Well Haunt fans, the season is nearly upon us. Halloween season at Universal Orlando is one of the best and BUSIEST times of the year to visit. Each season Universal plays host to their very own Haunted Event, Halloween Horror Nights. This world class, six week long celebration of things that go bump in the night has a trophy case nearly as large as the New York Yankees. It has won Best Halloween Event 4 out of the last 5 years from Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket Awards; and Best Haunted Attraction for the past 4 years running from Hauntworld, not to mention a host of numerous regional, national, and other worldwide awards.
For those who have visited the event in the past, you know what to expect. For those who haven’t, get ready for some frightening encounters. We’re not talking about a haunted house or two; that sort of resembles a prison, or an eerie house, we’re talking full blown houses of terror. These houses are incredibly detailed and some have facades so massive, and so detailed, you start to question if it’s an actual location. Universal also focuses on focusing on the little things that takes the detail even further. This year’s event will feature 8 haunted houses, 6 scare zones, full of scare actors and live sets, and two shows, including Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. Universal keeps most of it’s popular rides and attractions open during the event as well. This year, for the first time ever, guests will be able to enjoy Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The event is fully loaded, with multiple attractions that everyone wants to experience, which will bring in huge crowds. For most, they find it very hard to accomplish everything they want to, especially during peak nights. Orlando United has you covered and has taken the time to put together a guide to Halloween Horror Nights.
There are a few things you need to do before you even get to the park. First is obviously buy your tickets, and in some cases, Express Passes. Purchasing your tickets in advance, and we suggest doing so online, will save you time and money. Express Passes will allow you to skip the long lines at all open attractions ONCE per night. For those who can afford it, we highly recommend purchasing them. Buying in advance will also guarantee you entrance into the event. Halloween Horror Nights can sell out, and has sold out nights in the past, sometimes days before the day of the event.
Another thing to make sure of before you arrive is to know the hours of operation, which will vary. It is beyond important to know what time the event closes, but more importantly, what time it opens! You must, must, must be there before opening, especially on peak nights, if you want to accomplish everything. Doing this will get you through security quickly and into the houses pronto. Be forewarned: If you arrive late on any night, it may or may not take up to ONE HOUR just to get through security. That’s not the ticket booths or turnstiles, that’s just to pass the metal detectors. This is why it is so important to buy your tickets in advance and arrive early. For an event that only lasts 6-8 hours, you don’t want to spend up to two hours of it just getting into the park.
Now once in the park, you will come upon you first fork-in-the-road. “Do I head towards the sound stage haunts, or hang a right and go towards Hollywood?”. Ultimately, the choice is yours. That said, we at Orlando United are seasoned Horror Night Veterans, so we have a good idea on what is the best course of action to take. The event can get very hectic, crazy, and beyond packed; and this guide is to help you have a great time during those instances. Also, we are leaving the rides out. We feel they are always there for your enjoyment, whereas the houses and scare zones obviously are not. If you still want to enjoy the rides, save them for last, no matter what!
Once you’re in the park and come to that first fork, make a right turn towards Hollywood. Many people head to the closest haunted house, which are located in the sound stages (Nightingales, The Thing, and Winters Night are located there this year). Side note: If you hit a sound stage first, you might get in to one quickly, but by the time you get out and go to the next one, the wait can be around 30 minutes. Once you head to the right you will pass through Hollywood and several scarezones like 7 and Grown Evil. It’s important to pass through them quickly since it will be light outside, and scarezones are at best at night. Once you pass through the scarezones, make another right into the KidsZone area of the park, where you will find your first two haunts. The In-Between on the left and the Forsaken on the right. To make things easier, you must go to the Forsaken first so you can avoid making your walk longer. When you exit the Forsaken, the exit drops you off literally right next to the In-Between Entrance, so you can just walk right in to the next house. If you choose to do the In-Between first, the exit drops you off on the other side of the park, right next to Men in Black, causing a major hiccup in the ground attack. So again after you hit the Forsaken, immediately hit the In-Between. Once you exit the In-Between, it will drop you off right next to Nevermore: The Madness of Poe. If done correctly, you just hit three houses within the first 20-30 minutes and you DIDN’T have to use express if you had them.
