After another year of patiently waiting, Halloween Horror Nights is set to begin it’s 22nd year this Friday. Halloween season at Universal Orlando is one of the best and BUSIEST times of the year to visit. It has won Best Halloween Event 5 out of the last 6 years from Amusement Today’s Golden Ticket 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, so detailed; you start to question if it’s an actual location. This year’s event will feature an entirely different set-up than year’s past. Horror Nights 22 will now feature 7 haunted houses, instead of the usual 8 of the past few years. The other big change is we will no longer have designated scarezones. Instead, every inch of the park will be full of terror and sets as Universal promises that no where is safe! Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure will make it’s traditional return; however Universal is adding 2 new shows that haven’t been seen in Horror Nights History.
20 Penny Circus will be bringing it’s twisted act, blending comedy and magic, to the Graveyard Revue Theater. Even though this is the first time the duo will be appearing at an event; this is not the first time the theater has been used, as it was used for the Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute and Brian Brushwood’s Magic act. Another new addition will see Universal’s lagoon show play host to several horror movie tributes at random times; with choreographed fountains, lasers and light.
Universal will be keeping most of it’s popular attractions open during the event as well. After years of being a staple at the event, Jaws will not be part of the line-up after it closed in January. However, you’ll still be able to enjoy Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit and the new attraction, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. 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 street experiences obviously are not. If you still want to enjoy the rides, save them for last, no matter what!
With the addition of “Street Experiences”, we really do not know what to expect for crowding issues. This is the first time Universal really has gone all out to make sure there are no safe zones. Throughout the park, hordes of zombies, beasts, and vampires will be attempting to scare the living bejeesus out of you at every turn. There is even rumor of restaurants and shopping areas being free from safety. In the past, scarezones would eat up big crowds due to guests wanting to experience the scareactors, and check out the props. This year, the whole park will be themed as if a cemetery is rising from the ground. While the sets will be top notch, there will be nothing unique per area; which has us question how much of a crowd-eater the prop areas will be. Be forewarned; if you are easily startled, expect to be hounded at every corner. Stay off your cell phones!
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. This year, the Sound Stages will be home to Dead End, Gothic, and Welcome to Silent Hill. Many people have attempted this route first, which ultimately is your choice. However we have come to realize that 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. There may be props around this year, with a few actors starting the scares. It’s important to pass through them quickly since it will be light outside, and the street experiences are at best at night. Once you pass through, make another right into the KidsZone area of the park, where you will find your first two haunts; Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare and House of Horrors. To make things easier, you must go through the House of Horrors first so you can avoid making your walk longer. When you exit Horrors, the exit drops you off literally right next to the Nightmare Entrance, so you can just walk right in to the next house. If you choose to do Nightmare first, the exit takes you near Men in Black, causing a major hiccup in the ground attack. So again after you hit Horrors, immediately hit Nightmare. Once you exit, it will drop you off right next to Penn & Teller’s New(kd) Las Vegas. 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 Penn & Teller’s, 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 the area formerly known as Amity (moment of silence), where the Bill and Ted show will be located. In year’s past, there would be a haunted house located in the queue area of Jaws. Due to the attraction’s closure, this saves one of biggest crowd headaches that you could have experienced. Depending on the night’s crowds and how fast you accomplished the previous 3 houses, the show will either be starting, or starting soon. We recommend skipping the first show and heading straight towards The Walking Dead, located in the Disaster! queue. The Walking Dead is bound to be the most popular house at this year’s event; so the sooner you go through it, the better!
As you exit The Walking Dead, it should be completely dark outside, or close to it. After knocking out 4 houses, it’s time to check out the 20 Penny Circus to rest your feet. If you have no desire to see the show, then grab a meal at one of the many kiosks located around the park; or grab a drink at Finnegan’s. If the show is performing in the lagoon, you can knock out 2 birds with 1 stone and enjoy a meal while watching the lagoon’s entertainment.
If your visit is on a Peak Night and you invested in Express Passes, you probably will be using them for the rest of the houses. If you chose not to get passes, you still should experience shorter waits with this plan of attack. Just a reminder, that this guide is to help you achieve as much as you can in 1 night, not a guarantee of 30 minutes or less wait times. We are confident however that the Sound Stage houses will be lower than the others. As we stated earlier, the majority of guests hit up the Sound Stage houses first due to it’s proximity to the entrance, and how it’s right in front of their face. By now, those people will be traveling towards the houses you have already finished earlier. Unless, of course, they followed this guide.
