The heart-thumping highlight of the Halloween season is surviving the terrifying Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. The annual event that runs on select nights in the fall takes thousands of guests through movie set-quality haunted houses, or mazes, scare zones and even a Terror Tram. Most Halloween Horror Nights event dates sell out and Universal Studios Hollywood isn't that large, so it does get crowded. Luckily, you've got us as your fearless froggy guides so that you can experience everything (and save money) on this must-do event! We've been hopping to this event for many years and usually catch the first weekend of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, so we can bring you everything you need to know.
If you want to go to Hollywood Horror Nights 2019, be sure to buy your tickets through Universal once they go on sale in the summer because event tickets (especially Universal Express tickets) disappear in a scary fast way. With exciting mazes (like hopefully the return of the Netflix original "Stranger Things" maze), you definitely don't want to miss out!
Let's keep those treats (and not too many tricks) coming — it is Halloween, after all! In 2018, Universal Studios Hollywood hosted its first ever kid-friendly Halloween celebration in late Oct. It was included with regular park admission. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., kids 12 and under could dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat inside the park alongside some of their favorite characters! Among others, kids could meet Hello Kitty dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein or the minions dressed as monsters. There was a dance party in Universal Plaza, and all kids 12 and under got a carnival game voucher to play at Super Silly Fun Land or Krustyland's Carnival Games. Here was the schedule for the 2018 Kids' Halloween Party:
- 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Trick-or-treating and character meet-and-greets at select park locations
- 11a.m. – 2 p.m. — Halloween Party in the Plaza
- 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. — Costume Showcase at Universal Plaza
It would be a treat if it returned for 2019!
Now let's hop back to the gory details of Halloween Horror Nights!
When to Visit Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood
Halloween Horror Nights typically starts mid-September and runs on select nights through early November. The earlier you go in the season (and after Halloween in November), the lower the ticket price. Sunday nights and Thursday nights are the least expensive, and Saturdays tend to be the most expensive, followed by Fridays. Most of the days do sell out, but the least crowded nights tend to be Sundays and Thursdays. Last year, Universal Studios Hollywood offered passes for multiple nights of terror. You could choose from a September pass, a Frequent Fear pass with up to 23 nights and even the Ultimate Fear Pass with up to 29 nights!
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2018 Dates:
September 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
October 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31
November 1, 2, 3, 4
Some of the later dates were added as the season was underway, so if you somehow miss out on tickets for 2019, keep checking back because they could add more dates to the lineup!
For Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood tickets or HHN Universal Express passes, you need to purchase them directly from Universal Studios Hollywood. Tickets usually go on sale in early August. The HHN Universal Express tickets can sell out scary fast. Buy well in advance. Tickets purchased online allow for early entry from 5:00 p.m. on, and we definitely recommend arriving at 5:00 p.m. for the shortest waits of the night.
Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights Ticket Prices:
Halloween Horror Nights is a separate ticket from regular park admission. 2018's general admission prices for HHN ranged from $60 to $97. Universal Studios Hollywood also sold a Halloween Horror Nights Universal Express Pass (formerly called Front of Line Pass). Tickets for this pass ranged from $159 to $229. The HHN Universal Express Pass is good for express access for each maze and ride. It included priority seating for the Jabbawockeez live show last year, as well.
Universal also offered an After 2 p.m. Day/Night Combo ticket, which allowed you to enter the park at 2 p.m. These tickets ranged from $89 to $139 for general admission and $189 to $269 for Universal Express Pass After 2 p.m. This pass (if offered again in 2019) allows you to visit daytime attractions that will be closed during Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. Since The Wizarding World, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Kung Fu Panda, Studio Tour and shows are typically closed for Halloween Horror Nights, the combo ticket might be of interest to you if you have not yet experienced these attractions. Yes, you do get Universal Express access to all attractions during the day and once again at night for attractions that will be open then, too. There is usually a check-in point near the Box Office so you can get a wristband to stay in the park after it closes to the public.
