I always get a little flurry of emails and messages as soon as I mention Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort, so recently, I’ve been keeping a note of the kind of things that people ask me, so I can bring together an FAQ for planning a trip to this brilliant event. I’ve collated a ton of advice here, with everything from picking the best dates to information on tickets and some tips on attending the event itself, so if you’re going to be heading to Universal Resort Orlando over the next few weeks, or are maybe even considering booking a trip for next year, here’s everything you need to know about planning a trip to Halloween Horror Nights.
Planning a trip to Halloween Horror Nights
1 What are the best dates to go?
Of course, like any event, Halloween Horror Nights will be busier on some evenings than others. Obviously the weekends are busier, and those nearest Halloween will get really busy. The first three weeks are a really good time to go, as are the last few days. If you must go during busy times (and I don’t blame you – the atmosphere is incredible), maybe get a Frequent Fear Plus Pass (see point 3) so you can split up your visits to the different houses over a few days.
2 What can we do to get into the spirit of it?
One of the best ways to really get into the spirit (see what I did there?) of HHN is to do a bit of research: have a look at what houses and scare zones are going to be there (I’ll always have a list here, as soon as the info becomes available), and then maybe set aside a few evenings to work your way through some of the films (oh, and definitely watch Stranger Things again!). It’s a brilliant way to build up excitement before your trip and you’ll also pick up a lot more of the nuances and clever details when you’re screaming your way around the houses!
Also, I’ve said it before, but the whole point of HHN is to have fun being scared – there’ll be brilliant monsters and creatures, all manner of creepy goings on, things appearing that will make you jump and a bit of gory stuff too. Remember to go with the flow, immerse yourself in the event and be prepared to scream your head off! (I always lose my voice the next day).
3 What’s the deal with getting tickets?
Halloween Horror Nights are a separately ticketed event, so remember that your normal daytime Universal Orlando park ticket isn’t going to get you in. If you haven’t booked a package (see below for an example), I highly recommend buying the Frequent Fear Plus Pass to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights priced around £100 per person. The pass allows unlimited admission to the evening event on all applicable dates.
4 Is it worth treating ourselves to Express Passes?
Yes, if you’re maybe just going to be there on one night, or you just want to experience one very special evening, you can buy Express Passes (you need your separate HHN entry tickets too), which will allow you to skip the regular queues and join a faster entry queue. These passes are valid for one night only and will set you back between around $90 and $120 each, depending on the date. You can buy them from the Universal Orlando website.
5 Should we go wild and book an RIP Tour?
You can join an RIP tour (geddit? Like VIP but scarier?) with a group of other people (around $160 a person, not including your entry ticket), or you can even book one for just you and your family (price on application). It’s a pretty expensive way of visiting HHN but you go to the front of every queue, you get fascinating insights from very clever and knowledgeable guides and you get some behind the scenes time too (no photos!) as you take the quickest routes to each house. You also get drinks and snacks, access to private bar areas and allocated seating at shows.
6 Any top tips for when you’re attending the Halloween Horror Nights event?
Yes! Stay in the park after day closing
One brilliant little hack is that if you’ve been in the park during the day, so have a valid daytime ticket as well as your HHN ticket, you can actually stay in the park while the transition from day to evening takes place. So around 15 minutes before closing, the staff will start to clear the park of daytime guests. There are, however, allocated ‘holding areas’. You’ll see staff and signs (they used to call them ‘stay and scream’ areas but I’m not sure they still do. Last year, there was one at the food area at Springfield, one just by the Knight Bus at Diagon Alley, Finnegan’s Irish Bar, and one by the Hello Kitty shop (go in the entrance, take an immediate right) you’re going to be right in the middle of the action and will potentially be released earlier than anyone queuing outside (it’s a bit of a boring wait, but if you’re in Finnegan’s or Springfield you can have a bite to eat and a drink). They generally release the people in the holding areas somewhere on or just after 5.45pm so you could have a 15 minute head start if you’re lucky.
