Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide

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Halloween Horror Nights 24 touring plan
Let our Halloween Horror Nights 24 touring plans be your umbrella when braving the elements at Universal Studios Florida. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights has been resurrected for its 23rd annual outing, opening on September 19, 2014 under stormy skies. HHN, as it’s know to its legions of bloodthirsty fans, is recognized as the nation’s most popular and industry-awarded haunted theme park event. Before the opening weekend bloodstains have fully dried, we’re introducing this year’s Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide to help our brave readers make it through terror (relatively) unscathed.

Originally a locals-friendly filler during a normally slow season, Universal Studios Florida’s Halloween celebration started in 1991 as a single weekend of “Fright Nights” has grown so famous that the 28 event nights between 9/19 and 11/1 will provide a substantial percentage of USF’s annual attendance statistics. Much like visiting any of Orlando’s theme parks during a peak holiday season, an evening at HHN can be tremendous fun if you go in with a solid plan and sane expectations. Without those things…well, you might be better off eaten by zombies!

I’ve been attending HHN every year since 1996, and visited last year’s event on over a dozen evenings; I’ve combined that experience with intelligence gathered on 2014’s opening night to compile this Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide. Tweaks will continue to be made throughout the event, so the crowd patterns observed during this year’s initial operating nights aren’t guaranteed to persist, so we will continue to update our advice as operations evolve.

Halloween Horror Nights Survival Guide

Part I: Before The Event

Before beginning, make sure Universal’s brand of Halloween is right for you; this ain’t Mickey’s Not-So-Scary. If the idea of copious blood, guts, and booze doesn’t appeal, I advise staying far, far away. Needless to say, it is not appropriate for young children, though you will likely see many there.

For a taste, check out this video from the Halloween Horror Nights 24 media preview, featuring interviews with Universal Creative’s Mike Aiello and Lora Wallace:

This video features Aiello along with entertainment Sr. V.P. Jim Timon and Face Off season 5 winner Laura Tyler, and includes descriptions of all of this year’s houses and scarezones:

1. Pick the right night.

Even more so than daytime touring, a successful HHN visit requires careful date selection. In short, avoid all Saturdays (especially 10/11, 10/18, and 10/25) like the plague. Fridays in October — particularly 10/17 & 24 — aren’t much better. Wednesday nights (10/15, 22 & 29) are usually the least crowded, followed by Thursdays (especially 9/25 and 10/2) and Sundays (especially 9/28, but excluding 10/26). The last three nights of the event should also be extremely quiet, especially Halloween night itself and Nov 1. The price of express tickets on a given night is your best guide to how busy it will be: the larger the cost, the larger the crowds.

2. Know what to expect.

Halloween Horror Nights is a gory, gruesome bacchanalia of simulated violence and tasteless satire, marinated with a liberal dose of alcohol and rock ‘n’ roll. In other words, it’s a heck of a party as long as you know what you’re getting into!

The three basic elements of each year’s event are haunted houses (or mazes), outdoor scarezones, and theater shows. Universal also makes manyof their regular rides available during HHN event nights, though admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley is not included in the event.

Halloween Horror Nights 24 map
Halloween Horror Nights 24 park map (copyright Universal Orlando 2014)

In 2014, the eight haunted houses are:

The Twister bar in From Dusk Til Dawn.
  • From Dusk till Dawn: Based on the hit El Rey Network TV series, chaos reigns inside this remote biker bar as you discover it’s filled with an ancient race of bloodthirsty vampires. The ordeal will leave you drained – in more ways than one. (“A” on map. Entrance: Between Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Universal Studios Store . Exit: By the Entrance of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at the Music Plaza Stage.)
  • The Walking Dead: End of the Line: In the largest haunted house Universal Orlando® has ever created, you’ll journey through the most recent season of AMC’s The Walking Dead from the prison on your way to Terminus, dodging flesh-eating walkers every step of the way. (“B” on map. Entrance: Music Plaza Courtyard near Rip Ride Rockit . Exit: By the Entrance of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit at the Music Plaza Stage.)
  • AvP: Alien vs. Predator: Avoid becoming collateral damage in a violent and savage battle between two horrific extraterrestrial species. Whoever wins…we lose. (“C” on map. Entrance: Near Twister…Ride It Out . Exit: Between the New York Subway and Macy’s.)
  • Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood: Witness the terrifying journey into darkness that transformed the legendary Vlad the Impaler into the monstrous creature the night we know as Dracula. (“D” on map. Entrance: In front of the NYC Public Library . Exit: Between the Twister… Ride It Out Entrance and the New York Public Library façade.)
  • Giggles & Gore, Inc.: Evil clowns are not born…they’re made. The joke’s on you as you explore an abandoned factory where body parts fly and evil clowns are assembled from what’s left.(“E” on map. Entrance: Between Louie’s Pizza and Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue. Exit: Near entrance of Disaster!)
  • Halloween: Follow in Michael Myers’ footsteps as he begins his historic night of horror. John Carpenter’s classic original film comes to life – just as yours is coming to an end. (“F” on map. Entrance: MIB Gear Courtyard . Exit: Across from MIB Gear.)
  • Dollhouse of the Damned: Those who enter risk becoming one of the unfortunate souls with no hope of escape. Surviving the malicious dollswho wait inside will be anything but child’s play. (“G” on map. Entrance: Next to KidZone Stage . Exit: Across from MIB Gear.)
  • Roanoke: Cannibal Colony: The inhabitants of this lost Virginia colony have resorted to cannibalism to survive. Take a trip back in time and explore the remains of this settlement where you’ll get a history lesson you’ll never forget. (“H” on map. Entrance: Near E.T. Adventure . Exit: Next to Fievel’s Playland.)
A xenomorph from Alien vs Predator.

The scarezone locations are:

  • MASKerade: UNSTITCHED: A glamorous masquerade ball is revealed to be a macabre dance of death. When the masks come off and the stitches are ripped away you’ll find that beauty may be skin deep, but horror oozes from much deeper. (“I” on map. Between Despicable Me and Shrek 4-D.)
  • THE PURGE – ANARCHY: Once you enter the Purge you’ll be lucky just to survive the night. Anyone’s a victim, everyone’s a killer, as masked maniacs rule the night in this experience based on the hit movies. (“J” on map. New York on Deleancey St. and in front of Revenge of the Mummy.)
  • BAYOU OF BLOOD: Venture into the Louisiana bayou where practitioners of voodoo are seeking unwilling victims for the night’s ritual sacrifice. Will you make it out alive, or will your blood be spilled on the sacrificial altar? (“K” on the map. The woods near along Central Park, between Cafe La Bamba and KidZone.)
  • FACE OFF – IN THE FLESH: Your worst nightmares come to life as you’re surrounded by twisted and gruesome creatures created by some of the most talented up-and-coming make-up artists today. (“L” on map. Hollywood Boulevard, from Terminator 2/3-D to Mel’s Drive-In.)

The shows are:

  • THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: A TRIBUTE: Let’s do the Time Warp again! Rock out to clips from the classic cult film with live tribute performers and plenty of audience participation. (“M” on map. Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue.)
  • BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE: Party on as those two must excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest names in politics, show business, and pop culture. (“N” on map. Fear Factor Live stadium.)

Finally, the following attractions are open during HHN:

3. Buy a pass in advance.

If you walk up to the box-office on the night of the event, you’ll pay $95.99 plus tax — a frightening sum for a little as 5-1/2 hours in the park — and likely wait in a ridiculously long line for the privilege. Instead, study the myriad online ticket options in advance and purchase before you leave home.

Deep discounts (up to $49 off) are offered online to Florida residents with coupon codes from Coca-Cola cans. If you aren’t eligible for those, consider getting an annual pass, which entitles you to even deeper price breaks and early event entry during Passholder parties on select nights (9/19 & 20, 9/26 & 27; 5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.).