Dead End is our first sound stage haunt. One thing to remember about the Sound Stage haunts is that all three dump you into the same exit area, which is located in between the Hollywood Plaza stage and the Twister show building. Once you exit Dead End, your next haunt is Gothic. The entrance is located right where Twister’s entrance is. Upon exiting, it’s time for your final haunt, Welcome to Silent Hill. It’s entrance will be located closer to Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
By now, the last 2 shows of Bill & Ted will be coming up. If you chose to skip the meal and watch 20 Penny Circus, than now would be a perfect time to do so. After all, food is sustenance. If you ate already, then head straight towards Bill & Ted. The later shows tend to be less crowded, and you’ll have a better chance at scoring a better seat. As you make your way towards the theater, try to take in all the Street Experiences you can. Since they are roaming hordes, each area will most likely have a different “legion” then when you originally walked through.
You have now completed everything Horror Nights 22 has to offer, but there is still more to enjoy. Rockit is wonderful at night, and if you have never had the chance to ride it during this time, now would be a great time to experience it. However, expect a long line as Express will NOT be available. Also, if this is your only chance to ride Minion Mayhem, we recommend to ride that instead of Rockit. It’s a wonderful attraction and it is brand-spanking new. However, we’d like to remind you this is Halloween Horror Nights; so unless you really want to ride it, skip it!
Now would be a great time to hit up any houses you didn’t use your Express Pass for, or any favorites you wish to visit again. For what it’s worth; House of Horrors is located in the Parade Building, and after the influx of opening crowds, it tends to have a lower wait time as the night wears down due to it’s high 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-26th. 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. Sundays aren’t considered Peak Nights, but they can be rather busy.
- Purchase tickets and Express as early as you can to ensure you are guaranteed entrance into the event.
- Arrive Early. We can’t stress this enough.
- Wear comfy shoes. Seems silly to include, but you’d be surprised how much of an oversight this usually is to guests.
- 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 Horror Nights; 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 Horror Nights 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.
Haunted House and Street Experience Information
- Dead End – If enough people believe in something, perception can become reality. In Carey, Ohio, the perception was that countless horrific acts had occurred in the old Hartford Mansion. The reality was that the curse which befell the house was far worse than any story ever told
- Gothic – The Catedral de Caementum Animus is, by day, undergoing a building-wide architectural refurbishment. By night, the many stone gargoyles that keep watchful eye over the sanctuary come to life with the mission of protecting this sacred place against intrusion.
- Universal Studios: House of Horrors – This is no remake. No sequel. No re-imagining. These are Universal’s classic monsters of fear, who have terrified audiences from the Silver Screen. They have been waiting within silver celluloid to be resurrected. The flash of a lightning strike cuts the darkness that surrounds, and terror’s true faces take back what is theirs…
- The Walking Dead: Dead Inside – There is strength in numbers, and you must band together to make it through many of the iconic settings made famous by the critically-acclaimed AMC television series, “The Walking Dead.” As the city is crawling with hordes of walkers, the issue of your becoming one of them is not a question of if, but when.
- Welcome to Silent Hill – In the eerie and desolate town of Silent Hill, ash falls from the sky and the physical laws of nature no longer apply. If you dare to venture into this alternate dimension, there is only one law of nature with which you must concern yourself: survival.
- Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare – Journey into the legendary rocker Alice Cooper’s twisted mind and witness the natural melding of horror and Cooper’s four decades-long career. Here you will follow Steven, the iconic character from many of Cooper’s works, as you come face-to-face with a myriad of tormentors who threaten an already-decaying sense of sanity.
- Penn & Teller: New(kd) Las Vegas – World-renowned magicians Penn & Teller have accidentally nuked Las Vegas, but don’t worry, it’s nothing a fresh coat of paint and a truckload of BS can’t fix. Come on down to New Vegas, where all that glitters isn’t gold, and in fact probably has fatal levels of radioactivity.
Legions of Horror
With a ripping, clawing and tearing through the concrete beneath Universal Studios come ancient cemetery Structures, spilling blood-raged, vampiric hordes that span the eras of time, barbaric warriors with a need to carve flesh from bone and an all-female, chainsaw-wielding prison gang. These and more nightmarish hellions inhabit every dark corner, foggy recess and shadowed path within the park. Unlike in years past, there are no boundaries. No safezones. No one escapes.
The force of horror starts with The Iniquitus. Rooted in evil, these are the patrons of death and are the ones who rose from the cemetery. The Iniquitus are those who summoned the Dark Legions to come and feast here.
The dark legions of horror that await are: Vampires – the blood-thirsty from all eras of time, Beasts – the legendary animal-like figures who prey on the unsuspecting, Warriors – a gang killed in a deadly war that has returned to seek revenge, Prisoners – these deceased chainsaw-wielding female inmates killed in a women’s prison fire are back… and angry, and Traditionals – the ghosts and goblins of Halloween past come together to feast.