First off, this event is extremely popular, so it is important to be prepared for long lines and lots of people (some of whom are scarier than anything else in the park). For 2014, there are 8 haunted houses, including From Dusk Till Dawn, Alien vs. Predator, The Walking Dead, Dollhouse of the Damned, Dracula Untold, Halloween, Giggles and Gore Inc and Roanoke- Cannibal Colony. There are also four walk through street areas that include Maskerade: Unstitched, The Purge: Anarchy, Bayou of Blood and Faceoff: In the Flesh. Several of the most popular Universal rides are still open such as Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, Transformers 3D, Men in Black, The Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy and Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. In addition to the rides and haunted houses, there are a multitude of street vendors and many of the restaurants are still open. However, the new Diagon Alley is closed during the event. It is still open during the day.
As a general overview, the ambiance is terrific. One gets an overall creepy feeling with all of the lighting, fog effects and soundtracks. Even just walking through the street areas feature an array of costumed characters, intricate lights and staged creepy actions. A personal favorite would be the Bayou of Blood, which incorporates a great use of fog and is not so intense as The Purge: Anarchy, which is certainly the largest and most intense, with scare actors dragging victims across the streets and chasing guests with “chainsaws.”
The haunted house lines are very long. Our party was only able to get through one, a walk through at that, when the event first opened. They quickly formed to wait times of over an hour usually, but sometimes two to two-and-a-half hours for the most popular ones. The Walking Dead was by far the most popular. It is also the largest house in the area.
The haunted house my party did get to go in was Halloween. The walk through is incredibly tight and claustrophobic, but so much creativity and work has been put into every detail. Michael Myers pops out at you no less than twenty times. The scenes presented are near-perfect replicas of the actual movie set. The ability of the studio to incorporate a plot into the haunted house really helps create an experience for the viewer, rather than just a bunch of scares. You really feel as if you are there, in the action of the film.
The lines for the Universal Studios rides are pretty short, especially compared with during normal operating hours. You can practically walk right on Transformers or Despicable Me, which is near impossible during the day and this serves as a much needed break after the scare zones. Personally, the best ride open is Revenge of the Mummy. It’s different enough, but still ties in to the Halloween themes and provides plenty of thrill on its own.
This was my first Halloween Horror Nights, and I honestly did not know what to expect. I was surprised at how much I did enjoy myself. The atmosphere was great, the thrills were manageable for the faint of heart (depending on haunted houses) and it was just a lot of fun to experience. For those looking for the true Halloween experience, there’s no better place than Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights.