Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
Universal has been a fixture in the world of monster movies since the 1930s, bringing fictional characters like the Wolf Man, Dracula and the Invisible Man to the big screen.
These famous monsters have been a mainstay at Universal Orlando Resort since the park opened in Orlando in 1990; they have shown up in attractions like the “Horror Make-Up Show” and the Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster. It only makes sense that Universal would drive full-throttle into the world of haunted attractions by turning its entire park into one.
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights began as a three-night event in 1991 (hosted by none other than Beetlejuice himself) with just one haunted house. Now in its 32nd year, Halloween Horror Nights will run for a record-breaking 48 nights from Sept. 1 through Nov. 4. Because who doesn’t want a longer spooky season?
Throughout the event’s more than two-month run, guests can experience a more sinister side of Universal Orlando. The event is held in the dark of night after Universal Studios Florida closes to daytime guests. The haunted houses, outdoor scare zones and live shows serve as a terrifying counterpart to the family-friendly fun that Universal is otherwise known for.
There is no minimum age requirement for Halloween Horror Nights, but due to the intense nature and extreme gore, the event is not recommended for children under 13. If you are considering bringing kids, use your best judgment on whether they are ready for this event.
Popular dates, including opening weekend and Halloween, sell out early, so if you want to get the socks scared right off your feet, you must plan ahead. Get your tickets now so you don’t miss out — and start planning so you’re aware of everything you need to know before exploring the darker side of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.
When does Halloween Horror Nights start?
This year, Halloween Horror Nights will take place on select nights between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4. The event is open every night of the week except Mondays and Tuesdays. The only exception is Oct. 31, which falls on a Tuesday this year.
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The event begins at 6:30 p.m. every night and typically operates until 2 a.m.
There will be 10 haunted houses at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights this year. Houses are usually a mix of original concepts dreamt up by the menacing minds at Universal and pop culture horror favorites.
The houses are scattered throughout the park. You can find them using the Universal Orlando app’s map. Some are in overflow queue areas for rides, while others are in real working soundstages. There are also some in large tents that don’t look nearly as scary on the outside as they do inside.
Last year, Universal teased a house inspired by everyone’s favorite killer doll Chucky from the “Child’s Play” franchise, but then it was crickets on any new house announcements.
It wasn’t until June 15, 2023, that fans finally got the first official haunted house announcement: a house themed to the critically acclaimed video game and TV series “The Last of Us.” The house is set in a post-apocalyptic world familiar to fans of “The Last of Us.” It follows protagonists Joel and Ellie as they navigate a world overtaken by a fungal virus that turns humans into monsters. Guests will encounter these monsters in their many forms — runners, stalkers and clickers — while they explore iconic locations from the game.
Universal also recently announced that it will transport fans to Hawkins, Indiana, in a terrifying haunted house themed to the fourth season of “Stranger Things.” You know, the one where Eleven, Max, Eddie and the gang go back into the Upside Down to face off against the evil Vecna. Expect to make your way through creepy scenes like the Hawkins Lab, the Creel House and Vecna’s blood-red Mind Lair. If you haven’t seen the new season yet, watch it before your visit to get caught up on the eerie excitement.
There are still more house announcements expected between now and September, so bookmark this story for the latest news.
In addition to the haunted houses, Universal creates a series of outdoor scare zones throughout the park. This year, there will be five scare zones, and there’s pretty much no way to get around the park without facing the scare zones head-on.
“Scareactors” (it rhymes with “characters”) roam around the scare zones looking for unwitting victims to frighten, but they aren’t as scary as the houses. They are more likely to shoot you an evil glare or follow behind you a bit too closely. However, they also won’t hesitate to rev a chainsaw right in front of you if they think it’ll make you jump.
Like the houses, each scare zone has a different theme, though none of this year’s themes have been announced yet.
How much are tickets to Halloween Horror Nights?
Single-night tickets for this year’s event start at $79.99 per person, plus tax. Halloween Horror Nights is a separately ticketed event, so this doesn’t get you daytime access to the parks. This year, select ticket types include a six-month subscription to the Peacock streaming service, so you can catch up on your favorite horror franchises before the event.
