Not for the faint of heart, Halloween Horror Nights succeeds in entertaining, terrifying and otherwise unnerving thousands of visitors each year. The most creative minds at Universal Orlando begin planning months and months in advance new ways to terrify for this event. No detail is overlooked! For many years running, it has won Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for Best Halloween Experience. To get you prepared and excited for the nation's premier scare event, we wanted to bring you everything you need to know about Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 27. With houses that are more elaborate every year, you'll want to make a list of your priorities at the outset, get to the park early and plan ahead. In this guide, you'll find details about what to expect from this year's houses, scare zones and other brand-new experiences—plus tips for navigating the event!
Ready to get your scare on? We're selling discount Halloween Horror Nights Flex Tickets for Sunday-Friday nights. Skip down to the ticket section to read more.
Halloween Horror Nights 27 Dates & Best Times to Visit
The event runs select nights from Sept. 15 through Nov. 4, 2017, at Universal Studios Florida. While all nights are popular, the crowds generally increase as it gets closer to Halloween.
The Halloween Horror Nights 2017 dates are:
- September 15-17, 21-24, 29-30
- October 1, 4-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-31
- November 3-4
Best Dates to Visit Halloween Horror Nights 27
Unlike many other fall theme park events that generally bring in families for one night, Halloween Horror Nights scares up a good portion of guests, especially locals, who attend multiple nights throughout the season to experience the fear over and over. The nature of the event and the number of locals have a significant impact on crowds. Saturdays are the busiest nights, with Friday nights not too far behind them. The very best nights to attend as far as crowds go are Wednesdays. Because of the volume of houses at these events—last year there were nine of them!— it is pretty much impossible to see all of them in one night without upgrading your experience. Still, picking the best night to attend as well as following our tips below will help you see and do as much as you can.
Most recommended days to attend Halloween Horror Nights
September: 15, 17, 21, 22, 24
October: 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19
Medium crowd days to attend Halloween Horror Nights
September: 16, 23, 29
October: 1, 6, 8, 15, 25, 30, 31
Most crowded days to attend Halloween Horror Nights
October: 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29
Halloween Horror Nights 27 Tickets
It's important to note that Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed event. It will not get you into the theme parks during regular hours. No need to worry though. We offer discount tickets for Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure or Universal's Volcano Bay in addition to Halloween Horror Nights.
For 2017, Universal Orlando has new ticket options for Halloween Horror Nights. It is no longer offering the combo tickets that could be bundled with regular theme park admission. Instead, it is offering two types of tickets—those sold by date you wish to attend or flex tickets if you don't want to choose in advance.
As we mentioned earlier, we're selling discount Halloween Horror Nights Flex Tickets for Sunday-Friday nights. This is great if you're not sure what day you'll attend but are OK with it not being a Saturday. Universal sells an additional flex ticket if you want the option of attending a Saturday, but it is the most expensive option. If you don't mind being locked into a specific date, Universal sells additional ticket options that may be a better value.
In year's past, those using a combo ticket could remain in Universal Studios Florida in a special "holding area" when the park closed and be one of the first ones in when Halloween Horror Nights opened. Even though the combo tickets are gone, we expect people who have regular theme park tickets AND Halloween Horror Nights tickets will be able to do the same thing.
Navigating the Halloween Horror Nights 27 Houses & Touring Advice
The biggest draw of the event each year are the haunted houses. It takes months to construct these movie set-quality houses, and each one has a different theme. We probably don't have to tell you that lines can get very long for this event! If you want to make the most of your evening, you need to set your priorities at the outset. Decide what is important to you. Do you want to just focus on houses? Would you like to see a few houses and the shows? Would you just like to ride rides since the wait times for them will be low? Since the houses see the highest waits during this event, that is what we've focused on.
We recommend getting to the park ahead of the official opening, usually at 6:30 p.m., so you can hit at least a few of them with minimal waits. Typically, Universal opens the gates earlier than the official starting time. (If you're staying at one of the Universal Orlando Resort properties—Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal's Hard Rock Hotel, the Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort and Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort—take advantage of the priority entrance gate until 8 p.m. to get in more quickly.) In our experience, the gates begin to open for guests between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.
In years past, the very best way to get into the event early has been to spend the day at Universal Studios Florida (or Universal's Islands of Adventure if you have a Park-to-Park ticket. You'll want to be in Universal Studios before it closes and head to one of the park's "holding areas." The holding areas put you in prime location to a number of houses. Usually at least one house is opened early—with little to no wait!—for each holding area.
These holding areas are subject to change at any time, so please be aware that they may not all be in operation during your visit. Our best advice is to check when you get to the park to confirm which holding pens are open. That said, there is almost always a holding area located around Finnegan's Irish Pub, which offers a place to get out of the heat, enjoy a drink or a bite to eat and prepare for the evening fun.
We generally prefer Finnegan's for a couple of reasons. First, you can have an early dinner and a drink in the pub, which is one of our favorite restaurant inside Universal Studios, and the pub is quite lively while waiting for Halloween Horror Nights. Second, you are in a good location to reach a bunch of house locations. In recent years, there have been tough decisions to make, because there have been up to three holding locations. Last year, here were the holding locations and the houses that open early to them:
- Finnegan's—Access to The Walking Dead and The Exorcist
- The Hello Kitty area near the front of the park—American Horror Story
- Springfield U.S.A.—The Text Chain Saw Massacre
With the Hello Kitty opening to American Horror Story—the most popular house in the park last year, you would think it would be tempting to hang out there. But this holding area is much smaller than the others, so it can get crowded. It also doesn't offer much in the way of food and drink. If AHS, or whatever new house is at this location is your top priority, this may be your best bet. The Simpsons area offers good food and drink options, and is near quite a few houses, but they typically see lower waits in general because of their location. We still think Finnegan's is your best bet.
Halloween Horror Nights Park Map (click to enlarge)
This is last year's map. While we expect the haunted houses to change themes, the locations of houses, as well as the Scare Zones, should largely stay in the same places for Halloween Horror Nights 27.
Queues get quite long for the houses closest to the front gates, but if you move back to the houses scattered further away, waits are typically much shorter. Historically those houses in the Woody Woodpecker Zone and Simpsons areas of the park have seen much lower waits.
As mentioned above, because of the number of houses and the popularity of the event, it is almost impossible to see them all in one night. I recommend choosing four or five must-do houses, especially if you want to see the shows, and get those in first. Then see if you have any time left after you’ve checked those off the list. Those of you who follow this advice, wait in the park when it closes, and then hit the most popular houses first could see five or six houses. If you want to experience everything, either purchase a Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass (only sold through Universal), plan on visiting Halloween Horror Nights multiple nights or opt for a RIP Tour (only sold through Universal).
Halloween Horror Nights Houses—Possible spoilers ahead!
Check back! We'll be sharing more details about the Halloween Horror Nights 27 houses as they are announced.
American Horror Story - Returning for Halloween Horror Nights 27!
Three seasons of FX's popular series will be brought to life in one uber maze. In Asylum, visitors will travel through the decades of the notorious Briarcliff. Coven will transport you to New Orleans and push you into the wrath of descendants of the Salem witches. Finally, relive the horrific story of the Millers in Roanoke. Last year, this was easily the most popular house and its location at the front of the park and its length—roughly double the size of the others—meant it saw very high waits. If this house returns in the same spot and you are one of the first to enter the park, see it first. Otherwise, save it for the end of the evening.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead
Based off the hit STARZ show Ash Vs. Evil Dead, this maze promises to plummet you into the world of this crazy show based off the cult film. The house will feature key scenes from the first two seasons as well as the infamous cabin. There will be plenty to Deadiets that have a date with a certain chainsaw. We're revvved up for this one!
SAW: The Games of Jigsaw
Master craftsman "Jigsaw" returns to Halloween Horror Nights with a new collection of traps, including some from the latest installment of the "SAW" series, "JIGSAW," which opens Oct. 27, 2017. The house will also feature some of the most twisted traps from all eight of the "SAW" movies.
Guests will be booking a stay at the Overlook Hotel for a demented stay within the world of Stanley Kubrick's "THE SHINING." For the story of this maze, 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.
All work and no pllay makes Leap a dull frog.
All work and no play makes Leap dyll frog.
All work and no play makes Leap a dullfrog.
Virtual Reality Experience
Last year, Universal debuted an add-on house using virtual reality technology. In "The Repository," guests encountered real-life characters in this centuries-old warehouse where the paranormal and supernatural have been collected for years. In teams of four, guests worked to uncover paranormal mystery across the spectral dark portal. "The Repository" was an additional upgrade on your Halloween Horror Nights admission. A VR experience has not yet been announced for Halloween Horror Nights 27.
Halloween Horror Nights Scare Zones:
Second to the houses, but central to the terror, are the street experiences, more commonly referred to as "scare zones." Inside the scare zones, which are in various open areas of the park with their own sets, sounds and, yes, even scents, you can expect to be terrified and harassed by creatures of the night. These scare actors come out of nowhere and have no illusions about respecting your personal space (although they are not allowed to touch you, and you are not allowed to touch them)! Even though you may tell yourself over and over again, "They are only acting," it's hard not be creeped out when they come up from behind and surprise you.
Here are the announced Halloween Horror Nights 27 Scare Zones. We're terrified just reading about them!
Festival of the Deadliest – Step inside an ancient tradition from the depths of where nightmares are born. Terrifying creatures from the darkest corners of despair will emerge to surround AND scare you. This scare zone is set to terrify on the streets of Hollywood.
Trick 'r Treat - Inspired by the film "Trick 'r Treat" this Central Park scare zone promises to show you the rules of this haunted holiday. You'll come face to face with characters from the films, including the terrifying Sam. Are you ready to know what happens when you don't follow the rules?
The Purge - Returning to terrorize the New Your Streets, The Purge scare zone will showcase how we think the events of a Purge night might play out in the street. Featuring plenty of new surprises, fan favorites such as the auction and a very polite gentleman will appear.
