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. Halloween Horror Nights almost always sell out and Universal Studios Hollywood isn't that large, so it is very crowded. This event keeps getting bigger and 2017 has exceeded our expectations. Here is what you need to know before you experience this year's event.
When to Visit Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood for 2017
Halloween Horror Nights starts Sept. 15 and runs on select nights through Nov. 4. The earlier you go in the season (and after Halloween in November), the lower the ticket price. The first six nights, and most Sundays and Thursdays offer the best discounts. Saturdays are usually the most expensive, followed by Fridays. Most of the days do sell out, meaning they are all crowded, but the least-crowded nights tend to be Sundays and Thursdays. This year they offer a Frequent Fear Pass that allows you to visit any day the first visit and then return up to 15 times mostly on Sundays and weeknights.
The general admission prices range from $65 to $95. These are separate tickets from the regular park admission tickets that we sell at a discount.
Front of Line Passes range from $169 to $219. These are also separate tickets from the regular park admission tickets that we sell at a discount. Front of Line is good for one Front of Line access for each maze.
Universal offers a Day/Night Combo ticket, which allows you to enter the park at 2 p.m. These tickets range from $95 to $139 for general admission and $199 to $259 for Front of Line access. This allows you to visit daytime attractions that will be closed during Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. Since both The Wizarding World, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Studio Tour and shows will be closed for Halloween Horror Nights, this combo ticket might be of interest to you if you have not yet experienced these attractions. Yes, you do get Front of Line access to all attractions during the day and once again at night for attractions that will be open at night as well.
For the killer experience, spring for the new R.I.P. Tour. The R.I.P. Tour offers an exclusive VIP walking tour of Halloween Horror Nights, including:
- Unlimited Front of Line access
- Gourmet buffet dinner with drinks (up to two adult drinks for guests over 21) at a VIP dining room
- Complimentary VIP parking
- VIP entrance to event
- Reserved VIP seating for Jabbawockeez
The tour lasts 4 to 4 1/2 hours, including dinner. Each tour is made up of groups mixed together for up to 14 guests per tour.
Are you a Universal Studios Pass Member? You can enjoy up to 5 nights of terror with the Sunday Pass for just $99. The pass is good on Sundays, October 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29. Platinum pass holders are entitled to one free Horror Nights general admission ticket. Just present the pass at the turnstiles. No reservation or ticket required. It is valid:
October 5, 12, 15, 19, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29
November 2, 3, 4
And finally the Frequent Fear Pass. This tricky pass is hard to find. But when you click on a valid event date to purchase, it pops up. For $159 you can select any night for your first visit and then return for a total of 16 visits on select nights. They are:
October 5, 12, 15, 19, 20, 22, 25, 26, 27, 29
November 2, 3, 4
For Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood tickets or Front of Line passes, you will need to purchase them directly from Universal Studios Hollywood.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017 Dates:
September 15, 16, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
October 1, 5, 6 ,7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31
November 2, 3, 4
Tickets are on sale now. The Front of Line tickets can sell out scary fast. Buy well in advance.
Managing the Crowds & Touring Tips at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017
One of the most terrifying parts of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood is not getting to experience all of the mazes, or houses, because of lines. Most Universal Halloween Horror Nights sell out. Save your terror for the mazes and cut the lines like Freddy Krueger’s knives 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 Front of Line tickets for each night, and they sell out as quickly as evil flees for Ash's chainsaw.
Even though the opening night was completely sold out, the 2017 lines were not as long as we have experienced in past years (there are still long lines — just not as bad as the past few years). Perhaps adding an extra maze helped with crowds or more people are taking advantage of early entry. That’s OK, we’ll take it.
Get a jumpstart on the fear … oops, we mean fun! The event begins at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 2 a.m., but you can arrive early (before 5:00 p.m.) for early admission to get your heart thumping even sooner with access to these most popular mazes, which will 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.
In 2017, the five early entry mazes are:
- The Shining
- American Horror Story
- Ash vs Evil Dead
Arriving early can save your night because you can visit several 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.
- Less dramatic effect of walking into the park
- Two of the scare zones are on the walk from the Lower Lot to the Backlot, which might mean backtracking after 7 p.m.
- You might miss the opening scaremony in front of the Wizarding World (they close that area at 6:30 p.m. and no amount of begging or leading will get you in)
Having Front of Line 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 Front of Line 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 Front of Line, we were able to hit all five early entry mazes and be on one of the first Terror Trams by 7:00 p.m.. If you have R.I.P, then you have unlimited access to Front of Line.
