My Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights Itinerary

Universal Orlando: Looking for comments and suggestions regarding my upcoming trip to the nation's premier Halloween event.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 9, 2013 at 4:26 PM
Wednesday, October 16 - arrive, night at CityWalk.

Thursday - Universal Florida park by day, recharge, Halloween Horror Nights.

Friday - Islands of Adventure, night at CityWalk.

Saturday, October 19 - depart.

Staying at The Point, 20 minutes walking distance from Universal. Four young adults.

Thoughts? Suggestions?

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 10, 2013 at 6:58 PM
Maybe I'll get the ball rolling... Any particularly good bars/nightlife at CityWalk or elsewhere?

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted August 12, 2013 at 6:57 AM

Were you and your friends planning on buying Express passes for Halloween Horror Nights? Are you the type that wants to see and do everything at an event? If so, unless you get an Express pass, you're probably gonna need to go more than once.

Lines can be really, really long for each of the Haunts.

From Russell Meyer
Posted August 12, 2013 at 11:04 AM
I would probably refrain from leaving the park before HHN. The "Stay and Scream" pass gives daytime park guests a head start on those with just HHN tickets, who have to wait at the turnstyles until the park reopens. Guests with Stay and Scream hang out in Finnegan's for a bite or a drink for the hour between general park closing and HHN opening. Just being in the park can save you as much as an hour of waiting in line, because guests are already less than 100 feet from at least 3 houses. I would highly recommend against leaving USF and coming back when HHN opens. Not only that, if you're not at the front gate at least 45-60 minutes before HHN opening, you can expect to wait in line for 20-30 minutes just to get through the gates. So you either sit in the park for an hour, steps from a bunch of houses or you sit outside the park for an hour waiting to get in. I've done both, and highly recommend the Stay and Scream if you're already planning to be in USF during the day.

On Thursday nights, expect lines to swell to well over 120-180 minutes for all of the houses between 8 and 11. Plan to stay through the end, because lines quickly decrease, especially after 11, and you can probably get through 2 or 3 houses in that last hour or 2.

Also, since you're going in the middle of October, I highly recommend combing the internet to read reviews of this year's houses. The event can vary greatly from year to year (and sometimes even night to night), so reading up on this year's event can help you prioritize your night and hit the best that HHN has to offer. Seeing every house in a single night is nearly impossible without Universal Express (I did it with Stay and Scream a few years ago, but was 2 houses short last year when I didn't Stay and Scream). So if you're not planning on spending the extra money for the FOTL perk, you will want to make sure you know which houses you absolutely want to see. Frequently, the houses with the biggest name recognition are not always the best experiences, even if you're a huge fan of the franchise, so be leary of the Evil Dead and Cabin in the Woods houses unless you're really into that material. I'm not saying those houses will be bad, it's just that my experience has been that houses based on existing franchises tend to be disappointing, while those with little name recognition (and thus low expectation), tend to be surprisingly good. As one who performed as a scare actor in college long ago, I really appreciate the houses that are well designed from a logistical standpoint, not just throwing in references and characters to please the fans and link to the franchise. The best scare is the one that you never see, so it doesn't really matter if it's a zombie from the Walking Dead or a creature from Cabin in the Woods.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:55 AM
Thanks for the responses.

We will be buying Stay and Scream passes AND Express passes. With the money we're saving on a cheap hotel, we decided we'd splurge on the tickets. Also, we chose Thursday specifically because we heard Fridays and Saturdays are nightmares. What kind of waits can we expect with Express passes?

Cabin In The Woods was our favourite film of 2012, so that's a necessity. Other than that, we're easy.

How about nightlife? Anything particularly good at CityWalk during HHN, or should we get off the resort and head downtown? We will stay at the park until closing for HHN, but for the other two nights, we'd like to hit some bars.

From Russell Meyer
Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:48 AM
That's good that you bought the Stay and Scream.. If you're going to go somewhere out of the park to relax, make sure you're back in before they close so you can take advantage of the head start granted to those with the passes. I've never bought Universal Express for HHN, but seeing how it works, you should not have to wait more than 15 minutes for each house. However, I believe you can only use it once for each house, so you're stuck waiting in the line if you want to experience it again.

Going on a Thursday is certainly better than a Friday or Saturday, but it's still going to be pretty crowded. I was there on a Sunday night--typically the slowest day of the week, last fall (during the 3rd week of October), and it was still packed with lines over 120 minutes for The Walking Dead and other headliner mazes.

For nightlife, CityWalk is full of it. There are quite a few bars and restaurants that offer great spots to hang out. You can also check the Hard Rock Arena schedule to see if there may be a concert that may interest you while you're there. My go-to is Pat O'Briens and used to be Howl at the Moon (sadly the dueling piano bar was closed a few years ago). There's really not other great nightlife within walking distance (I assume you're walking to the parks), so you'd have to go back and get a car or hop on a bus to get to anywhere comperable to CityWalk.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM
Always a great help, Russell.

I'm familiar with the nightlife at CityWalk but was curious if any of it is catered to HHN.

From Russell Meyer
Posted August 14, 2013 at 6:25 AM
I don't recall anything special happening at CityWalk for HHN. However, inside the park, they have lots of extra food and beverages throughout the park. They really push the alcohol with the typical soda/water carts moved near long queue lines replaced by beer carts and shot girls.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted August 16, 2013 at 9:55 PM
Well, something to take the edge off, I suppose.

From Lisa Clark
Posted August 18, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Universal Studios has the best set designs and the biggest money. Universal Studios looks great and they are very good, but most I know in Florida who go to both Universal and Busch Gardens Halloween events prefer Busch Gardens for being scarier, cheaper, and less crowed, plus they have more roller coasters to ride at night. I enjoy both parks. If by all means you can do both parks do!! My advice: After Islands Of Adventure travel 75 minutes to Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens. I suggest you get the "evil upgrade" called Fright Feast which comes with a buffet dinner, their signature show Fiends, and then you get early access to the park 30 minutes before they open to the main public which means you can take in some of the houses with no wait. It's well worth it. You can ask the park if they have a shuttle service from Orlando as it doesn't sound like you have transportation staying so close to Universal. The park's websites offer the best ticket deals.

From Gabe Counsil
Posted September 4, 2013 at 7:34 PM
How are crowds at Islands of Adventure during all this? I'm debating whether or not we should set aside a full day for Islands. If it has longer lines than usual because of all the people HHN brings in next door, then I might just forget it.

From Will Sullivan
Posted September 4, 2013 at 8:06 PM
It is still technically the offseason so I would assume that as long as you get there when the park opens you should be fine.

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 4, 2013 at 10:48 PM
According to this statistical calendar, waits should be reasonable. No more than 60 minutes for headliner attractions, 15 - 30 minutes for second tier.

From Will Sullivan
Posted September 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Two Counsils?

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 6, 2013 at 12:38 AM
Brothers. Both TPI members since 2002 after our first trip to Orlando. 11 years later, still planning.

From Gabe Counsil
Posted September 9, 2013 at 3:47 PM
If TPI had a Like button, I'd Like that ^

From C Schmuck
Posted September 25, 2013 at 7:04 AM
Check the Loews website for specials. Currently there is a 30% off special. Also, sign up to be a club member (free). I got an email for 40% off of lowest publicized price. This makes it very close to off-site hotels, but you get all benefits of staying on-site. Certainly not worth waiting for shuttles, walking or, heaven forbid, driving/parking!

From robert morris
Posted September 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Download an app for wait times prior to arriving, Universal is not doing the text service this year.

If your there for two nights avoid the express pass and save the money for stay and scream.

Do Cabin in the Woods and the exit will take you to American Werewolf in London and Evil Dead do both houses quick

Head to La Llinora and After Life

Walking Dead you can catch if you want but with streets theme it is a little redundant and long lines

Do Havoc late and Resident Evil late...second tier house

Bill and Teds is great and Rocky Horror is a joke


From Mike Gallagher
Posted September 25, 2013 at 1:36 PM

From TH Creative
Posted September 25, 2013 at 4:54 PM
JC, Have you stayed at this resort before? I'd suggest taking a cab on the return trip at the end of the night. Carrier and Universal can get a bit dodgy after the sun goes down. Just sayin'. - THC

From Joshua Counsil
Posted September 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Much appreciated, THC. We'll be a group of 5 young men, so shouldn't be too much to worry about. We've also changed our hotel to the Best Western at the corner of S. Kirkland and Vineland. Not sure if that improves the route or not.

From TH Creative
Posted September 26, 2013 at 9:31 AM
Much better choice for guests on foot!

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