All of which essentially means that if you’re clever and have checked out the holding area nearest the house you really want to see (I’d probably say Hello Kitty for Stranger Things, for example, if it’s still allocated as a holding area, although you’re very near the others coming in at the front who will be hot on your tail), you could potentially leg it there as soon as you get let out of the holding area, and be one of the first in the queue before everyone else even gets in the entrance.
… Or go late and stay late
HHN is open until 1am on quieter periods and until 2am on busy nights. This means, you could conceivably head out for a late dinner at CityWalk, then go into the park much, much later when – theoretically – some early birds will have drifted off home, leaving the park a little emptier. This isn’t a perfect option in my opinion as you miss the atmosphere change as it gets dark, but it certainly starts to clear in the early hours.
8 Are there perks to staying in an onsite hotel?
You might already know that guests staying at Universal Orlando Resort hotels get early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one hour before the theme park opens (you still need a ticket) and complimentary transportation to both theme parks and to CityWalk, either by water taxi or coach. Also, if you stay at Loews Royal Pacific, Hard Rock and Portofino Bay you get free Universal Express Unlimited ride access in both theme parks.
Well, during Halloween Horror Nights there’s a special entry place for hotel guests (look for a staff member holding up a big sign saying something like ‘on-site hotel guest event entrance’). It doesn’t let you in early or anything, but it does allow you to skip the big general entry queues.
9 Any ‘insider’ tips for extra fun while we’re there?
There are a couple of extra ticketed events during Halloween Horror Nights, including a Scareactor Dining Experience, which is around $50 per person and takes place at at the Classic Monsters Cafe, and also a daytime Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror tour, which is around $80 per person and is a really interesting ‘under the bonnet’ look at how the creative teams put the event together. You don’t need separate theme park admission for this one.
10 How much does it cost to go on holiday to Halloween Horror Nights?
Of course every holiday differs, depending on who you fly with or which hotel you stay in. I travelled with Virgin Holidays, and this is an example of how much it would cost for a 7 night trip. Remember you need to budget for food and drinks, and any other stuff you do while you’re in Florida. This example is based on staying at Universal’s brand new Aventura Hotel – I’ve got a in-depth review coming very soon!
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.
Random frequently asked questions from my email inbox:
Can I take drinks in with me? No, but you can buy drinks once you get inside.
Can I dress up? No, you can’t wear a costume (or even have your face painted).
Do you have to go inside the houses? Well, no, not if you don’t want to. You could stick to the public areas and just enjoy wandering the scare zones, but you’d be missing all the magic, incredible creativity and the sheer awe of experiencing the brilliant mazes. So don’t be scared, go for it!
Is there actual trick or treating in the park? No, sorry! But Sam might give you a lick of his lolly if you ask nicely *shudder*.
Will anyone touch me? Nope, the scareactors don’t touch you (and likewise, you can’t touch them). I mean, you could potentially get touched by accident (for example, if someone accidentally backs into you), but not on purpose.
What happens if it rains? You get wet! HHN is never cancelled because of wet weather (hurricanes are a different kettle of fish) and you won’t get a refund if it rains. There’s lots of shelter and you can always stick on a poncho.
Is there ever any bad behaviour? Funny this, I’ve been asked the same question a couple of times. It’s an adult orientated event and yes, there’s alcohol on sale, so I guess you could expect to see a bit of silliness, but I’ve never seen any at all and have always had brilliant, super fun, safe evenings – everyone I’ve ever met there has always been really chilled and friendly (also, see below).
What happens if people break the rules? Well, Universal Orlando Resort is private property so if people act like an ass they’ll just chuck them out (which is reassuring as a visitor).
If you’ve got any questions at all about visiting Orlando, or anything to do with Halloween Horror Nights (or any other aspect of your stay), hit me up! I’m happy to help and as always, if I don’t know the answer, I’ll know somebody who does.