Finally, if you are a hard-core haunt fan and spending more than a night in the area, you’ll want a Frequent Fear (valid every Sunday through Thursday event night, with Fridays included in the Plus version for an extra fee) or Rush of Fear (valid every event night through 10/5) multi-day pass. Tip: You can buy a Rush of Fear and upgrade it to a Frequent Fear on or before 10/5 for maximum value.

3. Consider Universal’s HHN Express Pass

Universal Orlando’s paid line-skipping service is a welcome luxury during the day, but an absolute lifesaver at night. On peak HHN nights, queues for the haunted houses will approach 3 hours, and even on the slowest nights they will hit 60 minutes. HHN Express passes reduce that wait to between 25% and 33% of what it would otherwise be, which can make the difference between experiencing 2 or 3 houses in a night, or visiting 7 or 8. The only catch is that Express starts at $59.99 per person, and goes up to $109.99 depending on the night. Express is also available as an add-on for Rush of Fear or Frequent Fear multi-night passes. Express passes often sell out and may be more expensive or or unavailable inside the park, so if you do want them buy in advance.

Bottom Line: On off-peak nights it is possible to experience all 8 houses and at least one show without Express, if you arrive early. On peak nights it is virtually impossible to do the same without Express passes, and can be challenging with them.

If you’re feeling particularly flush, and fed up with any kind of queue, an RIP guided tour will whisk you to the head of every line for “only” $109.99 and up, admission not included. A private RIP tour for you and up to ten of your friends starts at $1299. When money is no object and you want to feel like theme park royalty, the RIP tours are highly recommended.

Call 1-866-346-9350 or email vipexperience@universalorlando.com for pricing and reservations.

4. Dig Even Deeper (for Hardcore HHN Fans)

For the superfans with extra spending money, Universal offers a choice of in-depth HHN experiences. You can have one of Universal’s designers accompany you on a RIP trip through the event with an Arcane Insights Tour ($209.99, plus admission), which includes a visit a house’s makeup and/or wardrobe area, and a seated Q&A with the member of the Art & Design Team. Or take daytime light-on trips through three houses on each of the two Unmasking the Horror behind-the-scenes tours ($59.99 and up each). These tours can’t be booked online; call 1-866-346-9350 or email vipexperience@universalorlando.com for pricing and reservations.

To extend the HHN experience beyond the park’s boundaries, Universal has established HHNCompound.com, a website disseminating “recon missions” and “survival guides” geared at engaging repeat visitors. Fans are instructed to post messages on social media in hopes of winning admission to exclusive parties. If you want to check it out, here’s a hint: the first password is “RECON.”

Part II: On The Event Night

1. Arrive as early as possible.

The event officially begins each evening at 6:30 p.m., but the front gates typically open as early as 6 p.m. If you have an HHN ticket but not daytime admission, you’ll want to be outside the park gates, ticket in hand, by 5:45 p.m. at the latest on slow nights, and as early as 5 p.m. on peak nights. Be sure to leave ample time for I-4 traffic and parking, which is costs $17 until 8 p.m. and $5 until 10 p.m. Valet parking is available ($35 for over 2 hours if parking before 6 p.m.) but remember that there is no free or discounted valet for annual passholders on event nights.

Your goal is to be among the first through the security checkpoints which can slow entry down for latecomers. You will have your bags inspected, be asked to empty your pockets, and pass through a metal detector — basically the full TSA treatment, minus removing your shoes. If you travel light (highly recommended) look for a much swifter “no bags” security check which may be available to the left of the entry arches.

On-site hotel guests also get their own exclusive entrance on the far right end of the USF arches. Note that the unlimited Express access included with some resort rooms is not valid during HHN.

 

Once through the checkpoint, secure a spot as close to the turnstiles as possible; don’t be shy about lining up at the temporary entry scanners at the center gate.

Early arrivals also get a view of the gate-opening performance, which is themed to The Purge and occurs on the balcony above the ticketing area closest to guest services. Don’t worry if you miss this minor event; it’s a nice touch but not essential.

1a. Arrive even earlier

Better yet, be inside the park already before it opens to the general public for the evening and get a jump on the guests outside the gates by being inside before they open. The park closes to daytime guests at 5 p.m. on event nights, but anyone holding a ticket for that night’s HHN is allowed to remain inside the park in designated holding areas. Universal no longer sells a specific “Stay & Scream” ticket for early entry; anyone can access this opportunity if they have any valid daytime park ticket, including annual passholders.

Note that the park is officially open for regular operations until 5 p.m., but you’ll want to enter before 4:30 p.m. to avoid dealing with the evening security setup. Between the park’s closing and reopening, guests remaining in the park are confined to one of the following “Stay & Scream” locations:

  • The KidZone section near E.T. features priority access to the first two haunted houses that open each evening. Guests in this area can queue as early as 4 p.m., and are allowed into the two houses with entrances there between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. Guests are released from the area at 6 p.m., and can be the first to queue for the house nearest to MEN IN BLACK. There is a limited selection of food and drink vendors available in this location. Note that on the first two weekends (9/19 & 20 and 9/26 & 27) this area is restricted to annual Passholders who have registered online for an exclusive Passholder event, during which 3 houses are opened as early as 5:15 p.m.
  • The New York area holding area includes Finnegan’s bar, which offers a full liquor bar and table service food, though reservations are virtually impossible to secure between 4 and 7 p.m. Guests here are released around 5:45 p.m., giving them first crack at the soundstage houses.
  • A small overflow holding area is located in Hollywood near the Lucy tribute. There is no food or beverage available here, but you do get early access to the soundstages.
  • Finally, there is a holding area at Diagon Alley, and guests with both 2-park daytime tickets and HHN admission may ride the Hogwarts Express train in from Islands of Adventure. However, this area isn’t released until 6:30 p.m., and therefore provides no advantage over the front gates. [Update: This area was no longer available as of the event’s second weekend.]

2. Attack the houses first

The eight haunted houses are the signature attractions at HHN, and quickly develop wait times ranging from moderate to absolutely ridiculous. Each year, due to theme or location, some houses seem to attract longer queues that others. So far in 2014, AvP, Halloween, and Walking Dead seem to be the most popular, with From Dusk Til Dawn and Roanoke drawing shorter lines than average. Keep this in mind when deciding whether to bite the bullet and queue up for a particular maze.

Tip: Don’t waste time at the beginning of the evening queuing for a house that hasn’t yet opened, when you could be enjoying short waits at the mazes that are operating. Houses that don’t open until after 6:30 will accumulate a large backlog of guests before they begin operating, so save them for the end of the night instead.

Halloween Horror Nights 24 wait times around 9:30 p.m. on opening night.

Even the least popular houses, however, will have peak waits of 30 minutes or more, even on less busy nights. Your first hour at the event is therefore essential to making the most of evening, and your initial plan of attack is determined by which location you start your night from:

Early Entry Option A: KidZone

If you are among the first inside the KidZone Stay & Scream area, queue up for the parade building house (marked “H” on the map, enter near E.T.) as soon as allowed. The exit of that maze leads directly to the entrance of the first sprung tent house (“G”, enter next to the KidZone stage) which is conveniently your second stop.

Alternatively, if you are late entering the holding area, the queue for the first house may already be posted at an hour or more. In that case do the tent house first, saving the parade building for later the early entry period (the wait should diminish rapidly) or late in the evening.

Guests should released from the KidZone area between 5:45 and 6:00 p.m., and can line up for the second tent house near MIB Gear, or cross the park to the open soundstage houses.

Early Entry Option B: Finnegan’s

Enter the New York holding area between 4 and 5 p.m. (the earlier the better, especially if you want get food or drink), receive a wristband, and relax until released around 5:45 p.m. You will have a short head-start on everyone else for the first of the soundstage houses to open.

Once the general public is admitted through the front gates (as early as 6 p.m.) queues at the soundstage houses will swiftly build; see as many as you can until waits exceed 30 minutes, then proceed to the houses in the back of the park.

General Admission

If you are among the first folks through the gates when they open around 6:00 p.m., head straight to the open soundstage houses and jump in line if it is still 15 minutes or less. Otherwise, the majority of guests will mob the four houses located in the sound stages near the front of the park. You should avoid the horde by heading in the opposite direction, towards KidZone, which should have processed the majority of stay & scream guests by now. You can also continue around the London Waterfront to the house in the Disaster queue.

3. Check the show schedule.

After the haunted houses, the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure show (staged inside the Fear Factor Live stadium) is the event’s most popular element. Each year’s skits skewer pop-culture celebrities and current events while pulling out the stops with pyrotechnics and barely-clad dancers.

The first and last showings are typically the only ones you can attend without lining up 45 to 60 minutes in advance. If you have already seen 3 or 4 houses by 7 p.m. (and are interested in a raunchy spoof) make your way to Bill & Ted about 30 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. first show. You’ll be entertained by a parade of painful-looking YouTube clips while you wait for the show to start.

If you’ve only hit 1 or 2 houses so far, and posted wait times are still moderate (under 30 minutes) you can skip the first Bill & Ted and slide into the final showing 15 minutes before the showtime, as there are sometimes empty seats for the last performance on off-peak nights.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute is a lively musical production on the Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue stage that should entertain fans of the cult film and “virgins” alike. You can usually catch any of the mid-evening shows by arriving 10 to 20 minutes in advance. Be warned that, unlike the version you may be familiar with from midnight screening, this show is rated “PG-13,” so save the obscene callbacks for when you see the Rich Weirdoes perform at CityWalk’s AMC Cineplex.

4. Explore the scarezones.

After the sun sets (around 7:30 p.m.) and the waits for the houses become unbearable, begin exploring the scarezones, which are like open-air haunted mazes minus the conga-line queues. Just as much fun as getting scared yourself is finding a vantage point to stand still and see others getting spooked; this is some of the best people-watching you’ll ever find.

The Purge scarezone in New York.

Be on the lookout for staged scenes, like the victim auctions held in The Purge area, and hourly sacrifices to the Voodoo queen on the shack-like stage across from Mel’s.

5. Single rider the rides.

By the mid-point of the evening, standby waits for all the houses will be substantial, and lines for the rides will be astronomical on Saturdays) but experiencing several top attractions should still be manageable using single rider queues. Men In Black, Revenge of the Mummy, and Transformers all have fairly efficient single-rider operations. (Transformers’ singles queue is closed when it hits about 30 minutes, but usually reopens after 10 or 15 minutes, so hang around nearby without blocking the entrance.) Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit has a single rider line but it is often as long as the standby queue, and none of the other operating rides have one at all. On off-peak nights, you may find ride queues shockingly short: Transformers and Despicable Me have been as short as 10 minutes.

6. Escape to CityWalk

Even on a slow night, Horror Nights crowds can drive you to drink, and many of your fellow guests will doubtlessly be imbibing. There are temporary bars serving expensive mixed drinks on seemingly every spare square foot of sidewalk, but but serious in-park boozing we prefer Finnegan’s bar or Duff Brewery in Springfield USA. Better yet, if the park is open past midnight get out of Dodge for an hour or so and retreat to CityWalk. Most HHN passes include admission to CityWalk’s clubs, or you can grab a drink at Antojitos without a cover charge.

7. Haunt again at the witching hour.

As the evening’s event approaches its final hour, wait times at the haunted mazes drop dramatically. If you are interested in Bill & Ted and didn’t catch the first showing, show up 20 to 30 minutes before the last performance on peak nights (or 15 minutes before showtime off-peak). Otherwise, use final hours to catch up on the houses you missed earlier. Lines at at the two KidZone houses should remain manageable for most of the evening, and the house in the Disaster queue is best experienced after dark.The last 30 to 60 minutes before park close is the best time to hit the most popular houses. Walking Dead and Alien vs Predator seem to hold crowds until late in the evening, so if you didn’t see both of them at the start of the night, step into line for one of them at the last possible minute; you’ll be allowed to stay in the queue until you’re through.

