Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is back in full force for its 32nd year at Universal Orlando Resort. The world’s premier Halloween event, as per Amusement Today, is thrilling guests once again with 10 haunted houses and five scare zones, plus live entertainment and themed food and drinks galore.
The star attractions this year are the “Stranger Things,” “The Last of Us,” and “The Exorcist: Believer” haunted houses. HHN is a nighttime-only event that began on Sept. 1 and runs through Nov. 4 on select days. This year Universal has offered more HHN dates than ever before; it is open nearly every day in October, except for Mondays and Tuesdays but including Halloween (Tuesday, Oct. 31).
“This year we’re very excited to have the biggest names in the horror industry with ‘The Last of Us’ and ‘Stranger Things Season 4,’ as well as ‘Exorcist: Believer,’” said Lora Sauls, a creative director at Universal Orlando. “We are a living trailer for that film that comes out on Oct. 6. We are giving people a taste of what that film could be by having a walk-through experience in a haunted house.”
What guests can expect
Universal Orlando Resort’s amusement park transforms into a real spook-fest each evening of HHN. There are several scare zones throughout the park, where live “scareactors” can creep up and scare guests. There are also 10 haunted houses – five based on existing television, movies, and videogames, and five featuring original content created by the Universal team.
HHN has a fresh slate of scary content each year, keeping horror enthusiasts from far and wide returning year after year. Aside from Stranger Things, The Last of Us, and The Exorcist, HHN will feature well-known horror brands in its “Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count” and “Universal Monsters: Unmasked” haunted houses.
Sauls noted that Universal Orlando collaborates closely with Universal Studios Hollywood for the intellectual property-based haunted houses, so if guests are visiting that location, that content will be similar, while the original content will differ.
The Universal creative team spends all year preparing its original horror stories that come to life in its haunted houses and scare zones, according to Sauls, whose official title is assistant director of creative development and show direction for entertainment, art, and design at Universal Orlando.
“We pride ourselves on our original content houses,” Sauls said. “The team really loves to create those original content stories. We have just a great slate, and there’s something for everyone.”
This year’s originals are “Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings,” “The Darkest Deal,” “YETI: Campground Kills,” “Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate,” and “Dr. Oddfellow: Twisted Origins.” Though it’s difficult to choose, Sauls said that perhaps her favorite of the team’s creations this year is “YETI: Campground Kills,” a dark humor haunted house.
The creeping of the Dr. Oddfellow character then spills into the park’s several scare zones, where guests can walk through if they want some extra fright. Of those, Sauls said one particularly stands out: “Vamp ’69: Summer of Blood,” a music festival scene overrun by vampires.
“Our soundtrack to that zone is fun music from that era, and there is a song that when you hear it in certain places and bars in real life, you tend to do a little callback, and that is happening in our streets,” Sauls said. “Guests are just stopping and doing that callback, and it’s setting up our scares so well. It was organic, we didn’t plan for that to happen, but it’s definitely happening out there. It’s just a really cool moment that our guests and 'scareactors’ are doing together but it’s allowing our vampires to really get amazing scares.”
Only a few of Universal Orlando’s more thrilling rides are open during HHN. Aside from the rides, haunted houses and scare zones, the park offers horror-themed food and drink options, the “Nightmare Fuel Revenge Dream” pyro and aerial stunt show, and the brand-new Tribute Store. Guests can also experience photo opportunities and themed cocktails at Dead Coconut Club, located at Universal CityWalk, and at the all-new Peacock’s Halloween Horror Bar.
Booking HHN 2023
If all this sounds exciting to your clients, there’s still time to book the horror-filled trip of their dreams. HHN tickets are sold separately from general, daytime Universal Orlando tickets, as it is a completely different experience. (The park closes for about an hour in between to set up for HHN.)
Universal offers single-night tickets for HHN, as well as several types of package deals, especially for guests staying at one of the eight Universal Orlando Resort hotels.
There is lots to see and do, and the event is extremely popular, so express passes (sold separately from tickets as add-ons) are also available. They allow guests to skip the regular line once at a haunted house or other participating attraction.
“You don’t want to rush through the experience,” Sauls said. “I think people enjoy the event more when they come back for two or more days. I would make sure you’re taking a couple days, as well as stay at one of our resort hotels, where you’re going to get that whole experience.”
Hotel vacation packages can include early admission to the park for HHN, discounts on hotel rates, and special event add-ons, including behind-the-scenes tours. More booking information can be found at Universal’s website, universalorlando.com, or at Universal’s site for travel advisors, vaxvacationaccess.com.