For a killer experience, spring for the R.I.P. Tour. The 2018 R.I.P. Tour offered an exclusive VIP walking tour of Halloween Horror Nights, including:
- Universal Express Unlimited access to all mazes and available rides
- Complimentary valet parking (one vehicle)
- VIP entrance to event
- Reserved VIP seating for Jabbawockeez
- Private VIP trolley transportation to Backlot mazes and Terror Tram
- Exclusive interactive behind-the-scenes experiences such a “Stranger Things” experience with themed photo ops, props from the Netflix series and scare actor makeup demonstration.
- Gourmet buffet dinner, which features foods themed around “Stanger Things,” such as Upside Down Sliders.
- Two complimentary drinks
- Access to two lounges — a “Stranger Things” lounge and a lower lot lounge.
- R.I.P. credentials
Each tour is made up of groups mixed together for up to 12 guests per tour.
Are you a Universal Studios Pass Member? You might find additional perks such as discounted tickets. Platinum pass holders were entitled to one free Horror Nights general admission ticket that was valid on select dates in 2018. No reservation or ticket was required; passholders could just show their pass on these dates in 2018:
- September 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30
- October 4, 5, 11, 12, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 31
- November 1, 2, 3
And finally, there was the Frequent Fear Passes.
The September Pass was $99 and allowed guests to visit up to 11 night in September, including:
September 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
The 2 Nights of Fear Pass was $109 and was good for two select nights on:
- September 20, 27
- October 4, 11, 18, 25, 31
- November 1, 2, 3
The Frequent Fear Pass was $169 and allowed guests to visit ANY event night the first time and select nights for any return visits up to 23 visits. Return visits available in 2018 were:
- September 16, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
- October 4, 5, 11, 12, 14, 18, 21, 25, 31
- November 1, 2, 3
The Ultimate Fear Pass was $350, and for that price, you could come ANY night for your first visit or revisit up to 31 times.
We can’t wait to see what types of tickets are offered for Hollywood Horror Nights 2019!
Managing the Crowds & Touring Tips at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood
One of the most terrifying parts of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood is not getting to experience all of the mazes because of lines. Most Universal Halloween Horror Nights sell out. Save your terror for the mazes and cut the lines like Norman Bates' knife with a Halloween Horror Nights Front of the Line ticket. Be sure to buy in advance because Universal only offers a very limited number of Universal Express passes for each night, and they sell out as quickly as the Stranger Things kids flee from a pack of hungry Demogorgons.
Last year, there were eight mazes and five scare zones (but there was one less ride since Jurassic Park is closed).
This year, you can get a jumpstart on the fear … oops, we mean fun! The event usually begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m., but you can arrive early (at 5:00 p.m.) for early admission to get your heart thumping even sooner with access to the most popular mazes, which should open at 5:15 p.m. If you arrive early, you will be given a wristband so that you can stay in the park as it closes and other guests are ushered out.
The mazes available during Early Entry in 2018 included:
- Stranger Things
- Trick ‘R Treat
- Horrors of Blumhouse
- The First Purge
Arriving early can save your night because you can visit up to five mazes before the event officially begins and then move on to the other mazes as other guests make their way down the escalators. There are a few pros and cons to early arrival.
- If you do not like scare zones or the dark, you can start your night much more gently
- Experience short to no lines for two hours
- You can get through more mazes and maybe even do a favorite maze twice
- You can ride the Terror Tram early
- You can make it an earlier night
- The scare zones are not open until 7 p.m.
