Anyone who follows me on Instagram knows that we’ve been annual passholders at Universal Orlando for a while now. It’s a really fun weekend getaway, and a generally inexpensive flight out of the Atlanta airport. Now, one thing that we haven’t done over the last four years is go to Halloween Horror Nights.
You guys know that I love Halloween, so you’d think I would have been before now. Honestly, I was worried that it might be too scary for me. This year we decided to go for it! (Stephen has always wanted to go, but didn’t push for it since I was a scaredy cat.) And it was SO much fun!
We booked our flight down to Orlando late on a Thursday night, so that we could sleep in on Friday before heading into the parks in the afternoon to wander before the official start of Halloween Horror Nights. As for our tickets, we went with 2 Night Rush of Fear passes, so that we could attend Halloween Horror Nights on both Friday night and Saturday night. We did NOT buy Express Passes.
On Friday night, we were able to go through every house that we wanted to do, and even went through one twice. (There were two houses that we had no interest in, so we went through 8/10 houses.) And we still had time to stop for snacks and Dufftoberfests (more on that later), wander through all the scare zones multiple times, and stop and watch the Marathon of Mayhem show.
So, what does this year’s Halloween Horror Nights look like?
- Stranger Things
- Universal Monsters
- Killer Klowns from Outer Space
- Graveyard Games
- Yeti: Terror of the Yukon
- Depths of Fear
- Nightingale’s Blood Pit
- House of 1000 Corpses
The Scare Zones
- Vanity Ball
- Vikings Undead
- Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe
My Personal HHN Favorites
So, we didn’t actually go through two of the houses: House of 100 Corpses or Nightingale’s Blood Pit. What we had heard about both of these is that they are pretty gory, and neither of us are fans of that type of thing. We went through all of the rest of them, and my #1 favorite was Universal Monsters. (I think we ended up going through it at least 3 times.) It’s full of classic horror movie monsters–and some that you won’t expect to see! Plus, there were a couple of scares that got me every. single. time.
When it comes to the scare zones, I couldn’t pick a single favorite, but I have a top 3: Vanity Ball, Anarch-cade, and Zombieland. Vanity Ball is SO MUCH FUN to wander through, and to sit and watch. I’ll be honest, I went into it NOT expecting to like it either! Anarch-cade is the coolest one at night. Not necessarily scary, but SO COOL. And Zombieland was fun because I jumped so many times. The characters blend in pretty well with the crowd, so if you’re not paying attention they will make you jump!
5 Tips for Halloween Horror Nights
- Make a Plan We looked up the houses in advance and made a list of the houses we wanted to do. Then, we grabbed a HHN map when we got to the park so we could figure out the layout of the houses and scare zones. Once we were in the park for the day, we picked a holding location around 4:30, where we could be closest to the house that we wanted to do the most…and that was highly likely to be one of the most popular houses (Stranger Things).
- Stay & Scream If you have a ticket to the park or an annual pass to Universal, go into the park a few hours before the event starts. Then, as I mentioned in #1, pick a holding zone that is near the house that you want to start with. We wanted to start with Stranger Things, so we chose the Finnegan’s holding zone and went ahead and entered pretty early on our first night. In that holding zone, we were able to already get in line for either Stranger Things or Ghostbusters. This was definitely worth it, since the line for Stranger Things pretty much stays at 120+ minutes throughout the night.
- Dufftoberfest There are special cocktails and seasonal beers served during Halloween Horror nights. We picked up a seasonal beer from one of the tents while waiting in line for Stranger Things. We met up with my friend Jess and her husband later in the evening, which is when we learned that Dufftoberfest is the way to go if you want a good, seasonal beer during your visit to HHN. It was definitely better than your standard Oktoberfest…plus the lines were way shorter over in Springfield, U.S.A. (Maybe I shouldn’t be sharing this little bit of info…whoops!)
- Try Some of the Food We’re both kind of weird about eating heavy meals when we’re out in the heat. We ate an early dinner before we went into the holding zone to get in line for the Stranger Things house. And since it was so hot, we didn’t choose to try many of the HHN specials. A lot of them were pretty heavy offerings for us. BUT we did try the Twisted Taters that are available near the Universal Monsters and Graveyard Games houses this year. Let me tell you, those are a great snack. Our favorites were the Salt & Vinegar and the Seasoned Salt. Grab one and a Dufftoberfest and you’ll have a good HHN snack.
- Peek into Diagon Alley Unless you have early park entry (which you might, if you’re an AP or staying at specific on-property hotels) the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is generally pretty crowded. If you want to see it with less of a crowd, HHN is the perfect time to pop in and walk through without being completely squished by the crowd.
Planning a trip to Universal? You can see more of my Universal Orlando content right here!