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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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751–786 of 786 comments
Sep 3, 2023 at 6:10 p.m. Taylor Says...

So useful

Sep 3, 2023 at 6:10 p.m. Catie-lou Says...


Sep 3, 2023 at 6:08 p.m. Catie-lou Says...


Sep 3, 2023 at 6:07 p.m. Andrea Odom Says...

Thanks for the tips!

Sep 3, 2023 at 6:02 p.m. Hope Gilmore Says...

Thank you, these are great tips!

Sep 3, 2023 at 6:01 p.m. Alexandra H Says...

So cool! Hope I can go soon!

Sep 3, 2023 at 6 p.m. Avery Stone Says...

Seeing all the long wait times can be scary! But this definitely helps trying to navigate the night. Love it!

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:59 p.m. Selena K Says...

Always have good info

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:54 p.m. Emily Yount Says...

Super great tips! This guide is so comprehensive, what a great resource!

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:53 p.m. Kathy Borowski Says...

Omg!!! Looks like some really big thrills & chills, mmmmaaaahhhhhh????????????

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:51 p.m. Sarah S Says...

Thanks for the tips for our trip

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:49 p.m. Loc Vu Says...

Nice tips thank you!

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:47 p.m. Natalie Stover Says...

This is really helpful, thank you! I would love to get the most of my time and bang for my buck since I probably wouldn't be able to go multiple times. It sounds like express pass is definitely the way to go with how crazy long those lines are! I will say I would also love to be able to ride those rides with little to no wait times, that would be nice!

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. Steven R Says...

Can’t wait to attend HHN

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:25 p.m. Sara G Says...

VERY excited for the Nightmare Fuel Revenge Dream show!!

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:20 p.m. monicak Says...

Great info! Hopefully I’ll get to utilize these tips soon!

Sep 3, 2023 at 5:13 p.m. Alisha Zapata Says...

We purchased Express Passes last year and let me tell you, it felt amazing to skip the extremely long line for The Weeknd house. I can’t imagine waiting for hours for just 1 house. It’s pricey, but I really feel the express passes are worth it so you can get in and out of as many houses as possible.

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:59 p.m. Beth S. Says...

Thanks for the great tips!!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:57 p.m. Cara McDonnell Says...

I’m afraid I’m going to have to fight my fears and come to HHN!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:53 p.m. Amanda G Says...

Such great tips! We would love to visit during Halloween!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:51 p.m. Janet Says...

Great tips! ⭐️

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:50 p.m. Ryan S Says...

Great tips!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:50 p.m. SH Says...

The stunt show looks awesome! And yes, always a good idea when your feet need a break.

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:48 p.m. Danielle V Says...

Seems like fun!!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:46 p.m. Justin A. Says...

Great info as always!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:37 p.m. Courtney M Says...

Appreciate this post! I think everyone wants to maximize their time at theme parks and especially at the special events.

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:34 p.m. Cpoole2 Says...

The food looks amazing

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:33 p.m. LMH Says...

Looks cool!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:28 p.m. Savannah Montijo Says...

Wow never knew this much about horror nights! Always good to be informed, planning on going and now I feel I have an insight about the event!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:26 p.m. Sharlene Mohlman Says...

Food looks amazing!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:25 p.m. StacyB Says...

Definitely keep this in mind when I go.

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:24 p.m. Tiara Says...

Thanks for the info!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:23 p.m. Michelle Kuk Says...

Great tips. Hope to go one day soon!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:22 p.m. IR Says...

Thank you for making a detailed guide to save time (and money) at HHN! I will definitely be using these suggestions to hopefully get through everything in one visit!

Sep 3, 2023 at 4:17 p.m. Stephanie Says...

Would love to the this

Sep 25, 2022 at 1:05 a.m. Jennifer Stubblefield Says...

This looks like so much fun!

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