HHN 101: The Basics of Halloween Horror Nights

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We’ve been doing a lot of coverage of Halloween Horror Nights lately – with full overview videos, event reviews, and DIS Unplugged: Universal Edition podcast reviews. We were even lucky enough to head over to the west coast and experience Universal Studios Hollywood’s version of HHN. But after receiving an email from listener Erica J. who is a complete newcomer to HHN, I think it’s a good idea to take a step back and discuss the very basics of the event.

Last year was my very first time attending Halloween Horror Nights, so I know exactly what it’s like to not know a single thing about what to expect. Even though I absolutely love the event and like getting scared, I’m also someone who definitely has a tendency to get jumpy or freaked out by a lot of what HHN has to offer. Hopefully this FAQ-style post will give the HHN newbie a good idea of what to expect, especially if they’re a bit “chicken.”

What is Halloween Horror Nights?

Halloween Horror Nights is an annual hard-ticket event (meaning that separate admission is required) that takes place on select nights during the fall at Universal Studios Florida (as well as Universal Studios Hollywood.) The event typically lasts from 7pm to late into the night, anywhere from midnight to 2am on higher-attended nights.

The event consists of several mazes (or haunted houses), a couple themed shows, and a handful of walk-through scare zones that are set up throughout the park. Select attractions are also open throughout the night for guests to ride.

How scary is Halloween Horror Nights?

While the overall theme of Halloween Horror Nights is a scare event, everyone has a different idea of how to define “scary.” I think it’s fair to say that HHN Orlando is a moderate scare event. That said, I found HHN Hollywood to be significantly more intense than Orlando’s event.

In Orlando, you’ll find the most intense scares in the mazes and houses, moderate-to-light scares in the scare zones, and the shows and entertainment are probably the most tame thing that HHN has to offer.

What is a house or maze?

The HHN mazes are themed haunted houses set up in tents and sound stages all around the park. They are self-contained and have a distinct entrance and exit point. All mazes have a queue set up and as the night progresses, the lines to enter some of the more popular houses can get up to over two hours long.

The houses are the most intense aspect of HHN. The walking path throughout the maze is usually tighter and sometimes enclosed with a covering overhead. There are even some cases where the ceiling is lowered and you’re required to crouch to go through the house. Curtains, hanging props, and plastic door flaps are often used too to make a more interactive experience.

What is a scare zone?

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Scare zones are themed just like the houses are, but rather than being in structures and needing a queue, scare zones are predominantly set up throughout the open areas of the park and are in sections that are typically unavoidable. While they can be intense with scare actors trying to scare you as you walk through, since they’re open air and typically crowded with other guests, it lends for a more tame experience than the houses.

The endpoints of a scare zone are usually distinguished by a change in theming and lighting, but actors will usually hang around the entrances and exits and go beyond the boundaries. The event map will also show the scare zone areas so you’ll know where they begin and end.

Well those are the basics of Halloween Horror Nights! Are you a complete HHN newbie and have any questions about the event? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to help out!

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