UO Halloween Horror Nights

October 30, 2023, 6:05 PM

Just got back from long Disney stay that finished with HHN and thought I would pipe in about HHN. It was really amazing, but as newcomers to that event, there is very little information to help people figure it out. You have RIP tours, express passes, stay and scream, etc. There is also a system of corralling everyone in the park at 5, and much information out on the web is misleading, incorrect, or incomplete. We talked to several cast members and every one of them gave different answers.

That being said we had a blast, and due to the advice here it all worked out, and it comes down to this: Get an express pass or don’t do it. The express pass eliminates the need to plan or rush to get to a holding area. We did every house, saw every event, and still rode five regular attractions. What was also not completely clear was how the crowd gets into it, and it is very much R rated. This is an event that we will do again, and I would like to do it in Hollywood. October is always a bad month for us to travel, but this was worth it if you are into this sort of thing AND you get the express pass for HHN.


Replies (7)

Edited: October 31, 2023, 9:09 AM

There is a ton of information out there about HHN strategies, and plenty of sites that provide specific touring plans each year based on individual house popularity and location. Yes, there are going to be conflicting strategies and some sites will give out erroneous information, particularly if they aren't updated AFTER the first night of HHN for the season, but it shouldn't be that difficult to find some good tips, tricks, and plans to get the most out of HHN.

A first trip to HHN, particularly during the last 2 weeks of October, can be very intimidating because it is probably one of the most crowded, sensory overload experiences you can have in the theme park industry (probably even worse than Christmas Day or New Year's Eve at MK or Disneyland). However, I think once you get past that initial rush, chaos ,and sense of being overwhelmed, using a pre-planned strategy and touring plan can be really helpful.

Certainly there are sites and experts that disagree about stuff, and Universal really needs to be more clear about Stay and Scream, and have team members articulate clear and consistent instructions about Stay and Scream to inquiring guests. However, most other logistical aspects surrounding HHN are pretty clear.

As far as Express, it is definitely a valuable tool to make sure you're not spending half of the night in long, boring, unthemed queues. However, I've done HHN without Express before, and have been able to go through every house, see every show, and even ride a few attractions, using a very strategic touring plan (though not on the busiest nights and staying until 1 AM, which included a day in the parks starting at 9 AM) combined with Stay and Scream. My best advise though is to get the RIP Tour, which I've now done on my past 2 visits to HHN. It's expensive, and absolutely not worth it if you've already purchased Express, but once you've experienced HHN through RIP, you'll probably never want to go to the event as a regular guest again.

October 31, 2023, 2:05 PM

I think you put me on the Express Pass, and I could not thank you enough. After further reflection, I would say if you don’t have theme park tickets, I would have the express pass and get there at 6:30 or later and go to the lines once it is dark. No need to get early, and you really should have your eyes accustomed to the dark. We got in our first house at 5:45, and our eyes were still used to the bright Florida sun, so it was hard to make out things in the first house.

If you do have theme park tickets, I would leave at 4 after a day in the park, go take a two hour nap, and return. Also using the Express Pass. No need for stay and scream. I bet the RIP is great, but I don’t mind to walk, and I sometimes don’t want to see how the sausage is made.

Bottom line is it such a fun event, but express pass is essential. I think with the express pass you don’t need to plan at all, just hop in line and go. On my night there is no way you could have done all the houses without it.

Some websites just post the same thing from other sites and do not contain valuable information (very much unlike this site). It is like AI is just reposting other articles.

Edited: October 31, 2023, 3:41 PM

Robert has posted some pieces in the past about AI, and there's definitely no secret that a number of so-called "reliable" theme park publications utilize AI to produce articles (not going to name them here, but you've probably seen them). Ultimately, it comes down to creating content to maintain status at the top of searches, and AI can quickly (and cheaply) churn out "new" content that will get flagged and prioritized in search engines.

The best solution to the bright Florida sun is a pair of really dark sunglasses or not doing the sound stage houses early in the day (the tents are not as dark inside). Even the darkest sunglasses won't fully acclimate your eyes to how dark some houses can be, but they can certainly help. Ultimately, an HHN ticket is the same as paying for a regular theme park ticket - you're paying for access for the full operational day, and if you show up after rope drop or leave before the park closes, you're not getting full value for you money. An HHN ticket gives you access to the event from open-close, and by showing up at 6:30 PM, you're missing out on a big chunk of the night, plus you might not even get a spot in the parking garage if you're driving to Universal.

FYI, the RIP Tours that occur during the evenings are not really revealing "how the sausage is made". The tour guides don't give you behind the scenes looks or any sort of behind the curtain access (you can sign up for RIP Tours that occur during the daytime hours that do though). Instead what guests get are more in-depth stories behind each house and a more intimate description of what you will see in each house. The tour guides will also talk about some of the inspirations used to create each house (primarily for the original houses) in order to increase your awareness and interest in each house. For instance, there was an original IP house last year call "Bugs: Eaten Alive". If you had walked through the house going just off the information provided in the guide, you would have simply thought it was a typically scary insect maze. However, the RIP Tour talked about the aesthetics, which was 50's Cold War Era, and the fact that the story was told over the course of 3 acts, which are clearly separated if you're looking for it, but would be oblivious otherwise. It was an excellent house that many didn't fully appreciate because the designs and story could not be fully explained on the map descriptions. The RIP Tours are also cool because you're touring the event with other HHN fans, and you get ample time before and after each house to talk about the event. It also means that if you get friendly with the other guests on the tour, you end up walk through the houses with "friends" and people who typically appreciate the houses instead of strangers who might not have that same level of appreciation or courtesy of others around them.

October 31, 2023, 8:33 PM

Thanks for even more great information. We had a group which definitely made this a wonderful time. My favorite defunct attraction was House of Horrors at Hollywood, and I have taken part in haunted houses in the past. I normally do parks open to close, but I just don’t think I could physically do a 9 to 2 in the morning, but I am sure many can. But, again, what a great time. Not sure why but the Yeti house was my favorite. It managed to make me jump several times.

Edited: November 1, 2023, 9:50 AM

9 AM to 2 AM is definitely tough (back in the days of Magic Hours my wife and I once did all 4 WDW theme parks in a single day starting at 6 AM and ending at 3 AM the next morning), especially if you're doing that at the end of a long trip or even after a few consecutive fully engaged rope drop to closing theme park days. Last fall, we strategically did HHN before our day at Discovery Cove, so we knew the day after our really late night would be a bit more relaxing (though we drove home to the DC area after leaving Discovery Cove, which was quite a chore for me as a the driver).

November 1, 2023, 10:37 AM

Russel why don't you get your own website/ You have serious experience in the world of theme parks and ou dominate the discussion boards.

November 2, 2023, 1:08 PM

It is all good exercise. Recently walked over 90 miles in five days, but thanks to Food & Wine festival gained five pounds.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive