I'm a huge fan of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida, and I visit on almost every night of the event. That gives me a chance to see how the houses develop over the course of the multi-week run.
This year I've been surprised at how much my rankings have changed over the course of the season. Two houses in particular are noteworthy for winning me over:
1) Resident Evil: I tend to like the sound stage houses for their set design, but even a well-put-together haunt won't win me over unless it has the scares, too. I wasn't overly impressed with Resident Evil in the first weeks, even though I marveled at the detail of each room. Then, I realized that I was getting some great walk-throughs and that they were happening more frequently. I've gone from being neutral about this house to looking forward to it every night I visit.
2) Afterlife: This is the obligatory 3D house, and early in the year I felt that it couldn't compare to previous gems like The In Between. My biggest disappointment was the end, which consists of the spinning tunnel that you find in a house every year, and then a long ramp in a room with no theming or scares that leads you to the exit. I like houses with strong final scares, not a big "meh." But over time I've had some good walk-throughs with jump scares that make me feel more kindly toward this house. It's still much too short, and it needs an in-your-face finale, but now they're packing a lot of energy into the limited scare opportunities.
While these two houses have moved up on my list, three of the haunted houses have been amazingly consistent from day one until now, and hopefully they'll stay that way through November 2. Jump to this article to see those houses.