After exiting Poe, you really need to be aware of your time. This can be a very difficult to maneuver, which can pay off or destroy an hour at least. As your leaving the area, you will continue on past Men in Black and towards Amity, where the Bill and Ted show and Saws and Steam: Into the Machine are located. If you have the time, and you should if you followed the guide, visit Saws and Steam, located within the Jaws extended queue. Again depending on timing, don’t use your Express pass here either. Once you exit Saws and Steam, go directly to Bill and Teds Excellent Halloween Adventure. and if you have Express. use it. as its only good for the first show. The reason this area can be so time consuming is because of the Bill and Ted show, a haunted house, and Jaws will be open as well. Saws and Steam. which is located in the Jaws queue, has the lowest capacity of any attraction within the event. Wait times, even for Express pass holders, can be rather lengthy. Since it’s located next door to Bill and Ted, you never ever go to Saws and Steam right after a show. The exit crowds cause massive congestion, and most guests will head towards that house since it’s so close. Always go during or before a show, if your in any situation at HHN.
By now, it should be completely dark outside, and you have successfully completed 4 houses and 1 show. From here on out, you will be using your Express pass, probably for everything if it’s a peak night. You should start making your way towards San Francisco, and continue your counter-clock wise attack through Amity and past Disaster, until you reach Beetlejuice, where the entrance to haunt # 5 is located. H.R. Bloodengutz is located within the Disaster extended queue, and it will exit out of Disaster’s main entrance. Once you exit, continue towards the New York area. Here, you will run into 2 scarezones and Death Drums, a show that features frightening percussion. Here, you are free to choose which one (Your Luck has Run Out!, Acid Assault) you want to enjoy first. After enjoying the atmosphere, it’s off to The Thing.
The Thing is our first sound stage haunt. One thing to remember about the Sound Stage haunts is that all three of them dump into the same exit area, which is located in between the new Hollywood Plaza stage and the Twister show building. Once you exit the Thing, your next haunt is Nightingales. The entrance is located right where Twister’s entrance is. Upon exiting, it’s time for your final haunt, Winters Night. It’s entrance will be located closer to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
You have now completed all of the haunted mazes, but there is still more to enjoy. Now if you have to ride Rockit, now would be a great time to experience it. However, expect a long line as Express will NOT be available. It is a great ride, especially at night. That said, this is Halloween Horror Nights so unless you must do it, skip it!
After exiting Nightingales your goal is to finish off the scarezones, hit any houses you didn’t use your express pass for earlier, or any favorites you wish to visit again.
From Nightingales, head towards your next scarezone, Nightmaze, located between Shrek and sound stage 44 (aka Donkey’s Meet & Greet). From there, head back to Hollywood and head towards the front to enjoy 7 and make your through Central Park to see Grown Evil and Canyon of Dark Souls. We recommend on visiting the Forsaken, the In-Between, or Poe again, especially if you have Express. The houses may have a different experience for you since it’s now nighttime (That is, of course, if you followed the guide and hit the 3 houses first). Expect Forsaken to have a MUCH shorter wait than Poe or the In-Between as the Forsaken has a much higher capacity.
Again, after you finish the houses, you’re free to do what ever you want. Just make sure you use what time you have left wisely.
Now lets go through some FAQ’s, tips, and attraction descriptions.
Q: How do I purchase my tickets and Express passes, and how much are they?
A: Visit halloweenhorrornights.com
Q: What time and days does the event run?
A: Again please visit halloweenhorrornights.com to view times and days.
Q: Should I buy express passes or are they needed for the night I am going?
A: This is a question that is asked the most, and yes you should purchase them. They will ensure you are able to visit each house and attraction, as well as maybe visit some houses multiple times. Crowds are always heavy during the second half of the event and every weekend will be busy as well.
Q: Is it really that scary?
A: Depends on who you ask. Some love it, some get frightened. Only way to really tell if it’s too scary for you is to experience yourself.
Q: What is there for food and drink?
A: Multiple stands are set up with food and drink throughout the park. Several of the larger restaurants that are usually open during normal business hours are also open, such as Monsters Cafe. Also, for those that are 21 and up, there are plenty, and I mean plenty, of places to get a drink. If you’re drinking beer, you’re covered at most stands. If you’re drinking mixed, head over to Finnegan’s. All of the stands at HHN sell you basic, bottom-shelf alcohol but Finnegans sells top-shelf for almost the same price, if not a dollar or two more. Also, always remember to drink responsibly.
Q: Whats the best house?
