Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando is killer this year!

Chucky Ultimate Kill Count, photo provided by Universal Orlando
Chucky Ultimate Kill Count, photo provided by Universal Orlando /

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando is a must-visit event for horror-loving folk in Florida, and it’s always a good time. But this year, Halloween Horror Nights is extra spectacular, and not to be missed.

The 2023 event kicked off spooky season early, with the grand opening on September 1. That’s the night I went, and I am more than happy to share my impressions and thoughts with fellow fans.

Let’s start with the houses, which are probably the biggest draw for most people. Universal always creates fantastic, gruesome and inventive houses, and as usual, this year brought a 50/50 mixture of original themes and popular horror themes.

For the houses featuring familiar faces, I most enjoyed Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count. The storyline involves short-tempered Chucky deciding he has been disrespected long enough. By possessing hundreds of Chucky dolls, he sets a goal to kill more people than ever before. Be prepared for lots of jump scares, most of them involving numerous Chucky dolls lunging at you unexpectedly, often holding dangerous weapons. There are lots of scenes reenacted from the Chucky TV series, and it’s just a good time.

The Last of Us house was modeled on the original video game rather than the series, and the sets were great. The atmosphere fit the storyline perfectly, and the fungus monsters looked real and totally terrifying.

Halloween Horror Nights
Stranger Things, photo provided by Universal Orlando /

The Stranger Things house looked great too, and walking through it felt like being in the actual series. The scareactors in this one were especially good, and really looked the part.

The Exorcist: Believer house is based on the upcoming Exorcist sequel. It’s hard to say how close this one was to the film, since it hasn’t released yet, but I was intrigued enough to add it to my list of must-see films for October.

Universal Monsters Unmasked gave us close encounters with some classic monsters. We’re talking about the Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, the Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Invisible Man. The premise was that we were going down into the Paris Catacombs to come face-to-face with the monsters.

What is the best original haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights?

Halloween Horror Nights
Dr. Oddfellow’s Collection of Horror, photo provided by Universal Orlando /

Of the Halloween Horror Nights original haunted houses, I really liked Yeti: Campground Kills, which was set in a campground in the 1950s. Guests are tasked with walking through cabins and campsites as they try to escape the crazed yeti, rightfully angry since some cruel human has killed one of their babies. It was a great mix of fun and fear.

The Darkest Deal had a great storyline, as we live the story of blues musician Pinestraw Spruce. It seems he agreed to trade his soul to The Collector in exchange for success in the music biz, and now the time has come to pay up.

Dr. Oddfellow: Twisted Origins is set in the title character’s Carnival of Thrills in the 1930s. As we walked through the house, we were treated to Oddfellow’s unique freak show, but there was a catch: guests are captured, tortured, and sacrificed so he could take on the power of the Zodiac.

Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings was perhaps the goriest of all the houses, as we visited a Colonial-era village. There, members of a cult worship the blood moon and seek out non-members (the false-hearted) to dismember and sacrifice.

Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate was probably the least scary of all the houses. It made up for it with its awesome effects and action, and the fact that at the end, you choose either fire or ice to determine your trail (and fate). It’s a nostalgic attraction, since it is based on the long-gone Dueling Dragons roller coasters that used to grace Islands of Adventure.

For extra fun, keep your eyes peeled for the M3GAN flash mob that pops up undexpectedly in different areas of the park, see video below:

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