, like “Chucky” or “Stranger Things” because it was one of the big story mazes. However, it was loud and there were lots of jump scares. Oops. It was still really fun though. After that me and one other person went to “Holidayz in Hell,” which was great. The Easter and Valentine’s Day rooms smelled really nice. Then, we got to Thanksgiving and, no it wasn’t all fun and games (like “The Thanksgiving Play”—as an actor in the upcoming Conservatory production of the show, of course I have to reference that!). That room smelled like rotting turkey, which fit the theme but nevertheless surprised me. Overall, it was a very good theme for a maze. After that, we went to the halfway point meetup for the tram ride. I think it was really nice that everyone got together to do one attraction because everyone was so dispersed the rest of the night. Once we finished that, me and the now-dwindling group of five people went to “Evil Dead Rise” which was a really good one to be with people. I linked arms to form a three-person chain to prevent getting super scared. Still, there were many jump scares but at least the smell was really nice. After that, everything was a long line except “Stranger Things!” I was hoping we would get to do it and, yay, we did! For that one, I braved the monsters and took pictures. I’m so happy we all got to go to this event as a group because it made me connect with people I hadn’t connected with as much before and gave us an experience we could all share—especially the tiredness of an 8:30 a.m. start to school the next day.
This field trip was useful in studying horror as well. I even referenced it in one of my essays. Prior to this, we had learned about the physical reactions to horror and fear versus anxiety, but this gave us a tangible experience we could draw upon to prove what we had been learning to be true. We also could analyze it in relation to different horror mediums. I got really scared at the jump scares, but I don’t get as scared if I watch a horror movie or read a horror story. It’s interesting to think about why that is and to connect it to class. I think it does have to do with the potentiality of it all. When reading a story, we aren’t actually in it so it might not seem as scary. But when people are jumping out at us and screaming, our bodies might not be able to tell it’s not a real threat, so we react by getting scared. As a class we talked about our experiences the next day and it was interesting to hear what everyone else thought about it. Some people got very scared, others not so much. Maybe people who have been exposed to horror more have trained their bodies to differentiate real and potential threats and don’t get scared as easily? That’s something we can discuss in Horror English because it’s a really fun class and I loved going on the field trip. Just remember: Never. Go. Alone.