A: This can’t be answered. You will hear many people say anything in the sound stages as they are usually larger and in more controlled environment. But you must visit each house to voice your own opinion.
Q: Can I use my Express pass more than once?
A: No, you may only use Express once per attraction. Also Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit will not be accepting Express.
Q: If there was only one thing you could recommend to a first timer, what would it be?
A: Get there early, like 30 minutes before scheduled opening. You can lose up to two hours waiting in lines from the parking garage, security, ticket booths, and turnstiles. Yes, it can take that long sometimes so you have been warned.
Q: Should I use my Express the first time each time?
A: No, my general rule of thumb is never use an express pass for any house with waits of less than 20 minutes period! When in doubt, get in the regular line and once you can get a view of the wait in the switchbacks then choose. If it looks like its going to be more than 20 minutes, and you’re on a time constraint, leave the queue and then use your Express passes.
Q: When, and What, is Hell Week?
A: Hell Week is time during October when most schools around the Orlando area are on a Fall Break. Most students/families make their way to Halloween Horror Nights during this time since they don’t have to worry about being in class the next morning, therefore causing massive crowds. This year, Hell Week occurs October 19th-23rd. Plan accordingly. When we say it will get busy, it will get busy. After all, there is a reason it is called Hell Week.
Q: Should I get a Frequent Fear Pass?
A: Only if you see yourself making more than one visit during the event’s run.
Q: Can I touch a scare actor?
A: Absolutely not. Depending on the situation, it’s cause for ejection from the event.
- It will be busy, no matter what. Off-Peak Nights are less crowded, especially when the event falls on a Wednesday/Thursday. Sunday’s are considered Peak Night, but they can be rather busy.
- Purchase tickets and Express early to ensure you are guaranteed entrance into the event.
- Arrive Early. We can’t stress this enough.
- Never use Express on waits of less than 20 minutes
- Don’t waste time doing the rides, this is Halloween Horror Nights. If you don’t visit Orlando often and want to do everything, we recommend looking into the “Stay & Scream” option. This option allows you to spend a day at one of Universal’s theme parks, and enjoy the Horror at night. Check the Official Website for more info and pricing.
- If traveling in groups, be aware of your party’s needs. If you have people who may want to skip a certain haunt, make sure they know where you will exit out. Most houses exit in different places, sometimes even on other sides of the park.
- Most importantly, have a game plan. Use this guide and call it your own; your friends and family will be in your debt. Having a game plan is CRUCIAL at HHN more so than any other event at a theme park.
- For those who are traveling from out of town, look into staying on site OR staying across the street off of Major Blvd. The Double Tree and Hyatt are just across the street and affordable. A taxi ride is about $5-$7 and has many restaurants surrounding it.
- If you plan to drink, please drink responsibly. There will be mass amounts of law enforcement making sure no one gets disorderly. Also, don’t try to sneak in alcohol, the police will be looking carefully. Under-age visitors, this means you!
- Your HHN ticket will get you into some of CityWalk’s clubs and bars for free. If you’re still ready to party, we recommend enjoying the nightlife that CityWalk has to offer.
Order of Attractions and the descriptions
The Forsaken The Forsaken Four ships began Columbus’ fateful voyage. Yet, only three ships became legend. What befell the mutinous 4th crew? They were condemned to a watery grave.
The In-Between An ominous portal reveals another dimension where all is not what it seems; a realm where our world and another collide. Watch out, your eyes will deceive you.
Nevermore: The Madness of Poe The madness of Edgar Allen Poe’s greatest works has come to life, taking you deeper and deeper towards the brink of insanity.
Saws and Steam: Into the Machine Spinning blades and massive, crushing pistons await you around every corner as you are forced deeper into the bowels of a mechanical nightmare where the steam comes from a sinister source.
H.R. Bloodengutz Presents Holidays of Horror Join creature feature host, H.R. Bloodengutz, in his final televised broadcast as he presents a holiday SCARE-athon guaranteed to cleave you screaming for more.
The Thing Paranoia spreads like an epidemic among a group of researchers in an isolated Antarctic outpost as they’re infected, one by one, by a horrifying creature from another planet.
Nightingales: Blood Prey Within every war, the Nightingales have appeared. Able to transform themselves to fit any setting, these savage banshees feed on the weak and the helpless.
Winters Night: The Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetery As snow falls on this normally serene gothic cemetery, the deceased souls that occupy its confines come out to prey.