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This post was originally published in 2018, but has been edited since we attended the 2019 event. If you’re looking for the 2019 Halloween Horror Nights Survival Guide, click here!
Do you love Halloween and all things spooky? If you haven’t been to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, you need to go! While Josh and I were staying at Universal’s Aventura Hotel and visiting the parks, were lucky enough to check out the event at Universal Studios Florida, and it was absolutely amazing. In fact, they hosted us for an R.I.P. Tour and we cannot wait to go back! We were absolutely terrified, but instead of it being travel anxiety, it was just some good old-fashioned Halloween scares!
We knew we were in for an incredible night because Universal constructed a record-breaking 10 haunted houses — and we visited every single one! Plus, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights had an ‘80s theme. Although, Stranger Things is a new show, it’s set in the 80s and it set the tone for the whole night. Can it get better than that? Nope! Truth be told, we were completely exhausted by the time our tour was over but it was worth every minute!
We’ve both been to many haunted attractions including The Haunt at King’s Dominion and Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, but nothing compares to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. We haven’t attended the event at Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Studios Japan, but we’re sure it’s amazing. You’ve got to remember, Universal is in the movie-making business, and it shows. We were awestruck. (Check out our guide – Universal Studios: Which Park is Best For Your Family?)
We were really excited for the Halloween Horror Nights scare zones this year. It really created such a fun atmosphere that took us back to our childhoods. Here’s the list for 2018:
- The Harvest – A truly creepy old barn overrun with “foul creatures.”
- Killer Klowns From Outer Space – One of my favorite movies! The scare zone did not disappoint and the actual Klowns were so convincing.
- Revenge of Chucky – Charles Lee “Chuck” Ray himself was on-hand to deliver scares. Josh has been scared of Chucky since he was a kid and he definitely kept his guard up through this area.
- Twisted Tradition – An ancient evil took on the shape of “rotting pumpkins fused with decaying human flesh” and I ran through that zone without looking around! Haha.
- Vamp ’85: New Year’s Eve – We were in front of the stage for the “countdown” and saw vampire Madonna, Michael Jackson and more. It was really fun!
When you’re rushing to the next attraction, be sure to look around and really appreciate the detail and effort put into transforming the whole park. I don’t know how they do it so quickly, but it’s absolutely amazing. We could have spent the whole night just walking around the scare zones!
During our time at Universal Orlando Resort, we rode almost every ride (check out our Top 5 Rides at Universal Studios Florida and Top 5 Rides at Universal’s Islands of Adventure). The R.I.P. Tour experience allows you to skip the lines at Halloween Horror Nights, so we returned to Escape from Gringotts, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (twice!) and Men in Black.
It’s important to note, though, that during Halloween Horror Nights, only select rides are open. Be sure to check before you get your heart set on something. For 2018, they include:
- Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
- Fast & Furious — Supercharged
- Transformers The Ride — 3D
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men in Black Alien Attack
Josh really wanted to go on Men in Black so our Halloween Horror Nights R.I.P. Tour guide, Ron, made it extra special. The ride is really ridiculous, and Josh enjoyed every campy, cheesy minute. I spent the entire time rolling my eyes. The picture of us on it together is hilarious.
After we disembarked, Ron took us to the restricted areas of the attraction so that Josh could get up close and personal with the creatures. Josh pretended to work at MiB headquarters and I pretended to be annoyed. In the end, though, it was pretty cute!
Food and Drinks
As soon as you enter the park, the delicious smells will immediately tempt you. It’s incredible. We wanted to eat everything! Stranger Things fans can order food inspired by the show such as the Upside Down Burger, Demogorgon Totcho or Syrup & Waffles frozen drink. So cool!
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 showcased three signature alcoholic drinks including Totally L.I.T. (Long Island Iced Tea – vodka, tequila, gin, rum with triple sec, lime, sour, and Coca-Cola), Wicked Rad Punch (blueberry vodka, raspberry vodka, triple sec, lemonade, and grenadine) and Gnarly Twist (combo of both the Wicked Rad Punch and Totally L.I.T.).
Before entering the Poltergeist house (more on that in a bit), I ordered the Totally L.I.T. drink. It came in a cool collectible cup, complete with a flashing light at the bottom and a twisty straw. I was grateful for the liquid courage that night!
Note to Harry Potter fans: You can still grab a Butterbeer during Halloween Horror nights. Unfortunately, the Leaky Cauldron is closed.
As I mentioned before, we’ve both been to haunted houses, but nothing prepared us for what we saw at Halloween Horror Nights! It was mind blowing. If you’ve never been, book your tickets right now! We genuinely cannot wait to go back. We’ve been talking about it ever since we got home!
Here’s the list of haunted houses for 2018:
- Carnival Graveyard: Rust in Pieces
- Dead Exposure: Patient Zero
- Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
- The Horrors of Blumhouse
- Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After
- Seeds of Extinction
- Slaughter Sinema
- Stranger Things
- Trick ‘r Treat
With our trusted guide leading the way, we ventured into every house (actually, I skipped Dead Exposure due to my sensitivity to strobe lights but Josh said it was his favorite!). As a lifelong fan of the Halloween film franchise, I was thrilled that we started with that house! We had just seen the new movie, which made it even more fun!
