Halloween Horror Nights is Universal Orlando Resort‘s premier Halloween event, now in its 28th year (as of 2018). The spooky festivities start in mid-September and end the first week in November, mostly on weekends. After the parks close for the day, usually around 5 pm, Universal Studios is transformed from a family-friendly park to one full of costumed actors ready to jump out at you until 2 am. Fans come for these moments, along with a few rides, food and drink, and, of course, the haunted houses. Each year, big-name horror films are adapted into houses and this year’s, Stranger Things, was a hit! But it’s not just for horror fans. Even scaredy cats like me can find something fun to do at Halloween Horror Nights if you follow these tips.
Enter the park early.
If you’re already spending the day in the park, be inside the gates before 5, when they make all those who don’t have passes to HHN leave. You’re placed in a corral area, where there’s a booth selling snacks and drinks, but we eventually were able to line up for one of the houses. This essentially keeps everyone in one place while the actors get set up.
Plan out which houses you want to visit.
The houses weren’t a high priority for me since I’m not that into horror movies, but I knew I wanted to do the Stranger Things house. I started there, using my express pass, and was in and out before the park opened to the public. Later on, I saw people actually running to get in line. It’s well worth it, with precise sets from the show and actors dressed like Eleven, Mike, Hopper, and the whole gang.
There are ten houses in all, each with a different theme. Some have connections to films, including The Purge, Halloween, and Poltergeist, while others have unique stories. Something I didn’t know in advance was that express passes can only be used once per house, so keep that in mind. I do, of course, recommend the express passes because around 8 pm, all of the houses had at least an hour-long wait. My friend Jenn wrote about more of the houses, so see her post for more information. She also mentioned that if the hallways make a turn one way, there’s likely something waiting to jump out on the other side.
Don’t run from the actors!
In addition to the haunted houses, most of the loop that makes up Universal Studios is set up with five “scare zones” where costumed actors try to make you scream. The first one we saw turned out to be my favorite, Vamp 85: New Year’s Eve, where there are vampires dressed in outfits like Michael Jackson and Boy George as period tunes play in the background. There’s also The Harvest, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Twisted Tradition, and Revenge of Chucky. If you appear to be scared of the people with chainsaws or clowns, they’ll only get closer. The people that try to run or hide only get followed. But keep in mind that they can’t touch you and it’s all just pretend. I found that waving or saying hi to them is a really good way to get them to leave you alone.
Enjoy short lines at the rides.
Because just about everyone is in line for haunted houses, there are very few people at the rides! Six rides are open at night, including Hollywood Rip Ride RockIt, my favorite, Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Fast & Furious Supercharged, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, and Men in Black. We did all but one in record time.
Other Things to Know
In addition to the scare zones and houses, there’s the Academy of Villains: Cyberpunk show, held every hour, and the show in Vamp 85. The RIP Tour is the VIP-level tour of Halloween Horror Nights, which includes front of the line entry and added perks. If you want to escape the chaos, Diagon Alley is open until around 10 pm and there are no character actors here.
There are also restaurants open during the evening, including Mel’s Drive-In, Florean Fortescue’s, Louie’s Italian, and Finnegan’s, along with some set up just for the occasion like Benny’s Burgers. There are also drink booths around the park. Many of the shops are also open during the night.
This event is not recommended for children under 13. Costumes and masks are not allowed, but I found plenty of people wearing shirts and other items related to Stranger Things and other horror movies. Tickets start at $62.99 and express passes are $79.99. The RIP Tour is $179.99 and a character dinner at HHN is $49.99.
This post was created through my partnership with Universal Orlando Resort for the #UORBlogSquad.