So you’ve decided to finally go to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando this year. You’ve made a great decision! Not only is Halloween Horror Nights Orlando the premier Halloween event anywhere in the world, it’s also their 25th anniversary this year! This year will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting, terrifying, and fun events ever put on by Universal Orlando.
With this being not only the most popular Halloween event anywhere, and it being a huge milestone year, this is an event worth taking some time to plan ahead.
Matt and Quint, hosts of “The Catacombs of Halloween Horror Nights” podcast have taken their 20 year combined Halloween Horror Nights experience to compile a list tips to prepare for and get the most from your first time Halloween Horror Nights experience.
First and foremost – you cannot plan too far ahead for this event.
This article is being written in July, and tickets for all aspects of the event are now one sale! If you’ve already planned your visit dates, but haven’t purchased your event tickets yet – stop reading this and got to http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/tickets.html and get your tickets before they’re gone!
Next, there’s more to Halloween Horror Nights than just the “Nights”.
There’s no doubt the “Night” portion of Halloween Horror Nights is biggest draw, but there is a separate day time tour during this time that’s gaining in popularity, but still not known to everyone – especially first time Halloween Horror Nights visitors. It’s called the “Unmasking the Horror Tour”. This is unique “lights-on” behind the scenes tour of Halloween Horror Nights. The tour is a 2 to 2 ½ guided tour of 3 of the house at Halloween Horror Nights! There is a tour in the morning (10:30 am) and a tour in the afternoon (2 pm). You can book a tour for either time or for booth on the same day. For more information, visit: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/rip-tours.html
Last tip and possibly most important for pre-planning; If you’re there for 1 night – Express pass is a must.
Halloween Horror Nights 25 is big – literally bigger this year than any other year. This year boosts a recording setting 9 houses! A way to get an advantage over the tens of thousands of other Halloween Horror Nights fans you’ll be enjoying the night with you and see all you can possibly see is with an Express Pass. It is an additional cost, that is true – but well worth it in our opinion and in the opinion of most any else that’s ever purchased one. To justify the cost, consider this simple question: “Would you rather see 3 houses in 1 hour with an express pass, OR stand in line for 1 house for 3 hours without one? Those numbers vary of course on the night and what houses, but you get the idea.
BIG NOTE ON EXPRESS PASS: Contrary to recent rumors, I’ve verified Express Passes are indeed limited for each night. So when you decide to pull the trigger, do it before it’s too late!
There also a second alternative to maximize your time – It’s called “The RIP Tour”. Depending on the night, it’s not too much more expensive than an Express pass, or it could be a whole lot more expensive. It’s worth calling and finding out – all the VIP service members are incredibly nice, I’ve called with a lot of questions (and a lot orders) and they’ve answered all of them and were incredibly nice each time.
VIP Services: 866-604-7566 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now the pre-planning is done and you know when you’re visiting and you have your tickets and any add-ons sitting on your desk taunting you with the slowest calendar count down of all time – how can now pass the time by coming up with a plan of attack once you get in the park. Here are some tips we learned over the years to help you maximize your time and avoid some headaches.
If you’re making an entire day event of your visit, you may already have an edge on many of the other visitors with the Day Pass Holding Area.
If you have a day pass (including an annual pass) to Universal Studios Orlando and your Halloween Horror Nights ticket, you can wait in a special area while they turn the park over. When the event start time hits, you are let out of the holding area and already in the park for Halloween Horror Nights. Check with guest services if you’re unsure your ticket combination let you into the holding area. The only drawback – you will be standing with a crowd for 90 minutes, but worth it when maximizing your time
If you are visiting the park but can’t get into the holding area and have to leave the park, don’t go far!
The park turns over in 90 minutes. You’ll likely see people already lining up when you leave. So get in line, or go get what you need to do between leaving and coming back quickly, and get in line.
Show up early, or fashionably late.
As stated earlier, the line starts early. If you want to be in as the gate opens, you have to get there early. Traditionally the park closes at 5 pm for the turn over. That’s a good time to start for the line. Conversely, if you can’t get there that early, fashionably late is good too. By fashionably late I mean about 30 minutes after the gates open. This probably sounds counter intuitive to maximizing your time, but if you’re not in the front of the line, you’ll be waiting to in the slowest moving line of the night. The worst is the first 30 minutes. So if you’re running late, you might want to consider waiting until the first 30 minutes of the night have passed.
The biggest tip we can share about entering the event no matter what time you arrive is this:
Leave the bags at home (or in the car). Bring only absolutely what you need – ID, tickets, phone and wallet. There is a no bag line that is immeasurably faster than the regular security line.
