ORLANDO, Fla. — Halloween Horror Nights is back at Universal Studios Florida.
The theme park kicked off the 31st edition of its popular after-hours event on Friday with thousands of visitors descending on 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 the event takes inspiration from traditional Halloween themes
- The 10 haunted houses also offer something different
With the event being in its 31st year and Halloween taking place on October 31, the Universal team 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 being celebrated at Halloween Horror Nights,” said Lora Sauls, one the creative minds behind Universal’s HHN. “And how we’re doing that is using those traditions and tropes of Halloween like witches, black cats, ghosts and goblins, scarecrows and skeletons, and of course we’re twisting that in horrific ways that only Halloween Nights can do.”
Those elements are weaved into the five scare zones such as Horrors of Halloween, which features a giant Pumpkin Lord and dozens of jack-o-lanterns; Graveyard: Deadly, where dead spirits have awakened in a cemetery; and Conjure the Dark, which features an evil sorceress.
The lineup includes 10 haunted houses, with each offering something different—whether it be big scares, thrills or even something comical. There are the houses based on intellectual property such as John Carpenter’s Halloween or the latest Blumhouse movies. And then there are the original-concept houses with come from the minds of the Universal team.
To give you a better idea of what to expect from the lineup this year, here are brief summaries about each house, in no particular order:
Universal Monsters: Legends Collide
This house pits three legendary monsters—Mummy, Wolf Man and Dracula—against each other as they try to obtain a powerful amulet. You’ll make your way through dark Egyptian tombs as this battle plays out, with creatures jumping out at you at almost every turn. In the end, there will only be one winner and that will change each night.
The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare
Inspired by the music from The Weeknd, this house is heavy on the club vibe. But there are nightmarish elements throughout. Don't be surprised if you see someone coming at you with a knife. There’s also a room full of mirrors. And music from The Weeknd is blasting above.
Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake
One of the original-concept houses, Dead Man’s Pier takes inspiration from a 2016 scare zones that proved to be really popular. The setting is fishing village where the captain and dead crew might make you the next victim to join them in their watery graves. This house has some of the best visual effects of any of the houses this year.
If you’re a fan of John Carpenter’s 1978 classic, then this house will likely be at the top of your list. The scenes featured in the house pulled straight from the film. Apparently there are more than 40 kitchen knives featured in this house. See if you can spot them all as you try to escape Michael Myers.
Bugs: Eaten Alive
Sporting a 1950s aesthetic, this original-concept house leans more into the comical elements than the other houses. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any scares. This house is filled with thousands of bugs who have grown and mutated thanks to a new insect exterminating product that’s having adverse effects. Roaches are on the walls. Larvae is seen above. You’ll feel something on your legs and on your face. If you have a fear of bugs, you might want to sit this one out.
Fiesta de Chupacabras
The legend of the chupacabra comes to life in this house. Tourists are being lured into a party only to be sacrificed to the chupacabras. As you make your way through the houses, the festive music give way to the sounds of screams, snarls and blood dripping. Fun fact: All the audio prompts and signs throughout the house are all in Spanish.
Spirits of the Coven
At this 1920s-era speakeasy a Halloween party is underway. The flappers hosting the party are actually witches who are luring in patrons to make witch’s brew from their blood. The set design in this house is top notch, from a bar with eyeballs in the drinks to a table with a head spinning on it. There's also a really neat moving prop effect that's similar to what you would see on a theme park attraction.
The Horrors of Blumhouse
A new offering featuring movies from Blumhouse, this house features two houses in one—Freaky and The Black Phone. The first is more light, while the latter leans into the darker elements. The Black Phone portion also takes up most of the house, so if you haven’t seen the movie, it might be worth giving it a watch to at least understand how the story plays out in the house.
Set in a prison filled with monsters who have broken out. This original-concept house is dark and loud, and it has some intense strobe light effects.
Descendants of Destruction
In a post-apocalyptic New York, the subway tunnels are filled with humanoid mutant creatures out for blood. You’ll enter the dark, dank tunnels where these creatures have taken over. Also, more strobe light effects.
Halloween Horror Nights, a separate ticket event, runs on select nights through Oct. 31. Opening weekend sold out on Friday, according to Universal, tickets are available for other event nights. For more information, visit halloweenhorrornights.com.