ORLANDO, Fla. — Halloween Horror Nights is back at Universal Studios Florida.
The theme park kicked off the 31st edition of its popular nightly event on Friday with thousands of visitors pouring into the park, ready to be terrified by this year’s lineup of haunted houses and scare zones.
what you need to know
- Halloween Horror Nights Now Underway at Universal Studios Florida
- This year’s event takes inspiration from traditional Halloween themes.
- The 10 haunted houses also offer something different
With the event in its 31st year and Halloween on October 31, the team at Universal decided to go with a traditional Halloween theme, but, in true Halloween Horror Nights fashion, they added their own spooky twist.
“Halloween, October 31, is celebrated at Halloween Horror Nights,” said Lora Sauls, one of the creative minds behind Universal’s HHN. “And how we’re doing it is by using those Halloween traditions and tropes like witches and black cats and ghosts and goblins and scarecrows and skeletons, and of course we’re twisting that in horrible ways that only Halloween Nights can do.”
Those elements are woven into the five scare zones, like Horrors of Halloween, which features a giant Pumpkin Lord and dozens of Jack-o-lanterns; Cemetery: Mortal, where dead spirits have awakened in a graveyard; and Conjure the Dark, which features an evil sorceress.
The lineup includes 10 haunted houses, and each one offers something different, whether it’s big scares, thrills, or even something comical. There are houses based on intellectual property like John Carpenter’s Halloween or the latest Blumhouse movies. And then there are the original concept houses that come from the mind of the team at Universal.
To give you a better idea of what to expect from this year’s lineup, here are brief summaries about each house, in no particular order:
Universal Monsters: Legends Collide
This house faces three legendary monsters, Mummy, Wolf Man and Dracula, as they try to obtain a powerful amulet. You’ll fight your way through dark Egyptian tombs as this battle unfolds, with creatures leaping at you in almost every way. In the end, there will only be one winner and that will change every night.
The Weeknd: Nightmare After Hours
Inspired by the music of The Weeknd, this house has a strong club vibe. But there are nightmarish elements throughout. Don’t be surprised if you see someone coming at you with a knife. There is also a room full of mirrors. And The Weeknd’s music is blasting upstairs.
Dead Man’s Dock: Winter’s Awakening
One of the original concept houses, Dead Man’s Pier, takes inspiration from the 2016 scare zones that proved hugely popular. The setting is a fishing village where the dead captain and crew may make you the next victim to join them in their watery graves. This house has some of the best visuals of any of the houses this year.
If you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, this house is probably at the top of your list. The scenes that appear in the house were taken directly from the film. There are apparently over 40 kitchen knives in this house. See if you can spot them all as you try to escape from Michael Myers.
Bugs: eaten alive
With a 1950s aesthetic, this original concept house leans more towards comic elements than the other houses. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have scares. This house is full of thousands of bugs that have grown and mutated thanks to a new insect exterminator product that is having adverse effects. The cockroaches are on the walls. The larvae are seen above. You will feel something in your legs and on your face. If you’re afraid of bugs, you might want to stay out of this one.
The legend of the chupacabra comes to life in this house. Tourists are lured to a party only to be sacrificed to chupacabras. As you make your way through the houses, festive music gives way to the sounds of screaming, growling, and dripping blood. Fun fact: all audio prompts and signs throughout the house are in Spanish.
Spirits of the Coven
A Halloween party is taking place at this 1920s speakeasy. The flappers hosting the party are actually witches who are enticing customers to make witch brew with their blood. The scenery in this house is top notch, from a bar with eyeballs in the drinks to a table with a head spinning on it. There is also a very cool moving prop effect that is similar to what you would see in a theme park ride.
The Blumhouse Horrors
A new offering featuring Blumhouse movies, this house features two houses in one: Freaky and The Black Phone. The former is lighter, while the latter leans towards darker elements. The Black Phone part also takes up most of the house, so if you haven’t seen the movie, it might be worth checking out to at least understand how the story unfolds in the house.
Hell Block Horror
Set in a prison full of monsters that have escaped. This original concept house is dark and noisy, and has some intense strobe lighting effects.
descendants of destruction
In a post-apocalyptic New York, the subway tunnels are filled with bloodthirsty mutated humanoid creatures. You will enter the dark and dank tunnels where these creatures have taken over. Plus, more strobe light effects.
Halloween Horror Nights, a separately ticketed event, runs on select nights through October 31. Opening weekend sold out on Friday, according to Universal, tickets are available for other nights of events. For more information, visit halloweenhorrornights.com.