Whether you're gaining the courage to take your very first hop into the fog or have been going for so many years, you're essentially BFFs with Jack and his fellow fearsome icons, planning a trip to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort can always be a daunting task. From selecting the dates you want to go and your preferred ticket type to deciding which hotel to stay at and what you want to pack, there's so much to keep track of in the weeks and months leading up to this eerie event. We strongly believe that the only time you should feel nervous, though, is when you're about to enter a scare zone or haunted house. Hence why we hope to alleviate some of those nerves with our list of top tips for planning your visit to Halloween Horror Nights.
Planning Tips for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando
1. Select Your Dates (with Destiny) Ahead of Time
Halloween Horror Nights 2023 is taking place on select nights from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31. The sooner you know when you want to visit, the faster you can book your tickets and the less fear you'll have that those dates will be taken. Fridays and Saturdays are undoubtedly the busiest nights of the year. On top of that, the event gets more crowded the closer it gets to Halloween. So, if it works with your schedule, weekdays in September are ultimately going to be the most desirable options.
2. Know that Tickets Go Scary-Fast
Tickets for Halloween Horror Nights 2023 are on sale now! The moment you know when you want to conquer the fog, summon your scream squad and purchase your tickets. Single-night dated tickets are available at a discount through Undercover Tourist. It's toadally common for several nights during the year to sell out so this is one decision you do not want to hesitate to make!
3. Book the Hotel of Your Nightmares
The next thing you want to do after purchasing your tickets is booking your abominable accommodations. There are many perks to staying on-site. Not only are these hotels the closest to the park — so you'll minimize the amount of time it takes to get from the globe to your bed at the end of the night — but they also offer free transportation. The last thing you want to be doing after walking around for eight hours straight is walking all the way to the parking garage, finding your car and driving back to your hotel while trying to keep your eyes open, so those complimentary shuttles and water taxis end up being a real life-saver.
Additionally, there's a designated event entrance for on-site hotel guests that will help you avoid the crowds at the front gate. Looking to save some green, and stay off-site? Many Universal Partner Hotels offer a free shuttle service to and from the parks (with later pick-up and drop-off times during the Halloween season).
4. Ponder Purchasing a Petrifying Pass
Can't get enough of that iconic fog aroma? Do roaring chainsaws sound like a sweet lullaby to you? Then consider purchasing one of the multi-day passes available through Universal Orlando. From the Rush of Fear pass, which allows you to enter the gates during the first four weeks of the event, to the Ultimate Frequent Fear pass, which grants you access every single night, there are four dastardly different options to choose from.
5. Consider Adding an Unholy Upgrade
The multi-night passes aren't the only ways to all-but-guarantee that you can hit every house. Two of our favorite ways to conquer this event are by utilizing the Stay and Scream areas and/or purchasing an Express pass. There are two ways to access the Stay and Scream areas: just stick around in Universal Studios Florida if you have valid park admission that day or by purchasing a Scream Early ticket. Early entry will allow you to knock out one to three houses before the event officially starts. Even more invaluable, though, are the Halloween Horror Nights Express passes. These allow you to skip the line once per house and can potentially save you hours during your visit that you'd normally spend waiting in long lines.
6. Bring Only the Essentials
You're already going to be spending a lot of hours on your feet during your night of fright. You don't want to make it any harder on yourself by carrying things you don't need. It goes without saying, but you're going to need your tickets (either mobile or printed), ID, phone (and a portable charger or two) and wallet.
Other must-haves include an empty refillable cup or bottle (because you can't bring beverages in — even water), rain gear (because the possibility of a downpour while you're waiting in a line outside is very real) and comfortable walking shoes (because I can tell you horror stories of how much pain my own feet have been in after staying from event open to close ... and then having to walk back to the car). Earplugs are also a good choice if you have sensitive ears since this event can get loud. Lastly, as always, be sure to pack your patience.
7. Dress as Light as a Ghost
I'm going to be completely honest with you. There's little to no difference between summer and fall in central Florida. It's hot. You will be sweating. (Hence why those rain showers aren't always the worst thing.) While costumes and masks aren't allowed, you can still dress in your Halloween finest or represent any creepy characters featured at the event ... but we recommend leaving any pants and long sleeves at home. (On that note, stay hydrated throughout the night and fill up those reusable cups or bottles as soon as you enter the gates!)
8. Get the Lay of the Land Beforehand
One of the best things you can possibly do before arriving for the Opening Scaremony is to familiarize yourself with the event map. Know where your top priority houses are. Know how to get to the houses in the back because those are going to be the ones you want to hit first (since most everyone else starts at the front of the park). Download the official Universal Orlando app so you can keep track of wait times and find your way around.
9. Await the Witching Hour
In other words ... be patient. Lines for houses tend to massively die down within the last hour or so of the event. It's most likely when you're going to be able to hit the most amount of houses consecutively on any given night. Don't get bummed if lines seem inordinately long from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Use that time to get food and drinks, see shows and check out the Tribute Store. Devote the first two hours and the last two hours of the night to getting in as many houses as possible.
10. Leave the Tadpoles at Home
Universal Orlando recommends frogs be at least 13 years old to attend Halloween Horror Nights. This is by no means a hard and fast rule (meaning little ones won't be turned away), but know that this event is genuinely nightmare-inducing. With its endless jump scares, menacing monsters, risqué performers and an ungodly amount of blood, guts and gore, tadpoles will be easily terrified. No matter how tough you think they are or how many horror movies they've seen, this event is too intense for them. Additionally, it's just better to be safe than sorry. Call a babysitter and enjoy one frightful tadpole-free night.
Are you going to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort this year? If you've already been, what are your best planning tips? Share them with us (or any questions you still might have) in the comments below!
Related: A Scaredy-Frog's Guide to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando