If you’ve hung around these parts before, you’ll know that I’m a massive Halloween Horror Nights fan. It’s the world’s biggest and best Halloween event, and I’ve just returned from Orlando after visiting this year’s HHN (spoiler: it’s AWESOME). I’ve got a whole new post coming soon with loads of information if you’re planning a trip to Halloween Horror Nights, including an explanation of all the different tickets and passes (and also a review of the beautiful new Aventura Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort), so for this one, I’m just going to concentrate on the actual event. Get your big boy pants on, then, because it’s time to find out what it’s like to experience Halloween Horror Nights 28 at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida!
What’s it all about?
You can read loads of information about Halloween Horror Nights 2018 on my previous post linked here, which will tell you all about the event itself, and give you all the background about the individual mazes (haunted houses) and scare zones that you’ll find at Halloween Horror Nights 2018 (also called HHN28 as it’s the 28th event so far).
Why is HHN so popular?
The Halloween Horror Nights event has just got bigger and better every year, and as it’s grown, the event has developed a cult status with millions of horror fans. This year’s offering opened Halloween Horror Nights up to a much wider audience when the Stranger Things maze was announced. I think there’ll be a lot of visitors who will have been drawn in by Stranger Things, then fallen in love with the event and want to come every year. It’s a pretty ‘grown up’ event (Universal recommend 13 years and over), so I think it appeals to a lot of people. Plus, you can go for one night, or you can get a ticket which allows you multiple evenings during your visit (see the fact box below), so you can keep coming back and seeing more each time.
Why it’s such a good time to go to Orlando
I mean, it’s always a good time to go to Orlando, but during HHN, the weather is utterly gorgeous. We had clear blue skies and temperatures of around 30 – 34 degrees while we were there. We had one evening thunderstorm while we were eating dinner, which had cleared by the time we left the restaurant. Another bonus is that by mid-September, most of the schools are back, meaning that the parks are relatively quiet. I was really surprised just how quiet the parks were on our first park day, especially first thing in the morning. Of course it gets busier as people flock to the event but even then, it’s a great time to visit.
During the day, while you’re wandering the parks, experiencing the incredible rides and attractions, you start to see little glimpses of Halloween Horror Nights, like the truck from the Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and the old, abandoned church at the entrance to Twisted Traditions. It all helps to build the excitement (I think I said ‘OMG I’m so excited about a million times).
My HHN28 highlights
OMG there are just soooo many. I’ve tried hard to pick my absolute faves (and here’s a little map so you know where to find them).
Netflix’s Stranger Things (A)
I’m a huge Stranger Things fan so I think the Stranger Things house was absolutely phenomenal. Creators the Duffer Brothers were very involved in the creative process and that’s really apparent when you enter the house (there are snippets of the original soundtrack throughout the house too). The house features some incredible lookalikes, and some iconic scenes too. It’s based solely on series 1 as well, so fingers crossed we’ll get a house based on the second series house at some point.
Academy of Villains: Cyberpunk (P)
I mean… wow. I can’t even begin to try and explain this brilliant show. To call it a dance show really doesn’t do it justice as it’s a huge, creative production with astonishing choreography, lights and music. The production brought the whole audience to their feet, with audience interaction, laser light, pyrotechnics and more. Just utterly astonishing and one of the highlights of the trip.
The Twisted Tradition scare zone (N)
The ‘pumpkin patch’ at Central Park is always one of my favourite areas. Even though it’s scary, it’s always ridiculously pretty. This year, it was infested with strange creatures, towering UV pumpkin head monsters and worse. Brilliant.
The Poltergeist maze (D)
You walk in and it’s actually raining! I think this is the house where I sent the video back to our family WhatsApp group and it was mainly black with flashes of light and a TON of screaming. There are skeletons, a horrendously terrifying clown, the guy peeling his face off, and an overall intense, insidious claustrophobic feeling that left you feeling unnerved… It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about it.
Trick ‘r’ Treat (I)
The film is one of our absolute favourites, and scary Sam makes a brilliant return in this awesome haunted house. I screamed my head off (no change there, then). As you walk through the house, you encounter the five different stories that are all bound together in the film, and the attention to detail again is utterly superb. I even recognised Old Mr Kreeg’s house.
The 10 maze challenge
So is it possible to do all ten mazes in one night? Well, yes, and we proved it on Friday during opening night. We started dead on (see what I did there?) opening time and finished at just after 1.30pm, and walked over 13km according to my iPhone (ooh, there’s another top tip: wear comfy shoes). We also had an RIP guide for our group (I’ll explain all about those in my planning post next Tuesday) so were able to skip the queues, but I’ve been reading some fan forums where people had managed at least eight out of the ten with an Express Pass. Truth be told, you do start to flag, but the mixture of adrenaline and excitement keeps you going. I’d like to go again just to hang around in the scare zones a bit more and really soak in the atmosphere, and that’s where the Frequent Fear Plus Pass ticket is a real benefit. Enjoy the parks during the day, and take your time at HHN in the evening.
Don’t forget the food
If you’re going to experience Halloween Horror Nights, you have to make sure you turn up really hungry so you can try ALL the food. The theming is always amazing and this year was no different. Of course there were Eleven’s favourite waffles (there’s a huge variety of different waffle options, from a huge fudge-dipped waffle on a stick, to sundaes and even drinks – the chicken and waffle sandwich was utterly delicious), Christmas tree light cupcakes and Dustin’s favourite pepperoni and sausage pizza, plus a billiant Upside Down Burger; all cleverly created and brilliantly delivered.
I like to drive to the airport and, for the second time now, I used the APH park and ride facility at Gatwick Airport. It’s a really easy place to find, then you just drop your car at the reception (they park it for you), hop on a bus and you’re at the airport in 10 minutes. I like the system better than when you park yourself and have to trundle your suitcase across miles of car park to find your car again, plus they’re all really lovely and friendly. One week of park and ride parking at Gatwick Airport costs from £52.13. Price is based on travel in October 2018. To book, visit www.aph.com or call 01342 859442.
Experience Halloween Horror Nights for yourself
This year, Halloween Horror Nights 28 will take over Universal Orlando Resort on selected nights from September 14th to November 3rd: : September 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 23, 28, 30, (edit: 19th and 26th have now been added), October 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 25, 26, 28, 31 and November 1, 2, 3.
Enjoy seven nights at Universal Orlando Resort with Virgin Holidays, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick direct to Orlando, with accommodation at Universal’s Aventura Hotel from £1165pp. The price is for two adults and is based on a Skyline view room on a room only basis with car hire included. The package includes a 3 Park Explorer Ticket for access to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay AND the Halloween Horror Nights Frequent Fear Plus Pass Ticket – offering multiple nights of admission from September 14th through to November 3rd. Virgin Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book:, 0344 557 3859 or visit one of our individual retail stores or one of the 110 stores located in Debenhams and Next stores nationwide or visit www.virginholidays.com.
Lastly, a massive thanks to this lovely bunch who made the whole trip so much fun, and to our awesome RIP guides, Katie and Lynette. Who’s up for next year, then?! xx