SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love Universal’s Untitled Daytime Halloween Event (AKA HHN 29.5)

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Universal’s Untitled Halloween Event (AKA HHN 29.5)! Thanks to the coronavirus, the theme park calendar took a lot of hits this year with the biggest losses coming at the end of the year when our favorite seasonal events usually take place. Mickey’s Not So Scary? Gone. Mickey’s Very Merry? Gone. Back in July, Universal announced it was canceling Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). This was an especially painful cut for fans, not just because HHN has become THE premier haunted house experience in the United States, but because 2020 was going to be the big 30th anniversary celebration of the event.

Then there were whispers in the theme park fan community. Universal had already prepared for HHN 30, and rumors were flying around that despite canceling the event, guests would be able to experience some of the houses. Universal confirmed the news in September when announcing that a modified version of the event – which is NOT being called Halloween Horror Nights – would take place from October 3rd to November 1st.

The good news is that the untitled Halloween event’s haunted house experiences would be included with everyone’s park admission. Even better? We got a whole bunch of other great “HHN” stuff to give us all a taste of what might have been, starting with…

# 6 – Voodoo Doughnut’s Jack the Clown

One of the best synergies at Universal Orlando is with the park’s seasonal events and Voodoo Doughnut in CityWalk. The tradition of awesome baked goodness continues with a Jack the Clown themed offering. Jack the Clown is the most popular icon of Halloween Horror Nights, and this vanilla frosted with raspberry filling snack does him justice!

Jack the Clown donut. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Jack the Clown at USF, home of the Untitled Halloween Event. (photo by Michael Carelli)

With vanilla frosting on the outside and a raspberry filling on the inside, the Jack donut is another in a long line of successful Voodoo Doughnut offerings.

Cross section of Jack donut. (photo by Michael Carelli)

# 5 – Scarecrow Stalk

One thing that my family has enjoyed over the years at EPCOT are the scavenger hunts during the festivals such as Figment’s Brush with the Masters during Festival of the Arts or Spike’s Pollen-Nation Exploration during Flower & Garden. For their new Halloween event, Universal guests can participate in a similar type of scavenger hunt that is absolutely free. The Scarecrow Stalk sends guests across the park to discover unique and highly themed scarecrows and skeletons. At each stop there is a stamp for your map, and those who successfully complete the stalk get to choose some Halloween candy as a prize.

Scarecrow Stalk. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Scarecrow Stalk. (photo by Hedgehog’s Corner)
Scarecrow Stalk map. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Scarecrow Stalk map. (photo by Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog)
A Transformers-themed scarecrow in The Supply Vault. (photo by Michael Carelli)
A pumpkin with hieroglyphics in Sahara Traders, the gift shop for Revenge of the Mummy. (photo by Michael Carelli)
In a great nod to the attraction, Sahara Trader’s scarecrow area has this coffee cup with “ghostly swoosh” on it. If you know, you know. (photo by @TheDCLBlog)
Scarecrow at Shrek’s Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Scarecrow at Super Silly Stuff. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Scarecrow at Spongebob StorePants. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Scarecrow at Silver Screen Collectibles. (photo by @TheDCLBlog)
Scarecrow at Rosie’s Irish Shop. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

There are very few things to enjoy about Fast & Furious – Supercharged, but this leather-jacket-wearing skeleton scarecrow in the gift shop is one of them.

We know which part of “Ride or Die” this person chose. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

Guests with a completed map can choose from several Halloween snack bags.

Candy! (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

# 4 – Tribute Store

For a while this summer, it seemed like the only thing related to HHN that Universal guests would be able to experience this year was the Tribute Store. But you know what, that might have been enough because this store is AWESOME. Loaded with incredible photo ops and fun details, this is one gift shop that is essentially an attraction in and of itself. With sections dedicated to Universal Monsters, HHN Icons, and Beetlejuice, the Tribute Store is loaded with Easter Eggs for horror fans.

Tribute Store facade. (photo by Michael Carelli)
This aerial photo by @bioreconstruct gives us a look at the size of Tribute Store (located in the center of the photo).
You can’t help but think “It’s alive!!” in the room themed to Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. (photo by Michael Carelli)
What is more on-brand for Halloween than a pumpkin? (photo by Michael Carelli)
Did someone say pumpkins? (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Jack the Clown. (photo by Michael Carelli)
HHN Icon The Caretaker. (photo by Michael Carelli)
This hallway at the Tribute Store is loaded with references and pictures from the last 30 years of Halloween Horror Nights. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Nods to HHN of years past. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Like a trip through Memory Lane. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Look closely and you may see some surprising photos, such as this one including chef Steven Jayson, the person behind Butterbeer at the Wizarding World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Check out this photo featuring scareactors playing instruments on an old USF tram tour vehicle! (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Beetlejuice room is the closest any of us will get to what it’s like being on set for this beloved movie. The attention to detail is second to none.

Graveyard. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Elements straight out of the Beetlejuice film. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Dante’s Inferno reference from Beetlejuice. (photo by Michael Carelli)
::chef’s kiss:: (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Beetlejuice prop. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
With as crazy of a year it has been, this could be an actual newspaper headline in 2020 and no one would blink an eye. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
The famous Beetlejuice snake’s shadow on the wall was animated as well. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Universal didn’t have to go this hard, but they did! (photo by Michael Carelli)
A ghostly Barbara and Adam, from the concluding act of Beetlejuice. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Just stunning detail throughout. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
The hilarious finale of Beetlejuice now reminds me of my experience getting a Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance at DHS. (photo by Michael Carelli)

# 3 – The Merchandise

In early years of HHN, merchandise was the events only weak link. Some not-so-great t-shirts and that’s about it. Now, merchandise is one of the event’s strengths and even though we’re not officially having “HHN 30” we are getting the chance to buy some great items that were made for it. Halloween aside, one of the absolutely coolest things to come to Universal this entire year was the debut of a Mold-A-Matic machine. While these machines were never used at the Universal parks in Orlando, they did have them out in Hollywood during the 1960s and 70s. You can find them in several locations in Florida including Busch Gardens Tampa, Gatorland, and the Miami Zoo. Many SAT SIX readers know how much I love pressed pennies, but a Mold-A-Matic souvenir ranks even higher on my list. When a Franken-Mold machine arrived at the Tribute Store, my jaw dropped to the floor in disbelief.

Franken-Mold. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
INDESCRIBABLY BEAUTIFUL!!!! (photo by Michael Carelli)

Even better, a second machine arrived with – you guessed it – a pumpkin wax mold.

Pumpkin mold. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Frankie and a pumpkin. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Universal Studios imprinted on each mold. In a world of cost cutting measures, details like that are nice to see. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
What’s more 2020 than HHN-themed face masks? (photo by Michael Carelli)
Before you say anything about this keychain, check out the meme below. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

 

These glasses themed to HHN Icons are incredible!!

Jack the Clown. (photo by Michael Carelli)
The Director. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Storyteller. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Caretaker. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Being able to buy retro merchandise is an HHN fan’s dream come true.

HHN merch. (photo by Michael Carelli)
HHN of years past. (photo by Michael Carelli)
HHN shirts. (photo by Michael Carelli)
While Disney has all but dared Annual Passholders to keep their passes during these unprecedented times, Universal has gone the other way and catered to them. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
Exclusive AP shirt. (photo by Hunter Undrwood)
Several of this year’s shirts had a black light element built into the shirt, such as this one featuring Frankenstein’s Monster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Horror Ink is back allowing guests to print their own shirt on demand. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
A sign of the times. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

How INCREDIBLE is this HHN map based on the event from 2005?!!

HHN map. (photo by Michael Carelli)

This pinball-themed poster featuring HHN houses is also E-Ticket.

Pinball Wizard.(photo by Clint Gamache of ThrillGeek)
Beetlejuice shirt. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Beetlejuice lanyard. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Ghostbusters mask. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Some of the hand-painted merchandise. (photo by Michael Carelli)
What an amazing poster. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

One of the coolest items to drop this year was a limited edition Music of Halloween Horror Nights album.

HHN album. (photo by Clint Gamache)
Back of album cover. (photo by Ben Wszalek)

Limited to just 500 copies with a too-good-to-be-true price.

Reminder that Disney was selling limited edition PRINTS of attraction posters for $90. (photo by Clint Gamache of ThrillGeek)
Inside the HHN album. (photo by Ben Wszalek)
Pretty sweet looking! (photo by Ben Wszalek.

Demand for this album was – of course – high, which in turn caused some fans to create fake versions of it. I personally got “Babylon Bee’d” myself in thinking the below version was real. SPOILER ALERT: it’s not.

# 2 – The Food and Drink

The SATURDAY SIX has long considered HHN to be the “International Food & Wine Festival for the workin’ man.” While EPCOT may offer frou frou plates along with wine pairings where you need to hold your pinkie out when drinking, Universal offers items such as the iconic twisted taters, s’mores fries, and a donut in the shape of a giant eyeball.

Tribute Store snack case. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

One of the surprise highlights this year was a vegan skull brownie.

Vegan skull brownie. (photo by Hunter Underwood gorgeously hand modeled by @caitlizgrace)
“Frankie” crisped rice treat. (photo by Hunter Underwood)
A Mummy-themed donut. (photo by Michael Carelli)

When it comes to novelty snacks, it’s going to be hard to top the Beating Heart Sour Gummies.

Gummies. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Let’s look at these beauties even closer…

A snack that Edgar Allen Poe would enjoy. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Giant eyeball donut. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Pumpkin-themed donut. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Now THAT’S a slice of cake! (photo by Michael Carelli)
Beetlejuice-themed snacks. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
Beetlejuice gummy eyeballs . (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)
HHN Untitled Halloween Event Food Truck. (photo by @HedgehogsCorner)

How about a Twister Tater wrapped around a giant hot dog? And they say America isn’t on the cutting edge of technology!

Twisted Frank-N-Coils with “blood and guts.” (photo by Megan Stump)
Stolen Teeth Street Corn. (photo by @bireconstruct)
Bacon and scallion waffle on a stick. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Cafe La Bamba has been converted over to the Skeleton Bar.

Skeleton Bar. (photo by Micahel Carelli)
Skeleton Bar. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Skeleton witch. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Skeletons. (photo by Michael Carelli)
How many of us feel waiting for our mobile order to be ready. (photo by Michael Carelli)
Loup Garou, which translates “to become a werewolf.” (photo by Michael Carelli)
Vegan mac & cheese. (photo by Michael Carelli)

# 1 – Haunted Houses

The haunted houses are the draw for HHN every year, and despite HHN 30 being cancelled guests are able to experience two houses. Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and The Bride of Frankenstein Lives! Both have been modified to keep in line with safety concerns (such as barriers between scareactors and guests) and we can actually thank social distancing guidelines for giving us the “pulsed” house experience we’ve all wanted for years. The sets for both houses are fantastic and the scareactors working inside are On Point. It’s just a taste of what we were going to get for what was going to be a massive HHN celebration, and we’re truly thankful to have it.

Stolen Tooth Tart. (photo by Michael Carelli)

Revenge of the Tooth Fairy – The innocent traditions of the tooth fairy hide a darker ritual. All children must give up their baby teeth to the goblinesque tooth fairies or pay a gruesome price. Step into an old manor that has been overrun by yellow-clawed fiends who extract teeth by force. It’s an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

 

Tents for shade set up in outdoor queues. (photo by @bioreconstrust)
Fans plus social distance markers seen in outdoor queue. (photo by @bioreconstrust)
Guests waiting in line can scan a QR code to get the backstory of the houses.

Revenge of the Tooth Fairy. (photo by Shelby Denham)
Guests in Revenge of the Tooth Fairy. (photo courtesy of UOR)

Universal Monsters: Bride of Frankenstein Lives – “We belong dead.” The last words of Frankenstein’s monster on that fateful night when his Bride rejected him. But his end was her beginning. Now the Bride is stepping out of the shadows to bring him back. And there’s nothing she won’t do as she sharpens her brilliance by experimenting on unsuspecting victims. The mate will have her monster. And the monster his mate.

Bride of Frankenstein cupcake. (photo by Michael Carelli)
The Bride of Frankenstein Lives! (photo courtesy of UOR)
The Bride of Frankenstein Lives! (photo courtesy of UOR)

WARNING: Universal’s Halloween haunted houses are NOT for children. Reconsider bringing kids under the age of 13 and use your judgment for anyone under 18. Houses feature low lighting, fog, strobe lights, startling imagery, mature themes, and confined spaces.

Honorable Mention – Trick or Treating at Islands of Adventure

Similar to Disney, this year Universal is allowing adults to dress in costume at the parks. Now we can join the kiddos as they cosplay around the parks. Even better, kids 12 and under get the opportunity to “trick or treat” at Islands of Adventure, where Team Members hand out candy at locations throughout the park. This is one of those wonderful ideas that only came about because of the coronavirus, and let’s hope it returns in future years!

Trick or treating at IOA. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Trick or Treating at IOA. (photo courtesy of UOR)

So there you have it: Six Reasons We Love Universal’s Untitled Halloween Event (AKA HHN 29.5 AKA HHN Lite, AKA Diet HHN)! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

VIRTUAL Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando Resort Fall Fun and Halloween Event

Universal Orlando for Newbies – Frequently Asked Questions

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

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