Rain frustrates fans at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

October 13, 2018, 12:47 PM · Southern California theme park fans enjoyed a rare "attraction" last night and this morning — rain.

A substantial rainstorm blew through the area Friday night, arriving several hours earlier and with more intensity than forecast. That caught many fans off-guard, especially at Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights, which was forced to close most of its mazes in the downpour.

And that, in turn, frustrated thousands of fans who found themselves with little to do in what Universal bills as a "rain or shine" event.

The rain led Universal to close all of the mazes on the backlot, as well as the Universal Monsters maze in Universal Plaza, and the Terror Tram. The Jabbawockeez show went on, and "normal" attractions such as Transformers and The Simpsons Ride remained open. But the only truly weatherproof mazes at Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights are the year-round Walking Dead Attraction and Stranger Things, which is the only USH maze built inside a soundstage. That leaves the event susceptible to weather delays and closings, despite Universal's insistence that the event will run rain or shine.

After all, if the event is on, but almost none of its signature attractions are available, is the event really still "on" then?

That was the debate that raged throughout the evening, as thousands of fans queued for refunds, which some reported they could not get. (Whether that was due to Universal's refusal or fans simply giving up because the line was too long isn't clear to me. If you were there last night, please share your experience with us in the comments.)

October is the tail end of the summer dry season in California, so rain washing out a Halloween Horror Nights evening California is rare, though not unprecedented. But, clearly, many fans left last night's event not just disappointed by bad luck with weather but downright angry with what they got for their money, which isn't a good customer relations outcome for any theme park.

Update: Some Universal team members have reached out to me privately (i.e. not with authorization from Universal), to say that guest relations and call center personnel can and have offered one-night return tickets to those affected, but not refunds. And there's chatter that Universal Studios Hollywood might extend Halloween Horror Nights by one evening, to Sunday, November 4, to accommodate make-up dates. Stay tuned.

Replies (43)

October 13, 2018 at 1:16 PM

The event was truly a nightmare. Universals kept insisting the ticket is non refundable and is a rain or shine event. They refused to refund my money. I polis almost $460 for two express tickets. Two mazes I went through had about a foot of water. My shoes and feet got soaked. I fell in one and almost fell in another. It was a true safety issue. They closed the park’s guest relations line at 12 because of the long crowds. They didn’t want people to “see” how many upset customers there were so they instead gave us a business card with a phone number to call and had us leave.

October 13, 2018 at 1:19 PM

I got there at 5.30 was able to do 4 mazes. We went to terror tram we where in line when they closed it! The guy told me its a 90 percent chance it will remain closed. That all we did they stared closing stuff down we did not see any scare actor anymore.. this was my first time bringing some friends that have never done horror nights it left a bad experience for them.

October 13, 2018 at 3:17 PM

Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland was also a nightmare. Most attractions were closed. Halloween Screams got cancelled as well as both Frightfully Fun Parades.

October 13, 2018 at 3:57 PM

I was there last night, but at 9:30pm, I was already seeing the writing on the wall... the line for Guest Relations was already very long, so we knew something was up. We went to see the 10:15 Jabawookeez to see if the rain and lines would calm a bit, but they never did. By then, the line for GR was passing the Feature Presentation store. Didn't want to wait, so we just left.

The line for the GR outside was much shorter, so we inquired there. They just said they can't do anything now, gave us a business card, and was told to call them back, "they are aware of tonight's situation." I did ask if she had any idea if they were giving refunds or rainchecks, and she just shrugged.

Today they sent out a tweet to email, but I'm personally a bit upset they worded it as "experience delays." The main attractions were totally closed. I find that to be a bit insulting.

October 13, 2018 at 5:06 PM

My family and I attended Mickeys Halloween Party on Friday October 5. We missed 3 days off work to make the trip. We arrived early at 4 p.m. I saved a good spot to watch the fireworks and I stood there for hours and the fireworks were cancelled "for reasons beyond the resort´s control".

Went to guest relations. They offered 3 fastpasses as compensation which felt like a smack on the face after missing 3 days off work, paying lots of money, and saving my spot for more than 5 hours.

Any suggestions so I can get a more decent compensation???

Thanks in advance.

October 13, 2018 at 5:14 PM

I was there last night and the weather was truly awful, but Universal was doing the best that they could to make up for it. The rain isn’t their fault, and it was a really unusual situation in many ways. I was given tickets to come back again (they told me that tickets are not refundable, and it does say that on the ticket, so I’ll give them that.) They had given me a business card with a number to call, and the guy I spoke with today was able to give me the tickets and was apologetic for the situation. I don’t think we should be too hard on Universal for this, all night they were trying the best to keep things going and they did help me when I called them. I saw many people that work in the park literally standing in the pouring rain to try and help people and give them cards to call the number I called. Last night wasn’t fun, but I was impressed that Universal did so much to try and make it better. At least Stranger Things was working, that’s what I wanted to see the most and I got to see that. It was really cool.

October 13, 2018 at 5:40 PM

Likely due to weather and if that is the case than no compensation needed. Why is everyone so entitled these days?

October 13, 2018 at 6:29 PM

The parks can't control the weather but when most of the attractions are closed a compensation should be in place.

October 13, 2018 at 7:54 PM

I was there that night and I asked for a refund. They said that since I already scanned the ticket to get in, I couldn’t get my refund. I was able to through the stranger things maze though

October 13, 2018 at 7:57 PM

All I want to come back another night to Horror night. This wasmy first time . Universal do the right thing let me come back another night of my choice. I am a student and can only come on a friday or saturday.

October 13, 2018 at 8:14 PM

I was there last night and it was so horrible at first they told us we can either wait for them to reopen or leave and so we left and came back an hour later because we saw that they reopened it . Right when we get there , they tell us that they’re closed for the whole night it was not even 11:00 pm . It really frustrated me

October 13, 2018 at 8:33 PM

If it wasn't weather related I would politely ask for any other reconsideration for compensation. Contact customer relations or park operations explaining how important the trip was and that the light was just as important I mean waiting 5 hours to secure a spot does show that. Express to them that their statement for why the show didn't happen was not satisfactory. Remember be polite and calm I have had luck getting Comps this way. Good luck!

October 13, 2018 at 8:41 PM

It's rain or shine!! You take a chance tbe whole park didn't shut down!!
I went to Universal Halloween Horror Nights last year in Orlando it rained all 3 nights we went. 2 of the night it rained hard they still had everything running and people didn't care about being soaked. Obviously they run both parks differently.

October 13, 2018 at 8:41 PM

Enrique, if you and you family did nothing but wait for a fireworks show that was canceled at a fireworks only event, then yes, I think you should get a refund. However, I’m sure your family enjoyed the park while you waited. I think Disney giving you 3 fast passes is quite generous because the fireworks have ALWAYS been dependent on the weather. Plus, 3 fast passes could make up your “waisted” time prett quickly when the Haunted Mansion 180-200min, Indy 90min, and Space Mountain with another 90+min. (And yes, those are the current wait times as of writing)

October 13, 2018 at 9:07 PM

I get that you can’t control the weather but you should have in place something that will give you at least some cover there to keep the attractions open. We were there last night and decided to leave as soon as they started closing everything down. I did not know about the number to call though does anyone know who to reach to handle that?

October 13, 2018 at 9:45 PM

I’m fully aware of Universal’s terms and conditions “Rain or Shine” NO REFUNDS but clearly they were not set up to accommodate guests during rainy weather. My family and I were surprised with the weather but purchased rain attire. We waited in line for 2 hrs and Universal closed down the maze. In fact, they closed all the mazes down. We were also stuck on the terror tram for half hour with no explanation of why we stopped. Even their escalator stopped working, I had enough and left at 10pm. It was the worst experience!!!!!!! It comes down to poor planning. Universal is quick to take your money and disregard your dissatisfaction. They aren’t even accepting phone call right now. Worst customer service ever!

October 13, 2018 at 9:49 PM

818 622 3801 then press 9
They gave us another day for November 1st

October 13, 2018 at 10:40 PM

I was there last night. They made us wait in the line for the terror tram for 20 minutes before telling us. (Even though it was so stupid. Just a little rain!) Then! I get called a bitch by park employee. Completely disappointed.

October 13, 2018 at 11:19 PM

I went there with my family. We had Express passes so we were able to get in everything but the Terror Tram before it closed. The Terror Tram did close first, but everything was still up and going when we left at 10:30. The rain actually added to the scariness of some mazes.

October 13, 2018 at 11:24 PM

If I were you guys I would contact John Murdy[the creative director for HHN] via Twitter @horrornights and see what he can do.... Yes, the weather in LA can be unpredictable but it’s a rain or shine event, there for it should have gone on!

October 14, 2018 at 12:24 AM

Went last night with a friend at 8pm with umbrellas, but was just #notideal! Once they started shutting down rides and mazes it became so crowded, it was not safe. Terror Tram shut down they said “due to tech difficulties” bs. If you’ve been before, you know you have to walk in the dirt between bates motel and war of the worlds plane ctaah, so mud is not an option.

Then they shut down lower lot and ever maze without a roof so there is no where for people to go. Some panicked. We went to 10:25pm jabbowackee show, where we could stay dry (once they let us in) held in the que while pouring rain instead of letting us in.