If you do have a daytime ticket (or annual pass), Universal usually keeps small “Stay & Scream” areas of the park open so you can have a drink and bite to eat while the park is transformed for that night’s festivities. Or, you can purchase a “Scream Early” ticket and enter Universal Studios Florida as early as 3 p.m. to enjoy the regular daytime attractions.
Universal also offers multinight “Frequent Fear” and “Rush of Fear” passes for those who plan on visiting multiple times throughout the event.
If you want to enjoy the parks during the day and at night, vacation packages that include hotel accommodations, park tickets and admission to Halloween Horror Nights are available. You can even use your hotel keycard to access a dedicated event entrance designed exclusively for hotel guests.
Halloween Horror Nights ticket upgrades
Universal offers a variety of add-ons and upgrades for Halloween Horror Nights. These include:
- Halloween Horror Nights R.I.P. Tour: This is Universal’s play on a VIP tour for Halloween Horror Nights. Your expert guide will lead you to a priority entrance at each house, sharing their in-depth knowledge of the event along the way. You’ll also get access to a pre-tour reception with complimentary food and a cash bar, unlimited Universal Express skip-the-line ride access, a commemorative tour credential, a lanyard and a pin. Group and private tours are available, and pricing begins at $299.99 per person; this doesn’t include the cost of your Halloween Horror Nights ticket.
- Halloween Horror Nights Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour: Two types of people would benefit from the Unmasking the Horror Tour: those who are too scared to visit the haunted houses at night and those who want to dive deeper into the details of the houses. This is a lights-on tour that takes place during daytime hours. You can choose to tour three or six haunted houses. Prices start at $119.99 per person, plus tax and $169.99 per person, plus tax, respectively. Regular theme park admission or Halloween Horror Nights tickets are not required for this experience.
- Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass: Universal also offers the Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass, which lets you skip the standby line once per night at the haunted houses and select attractions, much like the daytime Universal Express Pass. Wait times for the haunted houses can climb as high as 90 minutes on busy nights, so this add-on is well worth the money. Pricing starts at $109.99 per person, plus tax. Halloween Horror Nights event admissions are not included and must be purchased separately.
Tips for visiting
Save time for live shows
When we say that Halloween Horror Nights takes over the entire park, we mean it. Aside from the haunted houses and scare zones, there are two live shows, themed food and drink booths, and exclusive Halloween Horror Nights merchandise.
The Universal Orlando app includes times for live shows. You typically want to arrive at least 30 minutes prior to showtime to get a good spot.
Follow this advice if you’re a scaredy cat
If you typically don’t like to go to haunted houses, you may be wondering if you should even visit Universal Orlando during Halloween Horror Nights. If you aren’t quite sure if you can handle it, there are still ways to enjoy the event.
As we mentioned, the outdoor scare zones aren’t quite as scary as the houses, so they’re a good way to tiptoe into the event. You can also spend your time playing carnival games, eating themed foods, riding roller coasters and watching the shows if you need a break from the houses.
You can book the aforementioned Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour to see the houses during the day with the lights on and without the jump scares. Seeing the houses with the lights on and getting the lay of the land, so to speak, may even give you the courage you need to visit again at night.
Look for Halloween Horror Nights merchandise
Most of the merchandise is in the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store near the Revenge of the Mummy coaster. The store itself is a themed attraction: It has multiple rooms filled with props and decor that make it feel like a haunted house without jump scares.
You can purchase the requisite hats and T-shirts, along with specialty masks, art and memorabilia. There’s also an entire room dedicated to spooky treats.
Keep an eye out for original characters
One of the most interesting things about Halloween Horror Nights is the well-developed original characters, which seem to find their way into the event year after year.
A knowledge of these characters and the tangled web of lore surrounding the event isn’t necessary to enjoy it. Still, there are a number of articles on Universal Orlando’s blog that go “behind the screams” of the event if you want to learn more.
We’ll report back after the event … if we survive.