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Universal Studios turns to folklore to woo Latinos for Halloween

The theme park adds a character based on the Latin American myth of La Llorona, Spanish for 'the Wailer,' to its seasonal cast of ghouls, ax murderers and demented clowns who try to scare visitors.

September 29, 2010|By Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times

This Halloween season, for the first time, Universal Studios Hollywood introduced a character based on the Latin American myth of La Llorona in its annual Halloween Horror Nights in an effort to connect with Southern California's sizable Latino population.

The legend of La Llorona has gone through many variations over the years. It is a folktale about a woman who drowned her children after she was abandoned by their father. Tormented by what she has done, the woman's spirit wanders the earth, crying out for her dead children.

She returned from the dead as La Llorona, Spanish for "the Wailer."

At Universal Studios Hollywood's annual Halloween event, the character of La Llorona, a shriveled woman in a veil, joins bloody ghouls, ax murderers, demented clowns and armed freaks who wander the park and jump out at guests who have entered specially designed mazes at night.

The move makes sense. The Halloween Horror Nights have become a profitable way for Universal Studios to draw guests to the theme park after the traditional summer tourist season is over.

Disneyland in Anaheim and Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia also redecorate their parks and hire actors to draw visitors during the Halloween season.

Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park (known as Knott's Scary Farm during the Halloween season) is believed to be the first theme park in Southern California to give itself a Halloween-themed makeover nearly 30 years ago. The park draws about 15% of its guests during the Halloween season, according to Knott's Berry Farm officials.

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