Tricks for making the most of 24 hours at Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando

Posted November 3, 2013


ORLANDO, Fla. – If you’re a fan of horror movies, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). The theme park’s annual event, which is now in its 23rd year, features a different theme each year. This season’s theme is “What Evil Has Taken Root?” featuring films and TV shows like “The Walking Dead,” “Cabin in the Woods” and “Evil Dead.”

After each haunted house, visitors can find stands selling Halloween Horror Nights Blood Suckers - red Jello shots inside a plastic blood bag. (Photo by Nicky Diaz)

After each haunted house, visitors can find stands selling Halloween Horror Nights Blood Suckers – red Jello shots inside a plastic blood bag (Photo by Nicky Diaz).

The park normally prepares more than five haunted houses; this year, there are eight attractions, each themed after a TV show or movie. The characters and settings in each house are detailed perfectly.

For example, the entrance to the “Cabin in the Woods” haunted house leads you into a forest where you then enter the cabin where the frights begin.

“‘The Walking Dead’ is my favorite show,” said Samir Sheik, who was visiting HHN for the first time from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “So I really wanted to experience the scare zones.”

Although many HHN visitors have become veterans at this point, there are still many beginners who need to learn the ropes of how to make the most of their trips to HHN. Here are some tips on how to enjoy your Halloween adventure while staying on a budget.

What tickets to purchase

Tickets will probably be the largest expense of your trip, but the sticker shock will be worth it. General admission for a single night costs $91.99; Florida residents get a discount, ranging from $42.99 to $69.99.

“As having attended Halloween Horror Nights before without an Express pass, I can honestly say that it makes the night,” said Nick Gangemi, who was attending HHN for the third time. “If I had to wait in 100-minute lines, I would not have been able to ride every ride and enter each house like I was able to.”

Zombies roam throughout the park, scaring visitors when they least expect it. (Photo by Alysha Khan)

Zombies roam throughout the park, scaring visitors when they least expect it (Photo by Alysha Khan).

But if you really want to enjoy your experience spend a bit extra (varying depending on the day you visit) and buy the HHN Express Pass. This pass guarantees that you’ll be able to experience every haunted house and still have time left for rides. The lines are sometimes longer than two hours.

There’s no way to visit each house when it takes that long. Plus, waiting two hours for a haunted house makes it lose its fear factor.

Where to stay

Don’t feel the pressure to stay at a Disney or Universal resort when you visit Orlando to attend HHN. The over-priced rooms are an unnecessary burden on your credit card. Instead, check out off-site hotels like the ones near the Orlando Convention Center. You’ll be just as comfortable for the night at a Comfort Inn or Quality Inn. The hotels can be as cheap as $50 for the night.

Another word of advice: Don’t stay longer than a night. There’s no need to stay more than one night if you’re just attending HHN. If you want to visit some of the other theme parks in Orlando, then it’s best to stay longer than 24 hours – unless you want to look as exhausted as some of the zombies roaming Universal.

How to manage your time

Once you’ve made it to Orlando, there are a few ways to manage your time effectively. Make sure you get to the park once it’s sundown; any earlier and it isn’t as scary since it’s not dark. Any later, you won’t have enough time to go on all the rides or visit each haunted house without rushing.

Visitors wait to enter Universal Studio's Halloween Horror Nights. (Photo by Alysha Khan)

Visitors wait to enter Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights (Photo by Alysha Khan).

Remember to eat something before going into the park. The food is as over-priced as any meal at a theme park is. Grab something to eat at CityWalk; it’s right outside the park and you have to walk through it anyway to get to Universal’s entrance.

HHN is worth the price. Once you’re too old for trick-or-treating, you have to find another activity to celebrate the season. HHN is just the thing.

“Halloween Horror Nights rounds out my Halloween each year,” said Alexander Gonzalez, who has been to HHN three times before. “Who needs jack-o’-lanterns when you can spend a night running away from zombies.”

If You Go

  • General admission tickets for a single night cost $91.99; Florida residents get a discount, ranging from $42.99 to $69.99
  • Nearby hotels
    • Comfort Inn
      • Prices typically range from $69 to $79 per night
      • Located at 7495 Canada Ave., Orlando
      • For more information, visit or call 407-351-7000
    • Quality Inn

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