Every year, one of our top tips for getting a hop on crowds at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando is to take advantage of early entry. In fact, aside from purchasing Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes or doing a private RIP Tour, using Halloween Horror Nights early entry is the best way to see and do more at the nation's premier scare event. While we have a full guide dedicated to this annual event, we wanted to spend a little bit of time explaining the ins and outs of early entry and how to get it. Taking advantage of Halloween Horror Nights early entry requires a little bit of planning and a few decisions. Luckily for you, we're here to outline everything you need to know, including how to get it!
How Halloween Horror Nights Early Entry Works
Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed, or "hard" ticket, event. This means if you have a ticket for the Universal Orlando Resort theme parks during the day but want to attend Horror Nights, you will need separate admission. In order to take advantage of early entry, which allows you to enter Universal Studios Florida during regular park hours and remain in the park until it reopens at 6:30 p.m. for Halloween Horror Nights, you'll need both regular park admission and a Halloween Horror Nights ticket.
To take advantage of this, we recommend you spend the day at Universal Studios Florida and (Universal's Islands of Adventure if you have a park-to-park ticket) experiencing the best the park has to offer. If you want a little downtime and for the best jump on day-time crowds, we recommend you arrive at the parks ahead of official opening, tour for a few hours, and then take a break in the afternoon when crowds hit their peak. You just need to be back inside Universal Studios Florida by 5 p.m., or when the park closes (you can see park hours on our Orlando Crowd Calendar).
Important Note: You must have regular park admission and a Halloween Horror Nights ticket for early entry. If you do not have regular park admission, then we recommend being at the entrance of Universal Studios Florida by 5:00 p.m. so you will be one of the earliest guests to be let in.
Halloween Horror Nights Passholder Early Access and Q&A Event
Universal Orlando Resort passholders get special access to the event on select evenings. For Scream In Early, passholders (and one guest) have their own special early access to three designated houses and the first performance of Academy of Villains: Cyberpunk on select dates. Passholders must RSVP since space is limited, but they can choose one of the following dates (Sept. 14, 15, 21 or 22) to enter the park at 4 p.m. and then access the houses starting at 5:30 p.m. A valid annual or seasonal pass and Halloween Horror Nights event ticket is required.
Annual and seaonal passholders can also RSVP to attend an exclusive Q&A with show directors on Sept. 28, 29 or 30 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and then receive access to one designated house prior to general admission. A valid annual or seasonal pass and Halloween Horror Nights event ticket is required.
Halloween Horror Nights Holding Areas
For Halloween Horror Nights early entry at Universal Orlando, you'll be ushered into one of the park "holding" areas. These are designated places for you to wait until the park reopens for the event. Your Halloween Horror Nights ticket will be scanned for entry into the holding area when you enter.
The advantage of the holding areas is that they put you in prime location to a number of houses! Plus your specific holding area allows you early access to at least one house — sometimes two — and there is little to no wait! In recent years, there have been tough decisions to make, because there have been up to three holding locations.
Here are the expected Halloween Horror Nights early entry holding locations:
- The Hello Kitty area near the front of the park
- Springfield U.S.A.
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 areas are open. That said, there is almost always a holding area located around Finnegan's Irish Pub, which offers a place to cool off, enjoy a drink or a bite before the evening fun.
Tad has put together a video that showcases the locations of the holding areas. Check it out below.
Halloween Horror Nights 28 Park Map (Click to enlarge)
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 restaurants 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. This year, it would put you close to Carnival Graveyard, Scary Tales and Poltergeist, and not too far from Stranger Things. If we were in this holding area, we'd try to hop to Poltergeist first (if the holding area opens to it), then loop back to Stranger Things and then to Carnival Graveyard and Scary Tales.
With the Hello Kitty area expected to open to Stranger Things and Halloween 4, 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, and it's not always open. It also doesn't offer as much in the way of food and drink than the others. That said, if you are set on experiencing Stranger Things with the lowest waits, then this is the place to be!
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 more remote location. If you start here, you could likely experience these five closest houses pretty easily and then circle back around to more popular houses toward the end of the evening.
Overall we think early entry inside the holding areas is the best way to get the most out of Halloween Horror Nights for the least amount of money! If you can't use Halloween Horror Nights early entry, definitely be at the gate by 5:45 p.m. Guests are typically allowed in before the 6:30 p.m. start time!
Have a question about Halloween Horror Nights early entry? Share it in comments below! Do you have a favorite holding area for Halloween Horror Nights? Share the location and tell us why you like it!