Just like your recurring nightmare, Halloween Horror Nights returns year after year to haunt Universal Studios Florida. To get you ready for the nation's premier scare event, we bring you everything we know about Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights. From the terror-filled haunted houses to the sinister scare zones, learn what you should expect and how to navigate this popular event!
Overview of Halloween Horror Nights Orlando
It's only summer, but the most creative minds at Universal Orlando Resort are currently in the middle of brewing up the haunted houses, scare zones and more for Halloween Horror Nights 31. Keep hopping back to his blog as more information about the event is released, if you dare.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Dates and Tickets
The event runs select nights from September through November at Universal Studios Florida. In 2022, Halloween Horror Nights will kick off Sept. 2 and run until Oct. 31. The event typically lasts from 6:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. or 2 a.m (usually, with October dates running an hour later than September dates). The event initially runs on weekends, then expands to include Wednesdays and Thursdays closer to Halloween. While all nights are popular, the crowds generally increase as it gets closer to Halloween.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2022 Dates
- Sept. 2-4, 7-11, 15-18, 21-25, 28-30
- Oct. 1-2, 5-9, 12-16, 19-23, 26-31
It's important to note that Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed event. You can now get discounted single-night tickets through us frogs!
An HHN ticket will not get you into the theme parks during regular hours. No need to worry, though! We also 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. Universal Studios Florida generally closes at 5 p.m. for those not staying for the event (though Universal's Islands of Adventure will maintain its normal closing time if you have a park-to-park ticket and would like to hop). You'll also need regular park admission if you want to take advantage of Halloween Horror Nights early entry (more on this below). And don't froget, you can book your discount hotel through us too! If you can't get enough screams in one night, there are usually multi-night tickets available directly through Universal Orlando. Stay tuned for information on HHN Express passes, R.I.P. tours and Behind-the-Screams tours.
Best Dates to Attend
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 nearly impossible to see everything in one night without upgrading your experience (which we'll get into later). 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.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Special Experiences
For the past couple of HHN events, Universal Orlando Resort hotel guests have had access to limited themed experiences at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Last year, Jack the Clown and other HHN icons took over in a "Jack'd Up" experience.
Those looking for an enhanced Halloween Horror Nights experience might consider one or two scary good add-ons which take you through the gauntlet of ghastly creatures and a multitude of menacing maniacs. The R.I.P. Tour is a guided experience that grants V.I.P. access to everything Halloween Horror Nights has to offer. The tour includes one-time entry to all of the houses, reserved seating at select shows, Universal Express Unlimited ride access at all participating rides and attractions for the date of your tour, a pre-tour reception in Cafe La Bamba, access to exclusive cash bar locations, complimentary valet parking and a commemorative tour credential, lanyard and pin.
There's also a Private R.I.P Tour option which grants you and up to nine other frogs all the same perks as the regular R.I.P Tour, plus UNLIMITED priority V.I.P. entry to all the houses, a customizable itinerary and a My Universal Photos 3-Day photo package.
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 rooms in select houses.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Park Plan
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 or Universal's Endless Summer — 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. In 2021, we were able to knock out two houses before the event officially started at 6:30 p.m (on a Thursday night in September).
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 who are staying in the park or arriving ahead of the official opening could do five, six or perhaps even 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 R.I.P. Tour (only sold through Universal).
This was the official map for Halloween Horror Nights 2021! Keep in mind that the queues get quite long for the houses closest to the front gates. Waits for houses in the back of the park are typically shorter early in the evening but build throughout the night.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Haunted Houses
Universal Orlando has started announcing the houses for Halloween Horror Nights 2022! We'll keep this list updated as houses continue to be announced:
Universal Monsters: Legends Collide
After the electrifying success of "The Bride of Frankenstein Lives" last year, Universal is diving back into the world of its beloved creepy creatures with "Universal Monsters: Legends Collide." Travel back to the 19th century in this all-new and original maze where you'll come face-to-fangs with three horror icons of the silver screen: Dracula, The Wolf Man and The Mummy.
The full moon is rising and this triple threat of terror are looking for The Amulet of Ra, a powerful artifact that could not only lift The Wolf Man of his curse ... but also help The Mummy and Dracula to rule mankind. Watch out because all three monsters have been pitted against each other on a bloody collision course of chaos — and you're about to be caught in the crossfire.
If there's one thing we know about Michael Myers ... it's that he always comes back. Based on John Carpenter's 1978 slasher classic, frogs will wander through this maze which will take you through The Shape's dilapidated home as you relive iconic moments from the film. Beware, because this knife-wielding maniac will stop at nothing to get his long-awaited revenge. Do you have what it takes to survive an encounter with the "embodiment of pure evil"?
The Horrors of Blumhouse
Inspired by the new supernatural thriller, "The Black Phone," and horror-comedy, "Freaky," you'll need to outrun TWO serial killers: The Grabber, a demented magician, and The Butcher, who has switched bodies with a teenage girl. Escape The Grabber's "fun" house where ghostly whispers try to help you escape, and watch out for The Butcher, who is on the hunt for her next victim.
While we await the other house announcements, check out our video of one of the most chilling houses from last year, "The Haunting of Hill House."
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Scare Zones
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 do not have information on the 2022 scare zones, but take a look at the ones from 2021.
The delightfully devious monsters from Crypt TV have made their way out of the television screens and onto the streets of San Francisco. We saw infamous fiends including the Look-See, Sunny Family Cult, Harclaw, Miss Annity, the Girl in the Woods, the Door in the Woods, Itsy Bitsy, Soot, Milk & Cookies, Shelley and the Birch.
Each set piece and costume was marvelously crafted and brought us right into the world of these menacing monsters. We didn't see any scare actors roaming freely around but this scare zone was proof that some things can be terrifying even when they're standing right in front of you.
30 Years, 30 Fears
Now that you've entered, there's no turning back. Production Central, as always, is home to the very first scare zone you'll encounter, and last year, the malevolent monsters from HHN's past took over. Jack, Lady Luck, the Storyteller, Chance and all of their fearsome fellow icons returned — and scared the living daylights out of us once again.
There wasn't a better welcome to HHN than raging metal music, bright bursts of pyro, sinister stilt-walkers, devilish dancers and, yes, that iconic and blinding fog. This scare zone was short but perfectly nostalgic as posters of our favorite icons welcomed us back to Halloween Horror Nights for its petrifying pearl anniversary.
Seek And Destroy
The Controller sees all on the embattled streets of New York. A ruthless alien cyber regime has taken over and their renewable energy source is downright terrifying. Humans have become fuel in this apocalyptic city, leaving you with only two options: Submit to the Controller or be destroyed.
This scare zone was the closest we got to feeling like a crash landing in a dystopian future. An army of faceless soldiers patrolled the streets with clubs and chainsaws while the Controller and his cyborg queen recruited loyal subjects from the stage. This simple yet effective scare zone was incredibly innovative and quite possibly our favorite of the event.
The Terra Queen is back ... and she's coming to reclaim her throne and remake the world in her terrifying image. Sixteen years after the horrific sacrifices of Terra Cruentus, you're invited to return to the Gorewood Forest in Central Park, a realm of transformation where the queen's menacing minions are on the hunt for fresh blood to feed her ever-growing power.
From hidden tree-dwellers to people-sized rats, the creatures that lurked in the fog of the forest were truly terra-fying. The pièce de résistance of this scare zone, though, was the ruthless ruler herself who stood on her pedestal, daring us to enter her domain.
Lights, Camera, Hacktion: Eddie's Revenge
After last appearing at HHN 25, Jack's brother, Eddie, has returned and transformed the streets of Hollywood into his own personal film set. On a mission to make the goriest sequel "La La Land" has ever seen, he has cast vampires, evil clowns, creatures from the watery depths and other gruesome beings from past events. Get ready for your short — and painful — cameo.
Invasion. Vamp 55. Treaks and Foons. These were just a few of the former scare zones Eddie brought back with him to help him seek his revenge. The neglected icon was certainly the centerpiece of this scare zone but he was surrounded by some of the best characters HHN had to offer last year. This area was chaotically delightful, wonderfully nostalgic and, of course, filled with the satisfying sound of chainsaws.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Entertainment
Every year, Universal produces two spectacular shows which are perfect places to take a break from the terror. One takes place at the lagoon and is a thrilling combination of projections, water and music and the other takes place on the former Fear Factor Live stage. The shows for 2022 have yet to be announced, so in the meantime, here's a look at the eerie entertainment that graced last year's event:
Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory
A terrifying show that celebrated the top names in horror and HHN history came to life each night in Universal Studios’ lagoon with images that will forever haunt our nightmares.
A horror rock opera celebrating ghosts, gore and all things ghastly, Carnage Factory was a feast for the eyes and ears. In his quest to extract our fear, Jack brought along his fellow icons, unleashed Universal's Monsters, welcomed us to Hill House and sent chainsaw-wielding Leatherface chasing after us. The water effects were top-notch (especially when they turned red emulating blood gushing out of the lagoon) and the metal remixes that provided the soundtrack had us banging our heads all the way through.
Halloween Nightmare Fuel
A fiery new show ignited Halloween Horror Nights 30, featuring nocturnal creatures, aerialists of the night and frightful fire performers. This epic performance was set to pulse-pounding rock, metal and electronica music that was loud enough to drown out the screams.
Nightmare Fuel told the story of a young man trying to escape the horrors that haunt him in his sleep. The stage was literally set ablaze as incredible performers took us inside the man's darkest nightmares with rockin' dance moves and mind-blowing magic tricks that left our jaws hanging.
Rides Open During Halloween Horror Nights Orlando
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. (Note that the regular Express Pass does not work during Halloween Horror Nights — if you want to skip the ride lines during the event, you'll need an HHN Express Pass.)
These are the rides that remained open during Halloween Horror Nights 30:
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
Note: Some of the rides may close up to two hours prior to the end of the event. For example, Diagon Alley, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D and Rip Ride Rockit usually close early.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Food and Merchandise
Munch on the iconic Pizza Fries (crinkle-cut fries topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and sausage) or its sister snack — the S'mores Fries (sweet potato fries, marshmallow, chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs).
As always, many of the houses even have their own dedicated food kiosk and last year's booths killed it. The fiendish Tooth Fairies came for our cavities with sweet treats such as Monte Cristo Waffle Sticks and Shattered Glass Candied Apples. Jack the Clown served up circus-themed favorites, including Dr. Pinetti's Confetti Battered Oreos and Tiny's Twinkies. The Crain family hosted a tea party from Hell with items such as Jalapeño Popper Sandwiches and Luke's Grilled Cheese. The Pumpkin Lord cooked up some gourd-themed grub in the form of Pumpkin Guts and Field of Screams Gyoza. Just look at that Jack'd Donut Slider!
What about alcoholic beverages, you ask? Well, there are plenty of liquid courage concoctions to wash down your fear. Last year, we tried the Arnold Palmer-based Poison Tea Party and the refreshing and fruity Ghoul Juice (both of which had a hint of allspice in them). For the fearless teens, Fanta created three exclusive Flavorween mixes for the event that we were able to get at Coca-Cola Freestyle machines around the park: Fanta Grape Goblin, Fanta Orange Jack-O-Lantern and Fanta Strawberry Scary Skull.
Universal Studios' Classic Monster Cafe served up classic German dishes such as Reibekuchen (potato pancakes with applesauce) and beautifully dichromatic ice cream cones. And you can always go to Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store for desserts galore.
Here were the Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2021 dining options (in addition to food and beverage carts):
- TODAY Cafe
- Universal Studios Classic Monsters Café
- Bone Chillin'
- Jack’s Place and Carnival Courtyard
- Finnegan's Bar & Grill
- Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
- Louie's Italian Restaurant
- Richter's Burger Co.
- Mel's DIE-IN (Mel's Drive-In)
- Beverly Hills Boulangerie
- The Fountain of Fair Fortune
- Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
- The Hopping Pot
- Fast Food Boulevard
- KidZone Pizza Company
Halloween Horror Nights Merchandise
Each year, the event’s merchandise typically features all of the haunted houses and scare zones, so you’ll be sure to find a nice memento (whether it’s a T-shirt or a souvenir cup) for Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2022. You can usually look for T-shirts and other ghoulish delights in the Tribute Store in Universal Studios Florida which will open closer to the start of the event. Last year, the Five and Dime store in the Hollywood section of the park had shirts, posters, backpacks and more from the HHN preview merchandise display.
Also, in Islands of Adventure, there was a new All Hallows Eve Boutique. This new merchandise spot was like a mini Tribute Store — complete with jack-o-lanterns and skeletons around every corner — and was the perfect place to pick up T-shirts celebrating some of last year’s Halloween Horror Nights houses including Beetlejuice and the famous HHN icons, as well as cups, hats, socks, blankets and pumpkin spice sauces.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Tips
1. Buy Your Tickets in Advance
Halloween Horror Nights requires a separate ticket from regular theme park admission. Make sure to purchase in advance (bonus: you can save money too). You don't want to have to wait in any more lines than you have to!
2. Consider an Express Pass
We always get asked if the Express Passes are worth it. Our answer is that it really depends on when you're going and if you want to hit all 10 houses in one night. We'd definitely recommend it on Fridays and Saturdays in October, especially closer to Halloween. Wednesdays and Thursdays are less busy days, and if you take advantage of early entry (see our next tip!), you have a better chance of hitting all 10 houses without an Express Pass.
Universal does sell Express Passes at kiosks throughout the park. So if you change your mind while you're there, you have that last-minute opportunity. You can also buy an Express Pass that's half the original price but it only works after 11 p.m. Just keep in mind that both of these Express Pass options are subject to availability.
3. Arrive Early
We can't stress this enough: Arriving early 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 hotel guests also usually have a dedicated line from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the left side of the entrance. Even better is staying in the park after it closes for early entry, so you can hit a few houses before it gets super busy later at night.
4. Leave the Kids at Home
Lily always stays at home for Halloween Horror Nights. 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.
5. Leave Your Costumes and Masks at Home
Universal won't let you in with them. Plus there are enough costumed creatures inside the park!
6. 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 at Halloween Horror Nights 30. Wear cool, comfortable clothes.
On top of being deceptively hot and humid, Halloween Horror Nights is a pretty intense event. Bring a water bottle to make staying cool a breeze and save money. Only bottled water is available.
7. Only Bring 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. 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!
8. 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.
9. 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. Lines for food and drinks 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.
10. Splurge on Snacks
If you have time to dedicate to fun food and drinks, check out the event-exclusive goodies. Eating (and Instagramming, TBH) these goodies is always enjoyable.
11. 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.
12. 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 just ask if you really feel the need. They'll usually be happy to pose for (or with!) you.
Are you planning on attending Halloween Horror Nights Orlando in 2022? What questions do you have for us about the event? Share in the comments below.
Related: Halloween Horror Nights Early Entry