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Universal Studios Orlando: A Guide to Halloween Horror Nights

Attention, thrill-seekers, and horror aficionados! If you’re planning a trip to Universal Studios Orlando this fall, you won’t want to miss the ultimate spooky experience: Halloween Horror Nights. I’m here to break down the event and provide you with some expert tips on how to make the most of this haunting adventure.

Entrance archway to Universal Studios Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights, adorned with eerie decorations and illuminated by hauntingly vibrant lights

What is Halloween Horror Nights?

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is Universal Studios Orlando’s premier Halloween event. Since its inception, it has become one of the most anticipated Halloween events in the country. Imagine a night where the park transforms into a playground of terror with haunted houses, scare zones, and live entertainment—all designed by the masters of horror from Universal Pictures.

Spooky Highlights

  1. Haunted Houses: Universal Studios crafts a series of intricate haunted houses inspired by popular horror movies, TV shows, and original concepts. Each house is uniquely themed, ensuring a fresh scare at every turn.  Universal Studios Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN)  event’s attractions change yearly, and Universal typically announces the line-up in the months leading up to the event.
  2. Scare Zones: Throughout the park, specific areas are dedicated to themed scare zones. Here, actors dressed as terrifying creatures lurk, ready to jump out when you least expect it.
  3. Live Shows: Besides the scares, there are also live shows that entertain and chill to the bone, including dance performances, magic shows, and more.

2023 Houses

  1. Bloodmoon Dark Offerings – Colonial era villagers begin to workshop the moon, hunting down any non-followers. Try not to become part of their grisly offering.
  2. The Exorcist Believer – Two missing girls have been found with no memory of what happened. But wherever they went, the ultimate evil has returned with them.
  3. Stranger Things – Band together with your squad to resist Vecna’s gruesome curse as you take on the scariest season of Stranger Things yet.
  4. Dueling Dragons Choose Thy Fate – Two powerful warlocks invade Merlyn’s castle and are turned into dragons of fire and ice. Now you must choose a path and a victor.
  5. Yeti: Campground Kills – In a 1950s campground, a group of towering, terrifying yetis are running rampant, ripping apart anyone who gets in their way.
  6. Chuky Ultimate Kill Count – Chucky is back for a new gorefest! He’s hijacked his haunted house with lots of blood hijinks. Try to survive his ultimate kill count.
  7. Dr. Oddfellow’s Twisted Origins – You won’t be able to resist going inside this menacing menagerie of twisted oddities. The pride: your soul to feed his immortal power.
  8. The Darkest Deal – Blues musician Pinestraw Spruce meets at a crossroads with a diabolical entity known as The Collector to make a deal: his would for fame.
  9. The Last of Us – You and your squad must stay silent if you want to survive Clickers and more as the gritty world of Naughty Dog’s video game comes to life.
  10. Universal Monsters: UNMASKED – Descend into the Paris Catacombs and face a new horde of infamous Monsters: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, and more.

2023 Scare Zones

  1. Dr. Oddfellow’s Collection of Horrors
  2. Vamp 69′: Summer of Blood
  3. Shipyard 32: Horrors Unhinged
  4. Jungle of Doom: Expedition Horror
  5. Dark Zodiac

2023 Live Show

Nightmare Fuel Revenge Dream – The show that sparked your dark dreams has reignited. The pyro and aerial performers will fire you up to the beat of metal and electronica.

Happens Four Times Nightly – Check the app or paper event guide for times.  The event guide can be picked up as you enter Universal Studios or throughout the park.

Note: This event is a little provocative, so be mindful if you’d like your young kids/teens to see it.

Don’t Miss the Tribute Store

The Tribute Store at Universal Studios Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) has become a staple for fans and visitors. It’s a seasonal retail experience that provides guests with unique merchandise and collectibles tied to the themes and stories of that year’s HHN event. Here’s a closer look:

1. Themed Rooms: The Tribute Store typically features multiple intricately themed rooms, each paying homage to a particular haunted house, scare zone, or aspect of HHN history. These rooms not only sell merchandise but are attractions in their own right, with immersive design, props, and sometimes even audio elements that draw guests into the story.

2. Merchandise: From event-exclusive T-shirts, posters, and pins to more unique items like specialized Halloween décor, masks, and collectibles, the Tribute Store offers a wide range of merchandise celebrating the HHN event.

