It's that scary time of year again! Fog is in the air, and your worst nightmares are wreaking havoc inside Universal Studios Florida for Halloween Horror Nights. The most creative minds at Universal Orlando have brewed up new houses and scare zones to haunt you like never before on select nights from Sept. 6 to Nov. 2, 2019.
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. We were lucky to attend a couple nights of the event so we could share all of the terrifying details. Check out our guide to learn what you should expect and how to navigate this popular event!
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, 17-21, 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 nearly 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, 21, 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). We are also hoppy to announce we are offering Halloween Horror Nights tickets this year. And don't froget, you can book your discount hotel through us too!
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. This year, we were able to knock out three houses before the event officially started at 6:30 p.m (on a Thursday).
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 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:
Fan-favorite Stranger Things has returned to Halloween Horror Nights Orlando in 2019. This all-new house takes you to Hawkins, Ind., and features scenes not only from season two of the show, but also the brand-new season three. With so much material to work with, this is the longest house of the night to walk (or run) through — our RIP tour guide said it has 14 scenes. You'll see your favorite characters, such as Eleven using her telekinesis powers, and face the creepy Demodogs. Flora hates to admit that she hasn't seen the show, but she was impressed ... as were super fans, like me!
Nightingales: Blood Pit
The original house Nightingales: Blood Pit transports you back to Ancient Rome during its worst drought in centuries. A ruthless emperor has declared that gladiatorial games will occur nonstop until the rains return. To add onto the bloodshed of the games, you find out the origin of the nightingales (which first appeared in 2011's Nightingales: Blood Prey) as they feast upon the dead and dying. We could practically smell death in the air. This house felt a bit claustrophobic but had some good jump scares that got us!
In this new house, face many iconic monsters all in one — the more, the scarier! 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. My personal favorite was the Creature from the Black Lagoon scene because the lighting really makes you feel like you're underwater. (Look up to see a body "floating in the water" above you!)
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 sound design is incredible in this house! The blaring alarms and the buzzing of electrical failure heighten the urgency to get out as quickly as possible.
I ain't afraid of no ghosts ... but I still got scared in this house! For the first time ever, Ghostbusters is coming to Halloween Horror Nights. Just in time for the original movie's 35th anniversary, you'll be transported to New York and walk through favorite scenes from the New York Public Library and the Temple of Gozer. Save the day with Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston, as you face Slimer, Gozer the Gozerian, Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and more ghoulish spirits. It's definitely more of a fun tribute house than one that's packed with jump scares. I don't want to spoil anything, but there was at least one jump scare that got me good!
Yeti: Terror of the Yukon
Fellow loggers and trappers have frozen to death while trying to escape the Yeti clan from the torn-apart logging camp in the remote Canadian tundra. But it's not just the winter elements you need to fear. You enter the labyrinth of caves into Yeti territory, and meet the same doom of those who came before you and couldn't escape. The beasts will not stop until the snow turns blood red. Look high and low for yetis in all shapes and sizes.
Ready to face your evil doppelgänger? This haunted house is based off the horror movie hit, "Us," that was released earlier this year. Follow in the footsteps of Adelaide Wilson through the Wilson family beach house and Santa Cruz Pier, as well as the underground tunnels that stretch for miles below America. Beware of "The Tethered," a group of doppelgängers of every living man, woman and child in the country. They're ready for murder and revenge! As far as best sets go, we think this incredibly detailed house is at the top of the list.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Universal Orlando brought back last year's popular scare zone and has turned it into a full-fledged house. This new experience will feature the baby Klowns, Boco and Klownzilla, who weren't at last year's scare zone but are ready to bring terror this year. Before you enter their circus tent, grab a photo with some of those Killer Klowns. Don't be fooled by the sweet smells of cotton candy and buttery popcorn ... it's a sign that the Klowns are right around the corner! And don't let the bright neon colors and whimsical carnival music distract you. The Klowns can come at you from any direction — in my case, two directions at the same time.
In Ascension Parish Cemetery, it's normal to find teenagers playing games among the tombstones. But it appears that two teens went too far, and they have defaced the cemetery and awakened the spirits. Ghosts of every shape and form will seek revenge as you try to escape the maze of mausoleums and decaying coffins. While waiting in line for this original haunted house, you can chat with a few teens and town storytellers to learn more about the history and legends of the cemetery. You just need your phone to open Facebook Messenger to the Halloween Horror Nights page. *Spoiler alert*: Hands down, the creepiest part is at the end as you hear the ghosts whispering, "Come play with us," in total darkness.
House of 1000 Corpses
Let's just start off with the facts. Yes, there are a thousand corpses in this house. You confront the Firefly family and encounter the legendary Dr. Satan. Keep an eye out for Fish Boy, the latest addition to Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen. If you don't like guts and gore, this house probably isn't the one for you.
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Park Map
Check out the official park map for Halloween Horror Nights 29, so you can get an idea of the layout of the haunted houses and scare zones. 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)!
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019 Scare Zones:
Zombieland Double Tap
Based off the Zombieland movie and its upcoming sequel, this scare zone welcomes you to the United States of Zombieland. Fend off the spreading infection and bloodthirsty zombies. Just remember: always double tap and beware of the bathrooms. The blue lighting and extra fog hide the zombies pretty well!
Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe
Rob Zombie's music comes to life in this scare zone. His heavy metal sounds and imagery take center stage, as you come face-to-face with his twisted, otherworldly creations. There's also a photo-op of the car that resembles a Munster Koach from the "Dragula" music video.
Neon slashers are out to play this 80s-inspired arcade game, which has taken over Avenue of the Stars. However, you'll quickly learn that "Game Over" means a permanent end for you. This is one of the first ones you encounter. We love the neon colors and arcade game-inspired props.
You know what they say, "Beauty is pain." In the streets of Hollywood, blade-wielding artists slice up willing participants into horrific living works of art. You may see them strut down the runway, showing off their grotesque make-overs.
Face brutal undead Viking warriors, who have risen and taken over Central Park. Expect a lot of bloodlust and gore from this scare zone. We spotted a very tall Viking who seemed to be in charge of scaring guests entering their territory. Out of all the scare zones, we enjoyed this one the most because it completely transforms once the sun goes down. It's also the narrowest, so you're forced closer to the Vikings.
Halloween Horror Nights Shows:
Academy of Villains: Altered States
The Academy of Villains show returns this year with an epic experiment of mind and body. Man’s true nature is dragged out into the dark, gothic streets of anarchy. This all-new performance features a killer mix of theatrics and dance, including an aerial performer and a mind-blowing contortionist that you just can't look away from. Catch the show at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10:30 p.m. or 11:45 p.m.
Halloween Marathon of Mayhem
A brand-new show is providing spooks and scares at this year's event! The lagoon lights up with iconic scenes from Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, Universal Monsters and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, with water effects, lasers and projections. Shows take place at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. each night, and it's only 10 minutes long. If you're in the area and it's close to showtime, it's worth checking out. But don't stress over it if you need hit more haunted houses!
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Food and Beverages
Universal really brought the heat this year when it comes to HHN-themed treats and snacks.
The Pizza Fries are back, and they're as popular as ever. These crinkle-cut fries topped with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni and sausage are basically our dream menu item. However, adding some competition is the brand-new S'mores Fries (sweet potato fries, marshmallow, chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs).
Stranger Things has inspired a series of tents called Starcourt Mall Food Court, which is dedicated to the restaurants spotted in the background of season 3, such as Imperial Panda (Chinese food) and Ole Amigo (Mexican food).
What about alcoholic beverages, you ask? Well, this year, Halloween Horror Nights 29 is serving up a sweet selection. There are four special event drinks: The Saturn, Vampire's Curse, The Twilight Galaxy and Blood Pit. Two frozen drinks — Syrup & Waffles and Candy Corn — make a return.
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 you’ll be sure to find a nice memento (whether it’s a T-shirt or a souvenir cup) for Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019.
This year, we were obsessed with the variety 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 Ghostbusters to Universal Monsters. 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. This package is $49.99 (plus tax) and includes dinner, a digital download of one photo taken during the experience and more. Get more details and book here.
Available on select event nights:
Sep. 6, 7, 8, 12, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 29
Oct. 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31
The first seating begins at 5 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 Academy of Villains, 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 are 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
- The Simpsons Ride (open select event nights only)
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 that Fast & Furious, Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts and TRANSFORMERS were closed for the night by 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 (bonus: you can save money too). You don't want to have to wait in any more lines than you have to!
Consider an Express Pass only if hitting all 10 houses in one night is a priority
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 busier days, and if you take advantage of early entry (see our next tip!), you have a better chance of hitting all 10 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 only works after 11 p.m. Just keep in mind that both of these Express Pass options are subject to availability.
Get to the park 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 guests have a dedicated line from 6 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.
Leave the kids at the hotel
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.
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 this year at Halloween Horror Nights 29. 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 Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019 dining options (in addition to food and beverage carts):
- TODAY Cafe
- Universal Studios Classic Monsters Café
- Finnegan's Bar & Grill
- Louie's Italian Restaurant
- Richter's Burger Co.
- Mel's DIE-IN (Mel's Drive-In)
- Beverly Hills Boulangerie
- San Francisco Pastry Co.
- Ben & Jerry's
- The Fountain of Fair Fortune
- Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour
- Fast Food Boulevard
- KidZone Pizza Company
Splurge on snacks
If you have time to dedicate to fun food and drinks, be sure to check out the event-exclusive goodies, like this candy corn (non-alcoholic) frozen drink. This year, the hit Stranger Things house also 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.
Are you planning on attending Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2019? 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