One thing to know about me: I LOVE spooky season. I love Halloween, haunted houses, décor, sweaters, pumpkin spice and all things spooky. So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely ADORE Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando! It’s one of my favorite things to do to kick off the season – before the major October crowds hit.
At Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios transforms into another spooky world! They set up themed “scare zones” and haunted houses, create themed food and drink menus at pop-up vendors throughout the park, host a new spooky and saucy live show, as well as a water show in the central fountain.
Tickets for Halloween Horror Nights (aka “HHN”), unfortunately, are expensive and cost extra. Prices range from $80-130 for basic entry, but you can also spend a few more hundred for fast passes or VIP passes. If you want to see every single haunted house, I would recommend getting one of the passes. While this event runs from 6pm to 2am (a full eight hours), you likely won’t make it to every single house unless you come on a day when it’s not busy (which is unlikely, especially as we get closer to Halloween).
I went on the third Sunday that HHN was open, in September, and it was surprisingly SO BUSY. I went on a Sunday expecting there to be no crowds but I was very wrong. Lines for the houses were still upwards of 45-60 minutes, reaching over 100 minutes at some of the more popular houses. Crowds only grow in October as we creep closer to Halloween, so be prepared to wait.
Now, let’s get into the fun stuff – the haunted houses.
There are 10 houses this year:
- The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare – basically all about the singer The Weeknd with his music and horror aspects
- Halloween – based on the movie!
- The Horrors of Blumhouse – based on the movie “Freaky” and “The Black Phone”
- Universal Monsters: Legends Collide – based on the classic Universal Monsters Dracula, Mummy and The Wolf Man
- Spirits of the Coven – 1920’s themed witches coven
- Bugs: Eaten Alive – based on, well, bugs
- Fiesta de Chupacabras – based in a Latin American village celebrating the chupacabra
- Hellblock Horror – basically a prison where monstrous creatures break loose
- Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake – based in a New England village in winter, where the fishermen all die of cold
- Descendants of Destruction – based in a New York subway where mutants have taken over
I made it to five of the ten houses. There were a few that I definitely did NOT plan to visit (like the bugs house, no thank you), but I wish that I could’ve added Fiesta de Chupacabras to my list because I heard that it was really good.
- The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare – I surprisingly really enjoyed this house! It wasn’t scary so much as really gory, and there were a few scares but not many. The cue waiting for this house was great too, because we got to listen to his music.
- Halloween – I liked this one, but I didn’t find it all that scary. I wish that they scared you more often as you walked through but the sets were amazing – very similar to the movie! Movie buffs will like this one, I think.
- Universal Monsters: Legends Collide – This was my FAVORITE! I got scared soooo many times because the actors in this house practically jumped in front of me (which I didn’t experience in some of the other houses). I don’t think that it was technically the “best” with the set design and it was kind of cheesy, but there were a lot of opportunities for scares and the actors in this house were amazing!
- Spirits of the Coven – This one was fun! The sets and costumes were beautiful, and it had a real storyline to follow. There were a few scares and I enjoyed it.
- Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake – I was really looking forward to this one and it didn’t disappoint! The set design for this one was probably the most impressive out of all the houses I went to, the costumes were awesome, and I got a few scares in.
Besides the houses, there are five different scare zones at HHN this year:
- Horrors of Halloween
- Scarecrow: Cursed Soil
- Sweet Revenge
- Graveyard: Deadly Unrest
- Conjure the Dark
These zones all really amazing and I absolutely love walking through them! Because I crisscross through the park so much, I usually go through each one at least two or three times. I honestly couldn’t pick a favorite, but a lot of people seem to like the “Horrors of Halloween,” located at the front of the park, because the Pumpkin Lord is there and you can have fun interactions with him. He’s the main patron of HHN this year.
If you’re not interested in lots of scares, there’s two live shows. The first is in the central water fountain, called “Ghoulish! A Halloween Tale,” which was pretty cool. The best spot to watch it is in Central Park, and it’s difficult to watch it from anywhere else because it’s projections on water. The other live show is “Halloween Nightmare Fuel Wildfire” – which is amazing! It’s very similar to last year’s show, with pyrotechnics, dancers, aerialists, and acrobats. It’s very saucy and not exactly kid-friendly, although I did see a few kids in the audience.
One of my favorite things to do during the special events at Universal Studios is explore the menu! They bring out specialty items at pop-up food and drink locations throughout the park. This year, I ordered the roasted sweet potato and mushroom street tacos (located near Central Park), which were incredible! I’m not a big mushroom fan, but I couldn’t taste them at all. I really hope that they bring them back in future years! The second item I ordered was the fiery twisted tater, located in New York near the plaza holiday shop (the Christmas store). The twisted tater is a Universal classic during any event, but I especially love the seasoning during HHN.
The final thing to do during HHN is visit the Tribute Store! It’s a maze-like shop in New York (by the Mummy ride) with themed merchandise that you can sometimes only find in this special store. It’s themed differently for every season or special event, and it’s new every year. I love spending my last few minutes in the park browsing through the Tribute Store.
If horror and scares aren’t your thing, no worries! Visiting Islands of Adventure after Universal Orlando is closed to visitors for HHN is really fun, and doesn’t cost any extra besides a park-hopper ticket. At Hogsmeade in Wizarding World, Death Eaters come out every 20-25 minutes once the sun sets (they’re not necessarily “scary,” but their masks might unnerve children who don’t know about the Wizarding World), and there’s a Halloween-themed projection show on the Hogwarts castle. I always try to visit Universal during spooky season twice so that I can visit both HHN and Hogsmeade.
I 100000% recommend visiting Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights if you are a fan of all things Halloween, spooky and scary! It’s honestly my favorite time of year to visit and I can’t wait to go back.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to Halloween Horror Nights, or do you want to? Let me know in the comments below and like this post if you want more like it!