Halloween Horror Nights is the most anticipated event at Universal Studios, and for good reason. Leading the industry in movie making magic, Universal goes all out for this cinematic event. That’s why when I heard that our friends were planning a 30th birthday to check it out- I knew we had to go. However, I wasn’t sold initially. Full disclosure here, I hate scary movies, and have never been a fan of gore. I wasn’t sure this was the event for me but decided to go for it- especially because the tickets were only about $70pp and they allowed us access to the whole park from 6pm-2am. (**some of the attractions are unavailable after normal park hours). So Bruce and I took off early from work, drove down at lunch time and made it there right as our ticket started (6pm).
This isn’t like me, but honestly I had no idea what to expect from this event. I did a little research and knew that there were haunted houses, but I wasn’t even really sure what that meant. My experience with haunted houses stopped at our neighborhood Halloween parties so I didn’t understand that when they said haunted- they really meant haunted. And now we go back every year! This is an overview of the event and our love for it.
The General Layout of Halloween Horror Nights:
The event happens in Universal Studios (not Island of Adventures- except once many years ago) and features 10 haunted houses. The houses are usually a mix of IP (already famous movies/shows) and original houses. Houses have included: Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Yeti Terror of the Yukon, Ghostbusters, Us, Stranger Things, Beetlejuice, Universal Monsters, Bugs Eaten Alive, Dead Man’s Wharf etc. You go through the houses “conga style” (meaning that you go in one long, continuous line) and you might think this kills the scare, but they use the line to their advantage. Beyond setting up a creepy vibe, with lots of stimulus, they also vary up the scares. Right when you think you know where they are going to jump out next, they jump out at the other side or even from above! The lines can get really long, especially towards the middle of the night (I’m talking 2 hours sometimes) so it’s good to come with a game plan or know that you’ll likely get through about half the houses with no plan at all.
There are also themed areas. In general, there are 5 themed areas which they call “Scare Zones”. These have included: Anarch-cade, Zombieland DoubleTap, Vanity Ball, Vikings Undead, Horrors of Halloween, Conjur the Dark, Scarecrow: Cursed Soil and Hellbilly Deluxe (featuring Rob Zombie) to name a few. Inside the Magic has a really great explanation of all of these areas if you want to get a feel for them. In these areas, they had different characters roaming, some of which had performance acts (like acrobatics or fire juggling in Rob Zombie) and some of them who would interact with you (like the Zombieland characters jumping out of you as you walked through the area). These all added to the creepy, jump scare ambiance of the park and really helped set the mood as you wandered in and out of the haunted houses.
Overall, this was the best Halloween event I’ve ever been to. Remember when I said I didn’t like scary movies? Yeah, well I’m doing everything in my power to get back to another Halloween Horror Nights because it was THAT good. The haunted houses are impeccably themed and loaded with unpredictable jump scare moments that get your heart racing but don’t give you nightmares for the next 3 months. I can’t wait for all the announcements every year!
Halloween Horror Night Know Before You Go:
›the lines for some of the more popular houses can get intense (like over a 2 hour wait). If you do too many with 2 hour waits, you’ll waste all your time in lines. We were able to do 5 of them without any pre-planning, and 8 of them with a set plan, so you’ll still get quite a few in, even with minimal planning.
›If you are a true horror fan, I would recommend adding on the MaxPass or 2 days of the event. The MaxPass will allow you to skip the lines at the haunted houses and some of the other Universal rides still running during the event. It will more than double your ticket cost, but we think it’s worth it if you really want to get all the houses in. Another option is to do the event two nights in a row. That way you can take your time through all the scare zones and shows and still have time for the houses (and food!).
›Food and drinks are served at booths throughout the park as well as some counter service restaurants in the park.
›I would not recommend children under 13 attend this event, it is really geared more towards adults/teens. In fact, Universal does not even recommend kids under 13 attend but there is not required age- you know your kids best!
Have you been to Halloween Horror Nights? What do you think about the age recommendation- too high or too low? Let me know in the comments.
Did you know that the cost of a travel agent is already included in Universal Vacations? Bruce and I actually started Magic Pass Travel Company because we hated that people were missing out on all the experiences at the parks. Let us help you with your Halloween Horror Nights hotel recommendations, house strategy and best food and drinks so you don’t miss a thing!