Halloween Horror Nights: killers, ghouls and one very scary little girl

the-exorcist
The face of ‘The Exorcist’s little possessed girl Regan (Linda Blair). who haunted my dreams for years as a kid. (Photo courtesy of Universal Orlando Resort.)

ORLANDO — When the leaves turn brown and begin to fall, when the weather starts getting a tad nippier at night, when the NFL season is in full swing, that only means one thing….it’s time to get the living heck scared out of you at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.

Yes, the 26th annual frightfest returns Friday, running on select nights through Oct. 31 with nine haunted houses, including those featuring Leatherface, the chainsaw-loving homicidal maniac from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre;” Michael Myers, the knife-wielding, slow-walking killer from, oh, 68 “Halloween”  films; the bloodthirsty zombies from AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and, the one I’m looking forward to most, the pea soup-spewing, head-spinning demonic little girl from “The Exorcist” – still the scariest movie ever made.

If that’s not enough, look for more chills and thrills inside “American Horror Story,” FX’s wildly popular anthology, but ridiculously violent, series and “Krampus,” a horned creature who punishes children at Christmastime. Gives new meaning to the “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” lyrics, “You better watch out/You better not cry/You better not pout/I’m telling you why,” doesn’t it?

Also look for five scare zones and two live shows.

Anyone who really knows me, knows Halloween Horror Nights is one of my favorite events of the year. I moved to Florida from New York in 1996 with my family and I’ve been to every HHN since.

What I looked like before venturing inside Michael Myers' house at Halloween Horror Nights two years ago.
What I looked like before venturing inside Michael Myers’ house at Halloween Horror Nights two years ago.

Two years ago was one of my favorites as I stood toe-to-toe with Michael Myers, wondering if I was going to make it out of his Haddonfield, Ill., house alive. OK, so I wasn’t really wondering that since this is all make-believe stuff, but, hey, work with me here.

This year, I’m psyched about “The Exorcist,” a movie that haunted my dreams for months after seeing it as an 11-year-old kid when the film premiered in 1973. I wasn’t alone. Moviegoers were reported fainting in theaters. I wasn’t that bad. I just covered my eyes a lot. If I had another set of hands, I would’ve covered my ears while little girl Regan (Linda Blair) was speaking in tongues. I still haven’t forgiven my mom for taking me.

Anyway, I’m 54 now. Way past the childhood trauma of watching a little girl’s head spin 360 degrees while she’s saying the kind of naughty things no little girl has any business saying.

At least, I hope I’m past that trauma. I’ve seen the film several times since 1973 and usually rent it around Halloween as part of my own personal “Horrorfest” movie marathon I host at home. But watching a film and seeing a possessed little girl whose voice is deeper than mine in person are two different things.

Look for an upcoming blog on my reaction to little girl Regan’s evil antics in the coming weeks.

For more ghoulish information on HHN, click here….if you dare! (Cue sinister laugh)

 

 

Which Florida beaches made Southern Living’s best beaches list?

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Southern Living magazine combed 2,000 miles of coastline to find the Best Beaches in the South.

None in Palm Beach County made the list but six spots along the Florida coast did, including Bahia Honda State Park in the Keys, Caladesi Island north of Clearwater on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples, Shell Island near Panama City in the Panhandle, South Walton Beach and St. Augustine.

Related: Best beaches in Palm Beach County

 

Which Palm Beach County festival is among state’s best for food lovers?

Garlic heads rejoice every February when Garlic Fest returns to Delray Beach (Bill Ingram/Post photo)
Garlic heads rejoice every February when Garlic Fest returns to Delray Beach (Bill Ingram/Post photo)

Garlic Fest, the February weekend devoted to the stinking rose, is the 9th best food festival in Florida, declares the website onlyinyourstate.com.

The list includes 14 festivals devoted to an only-in-the Sunshine-State mix of fare that includes Fellesmere’s Frog Leg Festival, Niceville’s Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival, the Kumquat Fest in Dade City and Labelle’s Swamp Cabbage Festival.

Most are held in the winter, but there’s still time to take in two this spring and summer:  The Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival will be held April 29-May 1 in Fernandina Beach near Jacksonville and Key West’s Lobsterfest is August 11 – 14.

 

Florida’s best waterfront bar? It’s here in Palm Beach County

Guanabana's in Jupiter has earned another top honor. (Post file photo)
Guanabanas in Jupiter has earned another top honor.
(Post file photo)

It comes as no surprise to us locals but it’s still nice to be validated.

Guanabanas, Jupiter’s wildly-popular bar and restaurant tucked into a tropical rain forest, has been named Florida’s top waterfront bar by a website called Onlyinyourstate.com.

One of Guanabanas thatched roofs was built around existing trees. (Post file photo)

Citing Guanabanas lush landscaping, laid-back attitude, seafood-centric menu and live music, the website says the tiki-themed outdoor restaurant is “a taste of paradise.”

But we already knew that.

As our tourist season winds down, it’s also far easier to get a table this time of year.

Read:  More of our top picks for waterfront dining in Palm Beach County.

 

 

 

Which Florida beach was voted one of the most breathtaking in the country?

photo siesta key beach
Siesta Key near Sarasota, named the one of the most beautiful beaches by Trip Advisor.

Honored by having ‘the softest sand known to man’, Siesta Key Public Beach has made TripAdvisor’s list of ’10 most breathtaking beaches’ in the country.

It’s no wonder this beach made the list. The fine white sand is made of 99 percent pure quartz and it feels and looks almost like flour. The sheer width of the beach is breathtaking.

For beautiful beaches in South Florida, check out our guide to the best beaches in Palm Beach County.

Which Florida hotel is among the “most stylish new hotels in the South?”

In addition to service and luxury, a great hotel offers an immediate sense of place.  Could The Breakers be anywhere other than in Palm Beach?

Garden & Gun magazine, that beautiful monthly chronicle of what’s new and cool in the The South has come out with a list of new Southern (and OK, Caribbean) hotels that are as stylish as they are dazzling reflections of their locations.

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Making the list is The Thompson, a new hotel on the once-again-fashionable northern end of Miami Beach. The retro beach chic look of the pet-friendly hotel is meant to remind us of the ’50’s, when the neighborhood was the the hang-out of the Rat Pack. There’s even a Carmen Miranda suite.  Michelle Bernstein, the former chef at the Omphoy (now Eau Palm Beach) helms the kitchen at the hotel’s Seagrape restaurant.

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Another hotel on the list has a Palm Beach connection, although it’s located a thousand or so miles south.  The Playa Grande Beach Club on the Dominican Republic’s north shore was designed by Celerie Kemble, who grew up in Palm Beach and whose mother, Mimi McMakin, is the founder of Kemble Interiors. Designed in a colonial style with gingerbread fretwork, copper soaking tubs and a soft pastel palette, the nine bungalows were created to look like they’d been around for decades, Kemble has said.

The list includes other new hotels in the Carolinas, Virginia and Savannah.