8. Be the last to leave.

Unless you leave significantly before closing time, you’re best off dawdling in the park or CityWalk on the way out. The parking garage exits will be at a standstill, so you might as well grab a seat outside and relax rather than breathing fumes in a traffic jam.

Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans

Once you’ve digested the above information, select one of the follow Touring Plans to follow on your evening of fright:

Early Entry Option A (KidZone):

  1. Enter the park no later than 4:45 p.m. using a valid daytime ticket.
  2. Proceed to the KidZone area, where you will show your HHN ticket and receive a wristband.
  3. Wait in the shaded area outside Animal Actors until allowed to queue for Roanoke: Cannibal Colony.
  4. Experience Roanoke: Cannibal Colony when it opens.
  5. The Roanoke exit leads directly to the entrance of Dollhouse of the Damned.
  6. After Dollhouse, if Halloween is not yet open, cross the park to Alien vs Predator (enter near the Twister facade).
  7. Return to the other side of the park, where Halloween’s entrance can be found next to MIB Gear.
  8. Check your map for the first showtime of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, and arrive at the Fear Factor Live stadium 15 to 30 minutes prior.
  9. After Bill & Ted, walk past the London Waterfront to Giggles & Gore, Inc.
  10. Exit to your right and continue to the New York area. Experience Dracula Untold, followed by From Dusk Til Dawn if their waits are 45 minutes or less.
  11. Check your map for the next showtime of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute, and arrive at the Beetlejuice stage 10 to 20 minutes prior.
  12. Before or after the show, ride Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, or MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack using the Single Rider line.
  13. Walk around the park counter-clockwise, exploring the scarezones. Start with The Purge in New York (watch for victims-turned-walkers), walk towards the entrance through MASKquerade and then up Hollywood through Face Off, and finally into Bayou of Blood.
  14. Consider taking a break from the park in CityWalk, especially if the park is open past midnight. Hold onto your ticket and have your hand stamped at the gate.
  15. Return to the park 90 minutes before closing to experience The Walking Dead and any other houses you missed or want to see again. Wait times drop dramatically in the last hour, and you can join the queue for a haunted house right up until closing time.
  16. To avoid a traffic jam, leave the park 30 minutes before closing, or wait to be one of the last to exit.

Early Entry Option B (Finnegan’s):

  1. Enter the park no later than 4:45pm using a valid daytime ticket.
  2. Proceed to the New York area across from the Transformers ride, where you will show your HHN ticket and receive a wristband.
  3. Wait outside or inside Finnegan’s Bar and Restaurant (reservations are usually fully booked for the event).
  4. When released from the holding area at approximately 5:45pm, head directly to Alien vs Predator (enter near the Twister facade).
  5. As soon as permitted, enter From Dusk Til Dawn (next to Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem).
  6. Cross through the New York area past Mel’s Drive-In, and shortcut through the Garden of Allah to KidZone.
  7. Experience Roanoke: Cannibal Colony.
  8. The Roanoke exit leads directly to the entrance of Dollhouse of the Damned.
  9. After Dollhouse, Halloween’s entrance can be found next to MIB Gear.
  10. Check your map for the first showtime of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, and arrive at the Fear Factor Live stadium 15 to 30 minutes prior.
  11. After Bill & Ted, walk past the London Waterfront to Giggles & Gore, Inc.
  12. Exit to your right and continue to the New York area. Experience Dracula Untold if the wait is 45 minutes or less.
  13. Check your map for the next showtime of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute, and arrive at the Beetlejuice stage 10 to 20 minutes prior.
  14. Before or after the show, ride Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, or MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack using the Single Rider line.
  15. Walk around the park counter-clockwise, exploring the scarezones. Start with The Purge in New York (watch for victims-turned-walkers), walk towards the entrance through MASKquerade and then up Hollywood through Face Off, and finally into Bayou of Blood.
  16. Consider taking a break from the park in CityWalk, especially if the park is open past midnight. Hold onto your ticket and have your hand stamped at the gate.
  17. Return to the park 90 minutes before closing to experience The Walking Dead and any other houses you missed or want to see again. Wait times drop dramatically in the last hour, and you can join the queue for a haunted house right up until closing time.
  18. To avoid a traffic jam, leave the park 30 minutes before closing, or wait to be one of the last to exit.

General Admission:

  1. Arrive at CityWalk with ticket in hand no later than 5:30pm, and pass through the security checkpoint (using the “no bags” line to the left if possible).
  2. Line up as close as possible to any turnstile (including the temporary ones at the center gate) and watch the pre-opening skit on the balcony above the ticket booths at approximately 6:00 p.m.
  3. When the gates open, head straight past From Dusk Til Dawn and Walking Dead to enter Alien vs Predator.
  4. After exiting AvP, walk past Mel’s Drive-In, and shortcut through the Garden of Allah to KidZone.
  5. Experience Roanoke: Cannibal Colony.
  6. The Roanoke exit leads directly to the entrance of Dollhouse of the Damned.
  7. After Dollhouse, Halloween’s entrance can be found next to MIB Gear.
  8. Check your map for the first showtime of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, and arrive at the Fear Factor Live stadium 15 to 30 minutes prior.
  9. After Bill & Ted, walk past the London Waterfront to Giggles & Gore, Inc.
  10. Exit to your right and continue to the New York area. Experience Dracula Untold and/or From Dusk Til Dawn if their waits are 45 minutes or less.
  11. Check your map for the next showtime of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute, and arrive at the Beetlejuice stage 10 to 20 minutes prior.
  12. Before or after the show, ride Transformers, Revenge of the Mummy, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, or MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack using the Single Rider line.
  13. Walk around the park counter-clockwise, exploring the scarezones. Start with The Purge in New York (watch for victims-turned-walkers), walk towards the entrance through MASKquerade and then up Hollywood through Face Off, and finally into Bayou of Blood.
  14. Consider taking a break from the park in CityWalk, especially if the park is open past midnight. Hold onto your ticket and have your hand stamped at the gate.
  15. Return to the park 90 minutes before closing to experience The Walking Dead and any other houses you missed or want to see again. Wait times drop dramatically in the last hour, and you can join the queue for a haunted house right up until closing time.
  16. To avoid a traffic jam, leave the park 30 minutes before closing, or wait to be one of the last to exit.

 

Check back with us as we continue to refine our Halloween Horror Nights 24 touring plans, and tell us about your 2014 HHN experiences in the comments below!

 

Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

4 thoughts on “Halloween Horror Nights 24 Touring Plans Survival Guide

  • September 22, 2014 at 7:26 pm
    Permalink

    What about the entrance from Islands of Adventure, located in Seuss Landing? We stumbled upon it last year and I think we got let in around 5:45.

    Reply
    • September 23, 2014 at 11:00 am
      Permalink

      Sorry, they are no longer selling separate Stay & Scream tickets so no more early entry from IOA. You can still use the side entrance near Rockit but you don’t get in ahead of the main gate AFAIK. I’ll check to see if that changes on my next visit.

      Reply
  • September 24, 2014 at 7:14 am
    Permalink

    Now that Universal Studios will open at 8AM in October, meaning that early entry will be at 7AM (and I will be there probably earlier than 6:30), I wonder if I will be too tired to enjoy HHN. Maybe I should take a break in the afternoon, since I’ll stay at Cabana Bay.

    Reply
  • September 26, 2014 at 10:15 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for the update! Going on oct 23…… Can’t wait. Will have the express pass but not sure if we wanna get reservations for Finnagans or not?

    Reply

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