TouringPlans is pleased to welcome back guest author Laurie Breen.
Maybe you’re a fan of classic horror movies like The Shining. Maybe you’ve been riveted by all six seasons of American Horror Story. (Who else is dying for Cult to come out!?) Or maybe, like me, you’ve been to one or two Halloween events and want to find out if you’re brave enough to tackle the biggest frightfest of them all. Well friends, screw your courage to the sticking place and join me on a Halloween Horror Nights adventure.
Where to Start
With 9 haunted houses, a.k.a. “mazes”, and 5 outdoor Scarezones, Halloween Horror Nights is a killer event. First, you’ll want to check out the Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) website. On every page there is a big warning: Halloween Horror Nights is NOT FOR EVERYONE. Universal advises that this “event may be too intense for young children and is not recommended for children under the age of 13.” Not only are there enough ghouls and gore to unsettle the staunchest stomach, there is plenty of revelry among the adult guests. Horror Nights runs on select nights from September 15th through November 4th.
Where to Stay
Universal’s on-site hotels have been known to sell out on Horror Nights weekends. When the event lasts until 2am, many guests would rather head back to an on-site hotel than make their way home. On-site hotel guests have their own dedicated entry at Horror Nights, in addition to the usual on-site perks.
There are also several ticket options to consider, as well as add-on tours and dining.
For the Scaredy Cat
If you love Universal, but aren’t sure that you’ll love Horror Nights, consider a long weekend with one night at HHN. While Fridays and Saturdays are typically the busiest, a Sunday night or a night in the first 2-3 weeks of the event will be quieter. Check out the Coca-Cola discount tickets on the Halloween Horror Nights website for up to $50 off a one-night ticket when you buy in advance online. There are also special deals for Annual and Seasonal Pass Holders.
For the Horror Enthusiast
If you plan to attend more than one or two nights, the Frequent Fear or Frequent Fear Plus is the best value for money. If you’re attending the first few weeks of the event, the Rush of Fear pass gets you into every HHN night from September 15th through October 1st. Frequent Fear allows entry for any night except Friday or Saturday throughout the event season, while the Frequent Fear Plus adds on the Friday HHN nights. For a pass that gets you in every single night, you’ll need the Ultimate Frequent Fear.
Single-night tickets, Rush of Fear, and Frequent Fear passes all have the option of adding on Express Pass — for a price. On busy nights, waits for the most popular mazes can reach 2+ hours so this is definitely something to consider and prices vary depending on the night you pick. Take note: the Express Pass that you get with your daytime Universal ticket or by staying at some on-site hotels does not work for Horror Nights.
Let’s Be Honest, You Drank the Horror Kool-Aid
If you booked your hotel in January and have been obsessing over announcements and ticket options since June, it’s time to plus your frightful experience. For you crazies who want to get up-close and personal with iconic “scareactors”, book yourself a Scareactor Dining Experience. For $49.99 (plus tax) per person, you get an all-you-can-eat spooky buffet at the Classic Monsters Cafe, photo ops with the scareactors, and a digital download of one photo. Note that you must have an HHN ticket for the night of your dining experience.
To get a closer look at the creepy creativity of the Horror Nights Art & Design team, book an Unmasking the Horror tour. A guide will lead you through a daytime tour of some of the empty houses, allowing you a behind-the-scenes look at all the gory details along with the chance to photograph select houses. Two tour options let you choose between a 2.5-hour Behind the Screams tour of 3 houses or a 4-hour tour with 6 houses.
Finally, if you are a diehard HHN fan, you can’t pass up the R.I.P. Tour. This tour requires an HHN ticket, but takes you on a guided tour of every maze and scarezone in one night with front-of-the-line access and reserved seating at Bill & Ted’s Halloween Adventure. While the price is truly frightening — $159.99 up to $299.99 (plus tax) depending on the night — you also get an HHN lanyard, complimentary valet parking, a pre-tour reception with appetizers, and stops at private cash bars along the way. Your RIP credential also acts as a one-ride Express Pass for the regular rides that are open that night.
Let me know your best HHN tips and strategies in the comments and happy haunting!