Universal Studios Halloween Celebrations
Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) at Universal Orlando is consistently voted “Best Halloween Event” by Amusement Today in their Golden Ticket award. This event is not recommended for children under the age of 13 and costumes and masks are not allowed.
For 2013, Halloween Horror Nights 23, Universal are using the tag line “What EVIL Has Taken ROOT?”. The first house to be announced was “The Cabin in the Woods”, taken from LIONSGATE’s hit horror film.
Cabin in the Woods at Halloween Horror Nights 23
[Courtesy of Universal Studios Florida] All Rights Reserved
In 2013 Halloween Horror Nights just runs at Universal Studios (not Islands of Adventure) for 27 nights, September 20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29, October 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31, November 1 and 2 and opens each night at 6:30 p.m. Closing times vary between 12 midnight and 2 a.m.
It is a separately ticketed event and is not included with regular admission.
Special themed ultra-realistic “houses” and scare zones are set up to frighten the guests along with live entertainment like “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” which parodies scenes from TV, the movies and music. Universal recruit thousands of extra staff who dress up as mutants, monsters and zombies to roam the darkened streets.
Halloween Horror Nights is in marked contrast to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Legoland and is not for the faint hearted. If you are an ardent fan of horror movies you will probably “enjoy” it, if that is the right word?
The houses are indoor sets often recreating scenes from horror movies whereas the scare zones and street experiences are outside spaces connecting different areas of the park (and hence easier to escape from if you find the experience too intense).
Halloween Horror Nights Houses
Each year Universal introduces new haunted houses and scare zones with around eight themed houses.
Eight houses have been announced for 2013:
- Cabin in the Woods, based on the recent horror film of the same name
- Evil Dead, again based on the recent horror film
- Afterlife: Death’s Vengeance 3D
- An American Werewolf in London, based on the 1981 classic with scenes including the Slaughtered Lamb pub, Piccadilly Circus and werewolves
- Havoc2: Derailed on a speeding train
- Urban Legends: La Llorona featuring a woman who drowned her children
- The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven is based on Season 3 of the TV series and returns for a second year. Includes the town of Woodbury, the prison and walkers/zombies.
- Resident Evil: Escape from Raccoon City puts you inside the video game and features Lickers, Hunters and Nemesis
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure will return as will the “Rocky Horror Picture Show - A Tribute” after a gap of several years.
A first for 2013 is the idea of theming all the scare zones on just one concept, The Walking Dead: The Undead Streets.
Some of Universal’s regular rides and attractions are also open during the event and you can purchase special Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes to give you front of line access to the houses and scare zones. The normal daytime Express Passes and those given to Universal Resort Hotel guests are not valid during Halloween Horror Nights.
Halloween Horror Nights 2013 Ticket Prices
This is a separately ticketed event and all advanced ticket prices quoted here do not include sales tax. Weekend tickets tend to sell out first so it pays to purchase your tickets in advance rather than just turn up at the gate particularly if you are planning on going on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night.
For a single night admission, the cost is $91.99 and there are no child ticket prices as it is not recommended to children under the age of 13.
If you are visiting the park during the daytime then you can buy a “Stay and Scream” upgrade ticket which gives you Halloween Horror Nights admission on top of your regular daytime admission. Prices are $38.99 (Sunday to Thursday), $53.99 (Saturday) and $69.99 (Sunday) depending upon the day of week for the Halloween Horror Nights. Note that you do not have to use your Halloween Horror Nights ticket on the same day as your daytime admission.
If you are planning on making more than one visit then you can buy a variety of Frequent Fear Passes which gives you access on multiple dates, up to 20 nights in all. For 2013 there is no mention of inclusive Express Plus Passes.
The “Rush of Fear” gives you up to 10 nights during the first 3 weeks for $72.99. The “Frequent Fear” ticket costs $83.99 and is good for up to 15 nights but excludes Fridays and Saturdays except for the first weekend.
The ultimate ticket is the “Frequent Fear Plus”. It costs $99.99 but includes up to 20 nights and only excludes Saturday nights apart from the first weekend.
Halloween Horror Night Express passes are also available. In 2013 they will cost between $49.99 and $99.99 depending upon date and availability is limited. An Express Pass allows you to bypass the line once on each haunted house and ride/attraction. You can also get a combined Frequent Fear Pass and Express Pass.
Florida residents can get a discount of up to $49 on a single night admission with participating Coca-Cola product promotions such as Coca-Cola®, Coca-Cola Zero™ or Sprite® product. Ticket prices are $42.99 (Sunday to Thursday), $53.99 (Friday) and $69.99 (Saturday). Tickets are non-transferable and Florida ID is required.
Universal normally offer VIP tours but for Halloween 2012 they had four separate RIP tours, both private and non-private. RIP tours typically take around four hours.
The Private Tours are for groups of up to 10 people and include complimentary standard valet parking, access to the RIP Lounge with cash bar upon check-in, priority RIP Tour Haunted House Entrances, VIP Priority Access to all available regular park attractions, reserved seating at Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure show plus complimentary coffee and bottled water in the RIP Lounge at the end of the tour. Prices start at $1,500 per group but do not include regular HHN admission tickets.
The Non-private Tours include the same options as the private tours but valet parking is subject to availability. Prices start at $150 per person and again do not include regular HHN admission tickets. There are also two “behind the scenes” tours.
The Unmasking the Horror Tours take place during the day (before the HHN event starts) and give you an overview of the whole event plus a “lights-on” look at three of the haunted houses. Prices start at $55 in addition to the regular park admission. Duration is at least two hours.
The final tour is the Arcane Insights Tour and it offers the same options as the non-private RIP tour plus you are accompanied by members of the Universal Orlando Art & Design Team. The tour lasts around six hours including a Q&A session with the Art & Design team. Prices start at $225 per person plus HHN admission.
Premier and Preferred Annual Passholders can get savings on admission tickets (up to $52) and Frequent Fear passes (up to $32).
In past years, Universal has also offered a special “Gory Getaway” package which includes 3 nights accommodation, a 2 day base ticket, early admission to Islands of Adventure, access to live entertainment in CityWalk and one night’s admission to Halloween Horror Nights with prices starting from $319.
Some children may find some of the attractions too intense. Note that there are no children’s ticket prices and no costumes are allowed. If you arrive in a costume or mask you will be turned away at the gate.
For 2012, Universal built seven houses:
- AMC’s The Walking Dead - Dead Inside, based on the TV series of the same name
- Welcome to Silent Hill, based on the video game
- Alice Cooper - Welcome to My Nightmare, a maze featuring Steven who appears in many of Alice Coopers songs
- Penn & Teller Newkd Vegas, a maze set in a nuked toxic Las Vegas
- Universal’s House of Horrors, black and white original horror
- Gothic, stone gargoyles come to life at The Catedral de Caementum Animus
- Dead End, the curse at the old Hartford Mansion in Carey, Ohio
The two shows in 2012 were Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure and The 20 Penny Circus.
Halloween Horror Nights History
Halloween Horror Nights started in 1991 as Fright Nights before being renamed to Halloween Horror Nights the following year. Today the event is celebrated at Universal Orlando, California and Singapore.
In 2010, Universal Studios celebrated the 20th year of bringing the deepest and darkest nightmares to life with XX: Twenty Years of Fear and for 2011 Halloween Horror Nights 21 you got to meet Lady Luck.
For 2012, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 22 introduced new houses including AMC’s critically acclaimed TV series “The Walking Dead” and the video game franchise “Silent Hill”.
See Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights (external site) for further details.