Are you interested in attending Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort? I am here to help you have the best experience possible! I would like to say that my husband and I are seasoned HHN veterans. We are from Michigan and like to spend a week in Orlando during the Halloween season every year. I’m going to show you what to do so you can make the most with your time and money. Keep reading..
This post is full of information and tips for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.
What is Halloween Horror Nights?
HHN (Halloween Horror Nights) is a yearly event put on inside Universal Orlando Parks. The event takes place in both Orlando, FL and in Hollywood, CA. I am only focusing on Orlando since that is where we vacation. This year, in 2023, it starts at the beginning of September and continues until early November. It happens select nights from 6:30pm-2:00am. Make sure to check out the official Universal website to see all the dates.
Horror Nights has 10 haunted houses. Half are usually themed around popular horror movies. For example this year they have a Chucky, Stranger Things, The Last of Us, and The Exorcist house. These change every year. The other half of the houses are original ideas the creators of HHN come up with. This year they have Dueling Dragons, The Darkest Deal, Yeti, Dr. Oddfellow + more. All the houses are INSANELY themed and so well done. They are unlike any other haunted houses you will ever experience.
They also have 5 scarezones, which are areas around the park that you just walk through. These are also heavily themed and have scare actors walking around freely. In 2023 the scare zones are themed as the Dark Zodiac, Vamp ’69, Jungle of Doom, Dr. Oddfellow’s Collection of Horror and Shipyard 32.
Another attraction to visit is the live action show. This year it is called Nightmare Fuel. This is a sit down show where you can watch live acrobat/pyro performers dance and act to music. DO NOT SKIP! These shows are always such a blast!
Usually every year there is a HHN “icon”. Basically the host of the entire Horror Nights event. The Icon for 2023 is Dr. Oddfellow.
What is the cost of HHN?
** Please note that Horror Nights is a separately ticketed event. If you have daytime passes for Universal Studios Parks, that does not mean you have tickets for HHN.
Single Night Tickets – start at $79.99 per person. This changes depending on the day you choose to go.
Multi-Night Tickets – these are more for locals I would say. They offer a pass called Rush of Fear which gets you access to the first 18 event nights for $179.99. You could also get a Frequent Fear Pass which gets you up to 30 nights but only Sunday-Thursday events. This starts at $229.99. There are few other options for Multi-night tickets on their website. You can decide if they are right for you.
Express Passes – these are tickets you can purchase IN ADDITION to your admission ticket. These start at $119.99 per person and go up in price depending on the day you select. They do limit the number of express passes they sell per night so make sure you buy these asap!
The RIP Tour – this is a guided walking tour you can purchase IN ADDITION to your admission ticket. It starts at $329.99 per person. There are only allowed to be six people in the group and will consist of other parties if you do not have six people. If you have more than six people in your group, you will have to purchase a Private RIP Tour. You can find more information about both of these RIP tours and what they include on the Universal website.
Stay and Scream Ticket – if you’re interested in getting in the parks before the huge main gate crowd, you can purchase the Stay and Scream for $40.00. This will let you into the park from 3-5pm. At 5pm they will usher you into a Stay and Scream area to wait until the event begins. The areas are located right next to some of the houses, giving you first shot to them and most likely, no line. If you already have regular Universal park admission for that day (meaning you were at Universal Studios during the day) you do NOT need to purchase this ticket. You can go ahead and just get into a Stay and Scream area at 5pm as long as you have a normal HHN ticket for that night.
Will the rides be open?
YES! You will be able to get to ride the rides (not all of them but most) even if you didn’t have a day time Universal Orlando ticket. The rides that are usually open are Rip Ride Rocket, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers, Escape from Gringotts, and Men in Black.
You can still explore Diagon Alley and new this year.. DEATH EATERS will be walking around the Wizarding World!
Food and Drinks
During the HHN event, there will be tons of food and drink booths set up around the park. They create a fun menu themed around all things horror and the houses. Usually the food options are a little weird (think peanut butter on your hamburger) but that’s what makes it so different and fun to try. They always have yummy signature drinks that come in light up souvenir cups – so fun! You are allowed to bring your drinks in line while waiting for houses but have to finish before you get to the front of the line.