Skip the first drink stand you see.
The first drink stand after the entrance has the biggest line and there’s a ton more EVERYWHERE in the park.
Once inside, head to the Kid’s Zone area.
The houses in the Kid’s Zone area are typically hit last and have an under 10 minute wait time during the first hour of the event. There’s usually 2 houses in that area one on the Right, one on Left (towards Barney). If the same flow of past years is followed, the house on the right will exit next to the line for house on the left. The house on the left will then let out further into the park. So heading right to the kid’s zone and entering the house on the right can help you get a jump on the evening. NOTE: This is assuming these houses aren’t any of the headliner houses. If they are, all bets are off.
Food and Drink:
Don’t fill up on the usual park food and drink.
Halloween Horror Nights offers a wide selection of Food and Drinks only available during event hours. If you’re hungry, skip the usual Springfield Fast Food Boulevard, Mel’s D-i-e in, Richter’s Burgers, etc. and seek out some Cheesesteaks and (most of all) Twisted Taters. If you drink alcoholic drinks, check out the signature drink of the event for the year and the Zombie Nurse I.V. Jell-O Shot Blood Bags.
Eat earlier rather than later.
The temporary event bars will always have lines. The food lines get longer as the night goes on.
If you’re drinking (and why not? It is a party) pace your drinking, and drink water as well.
While it’s autumn, it’s still Central Florida and it’s usually hot – particularly if you’re from out of state. Again, pace your drinking – getting hammered in the first 2 hours is not going to give you a memorable Halloween Horror Nights experience.
In the Houses:
They will get you, so relax.
If you’re like Quint and try to anticipate everything, relax! They WILL get you, the ALWAYS get you at least once. If you relax, you will have more fun and jump out of your skin more often!
Be open to interactions with strangers.
Personal space shrinks a lot at Halloween Horror Nights, and some of the more memorable experiences have been with random strangers we’ve had fun with.
Outside the Houses:
Don’t skip the scare zones!
As much work goes into planning these scare zones as anything else – more in some ways. These have to be frightening yet open and easily passed through while conveying a story or theme the whole time you’re in that area. If you miss one (or run through it) you’re missing a huge piece of Halloween Horror Nights!
And don’t skip Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.
First time to Halloween Horror Nights and wondering why Bill and Ted have their own show? Go and found you – you won’t be disappointed. This is arguable the apex of the Halloween Party. This is where you an a couple thousand of your closest friends all get to yell, laugh and scream and join in on one of Halloween Horror Night’s annual traditions.
Plan to close the park.
The event runs 6 ½ or 7 ½ hours depending on the night – plan to stay for all of it. All times are on the Halloween Horror Nights Website now, so check ahead or time and plan your energy reserves – to take a nap, leave work early, go in late – whatever it takes to maximize your time.
Last but not least – if your group is driving to a from the event, select a designated driver and hold them to it!
I’m serious – and I can say that because for 5 years running I AM the designated driver. 12 years running before that, I stayed sober because I was alone and driving home those evenings. I enjoy a drink or two (or more) as well as anyone else – But I enjoy spending Halloween Horror Nights with my group of HHN friends every year far more! Being the designated driver plays a large and important part in making that happen. That might sound cheesy, but after all these years, I’m here once again planning our Halloween Horror Nights adventure because I’ve made sure we got home safely! But once home – well, that’s another story.
Prepping for all of the above (aka “The shameless plug tip”)
And of course one of the best ways to prepare for Halloween Horror Nights right now it listen to “The Catacombs of Halloween Horror Nights” podcast of a year-by-year account of the entire run of the event from the very beginning.
If this is your first time at Halloween Horror Nights, there is no doubt in my mind you are going to have a blast! No matter how much you prepare it’s bound to exceed your expectations. Above all – have fun!
Important links for planning your Halloween Horror Nights visit:
Halloween Horror Nights Orlando Website: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/
Universal Studios Orlando Website: https://www.universalorlando.com/Home.aspx
Halloween Horror Night Tickets: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/tickets.html
HHN Express Pass Tickets: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/express-pass.html
R.I.P. and Unmasking the Horrors Tour information: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/rip-tours.html
HHN Hotel and Ticket Packages: http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando/hotel-ticket-packages.htm
Special Episode of The Catacombs of Halloween Horror Nights Podcast “First Timer Tips”:
The Catacombs of Halloween Horror Nights Special “First Timer Tips”: http://www.neozaz.com/cohhn-first-timer-tips/
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