Halloween Horror Nights is THE event of the haunting season, anywhere, not just in Orlando. I have never been able to muster up the courage to attend this annual event, until now. Take a look at my survival tips for your first time at Halloween Horror Nights.
Halloween Horror Nights comes alive select nights at Universal Studios each September, and haunts guests until November. The creative minds at Universal have conjured up the most amazing event for 2018 including a record number of TEN horrifying houses to brave. Full disclosure, I only made it into four houses, and I was perfectly fine with that.
I recently visited Universal Orlando Resort as part of We Grow Retreat sponsored by Universal Orlando Resort and Mediavine. All opinions are my own.
Halloween Horror Nights Tips
If you are a chicken like me, and have avoided Halloween Horror Nights, let me be the first to say, STOP doing that! I am always impressed with the special events Universal Orlando puts on, but Horror Nights takes the cake.
I think its success is very much credited to the team led by Michael Aiello, and his creative counterparts. They have a true passion for bringing your nightmares to life. The other part of its success is the scare-actors who work night after night to bring this event alive. The passion that goes into Halloween Horror Nights is clearly recognizable.
7 Tips For Survival
Its time to brave the fog and go into Halloween Horror Nights, here are my seven tips for survival out of the fog.
1. Stay and Scream
Halloween Horror Nights is a separate ticketed event, which means the park closes at 5 pm and re-opens at 6.30 pm for ticket holders only. When you have regular park admission you can hang out in the Stay and Scream area while the park is swept for non-ticket holders. Once given the all-clear, the gates are taken down and you can head to the houses as early as 30 minutes before the public is let in. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is a huge advantage.
Being the chicken that I am, I loved being in the park before it was transformed completely. It allowed me to get my bearings, see where the scare zones were and familiarize myself with my surroundings for the night. Once the sun went down, and the fog rolled out, I was completely comfortable walking around the park. Had I entered after dark, I think my experience may have been less comfortable and more guarded.
2. Go With Friends
This may sound trivial, but it really helps take the edge off. I cannot imagine walking through the houses alone, I needed someone to hide behind! My friends have been going for 19 years, and laughed hysterically each time I was scared to death, this helped me loosen up.
If you aren’t preoccupied with where the scares are coming from you can take in the hard work put into the houses. It doesn’t make it less scary, because there is nothing sugar-coated about the houses, but it does make it more relaxing.
This works best if at least one person in the group is not afraid or is at least moderately brave. That person needs to go first when you enter the houses – every house!
3. Don’t Act Scared– No Really
Try not to look scared as you pass through scare zones, the fog and low light in scare zones is meant to disorient you, this means you have no clue who is coming at you. The scare-actors obviously enjoy scaring people, so if you look scared, they’re going to come right for you. I have talked to a few scare-actors and they do this job not just because they love horror, but because they LOVE to scare the living hell out of people. They aren’t there to be your friend.
As the good doctor told me this year, “Did you really think you paid NOT to be scared to death”! He got me really good when I wasn’t looking, because that is what he is there for.
4. Take The Edge Off With Liquid Courage
The one thing I took away from Halloween Horror Nights, it is the ULTIMATE Halloween Party. With special cocktails served only during the event, and beer carts on every corner you will find your courage with a little help. The 80’s vibe this year really makes it feel like a party, especially in the VAMP 85 scare zone.
5. Take A Break
There are attractions open during Halloween Horror Nights, and this is the perfect escape from the frights if you need a break. Wait times are generally are low during this time, so it’s a fun escape from the horror. Express Pass does not work during Halloween Horror Nights.
A total escape from the frights is to hang out in Diagon Alley, as there are NO scare-actors in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It’s the one safe zone in the park, so to speak.
6. Watch For The Patterns In Houses
My friends, the experts told me this little trick. After a house or two, you will start to notice the general pattern of how the scares go. You’ll notice that lights flash or a loud sound happens right before a scare in the houses.
Also, remember to look left and right anytime you turn a corner as you make your way through the houses. There’s a good chance if the path is turning left there might be someone hiding on the right. To avoid getting startled, look both ways at every turn.
I will say, this year the Seeds of Extinction house makes you very disoriented and it’s hard to see where the pattern is, It was the best house I went in as far as being scared.
7. Familiarize Yourself Before You Go
Knowing what to expect before you go can help a lot. Many of my friends were at the media event, since I was going a week later, I watched and read their reviews. It definitely helped to ease my fears.
Stranger Things – This house will take you through Season 1 of the popular Netflix hit. Starting with Will’s abduction in Kirkwood and going all the way through to the Demogorgon showdown at Hawkins Middle School. I went in this house, and it was a blast! I felt like I was walking thru the actual movie set. This is probably a great starter for your first Halloween Horror Nights.
Trick ‘r Treat – You will walk through each of the movie’s various story-lines, including walking through Mr. Kreeg’s “infamous” house to watching the costumed girls turn into werewolves.
Dead Exposure: Patient Zero – In 2008, Halloween Horror Nights introduced a haunted maze that took you inside total darkness for one of the greatest haunts ever. This year, the house is back with even more frights and blackness than before. The house is set in Paris in 1982 when suddenly the grid goes out and everything turns black.
Slaughter Sinema – The 80’s theme continues with Slaughter Sinema. Here you will enter an old drive-in that is hosting a marathon of B-rate horror films. Somehow, you’ll find yourself becoming a part of the horror, running from a swamp yeti, to werewolf bikers and more.
Carnival Graveyard: Rust in Pieces – This house takes place in a decaying carnival with gruesome carnies who torture those who enter their park. Using carnival rides they have turned into torture devices, the carnies splash the walls of their park with blood from their unknowing victims.
Seeds of Extinction- This house takes place moments after a meteor hits earth and the human race is wiped out. Strangling vines and man-eating plants take over the earth and you have one choice going through, survive.
Poltergeist- Come face-to-face with iconic characters from this chilling horror movie including the pool of dead bodies and the infamous hands in the television set.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers- Michael Myers is back and he’s out for revenge. Here you will go into Haddonfield where Myers has escaped from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium to seek revenge on his niece Jamie, and terrorizes the town along the way.
The Horrors of Blumhouse- Blumhouse Productions returns for another year at Halloween Horror Nights. This year, you can relive the murder of the college student over and over again and experience how the Purge started, and try not to be purged yourself.
Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After These aren’t your childhood fairy tales, because the Wicked Witch of the West has taken over the land and created cruel alternative endings to the fairy tales we know and love.
Scare Zones: These are open spaces setup throughout the park
The Harvest – In the Harvest, guests make their way into a sinister barn, which is filled with props and images for each of the 10 haunted houses, and is populated with “foul and decrepit creatures” that are looking to reap a harvest of screams.
Vamp 85: New Year’s Eve – A sequel to Halloween Horror Night 2016’s Vamp ’55 Scare Zone, Vamp 85: New Year’s Eve continues the nostalgic scares but this time vampires invade on New Year’s Eve.
Twisted Tradition – Things are certainly twisted in this scare zone. The jack-o-lantern infused area isn’t what it appears. The closer you look at those pumpkins that more that becomes clear. The pumpkins are fused together with human flesh, and they are decomposing!
Tip: This to me, is the scariest of the zones this year, avoid it if you really don’t want a good scare!
Revenge of Chucky- Everyone is familiar with the iconic 80’s red-haired doll movies, this year, he is coming back to exact revenge in his scare zone. Taking place in a toy fair, these toys don’t just want to play, they want to carve you up.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space – These clowns are not what they seem to be, so watch out because that tempting smell of cotton candy is far from sweet and tasty.
There you have it, seven tips for how to survive your first Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort!