Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (abbreviated to HHN by its fans) is one of the most popular seasonal events in country. While Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Walt Disney World focuses on family-friendly activities, Universal embraces its horror roots to create an edgy, adult event.
In this two-part series, we will cover frequently asked questions on tickets, operating hours, haunted houses, scare zones, shows, touring tips, and information for those who wish to avoid the event but enjoy Universal. First up, Part 1: Planning.
This article is written for guests who are excited to attend. If you are interested in the experience of someone who was apprehensive, check out Dani’s “How to Enjoy Halloween Horror Nights When You Are Scared of Everything”.
Universal and horror were deeply intertwined ever since Lon Chaney became Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Cinemas were dominated for decades by classic Universal Horror films such as Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man (along with some not-so classics like The Thing That Wouldn’t Die). Industry leaders in makeup, prosthetics, and costuming such as Lon Chaney, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, and more more honed their skills while working on Universal’s horror movies.
After a rocky opening in 1991, Universal Studios Florida (abbreviated to USF) entertainment created a fall event to bring in locals. “Fright Nights” was born, a 3-day after-hours event with entertainment and one haunted house. The following year the event returned under a new name, Halloween Horror Nights. Over 29 years the event has seen its share of slashers, monsters, mutants, and freaks between Universal’s two parks. This year the event returns for its 29th year with ten houses, five scare zones, and one show.
“I’d rather not…”
Day guests visiting Universal while HHN is occurring frequently ask “How much disgusting/scary will I see during the day?” During normal park operating hours (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on event nights) day guests cannot experience the haunted houses, shows, scare zones; scary or gory props used during the event will be hidden and there will be no scare actors in the park. Horror Nights only starts after the park has been “swept” of day guests. Feel free to tour the park without fear.
But what about after Universal Studios Florida closes, what is there to do for those not attending? Islands of Adventure will remain open until 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. on event nights while CityWalk’s restaurants, clubs, and Hollywood Drive-In miniature golf remain open until 2:00 a.m. Additionally, Blue Man Group and the CityWalk Cinemark movie theater have nightly showings. Universal encourages resort hopping, so make sure to check out the other resorts on property.
Note: Halloween Horror Nights is NOT for children. Reconsider bringing kids under the age of 13 and use your judgement for anyone under 18. Horror Nights is a PG-13 to R rated event.
Operating Hours & Ticket Options
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 29 runs on select nights September 6 through November 2. Excluding the first week, September 11, and October 16, Horror Nights take place every Wednesday through Sunday (plus Tuesday, October 29). On event days Universal Studios Florida closes at 5:00 p.m. and reopens for HHN at 6:30 p.m.
Halloween Horror Nights requires its own event ticket. Universal Studios Florida tickets and annual passes are not valid for admission. Single-day event tickets start at $67.99 plus tax online while a one-day ticket is $119.99 plus tax at the gate. Discounted tickets can be acquired day-of the event: purchase your tickets online and then pick up at Will Call or print them at home.
Ticket prices greatly vary between dates; Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during the beginning of the event are the least expensive while Saturdays and Fridays closer to Halloween are the most expensive.
Universal offers a “Scream Early” ticket for guests who only have a HHN ticket. This special ticket grants one-time admission to USF starting at 3:00 p.m. to experience the park and participate in in Stay and Scream (see below). The ticket is $25 per person plus tax.
Guests attending more than one night will save money with one of three multi-day ticket options:
- Rush of Fear Pass: $109.99 plus tax, and guests are able to visit the first three weeks of the event (September 14 – 30).
- Frequent Fear Pass: $119.99 plus tax, and guests are able to visit every Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday night plus the first two days (Friday, September 14 and Saturday September 15) and the last Friday (November 2) of the event.
- Frequent Fear Plus Pass: $139.99 plus tax, and guests are able to visit the same nights at the Frequent Fear Pass plus every Friday night of the event.
- Ultimate Frequent Fear Pass: Tickets are $259.99 plus tax, and guests can visit every night of the event.
Express Pass, Behind the Screams, and RIP Tours
Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass allows guests to bypass stand-by lines and dramatically reduce their waits. Passes start at $89.99 plus tax per guest and grants access to the Express line for each attraction and haunted house once that night. In the past waits for houses like Stranger Things have soared above three hours on busy days; Express can reduce waits by at least half.
If Express has not sold out Universal will sometimes sell a heavily discounted Express Pass active only during the final three hours of the event. Check locations that sell Express to see if there is availability.
Express Pass upgraded multi-day passes are available for guests attending multiple nights. The ticket includes the admission into the park plus one use of Express Pass for each house and attraction that night.
- Rush of Fear Pass with Express: $334.99
- Frequent Fear Pass with Express: $374.99
- Frequent Fear Pass Plus with Express: $459.99
- Ultimate Frequent Fear Pass with Express: $679.99
Note: Express Passes offered to guests staying at a deluxe Universal Orlando hotel are not valid during HHN. Express Pass is not a valid admission into the event.
Do you crave no waits at all? If money is no object, guided RIP Tours provide guests immediate access to all the houses and Academy of Villains show. RIP Tours pricing varies by night, ranging from $199 to $369 plus tax per guest. Private RIP Tours are also available; call 866-604-7556 for pricing and more information. As with Express Pass, admission to the event is not included.
Daytime “Behind the Screams” tours offer a guided, lights-on look at this year’s haunted houses. Knowledgeable guides take guests through select houses to learn the behind the scenes secrets, stories, and incredible effects without scare actors. This is a great choice for guests who wish to experience what the event can offer but wish not to partake in the nighttime festivities. Tours are offered for three or six houses and pricing starts at $79.99 plus tax per guest. Tickets can be purchased online, theme park admission and event admission is not included.
Annual Passholder Offers
Universal Orlando offers special events, discounts, and merchandise for Annual Passholders during Horror Nights.
- One free Horror Nights ticket on select dates for Premier Passholders
- Exclusive Passholder entrance into Universal Studios Florida prior to the start of the event for Stay and Scream
- Exclusive merchandise at the Cyber Image Store or UOAP Lounge
- Free button between September 1 to 30. Buttons can be picked up at Cyber Image, UOAP Lounge, or Toon Extra in Islands of Adventure.
- Single-day tickets start at $61.99 plus tax
- Discounts on the multi-day Rush of Fear Pass ($89.99 plus tax) and Frequent Fear Pass ($104.99 plus tax)
- Receive 15% discount on Scare Actor Dining when purchasing in park
- RIP Tours offered at a 5% discount for Power Annual Passholders and 10% discount for Premier and Prefered Annual Passholders
Guidelines, Accessibility, and Warnings
- Halloween Horror Nights is not Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. This event is for mature audiences and features fake violence, gore, the macabre, dramatic irony, sexually suggestive themes, and loud noises. Children, pre-teens, or teens who would not be able to handle an adult Halloween party or R-rated horror movie should not attend.
- Costumes of any kind are not allowed, but t-shirts and face painting is allowed.
- Food, beverages, photography, videography, or any light emitting devices are not allowed in houses.
- Physical contact of any kind with scare actors is prohibited; the safety of Universal Orlando Team Members is paramount. Violations of this last rule can lead to expulsion from the event, banning from Universal Orlando, and even criminal charges.
- Horror Nights houses are fully accessible by wheelchair; electric wheelchairs and ECVs are not permitted through the houses.
- Service animal walking areas are in KidZone and next to Men in Black.
- Strobe lights and fog are heavily used in scare zones and houses. Some houses use fake smells that could irritate some.
- Horror Nights is LOUD, if you are sensitive to sharp or loud noises bring ear plugs.
If any of these warnings give you pause then reconsider going for your own health and safety.
Have we scared you away yet? No? Well, good — in part 2 tomorrow, we’ll cover the best tips for touring Halloween Horror Nights.
What are you looking forward to the most at Halloween Horror Nights 29? Leave your comments and questions below!