Do you feel that chill in the air? Well, me neither ... this is Orlando, after all! Believe it or not, Halloween season will be here before you know it. The most creative minds at Universal Orlando have been brewing up new houses and scare zones to haunt you like never before. There were 10 horrifying houses for Halloween Horror Nights 28, a new record! And the team at Universal is hard at work for 2019. In fact, they've already announced dates for Halloween Horror Nights 29 — select nights from Sept. 6 to Nov. 2, 2019! Read on to catch up on the highlights from last year and to prepare for the coming event! Bookmark this post, because we'll be posting more updates in the coming year.
For many years running, Halloween Horror Nights Orlando has won Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for Best Halloween Experience. To get you ready for the nation's premier scare event, we bring you everything you need to know about Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 29. While we all await more details about this year’s houses (psst, Stranger Things is returning!) and scare zones, check out our guide to see highlights from last year, and learn what you should expect and how to navigate this popular event! As soon we get the details, we’ll update you here, so stay tuned.
Halloween Horror Nights 29 Dates & Best Times to Visit
The event runs select nights September through November at Universal Studios Florida. For 2019, the dates run between Sept. 6 and Nov. 2, typically from 6:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. While all nights are popular, the crowds generally increase as it gets closer to Halloween.
The Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019 dates are:
- Sept. 6-8, 12-15, 18-22, 25-29
- Oct. 2-6, 9-13, 17-20, 23-27, 29-31
- November 1-2
Best Dates to Visit Halloween Horror Nights 29
Unlike many other fall theme park events that generally bring in families for one night, Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 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. It is impossible to see everything 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
September: 6, 7, 8, 12, 15, 18, 19, 22, 25, 26
October: 2, 3, 9, 10, 17
Medium crowd days
September: 13, 14, 20, 21, 29
October: 4, 6, 13, 23, 24
Most crowded days
September: 27, 28
October: 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31
November: 1, 2
Halloween Horror Nights 29 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 if you want to visit during the day. You'll also need regular park admission if you want to take advantage of Halloween Horror Nights early entry (more on this below). While we will not be offering Halloween Horror Nights tickets this year, you may purchase them from Universal Orlando and book your discount hotel through us!
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Houses & Strategy
The biggest draw of the event each year is 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 decide what is important to you. Do you want to just focus on houses? Would you like to see a few houses and the show? Would you just like to ride attractions since the wait times for them will be low? Since the houses are what most people come for — and see the highest waits! — they are our first priority.
We recommend getting to the park at least 45 minutes ahead of the official opening at 6:30 p.m. to make the most of your time. 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, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal's Aventura Hotel and Universal's Endless Summer - Surfside Inn & Suites — 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 6:15 p.m.
The very best way to do more at the event is to take advantage of Halloween Horror Nights Early Entry, also known as Stay and Scream. You'll need regular park admission and a Halloween Horror Nights ticket to do this, but many of you will already be spending the day in the parks, so why not take advantage? We've written a full post on how Halloween Horror Nights Early Entry works.
Because of the number of houses and the popularity of the event, it is impossible to see them all in one night. We recommend choosing four or five must-do houses, and get those in first. Then, see if you have any time left after you’ve checked them off the list. Those of you staying in the park or arriving ahead of official opening could do five, six or perhaps more 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).
Here are the Halloween Horror Nights Houses for 2019:
Stranger Things - Returning for 2019
Fan-favorite Stranger Things is coming back to Halloween Horror Nights Orlando in 2019. This all-new house will take you to Hawkins, Indiana and feature scenes not only from season two of the show, but also season three, which has yet to premiere on Netflix (you can watch it starting on July 4)! You’ll get to walk ( ... or run) through familiar locations, like Chief Hopper’s cabin and Starcourt Mall. Watch out for growling Demodogs!
An Arena of Gore with Nightingales: Blood Pit
As the first original house announced, Nightingales: Blood Pit will transport you back to Ancient Rome during its worst drought in centuries. A ruthless emperor declares that gladiatorial games will occur nonstop until the rains return. To add onto the bloodshed of the games, a horrifying species of primitive creatures — the nightingales — feast upon the dead and dying. You have to survive among the gladiators and the nightingales before one of them gets you!
In this new house, you’ll get to face many iconic monsters all in one! From Dracula in his gothic castle to the Wolfman in a Bavarian forest, you must escape these monsters one-by-one in each of their natural habitats. Watch out for Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy and more. The more, the scarier — am I right?!
Depths of Fear
Dive into the unknown in this new original house. Workers of a deep-sea mining company have delved too deep and encountered "Mouthbrooders," a parasitic race of creatures that spew flesh-eating acidic eggs. You're trapped in a claustrophobic mining facility underwater as you witness infected miners being driven mad by infection, all while there's a high-pressure countdown to the self-destruction of the facility.
The six remaining houses for 2019 have not been announced yet, but here’s what we thought about the 2018 Halloween Horror Nights Houses:
Most Creative Scares: The Carnival Graveyard: Rust in Pieces
The name really said it all here: Carnival Graveyard transported us to a junkyard full of leftover circus and carnival paraphernalia, acting as tools for our demise. Huge carnival signs, games and props made this such a fun maze to walk through, and we found some of the most creative scares of the houses in here.