Altars of Horror - Some of the iconic film characters from this year's houses will be featured in their own scare zone. This zone will be near the front gate on Avenue of the Stars. Quite the way to get the party started.
Invasion! - Beings from another planet have crashed on earth, and are creating chaos on the streets of San Francisco.
Roaming Hordes - If you're not scared of clowns, you will be after visiting Roaming Hoards.
Freshly returned from the grave, this gang of crazed clowns will make sure that they're part of your worst nightmare.
For a taste of what's in store, check out this video of last's year's Dead Man's Wharf scare zone.
Halloween Horror Nights Shows.
Academy of Villains: Afterlife - This performance troupe and their mind-blowing dance performances will show you what happens after we leave this life. Full of mayhem and maniacal terror, the Academy of Villains show will have you stomping and screaming for more!
Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure - Bogus. Universal has announced that HHN 26 will be the final time we'll be treated to Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure. This crowd pleasing will no doubt crank up the fun pop culture references and raunchy humor for its farewell performances.
Halloween Horror Nights 27 Special Experiences
Scareactor Dining Experience
This year, visitors can scare up an appetite at the Scareactor Dining Experience, at Universal Studios' Classic Monsters Cafe. Scareactors are available for photo ops, as you enjoy a themed, all-you-can-eat buffet. This package cost $49.99 (plus tax) and includes dinner, a digital download of one photo taken during the experience and more. Dining experiences take place every nights, with seating times between 5 and 7 p.m.
RIP and Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tours
Those looking for an enhanced Halloween Horror Nights experience might consider these special tours that take you through the gauntlet of ghastly creatures and a multitude of menacing maniacs. The RIP Tour is a guided experience that grants VIP access to everything Halloween Horror Nights has to offer. Tour includes one-time entry to all of the houses, reserved seating at Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, Universal Express for one time use on each attraction (weather permitting), and admission to the exclusive RIP Lounge with cash bar locations throughout the tour.
The Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour gives guests a unique, lights-on look into the Art & Design team’s process as they transform our deepest fears into haunted houses. Guests can choose from Behind The Screams: 3-House Unmasking the Horror Tour (two and a half hours, morning or afternoon) or a Behind The Screams: 6-House Unmasking the Horror Tour (four to five hours). The tours give you the chance to see houses with the lights on and a chance to photograph every gory detail of select houses. More details about both can be found here.
Halloween Horror Nights 27 Rides
While most of the focus of the night is on horror, some of the rides are open. Waits are very low during this time, so it's a great way to experience them if you don't care as much about the houses. Please note that the regular Express Pass does not work during Halloween Horror Nights. These are the rides that we expect to be available during HHN 27:
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- The Simpsons Ride
Our Top Tips for Halloween Horror Nights 2017:
Halloween Horror Nights requires a separate ticket from regular theme park admission. You will save money, and you won't have to wait in line to buy Halloween Horror Nights tickets.
2. Get to the park early!
This is the single best way to ensure you make the most of your night. The event begins at 6:30 p.m., but Universal often lets guests in up to half an hour early. Universal Resort guests have a dedicated line from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the right side of the entrance. Even better is staying in the park after it closes for the day before the night's event begins (see my notes on this above).
3. Leave the kids at the hotel.
This event is too intense for young children. It is not recommended for those under age 13. Leave them with a sitter service or at the resort's children's activity center.
4. Leave your costumes and masks at home.
Universal won't let you in with them. Plus, there are enough costumed-creatures inside the park!
5. Take only the necessities with you
To make getting through security a snap, take only your phone, a couple of credit cards, Halloween Horror Nights tickets, cash, ID and camera. You will be asked to remove everything—and we mean everything—from your pockets! Do not bring any water or soda bottles; they will be thrown out. (Free ice water is available at any permanent quick-service location.) Expect security to go through your bags thoroughly. There is greater security at this event than a regular day at the park, with Universal security as well as Orlando police visible throughout.
6. Eat early!
You'll find snacks for sale as well as alcohol in abundance throughout the park. Look for carts set up along the streets, or if you're in need of a shot, see one of the Chance-like ladies roaming the streets with "blood bags." Lines for food (and alcohol) aren't terribly long, but the lines to the houses and attractions are! Fuel up before you leave or early in the evening, and you can spend more time getting the daylights scared out of you.
Here are the Halloween Horror Nights 27 dining options we expect to be open (in addition to food and beverage carts):
- Universal Studios Classic Monsters Café
- Finnegan's Bar & Grill
- Louie's Italian Restaurant
- Richter's Burger Co.
- Mel's Drive-In
- Beverly Hills Boulangerie
- Ben & Jerry's
7. Watch out for the creatures of the night!
If you want to avoid the street creatures, although we can't imagine why you'd want to, they largely stick to the streets and leave guests on the sidewalks alone.
Are you planning on attending Halloween Horror Nights 27? What questions do you have for us about the event? Share in comments below.