On select nights in September and October, Universal Studios at Universal Orlando Resort is overtaken by Halloween Horror Nights. This seasonal event features elaborately themed houses, scare zones, and live shows. It’s also a hard-ticket event, meaning that you need a separate ticket from regular admission in order to enter.
Halloween Horror Nights can be very crowded and lines for the houses can be very long, so here are some tips to make the most of your visit. Please note that Universal Orlando Resort does not recommend Halloween Horror Nights for children under 13.
First of all, grab the right ticket. Halloween Horror Nights does offer simple, general admission tickets, but there are several ways that you can spend less on your admission. If you’re visiting during the first three weeks of the event, look for the Rush of Fear pass. This pass offers admission to the first ten nights of the event, but for less than the cost of a single regular admission.
Or, if you’re visiting later in October (and not on a Friday or Saturday), go for the Frequent Fear pass – also less expensive than regular admission. If you’re also planning to visit the parks during the day, you can bundle your Halloween Horror Nights ticket with regular park admission and save up to half off the event ticket, depending on the night.
I did mention that this is a crowded and popular event, and if you want to make the most of your evening – especially during a crowded Friday or Saturday in October – I highly recommend purchasing an Express Pass.
A Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass is good for the houses, which are the main attraction and can have lines of 1-2 hours each. With 9 houses this year, that makes it very hard to see all of them in one night. Make sure that you purchase an Express Pass specifically for Halloween Horror Nights – the regular Express Pass does not work during this event. Keep in mind that this Express Pass only works for each house once per night, so use it wisely – if a house only has a short wait, use the stand-by line and save your pass for later.
Universal Orlando Resort recommends that visitors buy their Halloween Horror Nights tickets in advance, and I agree – it’s better to have all of that taken care of before the event starts so you don’t have to wait in another line. The event does sometimes sell out, though it’s unusual for most nights to sell out until the event has already started. If you do decide to get Express Pass, I recommend purchasing early, because Express Passes are much more limited than event admission and are more likely to sell out.
Whether you’re using Express Pass or not, I also highly recommend that you take advantage of early entry. You can only do this if you are inside Universal Studios before the event starts. This does require you to have regular daytime admission. This is how it works: guests inside Universal Studios before 5pm can go to a waiting area inside the park (there are usually at least two). Team members will scan your Halloween Horror Nights admission, and you wait in the designated area. After 5pm, guests outside the park are not allowed to enter until the event actually starts, so be inside the park before then if you want to take advantage of this. Guests in these waiting areas are allowed to start visiting select houses before guests waiting outside the park start entering, so you can usually get to one or two houses with no waiting.
While the houses are the main attraction, the scare zones are also a lot of fun. You can roam through these at will, and there are more opportunities for the scare actors to interact with you than in the houses. Don’t stop for them when you’re on your way to the houses first thing when the event starts, but absolutely take time to visit them later in the evening once you’ve visited most or all of the houses.
If you’d also like to enjoy some of Universal Studios’ regular attractions during Halloween Horror Nights, you can do that, too. The Rip Ride Rock-it, The Mummy Returns, the Simpsons Ride, Transformers: The Ride 3D, and MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack are all open during the event. Express Passes for Halloween Horror Nights are also valid for these attractions, though you may not need them because most guests are focused on the houses.
This year’s houses –
AMERICAN HORROR STORY
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE
THE WALKING DEAD
HALLOWEEN: HELL COMES TO HADDONFIELD
LUNATICS PLAYGROUND 3D – YOU WON’T STAND A CHANCE
GHOST TOWN: THE CURSE OF LIGHTNING GULCH
TOMB OF THE ANCIENTS
Elizabeth Perry is a travel agent and member of The Affordable Mouse team at Modern Travel Professionals and specializes in helping grown-up kids plan magical vacations to Disney destinations and Universal Orlando Resort. She will plan your vacation as if it were her own. Check out more valuable planning tips about Walt Disney World at http://planningformagic.com as well as more information about how a travel agent can make your Walt Disney World vacation magical.