- There is a less eerie/dramatic effect walking into the park
- Two of the scare zones are on the walk from the Lower Lot to the Backlot, which means backtracking after 7 p.m. or waiting in the Backlot for the event to officially begin
- You might miss the opening scaremony in the Upper Lot (they close that area for the people coming in by 6:30 p.m. and no amount of begging or pleading will get you in)
Having Universal Express means no stress. You can easily do it all in any order you want even if you do not arrive early — although arriving early can mean doing some mazes twice — just do not scan the Universal Express pass the first time you go through, and then use the pass later when there is a line you want to skip. With early entry and Universal Express, we were able to hit all five of the early entry mazes before 7:00 p.m. If you have R.I.P, then you have unlimited Universal Express access. Universal no longer distributes lanyards for Universal Express. Instead you have to pull the paper ticket (about the size of a credit card) out each time to have it scanned. Bring a lanyard with a clear plastic pouch to make your life easier, or wear clothing with a secure pocket. Universal also sells them. R.I.P. Tour participants still get lanyards.
If you can’t get Universal Express and you miss early entry, save the year-round rides for after you have done your favorite mazes and scare zones (you can ride the rides any other day of the year). Skip the show unless you are a huge Jabbawockeez fan or are you tired at the end of the night and want to recharge.
The heart of Halloween Horror Nights is in the Lower Lot and Backlot, which has a not-so-short walk (with scare zones along the way) to the mazes in the Metropolitan Sets. There is alternate transport for people who need it (behind Jurassic Park area). We attended the first night in 2018, so we have some advice in managing the lines. A longer line does not always represent the quality of the maze or a must-see. Last year, Stranger Things had a frighteningly long line, and for fans of the show, it was a must-see. But people who weren’t fans of the show could easily have skipped it for a shorter line. Sometimes we find that the mazes we are least excited about are among our favorites, and the ones we most look forward to are great, but not at the top of our list. Last year, we were pleasantly surprised by the Universal Monsters Maze, which was among our favorites. In the past, the Halloween mazes were favorites, but this year’s Halloween 4 maze was our least favorite. But they are all pretty good. Try as many as you can and do not stress if you miss one. Download the Universal Studios Hollywood app so that you can check wait times and showtimes. Select "Halloween Horror Nights" from the pull down menu to access the wait times.
Complete everything you want to do while you are down in the Lower Lot/Backlot and then move back up after that. The special menu items are in those areas, so you might want to grab a bite while you are down there, as well. You don’t want to spend valuable time going up and down the four long escalators to/from the Lower Lot more than once in each direction.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2019 Mazes and Entertainment
They have not yet announced the Halloween Horror Nights 2019 mazes and entertainment. Let’s take a look at the 2018 lineup, as some may return along with some new horrors.
This was the most anticipated maze in 2018, and as fans of the Netflix show, it was on our must-do list. We hope there will be a Stranger Things 2 maze in 2019! Here’s a look at the 2018 Stranger Things Maze: Based on the Netflix series "Stranger Things," this maze takes you on a journey to Hawkins, Indiana, a small town with some big, dark secrets. When a boy goes missing near a government facility, his friends go on a quest to find him. With the help of one freakishly gifted girl, they embark on a strange journey into a world with flesh-eating creatures emerging from the shadows. Are you prepared to have your world turned Upside Down and be attacked by a demogorgon?
On opening night, as of 5:30 p.m., the line was at 100 minutes (reaching about 3 hours at some points) and Universal team members were handing out tickets as people entered the queue to prevent line jumpers. As Stranger Things fans, we loved the detail. Our friends who don’t know the show had different favorites, so this is must-do for fans, and maybe not necessarily worth the line for non-viewers who can’t skip the line somehow. We can never recommend waiting three hours for any maze, no matter how much we love it. The night is so short!
There was also a cool Halloween treat in store for guests visiting the park during two select days in 2018. You could walk through the Stranger Things Maze with the lights on during the day to see the maze. This was great news for fans of the show who felt rushed during the Horror Night experience and wanted to explore the details, or people who loved Stranger Things but just weren’t into the full Horror Night experience. No need to fear missing out on seeing this maze!
