A Disney Fans Guide to Halloween Horror Nights
Have you waited too long on your DVC vacation to Walt Disney World?
If you’re discovering everything is booked, remember our Confirmed Reservations.
On the other hand, you could try something new this year. For those of you looking for something scarier than Not-So-Scary, I have a suggestion.
Here’s what you need to know about Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort.
History of the Event
In 1991, Universal Studios Florida was barely a year old and wanted to differentiate itself from Walt Disney World.
Since everyone at the time knew that Disney targeted families, Universal sought to appeal to adults.
So, park officials invented an extremely adult offering called Fright Nights, a title loosely based on a 1985 vampire movie.
Universal changed the title to Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) the following year, primarily because Fright Night was a Sony movie. Seriously.
Still, the core attributes of HHN were already on display during the early 1990s.
Universal Studios Florida hosts a haunted house, The Dungeon of Terror, and a bunch of spooky shows. You can guess how family-friendly The Dungeon of Terror was.
More importantly, more than 35 monsters, many of them classic characters like The Wolfman and The Mummy, appeared during the three-night event.
In year one, advance tickets to HHN cost only $12.95 per person, and the event lasted only three nights.
From humble beginnings, HHN has grown into a seminal event in Central Florida (and Hollywood, for that matter).
What Is Halloween Horror Nights?
In a way, Universal Studios predicted the experiential nature of Millennials.
You can think of those early HHN Houses as escape rooms combined with bad acting.
Here’s super-grainy video of the Beetlejuice Graveyard Tours show from 1991:
Yes, that’s the Blues Brothers and Norman Bates hanging out at the same house as Beetlejuice.
Fright Nights/HHN was basically any character Universal controlled appearing in a horror setting.
Over the years, HHN has turned into a much more polished experience. Universal favors Houses now, as that’s what guests prefer.
Here’s a video of all 10 Houses from 2018:
You’ll notice that some aren’t connected to any IP. This is because Universal has grown more daring with its storytelling, and the cast makes that possible.
Central Florida thespians audition to portray Scare Actors, and these gigs are competitive. People know they’ll get some attention for their work.
For this reason, HHN has evolved into a much more gripping affair and a local institution to boot.
When you enter Universal Studios for HHN, you’re agreeing to let strangers try to scare the stuffing out of you for several hours. And some of them tak it seriously!
I’ve watched Scare Actors wielding chainsaws chase park guests down the street for 100+ feet.
In fact, the whole thing feels like an “A Florida Man…” headline waiting to happen.
Still, HHN has grown into one of the seminal events on the Central Florida entertainment calendar.
I think of the situation as Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party catering to Disney vacationers, while Halloween Horror Nights has established itself as a part of Florida culture.
As a tourist, you’ll feel right at home, assuming you don’t mind being scared.
Halloween Horror Nights 31
For the past two years, Universal Orlando Resort has operated a modified version of HHN as a concession to the pandemic.
Barring something unforeseen, that won’t happen in 2022. Park officials are prepping the real deal for the first time since 2019. As such, it’s gonna be massive.
HHN will operate from September 2nd through October 31st. That’s 43 nights, the most ever for the event.
For 2022, Universal will host 10 Houses, two live shows, and five Scare Zones. The latter areas are where the Scare Actors hunt you for sport. It’s exhilarating!
Here’s a video look at what to expect at Scare Zones:
You might want to wear running shoes!
Universal has confirmed three of the HHN Houses already. Universal Monsters: Legends Collide leans heavily into the classic monsters library.
Halloween is a straightforward representation of what it’s like to live in Haddonfield, Illinois, the home of one Michael Myers.
Also, we’ve got a returning entry, The Horrors of Blumhouse.
However, this House will be totally different, as it ties into two of Blumhouse’s newest properties: The Black Phone (currently in theaters) and Freaky.
Tickets are on sale for the event. They start at $73.99, and you’ll be happy to know that several rides operate during the event.
So, when you want a break from the terror, you can visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Please know that Universal discourages visits from guests under 13 for obvious reasons.
The Vacation Plan
Something you could try is a split stay at Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.
I’ve done this many times and usually without a car. So instead, we take an Uber for about $35 one way.
You can experience most of Universal Orlando Resort in three days (four if you want a water park day). Then, you can spend another few days at Walt Disney World.
This strategy combines the danger of Halloween Horror Nights with the joy of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
Alternatively, you could simply vacation at Universal Orlando Resort for a change.
I believe that this park is never better than during September and October.
By the way, if you want a better HHN experience, consider the HHN Express Pass.
These passes start at $109.99 per person and guarantee you one quick entry visit to each House.
Thanks to the DVC Rental Store’s latest Point Swap Program, DVC members can now use their points for stays at Universal Orlando Resort! With three exciting theme park destinations and more on the way, Universal Orlando has plenty of excitement to offer.
Interested in taking part in the Universal Studios Point Swap Program? Fill out an inquiry form for a trip, and a Swap Advisor will be in touch and help you get the most value for your points.