4. Limited-time Snacks: Some editions of the Tribute Store have featured themed treats and snacks, making it a destination not just for shopping but for some spooky bites.  If you’re into themed treats specific to the event, you’ll want to go here!

5. Photo Ops: Given the detailed theming of the store, there are often great opportunities for guests to snap photos amidst the creepy-cool decor.

Remember, each year’s Tribute Store is unique. It reflects the themes and stories Universal wants to tell for that particular HHN. As a result, the design, merchandise, and overall experience can vary significantly from one year to the next.

Halloween Horror Nights Themed Food and Drinks

Themed food and drinks have become a significant part of the HHN experience in recent years, adding another layer to the immersive nature of the event.  You can expect to find:

  1. Specialty Beverages: Each year, Universal often releases event-specific alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that tie into the themes of certain haunted houses or overall HHN motifs. For example, they might have had drinks inspired by iconic horror films or original HHN characters.
  2. Themed Eateries: Food stands or pop-up tents get an HHN makeover, serving dishes inspired by the event’s haunted houses or scare zones. These can range from savory items, like themed burgers or sandwiches, to desserts with a spooky twist.  My personal favorite is Pizza Fries, which can be found each year at Louie’s Italian Restaurant.
  3. Desserts and Treats: Universal has offered a variety of themed desserts, from cupcakes and pastries adorned with HHN symbols to elaborately designed doughnuts that pay homage to the horror genre.
  4. Snack Items: You’ll find themed popcorn, specialty candies, or other snackable items that have a unique HHN twist, making them collectible (and edible!) souvenirs.
  5. Souvenir Containers: Universal often releases souvenir cups and popcorn buckets specific to HHN, which offer refill deals or simply serve as a memorable keepsake from the event.

Map of Event

Making the Most of Your Visit

Express Pass:

During peak nights, the wait times for haunted houses can get long. But fear not (well, maybe just a little)! The Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass allows you to skip the regular lines and reduce your wait times. It’s available at an additional cost, but it’s worth the investment if you’re looking to maximize your experience.

The price for the Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) Express Pass at Universal Studios Orlando can vary depending on several factors:

  1. Date: Prices often fluctuate depending on the date. Typically, weekends and dates closer to Halloween tend to be more expensive than off-peak dates in early September or on weekdays.
  2. General Demand: If a particular night is seeing high express pass sales, the price of Express Passes may also increase.  Express pass does sell out! So please don’t wait to get it.

To get the most accurate and up-to-date pricing, it’s always best to check directly with your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor.  We can provide you with the best price and options for your visit. Prices and offerings can change from year to year and even within a season based on demand.

RIP Tour:

The RIP (Rest in Peace) Tour is an exclusive, premium experience offered during Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) at Universal Studios Orlando. If you’re looking for a VIP experience, this tour might be just what you’re searching for.

Here’s what you can typically expect from an RIP Tour:

  1. Guided Tour: You’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide who will lead you through the park. They often share behind-the-scenes stories, insights about the event, and details about the design and inspiration behind the haunted houses.
  2. VIP Access: One of the most significant benefits of the RIP Tour is front-of-the-line access to the haunted houses. You won’t need to wait in the regular lines, which can be especially long on peak nights.
  3. Reserved Seating for Shows: Many RIP Tours offer reserved seating for live shows, ensuring you get a good view without the hassle of arriving early or searching for a seat.
  4. Exclusive Access: Depending on the year and the specifics of the tour, you might get access to exclusive tour areas or special viewpoints not available to the general public.
  5. Complimentary Valet Parking: This can be a perk, making your arrival and departure from the park smoother and more convenient.
  6. Themed Food and Drinks: Some RIP Tours include themed refreshments or stops where you can purchase exclusive food and beverages.
  7. Special Photo Ops: Tour groups may have opportunities for unique photo moments, making the experience even more memorable.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Price: The RIP Tour is a premium offering and is priced accordingly. It’s more expensive than regular HHN admission or the Express Pass, but it offers a level of convenience and exclusivity that many guests find worthwhile. To get the most accurate and up-to-date pricing, it’s always best to check directly with your Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Advisor.  We can provide you with the best price and options for your visit. Prices and offerings can change from year to year and even within a season based on demand.
  • Group Size: You might be in a group with other RIP Tour guests. If you’re looking for an even more exclusive experience, consider inquiring about private RIP Tours, which cater exclusively to your party.
  • Booking in Advance: Due to its popularity and limited availability, it’s highly recommended to book the RIP Tour well in advance, especially if you’re planning to attend HHN on a particularly busy night.

Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour – New for 2023

The “Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour” offers visitors a rare, illuminated glimpse into the creative process of the Art & Design team as they bring our most profound fears to life in haunted house form.

Guests have the option of the “Behind the Screams: 3-Haunted House Tour” (lasting two and a half hours, available in the morning or afternoon) or the more extensive “Behind the Screams: 6-Haunted House Tour” (spanning five hours).

These tours provide an opportunity to view the houses under bright lights and capture the macabre intricacies of selected rooms within specific houses in photographs.

Rides & Attractions Open During HHN

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando is primarily known for its haunted houses, scare zones, and themed entertainment, but many of the park’s regular rides and attractions remain open during the event.

Personally, I think you should skip the attractions and focus on the items you can only do during the ticketed event.

  1. Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit: This music-themed roller coaster lets you pick a song to jam out to as you experience the thrills. 51″ tall to ride.
  2. The Revenge of the Mummy: Dive into the world of the Mummy in this indoor roller coaster filled with special effects. 48″ tall to ride
  3. Transformers: The Ride 3D: Join the Autobots in a fight against the Decepticons in this immersive 3D simulator experience. 40″ tall to ride.
  4. Men in Black Alien Attack: Test your shooting skills and protect Earth from an alien invasion in this interactive ride. 42″ to ride.
  5. Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts: Located in Diagon Alley, this multi-dimensional thrill ride combines roller coaster segments with 3D projection screens for a truly magical experience. 42″ to ride.

For 2023, during HHN, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley is home to the Death Eaters Encounter.  While strolling through Diagon Alley, you may encounter these mystical creatures.

Tips for a Spook-tacular Experience

  1. Arrive Early: If you don’t opt for the Express Pass or RIP Tour, aim to arrive right when the event starts at 6:30 p.m. to tackle as many options as possible.  Keep in mind that the longest waits are at the beginning and middle of the event. Late nights lead to lower wait times on the most popular houses.
  2. Dress Comfortably: You’ll be walking a lot, and potentially running (from scares, of course). Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  It is still HOT in Orlando in September and October. Short of the random cool front, you will still be sweating even with the sundown.  Shorts, T-shirts, and tank tops are the best options for the event.
  3. Stay Hydrated and Fed: The park has a variety of themed food and drink stalls, perfect for keeping your energy up during the evening.  Don’t skip the water. You’ll need it!
  4. Follow the Map: Plan your route in advance. Decide which houses and scare zones you absolutely must see and tackle those first.
  5. Stay Overnight: If you’re traveling from afar or even live locally, consider staying at one of Universal Orlando’s on-site hotels. This allows for easy access to the park and an even easier way to bed late at night when the event ends.

Halloween Horror Nights is a must-visit for anyone seeking thrills and chills. Love of the Magic Vacations is here to help you plan the perfect horror-filled getaway. Whether you’re looking to dabble in the frights or dive deep into the terror, Universal Studios Orlando promises a night you’ll never forget. Don’t forget to pack your courage!

Jamie Rumph
Jamie Rumph
Hi, I'm Jamie, traveling mama, entrepreneur, and travel advisor. I'm addicted to Disney, traveling and exploring the world with my family, and have a passion for helping families experience the magic of travel. My home is filled with love and chaos, 2 crazy girls, 2 large dogs, and the most spectacular architect and Disney Cast Member I call my husband. We live in Florida and spend our weekends playing at Orlando's many theme parks and visiting the beach. In 2015, after helping numerous families plan their vacations to various Disney Destinations, I started a blog to answer all of the many travel questions I received daily. In 2016, the blog grew into a travel agency, and Love of the Magic Vacations was born. With a team of nearly 20, we spend our days creating family vacations around the world. What started as a blog is now a full service, worldwide vacation destination planning service. I create custom itineraries for each of my clients that not only meets but exceeds expectations. There is no greater gift than making memories while sharing the world and its cultures with your kids.


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