If you can’t get to the front of the line and you miss early entry, here’s our advice —
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 if you run out of time). Skip the show unless you are a huge Jabbawockeez fan or are tired at the end of the night and want to sit down or your heart can’t take the terror anymore.
The heart of Halloween Horror Nights is in the Lower Lot and Backlot, which has a not-so-short walk (with two scare zones along the way) to the three mazes in the Metropolitan Sets. There is alternate transport for people who need it. The most popular mazes (i.e. longest lines) were Insidious and Saw, followed by American Horror Story and The Shining. We were equally entertained by all the mazes, including the mazes with shorter lines, so do not think that a longer line represents the quality of the maze or a must-see. The Saw was definitely memorable. Insidious has some great detail, but also a lot of darkness where we had to feel our way through. Ultimately, the mazes we were least excited about were among our favorites, and the ones we most looked forward to were great but not at the top of our list. So just try as many as you can and do not stress if you miss one.
Complete everything you want to do while you are down in the Lower Lot/Backlot and then move back up after you have exhausted everything down there. 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 2017 Mazes and Entertainment
Guests will be booking a stay at the Overlook Hotel within the world of Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." The minds at Universal Creative are creating a physiological thriller that will have you doing many double takes ... wondering if you saw what you saw. Step into the pages of this horror story, and try to avoid Johnny as he goes mad.
American Horror Story
The horrific story of the Millers in American Horror Story Roanoke will be featured this year. This maze, based off the popular FX series, is always a huge hit with big lines. This year’s maze takes you through an isolated farmhouse that has horrors like cannibalism, blood sacrifices and murderous spirits, who cling to the cursed land near the “Lost Colony of Roanoke.” If you are afraid of pigs, then this is your nightmare come true. There are some good scares inside waiting for you. If you do early entry, this maze is to the right when you enter the Backlot from the Urban Inferno scare zone. Everyone else will be turning left toward Saw and Ash vs Evil. Get in the short line before others discover it. At night, the lights will make it easier to capture your attention.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead
Thirty years ago, young Ash Williams and his friends stumbled upon a book that unleashed an ancient evil. After Ash lost his right hand (along with all his friends) his life returned to normal ... until now. The evil has woken up with a vengeance and has found Ash again. It’s time to pick up the chainsaw to confront it again.
We found this maze entertaining with some good startles. You enter a mobile home and encounter Ash and his chainsaw trying to slay the evil dead, who are kind of humorous but scary at the same time.
Titans of Terror
What’s scarier than Freddy Krueger, Jason, Leatherface and Chucky? All of them combined in one terrifying Horror Nights maze. With these four iconic slasher film monsters coming at you from all directions expect an assault on your senses. Don’t make any stupid 80s horror movie moves (i.e., don’t go in the basement and don’t fall asleep). This is the stuff nightmares are made of. You’ll find this murderous maze by Water World in the Upper Lot.
These old-school familiar villains of our nightmares are particularly thrilling for Mommy Frog and me because they were our first introduction to horror. This maze takes you through each of their worlds.
SAW - The Games of Jigsaw
“Do you want to play a game?” Fans of the horror series "Saw" be able to answer that terrifying question this year. This new maze will feature a collection of traps from past films as well as a few from the eighth installment of the franchise, “Jigsaw,” which hits theaters in October. If you are looking for some creative ways to torture somebody, then this goriest maze is right up your dark alley.
Insidious: Beyond the Further
This maze is inspired by the film saga's newest entry, “Insidious: Chapter 4.” This all-new experience is a trip through parapsychologist Dr. Elise Rainier’s past — starting with her childhood, moving through her discovery of her paranormal abilities, as well as her mother’s death by the hand of a demonic entity. Guests will join Dr. Rainier on a journey through time by entering the Further — a place the between the living and the dead.
Insidious had the longest line of the night, which is a surprise, considering Insidious mazes have been part of the last couple of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. It might be one of the more psychological thrillers of the night. If you do early entry, tackle this maze first as the line keeps climbing. It is in the Lower Lot to the left (by Jurassic Park). If the line is more time than you can spare, then skip it so you can experience more of the other mazes.
The Horrors of Blumhouse
Are you ready for one amazing maze that features three terrifying horror films? What if one of those films was one you haven't seen yet? Blumhouse Productions has created some of the most terrifying films over the last two decades. "Happy Death Day," opening in October, will join the worlds of "Sinister" and "The Purge" for one terrifying maze. "Happy Death Day" will place you in a deja vu scenario as you're forced to relive the last day of your life over and over again, as you try to escape a mysterious masked killer. This was one of the longest mazes of the night, and part of it of it is under open sky. We enjoyed the length and diversity.
The Walking Dead
The now year-round Upper Lot maze is open for Horror Nights. You can prepare yourself by reading our post on this permanent attraction that opened July 2016. You can view video of this maze and all of last year’s mazes on our YouTube channel. It is not surprising that there was little to no wait for it last year because people can see it all the time. There were a few changes in scare actors and their locations, but it is mostly the same maze. You could skip this one if you have seen it already or plan to visit the park another day, but since there is a short wait, you might as well stroll through if you have the time.
This high-energy live stage show “Direct from Vegas” has returned. The show features music and the theatrics and dance moves of the Jabbawockeez. They deliver gravity-defying choreography as well as special effects and humor. We say that this is one you can skip or save for the end after you have gotten in your must-see mazes. Do not see the first show because you need to use that valuable time to hit the mazes.
Scare Zones at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017
Even we frogs jump hilariously higher than usual in terror at Halloween Horror Nights — usually when we least expect it in a scare zone. There are three Scare Zones, each one more terrifying than the next.
This Scare Zone at the gateway to the Backlot is all hell-fire and brimstone as it sends you and a journey through hell. There you’ll find Mad Monks, Burnt Lost Souls, Half-Goat Executioners, and Blacksmiths forging the chains of Purgatory. Watch out for Satanic demons, especially the towering King and Queen.
Trick-or-Treat! Uh guys, I think it’s all a trick here. Run! Escape from all the Halloween main cast of characters, including witches, ghosts, vampires, werewolves and undead children. They’ve come out in droves to roam the New York City Streets in celebration of Halloween. As you enter the gates of Hollywood Horror Nights Hollywood, you are plunged directly into Hell-O-Ween, complete with caged dancers music, projection, and, oh yeah, chainsaw-toting trick-or-treaters.
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? You will encounter this scare zone on the walk from Lower Lot to Backlot (and back).
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 they release the monsters and you find yourself immersed in your first terrifying scare zone of the night. You must be in place — near the entrance to the Wizarding World — by 6:30 p.m. to watch it, because they close the area and won’t let more guests near it.
Terror Tram at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017
Titans of Terror tram: Hosted by Chucky
The Titans of Terror cannot be contained in just a maze. These ghouls are also taking over the Backlot. Join your host, Chucky, as the Terror Tram transports you into a nightmare of carnage: Freddy with his finger knives, Jason in his hockey mask and brandishing a knife and Leatherface with his chainsaw are waiting for new victims. Do not turn to the dolls for comfort — the Good Guy Dolls have a new accessory — chainsaws. This is no child’s play.
The Studio Tour tram transports guests to this special Scare Zone on the Backlot. Once you're on the tram, the whole process takes about 30 minutes if you do it when it opens at 7 p.m. But as the night wears on, crowds can back up between elements. If you knock out some mazes during early entry, you can head over to the Terror Tram to be one of the first to experience an onslaught of Chuckies, Jasons, Freddys and Leatherfaces. Again this year, you may choose to take a photo in front of the Psycho House. It has a separate line in the middle of the Terror Tram walking tour. During Horror Nights, 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. It closes at 11:45 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Halloween night.
Rides Open During Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017
Some of the regular rides dare to be operating during the Halloween Horror Nights event. If you need to escape from the mazes you can get your thrills on Transformers 3-D, Revenge of the Mummy, Jurassic Park — In the Dark and The Simpsons Ride. As mentioned above, the normal Tram Tour will not be running. Regular shows, Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem are closed.
Treats to Die for at Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2017
There are some devilish treats in store for you. Your group can share a giant, devilish, decorated doughnut from VooDoo Doughnut. If you are dangerously dehydrated you might need an IV bag or even a transfusion from a Blood Bag. The liquid inside is your choice of fruit punch, green apple or lime. A Jello shot syringe might be on order if you need a booster shot of energy. There are Halloween cupcakes, glow in the dark doughnuts and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos corn cups. If you are filled with a zombie-like hunger while in the Backlot there are two food trucks — a taco truck and a grilled cheese. There are also several restaurants open around the Lower and Upper Lots. You can purchase beer at Duff’s Brewery Beer Garden.
Follow the Rules or Beware
No masks or costumes allowed (although we did see some leniency with some Harry Potter robes)! 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) or gum into the park. This year you can buy alcohol at Duffs Brewery in Springfield USA. 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 more walking this year, and our devices measured 15,000 steps last year! You may bring an umbrella if the forecast calls for rain. There are no refunds.
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. Follow these rules and tips, and you will survive the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood 2017. Most of all, have fun!
Have a question about Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood? Share it in comments below!