Special thanks to Universal Orlando Resort for hosting me to explore their parks. This in no way shapes my opinions in this post.
Certain things come to mind when Halloween season rolls around. For me it’s getting to the stores early to shop the coolest finds, planning a fall trip and going to Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights. Last year was the first year that I missed the event having just moved to Atlanta. So this year I was on a mission to revisit my favorite Orlando attraction for Halloween Horror Nights 27. Need I say mission accomplished. So what did HHN27 have in store and how did it pan out? Read on for my complete review of this year’s event.
My Halloween Horror Nights 27 Review
When you think of squeezing out the cheddar it takes to visit a park like Universal Studios for an evening event, you want to know if it’s worth it. I mean let’s be real. Nothing sucks more than spending your money on something that didn’t deliver. So I’ll give it to you straight from the haunted houses to the booze prices.
The Houses I Experienced
This year HHN27 boasted eight haunted houses themed after a variety of cult horror, pop horror, and original houses. I didn’t have time to make it to all of them (that’s like marathon level), but here are the ones I did go to and what I thought of them:
The Shining was my number one favorite of all the houses. I have been a huge fan of this horror classic since I began my horror journey. Stepping into this house was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. As a fan, I had a total appreciation as I stood among recreated elements of the film. And, on the scream level, I screamed more times in this house than any other.
American Horror Story
As one of my favorite shows on TV, American Horror Story, in my opinion, was a long time coming last year when it made its debut. I didn’t get to experience that one, but I am super glad I saw this one. Coming in as my second favorite, American Horror Story had all the feels across multiple environments from various seasons. If you’re a fan you’ll surely recognize all of them. This was another great house for fans.
This was my third favorite. Leaning more on the gory side of haunted houses, this one was complete with smells. It hit on multiple environments from the film franchise and had a lot of jumpy moments. The sets were super creepy. I feel like they nailed this one.
Ash vs the Evil Dead
This was my least favorite of all the houses which was a huge letdown for me. I have been a Bruce Campbell fan since the Evil Dead and continue to watch his current series Ash vs the Evil Dead on Starz. I just thought there was a lot more they could’ve done with the house. It was still cool to see the sets, but I found little excitement in this one.
The Scare Zones
The scare zones were awesome. I saw the first one upon entering (which you see in twilight lighting). This is likely your best spot to get good clear pictures so take your time here. There were killer clowns in the Simpson’s World, creepy trick or treaters (or so I think that’s what they were) on Hollywood Blvd, demons of death (that’s what I’ll call them) on Hollywood Blvd, Aliens (think Mars Attacks) in San Francisco and the Purge over by New York City. Each one of these zones was epic.
The Adult Beverages
A night out and adult beverages go hand in hand. For years there were always plenty of spots to get your beer, wine, specialty cocktails and mixed drinks. However, this year the park chose to reduce the mixed drinks to just three locations (Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, at Chez Alcatraz and at Lombard’s Seafood Grille‘s new “dockside lounge,” The Wharf). Not everyone was I love with this, but I think it’s a one stitch effort to reduce the number of drunken buffoons in the park. But that’s just my opinion. Specialty cocktails, beer, and wine can be found at any of the drink tents or stands that have been set up all over Universal Studios Florida. But they come at a cost of $12.99 (which includes a 20-ounce souvenir cup) for your first pour and $8.99 for every refill. Some guests think that the alcoholic content is pretty low in these drinks, at least in comparison to their price tags. The cost for canned beer starts at $7.99 and wine at $8.99. Draft beer, however, comes with a couple of different price points: a beer in a basic cup begins at $7.99; in a 20-ounce souvenir cup starts at $10.49, and souvenir refills begin at $6.99.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure – The Final Show
After 26 years, Universal Orlando Resort has chosen to cancel Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure. This show has been running since the dawn of HHN and make no mistake, everyone is sad to see it go. Simply put, it’s a damn good show. It offers respite after walking around all day along with all the humor and edgy goodness of a pop culture parody show. So why are they waxing it? It’s been my understanding that the park is expanding the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to include the Ministry of Magic. And, if you ask me, it’s a more than fair trade-off. I love Bill and Ted, but I love Harry Potter more!
The final show was just as epic as expected. With all the pop culture jabs, edgy dance moves and comedy, it was a win for my first-timer boyfriend.
Universal Studios at Night – What’s Open and What Can You Ride
So there are eight haunted houses to hit but what about the rides? There are the rides open during Halloween Horror Nights 27, but not all. Here are the ones you can hit (and I recommend hitting them towards the end of the night).
- TRANSFORMERS: The Ride 3D
- Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
- The Simpsons Ride
To Fast Pass or Not to Fast Pass
This is simple. Fast pass, fast pass, fast pass. I can not stress this enough. Every year I speed past what seems like hundreds of people (in the heat) as I whisk my way to a short 5-10 minute line. I kid you not, it’s a game changer. I had fast passes this year and still only made it to 4 houses.
It’s important to note that fast passes increase in price the closer you get to Halloween. They also sell out rather quickly. It’s my advice that you get your general admission tickets and your fast passes early. For more information on this, go to the HHN website.
You are crazy if you don’t get fast passes. Period.
It should go without saying that you should wear comfortable clothes and shoes as you will be walking around a lot. The weather in September and October is still pretty hot in Florida with the highs reaching the 90’s. Masks and costumes are not allowed however, it’s still fun to be inspired. No alcohol is allowed from the outside. As in, don’t try the Vodka in the water bottle trick. This year they were sniffing bottles. I kid you not.
Photos are encouraged but not allowed in the haunted houses. Share your pics using #HHN27 and you might even get a retweet from Universal Orlando Resort.
I highly advise that you don’t bring your kids to this. It’s not intended for kids under 13 but I have seen a few 10-year-olds. I think 10 is fine so long as they are mature (parents discretion of course).
There’s no doubt a visit to Universal Orlando Resort is going to be a good time. Especially if you’re making a few day trip out of it and you have the time to explore at your leisure. With so many fandoms in one place, you can’t go wrong. And for the horror enthusiast, it’s the ultimate fan experience. The only real question is, can you handle the terror? For more info on visiting Halloween Horror Nights go to the park’s website.
Do you have questions about Halloween Horror Nights? Ask me in the comments below!