Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror nights opened its 2022 season on September 3rd. I got there bright and early at 3 pm and sat on the pavement by the front gates for hours until opening (crazy, I know). Gradually, horror fans filled up the space behind me until I was in a vast sea of people that stretched all the way to the bridge to Citywalk. In short, opening night is not for the weak.
Just before 6 pm, dark music began to play and scareactors came walking towards the gate for opening Scaremonies. This year’s icon, the Pumpkin Lord, came forward with a gang of chainsaw wielding maniacs to welcome us to the event. His final line left the crowd screaming, ready to experience all the thrills and chills:
“We are Halloween!”
Halloween Horror Nights is back and better than ever. Here’s what to know before you go:
This year’s 10 houses are made up of 4 intellectual properties (IP) and 6 original concepts. The IP houses are The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare, Halloween, The Horrors of Blumhouse, and Universal Monsters: Legends Collide. The original houses include Bugs: Eaten Alive, Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake, Fiesta de Chupacabras, Descendants of Destruction, Spirits of the Coven, and Hellblock Horror.
The 5 Scare Zones this year all have a very classic Halloween feeling to them: Horrors of Halloween (the Pumpkin Lord’s very own zone), Sweet Revenge, Conjure the Dark, Scarecrow: Cursed Soil, and Graveyard: Deadly Unrest.
If you’d like to get off your feet and watch some intense dancing and fire stunts, go see the show located in the old Fear Factor Live stage – Halloween Nightmare Fuel Wildfire. Be aware that this show gets pretty sexual, so maybe don’t see it with your kids. If you have a spare 30 minutes or so to drink a spooky cocktail or eat a delicious treat, go check out the lagoon show: Goulish! A Halloween Tale. Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights began doing the lagoon show back in 2019, and the themed light show has become one of my favorite things at the event.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 06: A general view of the atmosphere during Halloween Horror Nights opening at Universal Studios Resort on September 06, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Be aware – the house locations are not so familiar.
Keep in mind that the house placements are a bit different than previous years. Due to renovation in the area that used to be Shrek 4-D, there is no house located there. Instead, Hellblock Horror is located beside Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.
Along with that, The Horrors of Blumhouse is next to Fast & Furious Supercharged, which is the first time a house has been at this location.
HHN fans will recall that the past several years there has been a house in between Fear Factor Live and Men in Black Alien Attack– but not this year. Although the entrance to Bugs: Eaten Alive is located in that normal spot, the line passes the empty space that used to hold a sprung tent house and loops around the back of Men in Black Alien Attack. Due to this, when you walk into the line for Descendants of Destruction (In between MIB and Springfield), you’ll see a huge chunk of the line for Bugs: Eaten Alive. I saw a lot of people walk out of the line for Descendants of Destruction because it looked like it was longer than it really was.
What you should know about the houses:
After experiencing opening weekend, I feel confident enough to give you the lowdown on some houses.
The house that will most likely have the longest line is The Horrors of Blumhouse, featuring the new movies Freaky and The Black Phone. The house that will most likely have the shortest line is Hellblock Horror (I believe that is due to its location).
Scariest house? Bugs: Eaten Alive (I mean come on, its bug-infested bodies and disgusting monster insects). Most immersive house? Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake. Most fun house? I’d say it’s a tie between The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare and Fiesta de Chupacabras.
People. Lines. CROWDS.
Halloween Horror Nights is going to be crowded every night, that’s just how it is. If you don’t want to stay the whole night, I recommend coming for either the first 2 hours or the last 2 hours in order to get a good amount of things done without long lines. It’s so much fun to be there between 1 am and 2 am because most people have headed out by then and the park gets pretty deserted.
Every line for food and drink is going to be long, just prepare for that. If you’re starving, don’t get Halloween-themed food from one of the trucks – although it’s delicious, it will simply not be enough to fill you up. If you need a meal, you should probably go to a regular Universal restaurant (those lines will be long as well). That being said, I’m always going to suggest that you bring your own snacks to avoid waiting and spending.
Although the Universal Orlando HHN website says that the event starts at 6:30 pm, it almost always begins at 6 pm. If you have a universal pass, you can come to the park before it closes at 5 pm and wait in one of the Stay & Scream areas.
Water bottles are expensive – either bring an unopened water bottle when you come to the event or bring an empty one and fill it with water fountain water. The heat will dehydrate you enough so that you won’t even care about that metallic water fountain taste.
The wait times on the Universal app have been malfunctioning, so don’t completely rely on those. I’d suggest trying to find the nearest screen in the park that lists the wait times for houses and rides – it’s bound to be more accurate.
Even if you don’t want to buy anything, check out the Tribute Store! Located beside Revenge of the Mummy, it contains four large rooms filled with incredible decorations and great merchandise.
My last tip is easy – have fun and get ready to scream!
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights continues through October 31st, occurring almost every night except for Mondays and Tuesdays.
What part of Halloween Horror Nights are you most looking forward to this year? Tell us about it in the comments!