They’re heeeere ... in a brand-new maze. "Poltergeist" was my first horror movie as a froglet. It has (spoiler alert) everything to terrify a tadpole — a child disappears into a television, you have a creepy clown doll at the end of the bed, scary attack trees, furniture that moves by itself, and, oh yeah, the family home is built over rotting corpses in a cemetery. Go into the light. Don’t go into the light. It’s so confusing. What to do? We know one thing for sure. Go into the maze. All are welcome. Universal really captured all the iconic moments from the original film (including the scene that has haunted me my whole life — no spoiler there), so we really enjoyed this maze.
Trick ‘R Treat
Welcome to Warren Valley, Ohio, a sleepy town (from Michael Dougherty’s 2007 horror film) that masks dark secrets. Its unsuspecting residents are about to be taught a terrifying lesson in Halloween traditions. A bloodthirsty visitor has arrived to punish rule-breakers with bloody acts of vengeance. Can you survive the deadly tricks and treats? You’d better live by the rules, or else you’ll die by them. This maze was on the way to the Backlot. It had a short wait early in the night.
The First Purge
Guests have been treated (perhaps tricked into?) to several Purge-themed scare zones in Universal Horror Night of years past, but 2018's terrifying new maze took you back in time to the story of how it all began. The New Founding Fathers of America have just instituted the inaugural Purge. During this 12-hour period, all crimes — including murder — on Staten Island are legal. Can you survive the night? Your government thanks you for your participation. If you absolutely must purge a Backlot maze due to time constraints, this could be your time savings. Go into Poltergeist over the Purge if you have to make a hard choice.
Halloween 4 — The Return of Michael Myers
You can’t kill the Boogeyman. Michael Myers changed the face of Halloween, and now he’s back in an all-new maze. It’s October 30, 1988, and a comatose Michael Myers is getting transferred back to the Sanitarium. Even though it’s been a decade since his last killing spree, the Haddonfield townspeople know all too well that evil doesn’t sleep (or stay in a coma), especially the night before Halloween. Too bad his caregivers haven’t figured this out. The Boogeyman escapes, slaughtering his medical personnel, before running off into the night. His psychiatrist knows where to find him, but nobody is safe from Michael Myers and his knife, whom you will see plenty of in this maze … over and over. Considering how elaborate the first two Halloween-themed mazes were, this one seemed to suffer lack of effort. If you must remove an Upper Lot maze due to time, this is the one to cut.
The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter Two
This maze feature all-new, suspense-filled scares from Blumhouse’s "Truth or Dare" and "Unfriended." This trip sends you on the spring break of your nightmares — a group of college kids unleash an ancient curse that forces them into a life-or-death version of Truth or Dare. Then, you’ll find yourself trapped in the cyber world one year after a high school student commits suicide after being cyber bullied. Her fellow students see that her account has been taken over by an unknown user, and their attempt to expose the hacker exposes their deepest, darkest secrets and lies. Should you make it out of cyberspace alive, you’ll stumble into a surprise ending that will leave you screaming … for more. We enjoyed some of the theatrics and different chapters of this maze.
Universal Studios is resurrecting the monsters from legendary horror films. Witness the return of Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, the Wolf Man and other terrifying ghouls, beasts and villains who are the very creatures that helped shape the horror film genre. While the monsters are classics, the music was new, with an original score produced and composed by SLASH. This was the unexpected surprise maze, and we highly recommend it. You can’t beat the classic horror monsters, and they teamed up well to terrify and startle us. The maze exits into an interesting scare zone, the Monsters Masquerade. The monsters dance around you in the fog to Slash’s horrifying music that mashes metal with classic horror music.
The Walking Dead
The now year-round Upper Lot maze is open for Horror Nights. You can expect a few changes in scare actors and their locations, but it is mostly the same maze. Prep yourself by reading our post on this permanent attraction that opened in July 2016. You could skip this one if you have already seen it, but if there is a short wait, you might as well stroll through.
The Jabbawockeez return for this high-energy live stage show set to music. The Jabbawockeez deliver gravity-defying choreography as well as special effects and humor. We think this is one you can skip, or save it until the end after you have gotten in your must-see mazes. Do not see the first show (unless you have Universal Express) because you need to use that valuable time to hit the mazes.
Scare Zones at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2019
We frogs jump (even higher than usual) in terror at Halloween Horror Nights — usually when we least expect it in a scare zone. We do not yet know the scare zones for 2019, but there were five Scare Zones in 2018, each one more terrifying than the next. Let’s take a look at the 2018 scare zones, since some may return as if part of a recurring nightmare.
Tread carefully into the foggy streets of old Paris and discover “The Danse of the Dead.” This macabre monster masquerade was inspired by the Universal Classic Monster Movies like The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. You can only access this scare zone after exiting the Universal Monsters maze, and we highly recommend it.
Trick ‘R Treat
Trick-or-Treat! Uh guys, I think it’s all a trick here. Run! Emerging from the fog will be, vampires, werewolves, zombie children and Sam. Sam? Sam is the vengeful spirit of Halloween with some rigid rules and strict expectations for your behavior the season. You might want to play by the rules if you value your life. This scare zone has fire, a school bus of deranged trick-or-treaters and plenty of monsters. Be sure to read and follow the rules!
If chemical warfare is your worst nightmare, then this zone is for you. While utility workers were doing repairs in a tunnel, they accidentally burst a pipe with toxic gas in it. Everyone infected has turned into zombie-like subhumans. Can you get past them before they infect you, too? This scare zone returned from 2017 and is part of the walk from Lower Lot to Backlot (and back).
An army of bewitched evil dolls stalk the next victims of human sacrifice … will it be you? This is the pagan harvest festival where the dark spirit of Halloween was born. This was a favorite scare zone, right next to Trick ‘r Treat scare zone, because the scare actors are so great. Think deranged dolls wielding chainsaws and a sense of humor.
Holidayz in Hell
What if Halloween overtook all the other holidays and put a psychotic slant to them? You’ll find out when you face creepy Cupids, lecherous Leprechauns, an evil Easter Bunny and creepy Christmas spirits in this terrifying trip through the Holidayz before entering the Backlot.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood Opening Scaremony
If you are in the Upper Lot just before 7 p.m., be sure to catch the Opening “Scaremony,” when Universal releases the monsters and you find yourself immersed in your first terrifying scare zone of the night. You must be in place before 6:30 p.m. or you won't get in. The downside to accessing early entry may mean missing the Opening Scaremony, but the benefits of getting the mazes done and being ahead of the masses outweigh the downside in our humble opinions.
Terror Tram at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2019
Once they announce the 2019 Terror Tram theme, we will share the gory details. Until then, you can read the creepy details from the 2018 Terror Tram.
Hollywood Harry’s Dreadtime Storiez
This Terror Tram is no child's play. Hollywood Harry is back. The phantom clown who was known to terrorize the Universal Studios Backlot returned to host the Terror Tram with new bloodcurdling experiences. You’ll journey through five spine-tingling bedtime stories in a demented rendition of Harry’s 1950s TV show. I don’t know about you, but my bedtime stories did not involve chainsaws, monsters, cannibals, rotten corpse scarecrows, homicidal clowns and especially no torture factories. This is truly the stuff of nightmares.
The Studio Tour tram transports guests to this special Scare Zone on the Backlot. Once you're on the tram, it takes about 30 minutes. But as the night wears on, crowds can back up between elements, making it seem like a never-ending nightmare. If you knock out some mazes during early entry, you can head over to the Terror Tram at 7 p.m. to be one of the first to experience nightmares disguised as Hollywood Harry's bedtime stories. Perhaps this year, you may choose to take a photo in front of the Psycho House. It had a separate line in the middle of the Terror Tram walking tour in 2018. Here's a hop trick from 2018: After you wind your way up the hill, you can choose to wait to have your photo taken with Normal Bates on the Psycho House steps or wait in a long line to enter the next “chapter.” Choose the short wait to go to the Psycho House and then you can skip the other line to get in the next part. You save time and get to have a cool, or should we say chilling, experience. Watch your necks.
