With this year’s event, Universal has done a fantastic job of transforming the park into your worst nightmare that has come to life! Even before you walk into the park, you can hear the ominous soundtrack playing, almost guaranteeing that something bad is about to happen. Once you walk in through the gates and down the main street, a group of evil creatures are there to greet you personally. Do you dare head toward the smoke looming in the distance, especially with creatures waiting for you along the way?
Instead of designated “scare zones” as in years past, vampires, beasts and other creatures of the night now have free reign, sneaking up on unsuspecting victims and confronting those who are especially trying to avoid them! Even though you may tell yourself over and over again, “They are only acting,” you cannot help but be frightened. See the look this one gave Mommy Frog — it was a wonder she didn’t go off hopping into the bushes!
For many, the highlight of Halloween Horror Nights is the haunted houses, which are scattered throughout the park. If you’re main goal is to see the houses, line up for them first! Queues can be quite long, especially those closest to the entrance, such as Silent Hill and Gothic.
Because of their distance, the Penn & Teller and The Walking Dead houses have shorter lines in the early evening hours. Our favorite house was Dead End, because of all the attention to detail inside the Haunted Mansion® Attraction — not to mention the creatures inside them that seemingly came out of nowhere! While The Walking Dead was one of the most anticipated houses, it failed to deliver in terms of evoking sheer terror, despite the fantastically realistic zombies.
As we’ve mentioned before, this event is too intense for young children — leave them with a sitter service or the resort kids activity center. You’ll find snacks for sale as well as alcohol in abundance throughout the park. Look for carts set up along the streets, or if you’re in need of a shot, see one of the nurses roaming the streets with “blood bags.” There is greater security at this event than a regular day at the park, with Universal security as well as Orlando police visible throughout.
While a handful of the rides are open, including Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, the lines are long! Regular Express Pass won’t work, and beyond a designated entrance line from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for guests staying at one of the Universal resort properties — the Loews Portofino Bay, the Hard Rock Hotel or the Loews Royal Pacific Resort — there aren’t any special resort privileges to get you through the Haunted House lines or attractions early. Universal sells a separate HHN Express Pass that will get you admission into each attraction once per night. See our tips below.
Mommy Frog and I are truly amazed by all of the work and special effects that have been used to create the houses and turn them into real-life terrors, but for us, the greatest part of the evening is taking in the scenes along the streets — creatures and all! One of our favorite experiences was sitting outside the Beverly Hills Boulangerie and watching the creatures descend on their first victims!
Here are tips for Halloween Horror Nights:
1. Buy tickets in advance (Halloween Horror Nights requires a separate ticket from regular theme park admission). You will save money, and you won’t have to wait in line to buy tickets. We’re offering the Halloween Horror Nights plus 2 Day Park-to-Park ticket at a savings of $68 off of gate prices.
2. Get to the park early! If you’ve spent the day at Islands of Adventure, you can take a short cut over to Universal Studios starting at 5:45 p.m. from Seuss Landing. If not, try to get to the park before 6:30. Universal Resort guests have a dedicated line from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the right side of the entrance.
2. Leave your costumes and masks at home. Universal won’t let you in with them.
3. Take only the necessities with you to make getting through security a snap: your phone, a credit card, tickets, ID and camera. You will be asked to remove everything — and we mean everything — from your pockets! Expect security to go through your bags thoroughly.
4. Eat dinner before you go. Lines for food (and alcohol) aren’t terribly long, but the lines to the houses and attractions are! Fuel up before you leave, and you can spend more time getting the daylights scared out of you.
5. If you want to avoid the street creatures, although we can’t imagine why you’d want to, they largely stick to the streets and leave guests on the sidewalks alone.
6. If you want to ride Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit or Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, do them first. Because they are close to the entrance and are the most popular attractions, they will see considerable traffic. If you don’t mind potentially riding separately from your party, the singles line on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit will go much quicker than the regular queue.
Here are the dining options (in addition to food and beverage carts):
- Universal Studios Classic Monsters Café
- Finnegan’s Bar & Grill
- Louie’s Italian Restaurant
- Richter’s Burger Co.
- Mel’s Drive-In
- Beverly Hills Boulangerie
- Ben & Jerry’s
Here are the rides & attractions:
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- The Simpsons Ride
- Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
Here are the shows:
- Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
- 20 Penny Circus: Fully exposed
Have you made it to Halloween Horror Nights? Let us know what you thought of it!