As you may have read last week, the Frog Family made a visit to sunny Orlando for some fall fun — and, yes, a few frights! We spent an unsettling but otherwise pleasant evening at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, and we thought we’d share some of our trip photos along with even more tips for this event. (Check our Know Before You Go post if you’re making the visit).
The biggest piece of advice we have for attending this event is to GO EARLY! Universal Studios closes to regular park guests at 5 p.m. and reopens at 6:30 for Halloween Horror Nights attendees. We recommend you get to the gate by 5:30 to get through security and be one of the first in line. If you have purchased our Universal 2-Day Park to Park with Halloween Horror Nights® Combo Ticket, which we really do recommend, then you can stay inside the park when it closes in one of the two “holding pens” — one at Finnegan’s Bar & Grill and the other near the Woody Woodpecker zone, and then you’re guaranteed to be one of the first in when the event opens!
It’s not so very scary in the afternoon, but come dusk, terrors will be roaming the park! As a reminder, costumes are not allowed, but don’t let that stop you from wearing your favorite skull and cross bones t-shirt.
Since we got to the park during regular hours before it closed for Halloween Horror Nights, we took advantage of the time to explore Springfield USA, which opened this summer.
Of course, I had to try at Duff Beer.
And a Clogger Burger, two 6-ounce burger patties topped with applewood-smoked bacon, secret sauce, cheddar cheese sauce, a giant tomato slice, and iceberg lettuce, served on a specialty bun. I held the sauce and cheese, since I’m trying to eat more healthy these days.
The Simpsons’ hometown is quite elaborately themed, and there are no shortage of photo opportunities, which of course, make for the best souvenirs!
I mentioned the holding pen up above as the place to be when the park closes. Here is the line for the holding pen outside of Finnegan’s. While the other pen will put you nearest to La Llorona and The Walking Dead, the rest of the houses are closer to this pen. Once employees scan your Halloween Horror Nights tickets, and you’re in.
For Mommy Frog, this was one of the evening’s highlights, since Finnegan’s is her favorite Irish New York (by way of Orlando) theme park bar.
Seriously, she really loves this place. It reminds her of that summer of her youth that she spent chasing Bono around Ireland. It gets pretty crowded inside the bar before Horror Nights starts, but everyone is in a festive mood because they are about to be scared out of their minds.
They even take photos with the props inside the pen. Did I mention, there is alcohol served at this event?
Here’s the scene when the pen opened at 5:45 p.m. Do note the time, as officially the party doesn’t start until 6:30 p.m., and while some of the houses won’t open until that time, An American Werewolf in London was open and close by.
An American Werewolf in London has been getting pretty terrific reviews, and it had some of the most incredible theming and effects of all the houses, including the werewolves themselves.
Another one of my favorites, along with Resident Evil, was Cabin in the Woods. Because Cabin is situated right in the front of the park, it’s a “first stop” for most folks as they head into the park. It had a 30-minute wait at 6 p.m.
Here’s part of the queue for Cabin in the Woods with its relatively short 30-minute wait. Speaking of queuing, expect to do more walking, or hopping as the case may be, at Horror Nights than a normal theme park outing. Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, An American Werewolf in London and Evil Dead all exit in the same place, so you’ll have walked the length of the park just going through Cabin in the Woods.
Even if we hadn’t eaten early, there was no shortage of food and drink opportunities within the park. Conveniently, there are also beverage carts stationed outside of the house exits.
Of course, you can also grab a blood bag shot from one of the friendly nurses.
This year’s street experiences are based around The Walking Dead and feature the most iconic locations from the show and live walkers (you can see more of this in our video of just the street experiences). You might think this frightens me, but Mommy Frog looks at me this way all the time (only kidding, my dear)!
Here is more of the street scene from The Fall of Atlanta.
One of the most elaborate street scenes is The Farm.
The Farm led into the Woodlands, a foreboding and dark setting where we ran into the most walkers on account of the more narrow space of this area. Speaking of walkers, they do seemingly appear out of nowhere. You’ll be hopping along, trying to mind your own business, and then they’re in your face. Mommy Frog was strolling alongside me in the Woodlands as we headed toward Survivor’s Camp, and from behind her she felt the warm breath of a walker on her neck!
As I mentioned above, you can expect to do more walking at this event. Perhaps fittingly given the name, the longest queue was The Walking Dead, which starts in the Woody Woodpecker KidZone and winds its way through Universal’s back lot.
Thankfully, there was a cut-through from The Walking Dead exit to La Llorona, one of the prettiest houses — at least from the outside! Because The Walking Dead is the signature house for this year’s event, it’s on the must-do list for many, and thus, it had longer waits than neighboring La Llorona.
If you’re not in a holding pen, you can escape the masses at the front of the park and head down Rodeo Drive, which has been turned into Clear, a street experience marked by spiked barriers.
All in all, it was a frighteningly good night! We love how the park can be completely transformed from its regular theme park into an entirely otherworldly place. If you’re traveling to Orlando between now and Nov. 2, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights should be on your must-do list!
Hoppy Horror Nights!