“The Walking Dead” celebrated its fifth season with a sprawling soiree at Universal Studios on Oct. 2, kicking off with a packed premiere screening at the AMC Universal Citywalk theater before utilizing the theme park’s eerie Halloween Horror Nights maze as a backdrop for its annual celebration.
Universal’s London Square was transformed into Terminus, the train station sanctuary that proved to be far less welcoming than the show’s survivors were expecting at the end of last season. Guests were required to walk through a foggy, zombie-infested courtyard before reaching the safety of the party, where they could steel themselves with themed tequila cocktails and small bites before entering the “Walking Dead” maze.
Cast members mingled with partygoers throughout the night, many even braving the maze despite having to deal with zombies on a daily basis on the show’s Atlanta set; star Norman Reedus was spotted taking photos with throngs of admiring fans after exiting the labyrinthine mock-up of the show’s prison.
“There’s so much going on and we come out of the gate real strong,” Reedus told Variety of the new season on the premiere’s red carpet. “Everybody’s so different now than when we started on the show, there’s a lot of people that have proven themselves, some who haven’t — there’s a lot going on.”
Executive producer Gale Anne Hurd agreed, “There will be blood. There will be some tears, there will be some cheers, and people will be on the edge of their seats for a lot of this episode.” For Hurd, the main difference between last season’s opener and this one is that “Rick Grimes has embraced his leadership. We left last season looking like they were in an impossible situation, but we believed him when he said they were screwing with the wrong people. There’s strength in numbers and they have complete belief in each other and now in themselves.”
While the inhabitants of Terminus weren’t quite as hospitable as fans may have been hoping at the end of last season, Hurd cautioned that appearances can be deceiving, and that every character can have a believable motivation. “It’s absolutely essential to understand that all characters are different shades of gray, they’re not just black and white and the villain with the [twirling] mustache. People have been affected by what they’ve experienced — some have been able to maintain their humanity, and others embrace the dark side.”
“The Walking Dead” season five premieres Sunday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. on AMC.