Seeds of Extinction is an original concept by Universal, and we thought it was the scariest! Oh my goodness. I hadn’t even fully entered the house when something scared me so bad that I jumped back and almost knocked down a row of people. Made to look like overgrown vegetation, it’s very hard to distinguish between props and scareactors. It was fantastic!
The Stranger Things house was meticulously constructed to look exactly what fans love about the show. It really felt like we had stepped into Hawkins and had joined the search for Will Byers. Even the demogorgons looked real!
Ron knew that the Poltergeist house was going to be the scariest for me so he saved it for last. I’m so glad he did because it gave me time to build up to it. Going through the haunted house, I was just as fascinated as I was terrified. They recreated so many iconic scenes to perfection. What a way to end a great night!
Our 2018 R.I.P Tour Experience
If you can swing it, the R.I.P. Tour Experience is the best way to go. We felt like royalty and, again, we are grateful to Universal Orlando Resort for hosting us. Our guide, Ron, could not have been more amazing and I’m just so glad that this was how we did Halloween Horror Nights. Even with breaks for snacks, rides and the bathroom, we did it all in three hours!
Ron gave us commemorative lanyards and a My Universal Photos 3-Day photo package — yay! He took us to Café La Bamba for the pre-tour reception. This meal was part of the R.I.P. Tour and we enjoyed foods such as mini beef wellingtons, chicken satay skewers and quiche.
On the tour, Ron led us through the park while wearing red scrubs and wielding a red light saber. This helped us keep an eye on him as he shepherded us to the front of the line. We never waited more than 30 seconds!
Private bathrooms were provided for tour goers throughout Universal Studios Florida! Theme park restrooms are pretty nasty so this was a great perk! Along the way, we encountered several groups who told us that they make an annual pilgrimage to the event and that the R.I.P. Tour is the best way to go. We agree!
While you could definitely show up spontaneously and have a great time, a little planning can make your experience even better. Here are some suggestions for making the most of your night:
- This event is not recommended for kids under 13 years of age.
- Masks and costumes are not allowed.
- Halloween Horror Nights occurs rain or shine.
- Wear comfortable shoes and carry as little as possible.
- Fill your belly, hydrate and hit the restrooms before getting into a long line.
- Invest in one of the Tours or an Express Pass to save time.
- Book ahead to avoid the disappointment of a sold-out night.
- Don’t forget your ID! You’ll need it for your tickets, passes, and any alcoholic drinks.
We wish we had rested a little more during the day before heading to Halloween Horror Nights because it’s emotionally and physically exhausting. We’ll do a better job of this next time!
Book Your Trip!
To learn more about Halloween Horror Nights, visit the official site. There’s a lot of information all over the internet, but booking directly through Universal is best. You’ll find that Universal Studios Florida offers several ticketing options, including special pricing for Annual and Seasonal Passholders. They really do such a good job of giving some love to their loyal fans!
If you’re interested in taking a tour (and you really should), you will want to book well in advance. Spaces fill up quickly and you don’t want to be disappointed! Here are the options:
- R.I.P. Tour
- Private R.I.P. Tour
- Daytime Tour
For those who want to include a dining plan, consider the following (and check out our tips for Where to Eat at Universal Orlando Resort!):
- Scareactor Dining Experience (buffet and photo ops!)
- Universal Dining Plan – Quick Service
The lines for the major attractions, such as the Stranger Things house were longer than a 90-minute wait when were there. As mentioned, having the R.I.P. Tour passes allowed us to skip the lines and it was completely worth it. If you don’t want to splurge on a tour, consider the Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass. That way you can see and do more in a shorter amount of time.
Our 2019 R.I.P Tour Experience
We went back to Universal Studios Florida for the 2019 Halloween Horror Nights event and we did the R.I.P. Tour again. The experience was basically the same. The main difference is that we had a preschooler with us. Yes, we got a few stares but he had a great time. Not all kids are the same!
After stopping by Café La Bamba, we indulged a little. While we ate less *food* we did have more treats and snacks along the way. This time around, we decided to try the Pizza Fries and a Stranger Things Christmas Lights Cupcake. Both were good, but we’re not sure we’d have them again.
One thing that was super different is that we did this whole photo op thing. We all posed for various shots in front of a green screen and the results were hilarious. Caleb had an absolute blast!
Our poor guide, Neri, was exhausted at the end of the night. With Caleb, we had to do some houses more than once because we had to take turns staying with him. He did go through the Ghostbusters house, though! By the end of the night, we’re sure Neri was glad to say goodbye 🙂
We’re probably going to take a break from Halloween Horror Nights for a couple years, but when we return, it will be on an R.I.P. Tour. Have you ever done one? Share your experiences with us in comments! Enjoy your visit to Universal Studios and have a safe and happy Halloween!