Trick r Treat Scare Zone - HHN 2018 - 1

How to do Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights can be very overwhelming if it is your first time at the event, and because of that, it’s helpful to be prepared. After all, it can be a frustrating experience: the lines are very long, especially on the weekend nights and especially closer to Halloween. The Stranger Things maze had almost a three-hour wait at one point on opening night.

While I think the best way to experience theme parks is to explore at your own pace and discover things yourself, Horror Nights is something that benefits from planning and having a gameplan. Try to get to the park early and run down to the lower lot to hit up those houses first. Many people go to the first mazes they see on the upper lot, and thus those lines are longest at first while the lines downstairs are more manageable.

Buy a pass that makes sense. I would never get to Horror Nights without buying the Express Pass, but that can be very expensive, anywhere from $159 to $229, depending on the date. With the express pass, you get a front of the line entry to each of the mazes and rides once that night. We got into the park at 7:00 P.M. and with Express passes didn’t finish until nearly midnight. And that’s without riding any of the rides. We spent five hours and got to see all of the mazes and eat food, and the event goes on for two additional hours, which is more than enough time to take in all the rides and entertainment.

If you don’t get an Express pass, expect to wait an hour for most houses, and more for the popular IP houses. I don’t think it’s physically possible to do all the mazes in one night without Express, but maybe I’m wrong. Universal also offers something they call a Frequent Fear Pass, which ranges from $99-$350 and allows you to come back multiple nights. The regular Frequent Fear pass includes 23 nights for only $169, so if you’re local, this might be a good option to have fun and tackle a few mazes each time you come back.

As the popularity of Horror Nights has increased, Universal has been criticized for letting Horror Nights get too crowded. Specifically, a lot of people have complained that the mazes themselves have become backlogged, causing a slow-moving line inside of the attractions where you’re seeing all of the scares before you get to them.

But have to commend Universal because, at least judging from my experience on opening night, that they have heard that criticism and have executed a new plan staggering entry into the mazes a bit more. My experience was great and I never felt held up by a line in front of me. That said, if you ever do experience this problem, don’t let yourself have a shitty experience for this cost. Walk slowly, build your own buffer between you and the group in front of you. When entering a house, maybe accidentally on purpose drop something on the floor and have to pick it up creating a gap between you and the group before you.

Trick r Treat Maze - HHN 2018

My Overall Thoughts On This Year’s Horror Nights

Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights has been on a quality decline the past couple years, but it seems that the park directors are beginning to hear some of the criticisms and address them. This year’s event felt far less crowded than usual, the lines in the mazes were not as congested, and Stranger Things and Poltergeist were some of the best mazes I’ve experienced at the event. This was even the first time at Horror Nights that I considered buying some of the merchandise for sale!

There is a lot of room for improvement, though. This includes making the scare zones more themed immersive experiences, not relying on the same repetitive IP, and possibly use the freedom of an original concept maze to innovate on the experience. Outside of the mazes, Universal should consider replacing the Jabbawockeez with something better and more fitting of this horror event, and offer more unique options in terms of food and ride experiences. I don’t think Hollywood’s version of Horror Nights will ever measure up to Orlando’s version, but that doesn’t mean they can’t try harder.

For anyone who has never been to Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, I recommend checking this year’s event out. You’ll have a lot of fun, and if you can reason the Express Ticket price for a fun night out, it’s definitely worth it. Those of you who have been to the event in the past will experience a lot more of the same, but without the crowding problems of previous years.

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