If you don’t want to eat at their HHN booths, the regular dining options will be available around the park and in City Walk.
Lets Talk Express Passes…
The question I get asked the most is if express passes are actually needed at Halloween Horror Nights. The answer to this is YES. If you have one single night and you want to get all the houses and show done, you will need to purchase an express pass. On many nights, the regular standby lines for the houses can get up to 100 min waits. If you have express, you will most likely wait 20 minutes per house.
You do NOT have to buy them in advance. You can see how the crowd levels are when you arrive and then decided to purchase while you’re there. They will have kiosks set up all over the event to purchase EP at. Just note that they sometimes sell out on busy nights.
Now if you don’t have the extra money for an express pass (because we all know they ain’t cheap), there are ways to maximize your time.
- Utilize the Stay and Scream ticket ($40) I mentioned earlier. Remember this is free if you already had regular day admission to Universal Parks. Get into the S&S area at 5pm and wait until HHN opens. These areas will let you out near the houses. So you are essentially bypassing everyone at the main gate who is waiting to scan their tickets to get inside. You can knock out 2-3 houses before it gets too busy.
- Visit on a weekday if you don’t want to purchase express passes. Although, lines will still be long.. they won’t be as bad as Friday-Sunday waits.
- Visit in September rather than October for less crowds. People get more into the Halloween spirit in October and are more likely to visit.
- If you are staying at any of the Universal resort properties, utilize their priority entrance gate. The line is likely to be shorter.
- If you aren’t staying on property, plan to get to the main entrance at 5:30pm and wait in line until it opens. Being at the front of the line will help you reach the houses faster.
- Plan two nights at HHN and split the houses in half between the nights.
What to wear
This is one of my favorite parts of Halloween Horror Nights! All the horror themed outfits! Obviously you can wear your regular clothes and fit right in but its fun to get dressed up for the occasion. Just make sure you keep your comfy shoes on!! You are not allowed to wear full costumes either. It is smart to pack a poncho because this is hurricane season in Orlando and it tends to rain frequently (usually only for 20 mins then it stops).
I recommend a small backpack – I really love the themed Loungefly bags! A small purse or fanny pack would be good too. You don’t want to carry around a big bag all night. There are metal detectors and bag searches when you enter into City Walk.
Can children attend?
Yes they can but Universal recommends kids 13 and older. I have seen four year olds with their parents at these things! To each their own I guess. Just note that even if they don’t plan on going into houses, scare actors are still walking around. They make it a point to jump out and scare you. There really is no avoiding walking through the scare zones.
My favorite way to experience HHN
My husband and I are weeks away from another Halloween Horror Nights vacation and we’re so excited! I don’t even know how many times we have been but we are frequent flyers. Our love for horror is real! This is how we prefer to plan our trips.
We only ever need two days to experience everything HHN has to offer. Therefore, we purchase two single night tickets. We ALWAYS choose weekdays and avoid the Friday-Sunday crowds. We will not go without express passes. This is a must for us. Express passes allows us to get through all the houses both nights. You could always purchase an express ticket for ONE night and then the next night just go slow and enjoy without express. We have done it that way before too and it was fine.
We always always stay on Universal property. There are a lot of perks but its nice not to have to worry about parking, Ubers, etc. Our favorite premier hotel is Hard Rock. This is SO close to Universal Studios, its a 5 minute walk back to the hotel after a long night. For a cheaper option we love Cabana Bay. We call this our “home resort”. You can take a free shuttle bus from the parks right to the hotel for that one.
On the days we plan on going to HHN we try to avoid early park wake-ups or avoid the parks all together. This is so we aren’t super tired and dragging during the night. HHN is A LOT of standing and walking.
A lot of people go in with a game plan but we simply start at the front of the park and work our way in a circle. When you have express it really doesn’t matter what houses you get to first.
Just go in and have a blast! This is such a cool experience unlike any other – enjoy it! If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments below!
Check out these other posts while you’re here: