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Terrifying Tips to Maximize Your Time at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida

by Leap on August 28, 2023 793 Orlando

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Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida is a monstrous event. With 10 haunted houses, five scare zones and one sinister show — not to mention an epic tribute store, tons of delicious event-exclusive food and drinks and Death Eaters in Diagon Alley — there's a lot to experience during your fiendishly fun night at Universal Studios Florida. While just the idea alone of tackling all of it can seem scary, it's not exactly impossible. As veterans of this eerie event, we've learned over the years all the best ways to go about conquering this fear fest that will help you get the most out of your limited time, whether you want to be frightfully frugal or don't mind spookily splurging. Sound intriguing? Then keep reading for all our top tips to maximize your terrifying time at Halloween Horror Nights!

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Dr. Oddfellow

Unholy Upgrades at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida

While certainly not a necessity, there are two appallingly awesome add-ons you can purchase to make your nefarious night a bit easier to manage.

Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass: Similar to a Universal Express Standard pass at the theme parks, the HHN Express Pass allows you to skip the regular lines one time at each haunted house (including the rides that are open during the event). There's still an Express Pass line, but the line is significantly shorter than the regular standby line and can end up saving you hours during your visit! We've easily conquered every single house in one night using the Express Pass.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Yeti Queue

Scream Early Ticket: With this add-on, you can enter Universal Studios anytime from 3 to 5 p.m. the day you're going to HHN. At 5 p.m., you'll make your way to one of several Stay & Scream areas (depending on what your top priority houses are) while the park transitions from a world of movie magic to one of murder and mayhem. Within the next 40 to 60 minutes, you'll be released and free to get in line for your first house. At most, that's almost an hour of extra event time before Halloween Horror Nights officially opens to everyone else at 6:30 p.m. Believe it or not, we've been able to knock out as many as three houses during the early entry period — each with a short wait time! (Popular houses may have a lengthier wait, but it's usually the lowest it gets for the night.)

Haunting Arrival Hacks for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida

Now that you've decided whether or not the add-ons are worth it for you and your scream squad, you need to figure out when the best time to arrive is. Well ... it depends on whether you you've splurged and added one or both of those aforementioned upgrades. To make things easier, we're going to break down our advice based on which add-ons you have in your arsenal.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Dark Zodiac

With Early Entry: As I mentioned above, with the Scream Early ticket (or just regular daytime admission to Universal Studios), you need to arrive prior to park close at 5 p.m. to access the Stay & Scream holding areas. Target the Springfield holding area to hit the houses in the back of the park first. These typically maintain short wait times within the first hour (or more!) of the event since guests entering through the main gates tend to tackle the houses up front first. Therefore, you'll be able to get through a lot of them fairly quickly.

With Express Pass ONLY: Most of the time, you'll find that Universal opens the front gates prior to 6:30 p.m. Hence, we recommend arriving at least by 5:45 p.m. to be ready for when they do.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Universal Monsters

Without Express Pass OR Early Entry: Quite the brave soul you are. For this daring pursuit, we recommend arriving by 5 p.m. to be closer to the front of the entry line. As we say around this pond, the early frog gets the fly! The earlier you arrive and the quicker you get in, the shorter the line you'll see at your first house. (You'll also be in a prime position to watch the Opening Scaremony through the park gates!)

For Universal Hotel Guests: If you're staying on property at a Universal Orlando hotel and plan to arrive a little later, use the priority entrance gate near the former Blue Man Group theater. This entrance is open from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and won't see the same crowds that tend to appear at the front gate.

Petrifying Plans of Attack for Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Jungle of Doom

You've made it through the gates and are in line for your first house. Hooray! Time to start strategizing how you want to conquer the rest of the event. Again, based on which upgrades you may or may not have, it completely depends. While no two nights are ever the same, we've definitely noticed certain patterns and trends over the years. Keep reading to find out what we recommend for the average event night.

With Early Entry AND Express Pass: Because your Express Pass will only let you skip the standby line once per house, we recommend saving it for at least after 7 p.m. when lines start to get longer. That way, you can make your way through some houses a second time later in the night after you've braved them all at least once. After you've conquered your first few houses during the early entry period, just continue to make your way around the rest of the park in a big circle so you're not hopping back and forth.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Vamp 69

With Early Entry ONLY: Since you've opted against being able to skip the lines, you're still going to need to be strategic with your night. Make sure you target the houses in the back of the park during the early entry period since the lines tend to stay fairly long all night. You'll be able to knock out a good one to three houses before the event officially starts. After you've done those, make sure you hit up any other top priority houses you have first — just so you can breathe easy later knowing you've already done them.

With Express Pass ONLY: With your Express Pass, you're pretty much guaranteed to be able to hit up every house at least once. Once you're inside the park, just pick where you want to start and continue to move either clockwise or counterclockwise to minimize the amount of hopping around you'll do.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Collection of Horror

Without Express Pass OR Early Entry: If you've opted to tackle the event without any help, be aware there's a possibility you most likely will not be able to hit up everything. Conquer your top priority houses first before circling around and doing any other houses or scare zones you missed. Good luck, brave soul.

Other Tips and Tricks for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida

Halloween Horror Nights isn't only the houses and scare zones. There are plenty of other things to see and do and, if you want to check them all out, they require some planning, as well.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - CarnEVIL Dog

  • Eat early. One of our favorite parts of Halloween Horror Nights is all the devilishly delicious food and drink items scattered around the park. Whether you want to fuel up on grub at one of the themed event booths, sit down at one of the restaurants open in the park or even grab a meal outside the gates before you enter, eat dinner early. Food lines get longer as the night goes on. However, if you find yourself with an empty stomach and some time to kill later, be sure to splurge on event-exclusive snacks as the food booths are closed during normal park hours. We also noticed that food lines dropped considerably after 12 a.m., so consider getting a midnight snack before you leave.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Twisted Origins

  • Hit a popular house shortly after the official opening time or in the last hour of the event. Your top priority houses tend to be most people's top priority houses. Those big, headlining houses will undoubtedly see long waits all night long. However, the prime times to conquer them are around 7 p.m. — after all the early entry guests have gone through them but before more crowds make their way into the park — or in the final hour of the night. Since the event ends at 2 a.m., most frogs start getting tired and exit the park around 1 a.m. On every visit this year, we've seen consistently the lowest wait times just before the gates close. On opening night this year, only two houses continued to have a posted wait time of over an hour in the last hour of the event.
  • Ride attractions early. Yes, a select few attractions are open during Halloween Horror Nights! However, only three attractions stay open past midnight. If you want to get on a ride, be sure to hop on it earlier in the night.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Nightmare Fuel

  • Watch the show if you need a break. Need to give your webbed feet a rest ... or maybe even your lungs a break from all that screaming? Hop by the former Fear Factor Live stage to witness the spooktacular stunt show, Nightmare Fuel Revenge Dream.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios - Tribute Store

  • Skip the Tribute Store. While the Tribute Store has four intricately decorated rooms and tons of epic HHN merchandise, hitting it up during the event is by no means a necessity — especially if you have general daytime theme park admission. The Tribute Store is open during normal park hours, as is Five & Dime (also in Universal Studios) and the All Hallows Eve Boutique in Universal's Islands of Adventure. You can find event merch in all three of these stores, as well as the Universal Studios Store and various kiosks around Universal CityWalk which you can stop by on your way back to your car at the end of the night.

Have you been to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida before? What are your favorite time-saving tips? Share with us in the comments below.

Related: A Scaredy-Frog's Guide to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando

Keep hopping!

Keep hopping, Leap!
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501–550 of 786 comments
Sep 4, 2023 at 8:34 a.m. David Cotton Says...

This really is Quite Impressive! Tons of Inside Info. Looking forward to going to Universal. Thank You.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 6:32 a.m. Liesl Says...

Awesome

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Sep 4, 2023 at 6:01 a.m. j-ice Says...

RIP Tour!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 5:33 a.m. Alma Chavez Says...

Glad to have read this for sure!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 5:22 a.m. Mary Kus Says...

So thankful for you guys having all the details for people like me who need all the help they can get!!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 5:19 a.m. Neil Macke Says...

Great tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 5:01 a.m. Kylee Says...

I've never been able to hit all of the houses and scare zones, so I'm going to have to incorporate some of your tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 4:44 a.m. teresa Says...

always too scared to go

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Sep 4, 2023 at 4:33 a.m. Ellie Says...

Express passes really do help out if your trying to avoid long lines definitely recommend!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 4:22 a.m. Christopher Williams Says...

Next year maybe. This year going to Hollywood, and did 2 pm entry with Express.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 4:08 a.m. Hillary Says...

Thanks for the info!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 4:07 a.m. Ashlee A. Says...

Seems like the priority should be the houses for sure!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 4:07 a.m. Jey Says...

The separate entry for hotel guests seems like it would help a ton!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:59 a.m. Dana Says...

Great advice. I think that many of these tips apply to regular park day attendance as well…especially on days with busy attendance ,

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:50 a.m. dvburke4 Says...

I love HHN Food!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:50 a.m. Amanda Says...

As the event has gotten more popular it does feel less possible to do it all in one night. I like how you broke down strategies for maximizing your time.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:48 a.m. Kate Siegrist Says...

Excellent advice!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:42 a.m. Eric Says...

Love these tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:41 a.m. BDW Says...

I hope if I get the chance to go I have time for everything

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:25 a.m. Shema Tagir Says...

Great information.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:20 a.m. Rebekka Says...

We had the opportunity to attend last year. And we got unfortunate and picked a day where it was just a torrential downpour. But I will say it’s pretty much impossible to get it done in one day, that’s for sure.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:20 a.m. Norman T Says...

For how expensive it is, definitely a great idea to make the best use of time!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:18 a.m. Jenni Hartle Says...

I always like a good plan.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:15 a.m. Sheena Strickland Says...

Great tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:14 a.m. Meme Says...

Thanks!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3:09 a.m. Megan h Says...

Love this blog and all these tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 3 a.m. Brigid Says...

Thank you for the info!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:46 a.m. Becca Eby Says...

Such a helpful post!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:37 a.m. Susan C Says...

Never been but it sounds like fun!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:33 a.m. Janell Guzman Says...

A hauntingly good time!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:28 a.m. BethsVoice Says...

I've always wanted to visit HHN, but never been able to! Would love to visit the Stranger Things haunted house!!!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:25 a.m. Mae Says...

Nice! Wish I knew some of these a couple years ago lolll

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:22 a.m. Chun Yin Law Says...

Great Tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:16 a.m. Carrie Says...

I can't wait to go!!!! I just need to convince my daughter to join me.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:10 a.m. Katheryne F Says...

Very cool!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2:07 a.m. Heather Says...

great tips

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Sep 4, 2023 at 2 a.m. A Lynne Says...

Would love to go this time of year!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:43 a.m. Tim K Says...

Not sure I'm brave enough, but it sure looks fun.

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:36 a.m. drmoe21 Says...

again: great tips

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:35 a.m. Samantha Tyson Says...

Great tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:25 a.m. Heather Says...

Thanks for the info….I think I will get the Express Pass!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:23 a.m. Robert L. Says...

Great tips... thanks!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:21 a.m. Dawn Snow Says...

Thanks for the tips so we can make the most of our time!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:20 a.m. Holly Phillips Says...

Thank you for the information for the Haunting Arrival Hacks for Halloween Horror Nights!!!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:20 a.m. Destanie Says...

Great to know~

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:19 a.m. MayaD Says...

Can’t wait for spooky season!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:19 a.m. Brittany Johnson Says...

I LOVE HHN but hate that I feel like I never have enough time to see all of the things I want to see! I'll definitely give this a try this year!!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:18 a.m. Liz Says...

Great tips!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:17 a.m. Selena Stone Says...

thanks for all the great tips! i’ve never been, but you guys give such great tips for first timers!

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Sep 4, 2023 at 1:15 a.m. Heather Franco Says...

Need those haunted houses

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