Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Universal Cancels Halloween Horror Nights

July 24, 2020, 10:04 AM · Universal Orlando announced this morning that it will not hold its annual Halloween Horror Nights event this year, due to the pandemic. This was to be the 30th edition of Halloween Horror Nights. The cancelation applies to Universal Studios Hollywood as well.

"Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood have made the difficult decision to not hold Halloween Horror Nights events this year," the resort said in a press release. "Universal Orlando Resort will be focusing exclusively on operating its theme parks for daytime guests, using the enhanced health and safety procedures already in place. Universal Studios Hollywood continues to face ongoing business restrictions and uncertainty around its opening timeframe."

"We know this decision will disappoint our fans and guests. We are disappointed, too. But we look forward to creating an amazing event in 2021," Universal said.

Replies (39)

July 24, 2020 at 10:11 AM

Hallelujah! Sense prevails! Utterly impossible to manage social distancing unless capacity was around a thousand, everybody was marshalled into areas, routes and houses and people went into each house in 10-20 second intervals. And how frightening would it be with every actor wearing a mask and keeping their distance? Right decision. The rest will follow suit, and in the UK. Looks like my Shocktoberfest will now be cancelled.

July 24, 2020 at 10:44 AM

Definitely the right choice. People and alcohol just don’t mix well, when it comes to being sensible.

July 24, 2020 at 11:15 AM

Agreed .... great to see common sense prevail.

Every little bit helps, especially as we are still seeing 10K+ cases every day, and very sadly, the death rate increasing :(

July 24, 2020 at 11:20 AM

Right decision.

As we slowly start to turn our attention towards fall and the Holiday season, companies are finally realizing that this virus is not going to go away anytime in all of 2020.

The remaining events that are normally scheduled (Christmas/Holiday, New Year’s Eve, etc) need to be canceled as well. It is best to just try and put all focus on the 2nd half of 2021 and hope that we’re in a much better place by then.

July 24, 2020 at 11:20 AM

Surprised they waited this long to do it but good to see Universal accepting reality (which is more than many people are doing...)

July 24, 2020 at 11:26 AM

It would have been impossible under the current situation. Good decision UPR.

July 24, 2020 at 11:43 AM

The right decision ... But a gut punch to UO's bottom line. Begging Comcast not to give up on the parks.

July 24, 2020 at 12:27 PM

If you asked me two months ago if I'd attend a haunt event this season, the answer would have been maybe. If you asked me today, the answer would be no even if I could. More likely than not, the event would need to be so watered down it would be barely worth attending, and if it wasn't I'd question the wisdom of everyone involved for doing such a thing in current times. Canceling this year was the right move, but I have to be honest...I'm not sure events like this have a future in the industry even when all is said and done.

July 24, 2020 at 12:34 PM

Absolutely agree with the decision but could not be more gutted. My fiance and I are the sort that consider Halloween a lifestyle and we not only got engaged in the Haunted Mansion queue but had a Halloween Hallowedding planned to party with our friends this year (Saturday, last day of Daylight Savings, and a full moon). We had to cancel Hallowedding and we're going to do Justice of the Peace to spare our families and use our annual HHN trip in September as the honeymoon. Such a gut punch. It's selfish but I'm really really sad about this. It's absolutely the correct decision but it just feels like one gut punch after another

July 24, 2020 at 12:44 PM

The question now becomes "What happens to the houses?". It's no secret that construction had already been ongoing in both parks since springtime and that a lot of the houses had their interiors mostly finished. Do they keep everything up for a year or will they have to knock everything down and start from scratch in 2021?

July 24, 2020 at 12:47 PM

@James, Hollywood has actually been dismantling for a week or so. There's a drone channel on YouTube that showed it. Considering most of the sets and materials aren't meant for long term they'll likely have to demolish. Some of the soundstage houses may be able to keep facades and such but keep in mind some of the IPs may not be renegotiable a year from now.

July 24, 2020 at 3:20 PM

The only way I could have seen this happening is that they have stop/go lighting within the attractions which kills it. Having to enforce masks inside is the real house of horrors.

July 24, 2020 at 3:36 PM

I used to work HHN at Universal Hollywood. At the VERY least, they would have had to turn off fog effects, which add greatly to the atmosphere. It's hard to socially distance from people when you can't see them. Good call on Universal's part. If it happened, it wouldn't have been as good as other HHN events, so best to just not do it this year.

I know this will disappoint some, but it's the right thing to do.

July 24, 2020 at 5:30 PM

Comcast's Universal Orlando footprint has been hammered by the disaster that is 2020.

- The Central Florida tourist industry has fallen apart.

- The HHN cash cow has been eighty-sixed.

- The go to Potter/Fantastic Beasts IP has been infected with VERY UGLY events (JK Rowling vs. LGBTQ and Johnny Depp's [Grindelwald] legal issues and [ugh] the horrible Ezra Miller clip).

- The widely reported park layoffs.

- The delayed opening of Epic Universe.

I mean ... My God. Where is the light at the end of the very dark tunnel?

July 24, 2020 at 5:15 PM

I think the JK this is almost forgotten already and Depp will just be removed or forgotten by the time the next film comes out, regardless there are too many potter fanatics to make a difference.
As far as HHN, I'm very sad, was definitely going to go. A lot of scientist say you need prolonged exposure, so a 3 minute walk thru a house, masked, would most likely be very safe. Uni has been doing a great job so far, this is for optics or IP that were hesitant to allow their use.
I'm pretty sure anyone that was going to go would not be in a high risk category and the event would have been successful.
Oh well, more cash to spend for next years event.

July 24, 2020 at 5:23 PM

This is just depressing .... I understand why they did it, and the event certainly wouldn’t have been enjoyable if they had. But I agree with TH — the potential epic fallout from this, and its possible permanent damage to the Orlando economy, is terrifying. I’m a meeting planner by profession, and while I’m lucky to work at an organization where my job is reasonably secure, I can’t help but think about all the people I work with in the Florida hotel industry — from highly paid sales managers and convention service managers, to the banquet and housekeeping staff who have just been getting by, and I grieve for them... We’ve got to find a way to live with this thing, or a lot of people’s jobs will never come back...

And as for AJ’s last comment .... man, I hope you’re wrong on that one!

July 24, 2020 at 5:26 PM

I can't help but feel that Orlando will go the way of Detroit.

July 24, 2020 at 5:31 PM

Mr. Torrance writes: "...and Depp will just be removed or forgotten by the time the next film comes out ..."

Me: So ya think there will actually be another film?

July 24, 2020 at 5:41 PM

Warner Bros. stated two days ago Fantastic Beasts 3 and The Batman were set to resume filming in the UK next month.

July 24, 2020 at 5:43 PM

@AndrewL: I'm sure it will be a huge hit.

Did they mention when Depp will be on set?

July 24, 2020 at 5:56 PM

As of April Depp was still confirmed to be returning.

Did Harry Potter hurt you in a past life? You seem to have a lot of hate for the franchise.

July 24, 2020 at 6:02 PM

I think the bigger issue is the release calendar. Basically all of 2020 has gotten pushed back. Now which movies don’t get made because we lost a year’s worth of releases slots? With the losses the industry is taking now, budgets will be cut.

I have no idea if Fantastic Beasts will be cut or not. But some big franchise films will be.

July 24, 2020 at 6:11 PM

@AndrewL: The major Potter sites (Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet) have announced they will shun anything to do with Rowling. Eddie Redmane and Daniel Radcliffe have both denounced the author. A year and a half from now (under the shadow of the rightful denunciation of the LGBTQ community) it is hardly unreasonable to ask if a company should be comfortable investing hundreds of millions into attractions affiliated with such a bruised IP. Especially when international travel is all but dead.

Or would you advise Comcast to not reconsider that investment?

July 24, 2020 at 6:17 PM

Major Potter fan sites may be rejecting the source creator but the creation will live on strong without her. Look at Star Wars. Lucas sold his franchise away but the idea is the same. Disney took Star Wars and continued to grow it into an amazing theme park land and (in my opinion) some pretty good films.

I say all of that to say that I hardly think JK Rowling and Potter live and die together. I know JK has not sold her rights away and it's all still very much hers. What's been created has been created though and she can't take that away. People will still continue to watch the films, read the books, and visit the lands.

July 24, 2020 at 6:27 PM

@AndrewL: In 2025? Ya think with all that baggage the franchise longevity is gonna justify hundreds of millions in investment? And when will that dump be back in black? 2031? After Comcast sells the carnival? And what if Beast 3 sucks? You want to advise Comcast that the script for three is solid gold?


July 24, 2020 at 6:32 PM

I'm not saying they should or should not make a Beasts 3. I thought the second one sucked, so I'm hardly holding my breathe for the third one. I also don't care whether Comcast sells Universal or not. I'm arguing your claim that the Potter franchise as a whole is infected. So infected that any major theme park operator would just as soon distance themselves from the IP rather than promote it or invest further in it.

July 24, 2020 at 6:50 PM

AndrewL: And I am saying that it is reasonable to question whether a company should invest hundreds of millions of dollars into theme park attractions based upon damaged IP. Especially considering it is VERY unlikely that those attractions won't welcome their first guests for almost half a decade.

Also, I would guess, that the accountant deciding whether or not to build the new park (or more likely whether or not to sell off the existing parks) is making note of the comment "the second one sucked."

July 24, 2020 at 7:03 PM

I would personally be happy if they built the new park with Classic Monsters (they own ‘em, so no charge to use the IP), the Dreamworks dragon/panda stuff and Nintendo for those that care. Wouldn’t miss a Fantastic Beast land, though a Ministry ride based on the original series could still be very cool.

In short, I just really, really, REALLY want the Classic Monster land :-) If they want to use it to replace the current Kidzone, I’d also be cool with that.

July 24, 2020 at 8:01 PM

The second movie not being good (to me) plays no part in my desire to consume Potter content, including Fantastic Beasts. I would eagerly go to a new themed land or attraction set to Beasts.

Solo and The Last Skywalker also sucked. Doesn't change my excitement about any future content Disney puts out from the Star Wars Universe.

July 24, 2020 at 8:13 PM

LMAO apparently "not being good" = "sucked" ... Don't get dizzy spinning.

July 24, 2020 at 8:16 PM

Not being good and sucked are the same to me. I don't understand what's hard for you to understand about that haha.

July 24, 2020 at 8:29 PM

Andrew: "Not being good and sucked are the same to me."

Me: Apparently.


July 24, 2020 at 8:46 PM

It's definitely the right decision for Universal, but the blame for this lies squarely with the citizens of Florida and their leadership. Because like the other current hotzones in the country, they didn't take the pandemic seriously and the residents are too selfish to social distance and use precautionary measures. They now find themselves squarely in the middle of a crisis that will not only affect Universal, but Disney and other tourists outlets in Florida. It will interesting to see where we are at in a year, but my fears are that events like this won't be able to come back or if they do they will be a shadow of their former selves. If that occurs, their won't really be a future for it since the primary experience involves being in claustrophobic situations and among crowds.

July 24, 2020 at 8:56 PM

KrisV: "It's definitely the right decision for Universal, but the blame for this lies squarely with the citizens of Florida and their leadership."

Me: Oh shut up! Even if the state's citizens and leaders had done everything perfectly this situation would not be over with! Give me a break!

July 24, 2020 at 9:18 PM

I have found it fascinating that JK Rowling be the darling of the LGBTQ+ community one minute for making Dumbledore a homosexual, but shunning her the next for comments regarding mensuration. If I were WB or Universal, I wouldn’t stress too much about it as there are a lot of people out there who either don’t care or won’t ever hear about it. In 50 years her books will still be spoken about in the same manner as those of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

As for Johnny Depo, he need not worry, either, about what may come out in the upcoming days and weeks. The entertainment industry still employs the convicted rapist Mike Tyson, and Depp is much more talented on the big and small screens than Iron Mike is.

July 24, 2020 at 9:55 PM

Agree with TH- We still don't know much about this virus and it's transmission. Most all Floridians are doing everything they can and yet this afflicts some but not others.

BTW Kris, who and where are you to judge residents?

July 24, 2020 at 10:27 PM

Now poor little TH is deciding what words mean what to each person. How cute the control you think you have.


July 25, 2020 at 7:37 AM

The virus is here to stay until herd immunity Is achieved through the vaccine or those infected. Those areas that locked down with relatively small caseloads will likely see a resurgence at some point until the herd immunity is obtained. We must still act responsibly to protect the 40% who have a condition (obesity, heart, immune, kidney diseases etc ). If you are one of the 40% please take the precautions necessary to reduce your risks until herd immunity (i.e. don’t go out in an environment that will have more than 10 people or whatever the max is). Everyone else should follow the established protocols - masks, social distancing and wash your hands. Business, schools and especially the entertainment company’s we discuss here should open their businesses in a way that accomplishes those established protocols to be used or enjoyed by those in the lower risk categories. That’s the best we can do - there are no magic wands.

July 25, 2020 at 1:23 PM

>> I mean ... My God. Where is the light at the end of the very dark tunnel?

We have vaccines in late testing. Now we just need to make people take em.

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