"Don't open. Dead inside."
Those creepy words were part of what got us hooked on The Walking Dead when the show started its run back in 2010. Now, they're at the beginning of another great journey with the undead: The Walking Dead Attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The quick moving queue line walks you right into the hospital in which Rick Grimes awoke from his coma to find the end of the world. Marching past the iconic chained and painted doors, we make our way out of the hospital and further into the first season of the AMC series.
The next big, iconic moment realized in the attraction is Bicycle Girl. Unfortunately, you can't mercy kill the zombified young lady who is clawing at you from an uncomfortably close distance, but her distraction sets you up for the scare immediately around the corner.
In fact, there are a lot of scares waiting at a lot of corners.
Soon after Bicycle Girl, you find yourself in the prison, a staple of the second and third seasons of The Walking Dead. Fortunately, the Governor doesn't come marching toward you with a tank but the undead flock at you from corners you didn't even know were there. Luckily for you, there are real people standing atop the steps in the prison block who are gunning down the walkers pursuing you. If the sound effects of gun shots aren't enough, them muzzle flashes and aggressive yells from the actors will convince you to start running (straight into another zombie attack).
The most terrifying moment of the experience may not come at the hands of a walker, though. Running around a corner to escape a prison zombie, a man with a rifle is waiting for incoming threats, with the barrel pointed straight at your face, a touch of confusion and haste away from blowing you away.
Throughout the rest of the experience, the darkness of The Walking Dead truly shines. A Del Arno Foods truck packed with walkers and sliced up corpses will creep you out but a sudden bright light and screaming horn will have you jumping out of your skin just before finding the light of day again.
The most resounding message from the ride is clear: If you're one of those people who thought you would be the Rick Grimes of the zombie apocalypse, chances are you will be more of a Bill Murray getting shot in his own personal theater.
That said, another message stands out, shouting that Greg Nicotero and the team at AMC really did pour their stamp onto this walk through attraction. Nicotero, a proud VFX artist, helped design the ride and it couldn't be more apparent. Not only is the scenery at the attraction absolute terrifying eye candy but the zombies which chase you will haunt you into the night.
10 out of 10. Would ride again.
The Walking Dead returns for its seventh season on October 23 at 9 PM ET on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.