No More Halloween 'Mazes' at Universal Studios Hollywood

May 24, 2022, 3:05 PM · The long-time creative director of Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights just confirmed that the park will not have any mazes at this year's Halloween event.

Since you should find that statement literally incredible, you likely are waiting for the catch. And here it is. Universal Studios Hollywood this year officially will start calling its Halloween Horror Nights attractions "houses," just as Universal Orlando has done for years. Mazes are dead; long live houses at Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights.

John Murdy confirmed the vocabulary switch in a Tweet earlier today:

"A think it’s only appropriate to take a moment of silence to mark the passing of the term 'maze' from the lexicon of HHN at USH. They shall hence forward be known as 'houses' in the vernacular of HHN at UO. As Bob Dylan once wrote, 'The times they are a changing'…"

Murdy sent off the maze with some cheek:

"I am a little bitter that my excellent suggestions to replace the word 'maze' were rejected outright! So you won’t be experiencing any 'Boo Boxes,' 'Scare Shanties' or 'HorrorHaus' any time soon! Oh well! Thanks for the memories 'maze.' I hope to get lost in you down the line."

The Bride of Frankenstein maze
Last year's The Bride of Frankenstein maze at Universal Studios Hollywood would now be a house.

Universal last week announced Universal Monsters: Legends Collide as the first house for Halloween Horror Nights this year at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood. Universal's use of the word "house" to describe those attractions now appears not to be just a case of the press release being written in Orlando. It was a conscious decision to standardize the vocabulary used for Halloween Horror Nights on both coasts.

Personally, I never warmed to the term "maze," as I thought it implied presenting some option to choose among multiple paths, which I've never seen in a HHN property. (Long-timers, correct me in the comments with an example if you have one!) But "house" is less than perfect, too, as many Halloween Horror Nights attractions extend beyond one structure into multiple settings. Those aren't "houses." They are adventures!

Ultimately, the stuff at Halloween Horror Nights are attractions like the other rides and shows and walk-throughs available in the parks. But I get why parks would want a unique term when promoting them, to reflect that they are something temporary for an after-hours event rather than a permanent element of the park. Ultimately, perhaps it doesn't matter what a park calls these Halloween attractions, so long as it uses its preferred term consistently.

Which Universal hadn't. Until now.

Halloween Horror Nights this year begins Friday, September 2 in Orlando and on Thursday, September 8 in Hollywood, running select nights through October 31.

Replies (7)

May 24, 2022 at 4:04 PM

Some of the rooms from past Walking Dead Houses at UO have had multiple paths, though it really just meant going through one section of chain link fencing verses another a few feet away.

I agree that the term "maze" was an erroneous term for most of the HHN attractions.

May 24, 2022 at 7:24 PM

Sure, but it’s part of the lingo in Southern California. We call them mazes and the standardization isn’t something I’ll lose any sleep over (because I’m now too used to calling them mazes to get used to anything else) it feels like losing a bit of the character that differentiates the two entities. Eventually Murdy will retire and there will be more homogenization — I’m sure some will be happy to see more Orlando influence. I think it’s cool that there has been a window when you got two pretty different experiences in two pretty different theme parks with decent budgets.

May 25, 2022 at 8:38 AM

Tombs of the Ancients in Orlando had a few divergent paths at hhn 26 BUT they both met back up within a few feet so no 1 noticed and everyone went right or left, but I used that trick to get in front of a few families and show them the upcoming guest activated triggers and we all seemed to have a blast!

May 25, 2022 at 9:43 AM

Knott’s still calls theirs “mazes,” right?
And I don’t recall divergent paths at USH “houses” but Knott’s used this trick at the beginning of Paranormal Activity.

May 25, 2022 at 2:35 PM

@Scottland that’s correct (and I assume why it’s so prevalent to refer to them as mazes in the area). they also did a full-blown maze several years ago in the “Mirror Mirror” maze.

It… did not go very well.

May 26, 2022 at 12:06 AM

Now I want Murdy & Co. to design a true, divergent path maze for a “house” this year, just to troll the suits who made this decision.

May 26, 2022 at 9:10 AM

Mazes are for WestWorld!

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