During Horror Nights 2018, the regular Studio Tour and Fast & Furious Supercharged do not operate. Note that last tram time for The Terror Tram. The line closes at 11:15 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays and Halloween Night. It closes at 11:45 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Rides Open During Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2019
Some of the regular rides dare to be operating during Halloween Horror Nights. If you need to escape from the mazes, get your thrills on Transformers 3-D, Revenge of the Mummy, perhaps the new Jurassic World ride if it is open by then and The Simpsons Ride. As mentioned above, the normal Studio Tour will not be running. Regular shows, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem are closed. Even if you use early entry and the Wizarding World is still open until 5:30 p.m., they will not let you in. That wristband that lets you stay in the park will keep you out of the Wizarding World, and they will send you down to the Lower Lot.
Treats to Die for at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2019
There are some devilish delights in store for you. Your frog squad can share a giant, devilish, decorated doughnut. If you are dangerously dehydrated, you might need a Blood Bag with red drink inside it. If you are filled with a zombie-like hunger while in the Backlot, there are churros to die for, Halloween cupcakes, a-Maze-ing cookies (with popular maze themes) and a lot of Eggo waffle options (we can give you “Eleven” reasons why). In 2018, there were meatball subs, Asian veggie stir fry noodles, loaded Mac ‘n’ cheese and Nashville hot chicken sliders. We ate dinner there after completing all the early entry mazes. There was a rise in theme-tastic foods in 2018. In the Lower Lot, the pop-up Bennie’s Burgers of Hawkins, Indiana, was serving up “Stranger” foods like The Upside Down Burger, a Chicken and Waffle Sandwich and Demigorgon’s Totcho — tater tots, spicy queso, chili, FLAMIN’ Hot Cheetos, sour cream and scallions. Across the way were mini doughnuts. There are also several restaurants open around the Lower and Upper Lots. You can purchase beer at Duff’s Brewery Beer Garden or find food at:
- Hollywood and Dine
- Plaza Grill
- Starbucks Upper Lot
- Mel's Diner
- Krusty Burger
- Cletus Chicken Shack
- Luigi's Pizza
- Moe's Tavern
- Lard Lad's Donut
- Panda Express
- Jurassic Cafe
- Studio Scoop
- Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck
In 2018, there were also discounts for HHN guests at Universal CityWalk before you enter HHN (remember, no re-entry for Horror Nights) at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Smashburger, Samba Brazilian Steakhouse and Tony Roma's. Stay tuned for 2019's discounts!
Follow the Rules or Beware
No masks or costumes allowed (although we did see leniency with some Harry Potter robes)! The rules say no face paint, however, you can get your face painted near The Walking Dead maze. No horseplay or items that resemble weapons are allowed.
You may not record, take flash photos, or bring laser pens, food and drink into the mazes. You cannot bring food or drink (not even water, but you can bring an empty water bottle) or gum into the park. This year, you can buy alcohol in Springfield USA and at other locations. Do not touch or harm the actors or jump the lines unless you want to be sent out of the park in a body bag and without your ticket. There is no re-entry for any reason, so bring everything with you. Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll find that there is a lot of walking — our devices measured 13,000 steps! You may bring an umbrella if the forecast calls for rain. There are no refunds.
If someone in your party uses a wheelchair, most standard wheelchairs and Electronic Convenience Vehicles can go through the mazes. Ask an attendant if you need assistance.
Be sure to stay hydrated — all that screaming can dry you out like a mummy! Speaking of mummies, leave your little mummies home for this terrifying event, which is recommended for very brave 13-year-olds and up. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. Follow these rules and tips, and you will survive the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. Most of all, have fun!
Be sure to keep hopping back in summer 2019 and up to the event for the 2019 lineup, as they love to keep us in suspense and slowly roll out the scary details one maze, scare zone or terror tram at a time.
Have a question about Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood? Share it in comments below! Get a hop on discount Universal Studios Hollywood tickets any time with Undercover Tourist.