While it’s not often that we ask ourselves the question, “What evil has taken root?” (unless Tad gets in one of those moods), it is appropriate when talking about Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights®. That’s because it is almost certain to scare the living daylights out of you! The annual event, which has been consistently awarded a Golden Ticket for Best Halloween Event by Amusement Today, kicks off tonight and runs on select nights through Nov. 2.
If you’re thinking about going, we do suggest purchasing tickets in advance, because this event does sell out. We recommend the Universal 2-Day Park to Park with Halloween Horror Nights® Combo Ticket, which you cannot get at the gate and is only $36 more than our price for the Universal 2-Day Park to Park ticket.
Unlike Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, this event will terrify young children and many adults (just ask Mommy Frog). But if getting terrorized by creatures of the night sounds like fun, then this is the event for you! And, yes, I count myself in that category.
In case you haven’t guessed by now, my question at the start of this post is actually the theme of this year’s event. And the quick answer to it is … The Walking Dead. You see, the popular TV series will be the theme for one of the eight haunted houses at the event and the backdrop for all of the designated street experiences, or “scare zones” throughout the park. If you’re a fan of the show, you’re going to recognize these iconic haunts. If you don’t watch the show, just know that in designated places around the park, you are likely to encounter the undead! And if it’s anything like past Halloween Horror Night events, these undead will not respect your personal space!
Here is how the official Halloween Horror Nights® site describes this year’s street experiences:
THE FALL OF ATLANTA
The smell of death is in the air as you make your way past an iconic tank, sandbag barriers, and decayed rotting corpses on your journey through this decimated city. But be warned—the city’s not empty.
Tread carefully through these woods, as you never know who you might encounter. Lurking deep in the hidden depths are unforgettable scenes and characters from Seasons 1, 2 and 3.
There’s no one telling ghost stories at this derelict campsite, but there are plenty of undead. Will you dare to go closer to the eerily abandoned RV? Keep your wits about you or you might become a ghost story yourself.
Something’s burning and it’s not a Sunday roast. Gasoline fumes ignite your senses as you encounter the smoldering remains of a singed country farm. See and smell the putrid barn, the red tractor, and more as you learn what’s causing that horrifying stench.
Turn around and live—proceed and face your fate. Stick together as you head down this street, because the spiked barriers are there for a reason. If you refuse to heed the spray-painted warnings, you’re in for a terrifying walk that will feel like an eternity.
For me, the street experiences are what truly make this a one-of-a-kind experience. The creatures are terrifyingly realistic, and they are trying to terrify you. Even if you see them coming — and sometimes you don’t — they are going to be in your face!
The other big draw of the event — and for some people it’s the biggest draw of the event — are the haunted houses themselves. It takes months to construct these movie set-quality houses, and each one has a different theme. Lines get very long for the houses, so we do recommend getting to the park by 6:30 p.m. when it opens, so you can hit at least a few of them with minimal waits. (If you’re staying at one of the Universal resort properties — the Loews Portofino Bay, the Hard Rock Hotel or the Loews Royal Pacific Resort – take advantage of the priority entrance from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to get in more quickly.) Do know that some of the houses may be at least partially in open air, so you’ll probably want to wait until it’s after dark to visit them so that you get the full experience.
2013 Haunted Houses:
- The Walking Dead
- Resident Evil
- Evil Dead
- Cabin in the Woods
- An American Werewolf in London
- La Llorona
- After Life
Many of the park’s rides are open during the event, including the newly opened Transformers The Ride – 3D, and lines can get quite long as the night wears on. Even though you won’t have your kids with you, it’s OK to ride Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (especially if you’ll be wearing your Gru T-shirt like me ), and you should make it the first thing you do if you get there early, followed by Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. Given their proximity to the entrance and lower load capacity, both of these attractions will see higher waits throughout the night.
Attractions Open During Hollywood Horror Nights®:
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- The Simpsons Ride
- Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
- Transformers The Ride-3D
Special Shows During Halloween Horror Nights®:
- Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
- Rocky Horror Picture Show
A number of park restaurants are open during the event, and we recommend you eat early, so you can maximize your time in the houses or on the rides. You’ll find snacks for sale as well as alcohol in abundance throughout the park. Look for carts set up along the streets. Last year, nurses roamed the streets selling “blood bags,” but who knows what surprises await at this year’s event? All I know is that it’s going to be a terrifyingly good time!
Are you planning on attending Halloween Horror Nights®? What questions do you have for us about the event?