Heard people asked for a refund. You should give it to them. I got my tickets for free, otherwise I’d be asking. Especially those who paid for express.

Didn’t get into 1/2 the mazes we wanted to and was very disappointed. Will not go back again. Will try Warner Brothers mazes this week.

Kudos on making a killing at selling $10 ponchos to those who had no where to go!!

October 14, 2018 at 1:32 AM

They can’t control the weather?!?!

October 14, 2018 at 3:30 AM

Last night I braved the rain with a group of my friends and we had an absolute ball at Knott’s Scary Farm. The only thing that didn’t go was the Hanging show, because it was too slippery for the stunts I think, but everything else remained open. We dashed in and out of great mazes till 2 am, and the rest of the shows were fantastic. We were a little cold and soggy, but it was a great time. If you are in the area, try out Scary Farm. They won’t close on you. :)

October 14, 2018 at 3:59 AM

I went with a group of 8 people all of whom spent ALOT of money on express tickets. The thing that ticked me off was not ONLY that they closed some of the main attractions down but that the theme park employees had no idea what to do. Some of the employees were covering up wires outside in puddles and others were getting aggresive with people in line. I personally feel like their policy of the event happening “rain or shine” isn’t reliable for lack of a better term. Perhaps the mazes should be built on platforms and covered completely. Instead, the few mazes we did go on, were flooded and in some parts LEAKING inside!! It was a circus! I’m sorry but people pay way to much money for something like this to happen. I really hope Universal Studios releases an apology or something (not that they care) because hundreds of people spent money to be there drenched in the rain.

October 14, 2018 at 4:02 AM

We went to Warner Bros. Horror Made Here and it was awesome! The DJ and the chubby Dancing Clown was our fave, All the interactive houses were up and runnin, camp crystal lake was so cool. We stopped going to HHN because the lines are too long.....We saw every attraction at Warner Bros.

October 14, 2018 at 8:44 AM

Entitled?

If they offer any compensation at all, in spite of the fine print, it must be for a reason.

If after all we went through, wanting some sort of compensation from the big company makes me entitled then so be it.

My little sister cried when the fireworks were cancelled.

But whatever, sure it might be good to be you, sitting on your high horse and pointing out how wrong and entitled I am.

October 14, 2018 at 8:52 AM

Fireworks are cancelled frequently in Disneyland because of the wind, as long as everything else was opened, there is really nothing you can do. I would have taken the fps, Disney can't control the wind and they certainly won't set off fireworks in case of a fire. I've been there many times the fireworks were cancelled and went home disappointed.

October 14, 2018 at 9:20 AM

Why not just give people a voucher pass for next time? Many other places are able to do it, taking everyone’s money and then not delivering and using some fine print as justification is just bogus. There are limits, I get that. Like someone trying to return an item after eating half of it or going well past the designated time frame such as like two years later. But this is one of those instances in which as a show of good faith they could waive it as opposed to looking greedy.

October 14, 2018 at 12:14 PM

Everyone who is complaining is such a baby. Guests were horrible that night. Yelling at employees who couldn’t control angry guests. Maybe treat employees like human beings and don’t blame them for something out of their control. So many people are so entitled and that’s the frustrating part.

October 14, 2018 at 12:17 PM

Mickeys Halloween party was disappointing as well. Rides closed, entertainment canceled, treat stations closed, umbrellas sold out. The trams shut down. I get the weather can’t be controlled but for a rain or shine event alternative options should have been given as a plan b. I did not spend money on the trip and costume for this. Very disappointing from Disney for sure.

October 14, 2018 at 12:48 PM

The person writing the first "entitled" comment also said it was "likely due to weather"...which is the whole point of this article. So clearly they either didn't read the headline/article or don't understand it.
In my own opinion, I don't think it's entitlement to want compensation for something you're actually entitled to. If you pay for something that a large company doesn't deliver on to such a large extent, it's common practice to offer a refund. There's a reason you can return items to a store, for example.

October 14, 2018 at 1:57 PM

This happens almost everyday in Florida, and it’s not a issue in any park.

October 14, 2018 at 3:57 PM

Email CBS 2 on your side. I spoke with 3 different Universal representatives and they said that "part of the park was open" so no partial refund. This is unfair but I emailed CBS. Maybe if more of us email, we can get some help. Here is the link to CBS 2 On Your Side. https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/category/2-on-your-side/

October 14, 2018 at 6:09 PM

I know SoCal doesn't often get rain in October but I can't believe these houses filled with expensive sets and props are exposed to the elements like this. With the exception of hurricanes, I don't hear much about Orlando's event having much issue with rain. I've always felt Universal needs to take a page from both Knotts and Disney if they really want this to be a rain or shine event on both coasts as well as making it a more pleasurable experience all around. Lines for the houses are insane and express pass prices are even crazier. Sometimes you just need a break from the conga line. Or you don't have any interest in all the houses or themes. Crowds need to be spread out and more variety of things offered.

They need more indoor shows. The Jabbawockeez show is good but they really need another draw to make up for Bill and Ted. Bring back Rocky Horror. Creature from the Black Lagoon the musical works better for HHN than a regular theme park day show. Create an indoor show around Chucky. A Van Helsing stunt show? Return of Slaughter World water show although not indoors. Get creative. 2 or 3 varied indoor shows would do wonders. And seasonal overlays and HHN exclusive version of attractions. People complain about screens at universal but that should make it easier to have HHN exclusive attractions. Jurassic Park in the dark was at least different. A Treehouse of Horror version of The Simpsons Ride seems like a no brainer. Minion Mayhem, Transformers, and the Mummy should be fairly easy to be plussed too for the event.

This would give guests plenty of options rain or shine. And incentive to come for multiple nights. I love haunted houses and think Universal does it better than anyone else but I often get fatigued doing them back to back to back at HHN.

October 15, 2018 at 12:49 AM

Orlando’s event usually stops the scare zones only because of the rain , the majority of houses are in soundsages so always remain open even in torrential rain which so far this year hasn’t been an issue , but had has definitely rained previous years mainly in September

October 15, 2018 at 7:11 AM

Sorry that this Midwestern is cracking a little smile at this first world problem the West Coast is having ;)


And this is why the California parks seem to lag behind their FL counterparts. Disney World and USO would NEVER offer any kinds of compensation unless a hurricane is going to hit either of the resorts. To hear that so many entitled Californians believed they deserve a refund is a bit laughable to me. However, in the same thought, why are Disneyland and USH building attractions that would shut down in the rain? That is extremely poor planning. Things like this make the east cost parks look so much more attractive.

Really? Might I remind you that it was 54 degrees and raining at Six Flags Great America last night. They didn't shut down and they didn't offer any refunds.

October 15, 2018 at 11:15 AM

Call me entitled all you want but I´m not a local from California. I don´t even live in the U.S.

October 15, 2018 at 12:16 PM

I do think it's a bit "entitled" to think that you deserve a refund or other compensation because of bad weather after showing up and spending more than a few minutes in the park. Theme parks are rain or shine operations, and by entering the park when it's raining or with high likelihood of rain forecast, means that you are taking on the risk of attractions closing or being limited due to the weather.

It sucks, but it happens all the time around the world. I do think it's a bit shortsighted for USH to have so many HHN attractions exposed to the elements (very little at USF's HHN is outside), but it doesn't make sense for them to spend the extra money to erect tents and temporary buildings for the 1 day every couple of years it rains hard enough to cause a disruption to the event.

It sounds like USH is trying to make good with guests that have reasonable expectations (a return ticket to another HHN night), but there are far too many out there that think because they missed out on something that their life has been ruined and are entitled to full refunds and/or additional damages. Get over it people!!

It's extra annoying if you were visiting from out of town, and cannot attend another night of HHN, but that's life. The same situations happen during sporting events and concerts/festivals all the time, but by purchasing a ticket, you take on that risk of the event being rained out and perhaps not being able to attend the makeup.

October 15, 2018 at 2:22 PM

I have tried calling them multiple times today, and no longer taking calls. I am very disappointed. Friday night was really terrible. I only did one maze and waining in line for the First Purge when they told us it was closed. All other mazes were closing at that time. It was really BAD, and now more disappointed at Universal Studios for no taking more calls. I really don't want another ticket to come back, I want a refund.

October 15, 2018 at 4:52 PM

@Russell - If it's one day every couple of years that it rains enough to be an issue then why wouldn't they offer a refund or return pass(either based on customer wants or residency)? It's not as though it's going to set a dangerous precedent.
They've presumably made the same calculation as you and decided that it isn't worth weatherproofing the event, the flipside to that is that when the weather is so bad that it materially affects the experience you have paid for they should have to pay up.

October 16, 2018 at 7:27 AM

I don't know what Disneyland did for it's guest that night however I do know USH did offer a comp ticket for another select nights or a daytime comp ticket to be used within 1 year from 10/12/18.

October 16, 2018 at 6:49 PM

They did offer another ticket to go. But that doesn’t help ppl that do not live on that side of the country. It’s dissapointing that they won’t refund us when they can offord it. And since they did not hold up their end of rain or shine agreement, I hope a class action law suit happens. They deserve it for ripping us off!!!

October 18, 2018 at 3:13 PM

Did anyone get a card to provide feed back as you exit the park? i seemed to have lost mine i definitely would like to provide feed back on 10/12/18. Horrible experience.

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