Best Set: Slaughter Sinema
The dedication to backstory put Slaughter Sinema in our top three original houses. While queueing for the house, we found ourselves at a drive-in that offered teasers of the 80's B-movies we were about to experience inside the house. Spooky sorority girls and killer barbers were only a couple of the villains to keep an eye out for in this house. Slaughter Sinema honored the cheesiness of 80s horror movies with a gorgeous set and sincere scares.
Most Jumps: Dead Exposure: Patient Zero
This was easily the house that had me jumping the most, with well-executed scares and an awesome backstory: It's 1982 in Paris and there's been a zombie invasion. To avoid a zombie attack, you must take an antidote that causes "partial blindness." This house had tons of cool details, including one of the best scenes of the night on a Paris subway.
Best "Gotcha" Moments: Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
Following the plot of Halloween 4, Myers has escaped prison and is after his niece, determined to destroy everything in his path ... including you. We thought this was one of the best "gotcha" houses in terms of scares, but we also like more of a variety of characters.
Best Creatures: Poltergeist
We entered the world of this 1982 supernatural horror film as we faced off against all of its nightmarish creatures ... the giant closet skull, a mantis-like monster and the beyond-freaky clown. Despite having not seen the movie, we thoroughly enjoyed this house for its quality scares and amazing set alone.
Most Unique Storyline: Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After
We weren't sure what to expect with Scary Tales, but Universal blew us away with this house. The Wicked Witch of the West was in control of tormenting beloved storybook characters, and the outcome was much more creative, unique and twisted than expected. We loved the edgy twist on such classics ... the Goldilocks scene is our favorite!
Truest to the Horror Movie: The Horrors of Blumhouse
The Horrors of Blumhouse was one of our least favorite houses, but it was still a fun experience since we are fans of the featured films. It combined our worst nightmares from both "Happy Death Day" and "The First Purge" for an inescapably wicked experience and did a great job of staying true to both films.
Our Favorite: Trick 'r Treat
This was our favorite house based on a movie. The story behind Trick 'r Treat lent itself to an incredible house showcasing horrific details and delicious scents. We couldn't get enough of the villain, Sam ... is it bad if we thought he was kind of adorable? We LOVED how this house told the story of every twisted scene in the film.
Most Unique Atmosphere: Seeds of Extinction
A meteor has struck Earth, humans are extinct, and preying plants are out to get you with razor-sharp thorns, suffocating vines and poisonous pollen. Nature has gone wrong, and it's out to get you! We LOVED the concept of Seeds of Extinction, and it was a totally different atmosphere than any of the other houses, but it wasn't one of our favorites. With the exception of a couple of uniquely killer scenes, it mostly stuck to the same greenhouse vibes throughout.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Park Map (Click to enlarge)
Queues get quite long for the houses closest to the front gates. Waits for houses in the back of the park are shorter early in the evening but build throughout the night.
Halloween Horror Nights Scare Zones & Shows
Second to the houses but central to the terror are the street experiences, more commonly referred to as "scare zones." The scare zones are in various open areas of the park with their own sets, sounds and, yes, even scents. 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)!
We’re excited to find out more details about the Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019 scare zones. But in the meantime, check out the highlights from last year!
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Scare Zones:
Vamp 85: New Year's Eve
Midnight strikes periodically throughout the night as party-crashing vampires ring in 1985. We kept an eye out for 80s icon lookalikes ... we saw Run DMC, Prince and Michael Jackson! Catching their performance on stage was so much fun.
An old barn full of foul creatures set the scene for this harvest of flesh and screams. Located at the entrance of Universal Studios Florida on the street outside of Shrek, the Harvest featured spooky props representing each house and a wild array of performers.
Ancient evil awoke in Central Park, complete with rotting pumpkins chock full of human flesh. When we walked through, our first thought was, "These costumes are INSANE." Pumpkin guts poured out of faces beneath an archway of trees filled with glowing jack-o-lanterns. It was a sight to behold!
Revenge of Chucky
The creepy doll himself was back with an army of toys that he twisted into new nightmares. We met Chucky's bizarre friends in the street and even caught Chucky perform a roast of the crowd before torturing his creator. Maybe it's just because we haven't seen the films, but this was our least favorite scare zone.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
As for our favorite scare zone: Cotton candy spun from human victims, produced by horrifying alien clowns? Enough said. After recently watching the wonderfully cheesy 80s film, this scare zone was super enjoyable — with clowns that appear to be STRAIGHT out of the movie, cotton candy corpses and a million other fun details (including a rockin' theme song).
Halloween Horror Nights Show - Academy of Villains: Cyberpunk
We'll be the first to admit it ... we miss Bill and Ted! However, Cyberpunk offered a fun, interactive show with a theme of robot villains that was super unique from the rest of the event. The stunts and choreography from this cast were beyond impressive, and the performers did a great job of getting the crowd hyped.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Food and Beverages
Universal really brought the heat last year when it came to HHN-themed treats and snacks.
Why didn't anyone tell us about the Pizza Fries before? We have been seriously missing out on a legendary HHN menu item. Crinkle-cut fries topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and sausage are basically our dream menu item.
Stranger Things, of course, lent itself to some creative waffle treats. Photographed below, the Triple-Decker Waffle was adorned with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, jelly beans and Reese's Pieces. (And do you see those Christmas light cupcakes? Do you think the chocolate or red velvet would do a better job contacting Will in the Upside Down?) Another fave item from last year was the fudge-dipped waffles on a stick and the Waffles and Syrup frozen drink.
What about alcoholic beverages, you ask? Well, last year, Halloween Horror Nights 28 served up a sweet selection. Flora enjoyed both of last year's signature cocktails: the Wicked Rad Punch and Totally L.I.T., which she combined in one of those neat split souvenir cups to make the Gnarly Twist.
The Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale has the perfect amount of seasonal flavor while still being crisp and refreshing.
I was especially impressed by the beer selection at the special event drink booths. With quite a few craft beers on tap, the Pumpkinhead Ale was my favorite. This was the perfect Halloween Horror Nights beverage for me and perhaps for many other Daddy frogs out there!
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Merchandise
Each year, the event’s merchandise typically features all of the haunted houses and scare zones, so it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find a nice memento (whether it’s a T-shirt or a souvenir cup) for Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019.
Last year, we loved the 80s theme of the event and we were obsessed with all of the houses and scare zones. Some of these were already cult classics, or soon-to-be from Halloween Horror Nights alone. The merchandise highlighted ALL of our favorites, from Trick 'r Treat's Sam to all of our beloved Killer Klowns. The swag ranged from your typical event tees highlighting each house to actual props and masks.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Special Experiences
Here is what you can expect to scare up in terms of special experiences available at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019.
Scareactor Dining Experience
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. Last year, this package cost $49.99 (plus tax) and includes dinner, a digital download of one photo taken during the experience and more. In 2018, dining experiences took place every night, with seating times between 5 p.m. 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 29 Rides
While most of the focus of the night is on horror, some of the rides are open too. 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 will likely be open during Halloween Horror Nights 29:
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- Fast & Furious – Supercharged
Note: When we visited last year, some of the rides closed up to two hours prior to event close. For example, the night we attended, the park closed at 1 a.m. and we noticed both Fast & Furious and TRANSFORMERS were closed for the night at 11 p.m.
Our Top Tips for Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019
Buy your tickets in advance!
Halloween Horror Nights requires a separate ticket from regular theme park admission. Make sure to purchase in advance from Universal. You don't want to have to wait in any more lines than you have to!
Get to the park early
This is the single best way to ensure you make the most of your night. The event typically 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 early entry.
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.
Leave your costumes and masks at home
Universal won't let you in with them. Plus, there are enough costumed creatures inside the park!
Dress light and stay hydrated
Is it just us, or is September in Orlando hotter than ever before? Despite taking place mostly after dark, we were still sweating our lil' frog legs off all weekend last year at Halloween Horror Nights 28. Be sure to wear cool, comfortable clothes.
On top of being deceptively hot and humid, Halloween Horror Nights is a pretty intense event. Be sure to hop on those free cups of water periodically, or bring a water bottle to make staying cool a breeze.
Only take the necessities
As with any visit to Universal, you will go through metal detectors ... so we always recommend traveling as light as you can, but this holds especially true for Halloween Horror Nights 29. When walking through crowded haunted houses and being spooked by scare actors in the streets, you won't want to be hauling too much with you. We recommend a small bag that securely closes ... you don't want anything important spilling out when you jump in fright!
Have a plan
This is absolutely key to this event, especially if you want to see most of the houses. Plan in advance what your priorities are. Map out your evening, based on where and when you'll be starting.
You'll find snacks for sale, as well as alcohol in abundance, throughout the park. Look for carts set up along the streets. Lines for food (and alcohol) can get long at times! 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 expected Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019 dining options (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
- San Francisco Pastry Co.
- Ben & Jerry's
Splurge on snacks
If you have time to dedicate to fun food and drinks, be sure to check out the event-exclusive goodies. Last year, the headlining Stranger Things house lent itself to some delicious waffle treats worth trying. Eating (and Instagramming, TBH) these goodies is always enjoyable.
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.
Respect the scare actors
Last but not least, please remember that the scare actors are people, too! No matter how monstrous they may seem, the scare actors will not actually touch or hurt you ... so please treat them with the same respect! Keep your hands, food, drinks and any unkind words to yourself for the best experience for everyone involved. This event is all about having FUN! Avoid using flash to photograph any "creatures" in the scare zones, and be sure to ask if you really feel the need. They'll usually be happy to pose for (or with!) you.
The anticipation for Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019 is killing us! Are you planning on attending? What questions do you have for us about the event? Share in comments below. (Oh, and the Frog Family is trying to settle a debate on the best houses and scare zones of the year, so we toadally welcome your input.)
Related: Halloween Horror Nights Early Entry