For the second consecutive year, Universal Studios Japan will be adding a unique dining option found only at the Halloween Horror Nights in Osaka this fall. The Dark Restaurant will deliver guests into a terror-filled, yet delicious meal filled with surprises throughout.
As the story goes, a once world-renowned chef has risen from the grave and is back as a zombie. Instead of eating brains, he’s decided to do what he does best: cook for guests at Universal Studios Japan. Depending on your origin story of choice, zombies often don’t care for daylight. Thus, in this case, he has hired an entire wait staff of the undead and they must work in conditions of… you guessed it… pitch black darkness.
I am not talking dimly lit; these conditions are “can’t see the hand in front of your face darkness.” In reality, the staff uses night vision goggles to bring food and drinks to your table, as well as provide some unique scare opportunities. This also means guests have no idea what kind of food is placed in front of them. To make it even more awkward, the Japanese guests are not given chopsticks. I have a hard enough time using them in normal lighting conditions, personally. Instead, they are forced to eat with their fingers, a habit not found too often in Japan.
Last year’s food ranged from roast beef to fruit salad, with a grapefruit jelly and shortcake for dessert. This clearly is messy food designed to mess with your head. However, diners do not know what the meal will be in advance. The Dark Restaurant warns patrons in advance that if you have a food allergy, this is not the experience for you.
In addition, the wait staff will taunt the guests with slight touches to the arms and shoulders. Perhaps they feel a spider on their arm or ants running across their legs. Guests are told from the beginning that they must remain seated throughout the experience. This brings several screams from patrons, particularly females, from out of the darkness heightening the fear even more.
After spending roughly 45 minutes in The Dark Restaurant, patrons are handed a card with a QR code on it so they can scan it to find out what they just ate. Seriously, they don’t even tell you while you are in there. It becomes somewhat of a guessing game.
Granted, Dining in the Dark has been around in the United States for several years. It’s often times a way for guests to simulate what the blind must feel when they are dining so you can’t “eat with your eyes.” However, this new experience at Universal Studios Japan adds a new twist on a Halloween event that I haven’t heard about anywhere else in the world. Would you be willing to try this if they added it to a Halloween Horror Nights event in the States?