Hollywood or Orlando: Who's winning Halloween Horror Nights?

September 19, 2023, 6:10 PM · Now that some of us have seen at least a couple weeks of Halloween Horror Nights at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, let's vote on which resort has been doing better this year.

The two annual Halloween events share five house concepts this year. But, as those of you who have followed Halloween Horror Nights might know, Universal allows separate creative teams on each coast to develop their own vision for each concept. Yes, they talk to each other, but ultimately they create different experiences - differences that can be magnified by the conditions under which Universal operates on each coast.

Universal Orlando tends to have a broader canvas to work with, having more permanent buildings with larger spaces in which to install its designs. Universal Studios Hollywood, on the other hand, tends to have to work in tents with less space to operate. Yet, Universal Studios Hollywood has a much larger labor market of professional actors to draw upon, allowing them to lean more heavily on scareactors than the grander design scope often found in Orlando.

And Hollywood continues to pulse guests in small groups through its houses, while Orlando lets the non-stop conga line of visitors flow all night. That often leads to longer wait times in Hollywood, too.

So with all that in mind, let's focus on the experience that each event delivers for these five common concepts this year. Take a look at our videos, or better yet, draw upon your personal experience if you'd been fortunate enough to visit both already this year, then let us know which Universal Studios theme park did a better job with that concept this year.

The Last of Us



Stranger Things 4



Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count



Universal Monsters: Unmasked



The Exorcist: Believer



You can find my full reviews of each coast's events at these links:

For tickets to Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood, please visit our partner's Universal Studios Hollywood tickets page. And to keep up to date with more theme park news, please sign up for Theme Park Insider's weekly newsletter.

Replies (4)

September 19, 2023 at 11:41 PM

I used to go to the Knotts Scary Farm and Universal Studio in CA pretty frequently but it’s been awhile since I’ve been to one of these events. I remember many moon ago when they actually stopped you and ask how many in your party and then let you pass letting the maze folks have a chance to reset.

The last time I went to one of these, they were just letting folks walk though without really stopping anybody and the experience was not the same. It seems these event became extremely popular the last 10 years and the lines getting longer and longer.

I would def pay more if there was a way to slow folks down from cramming into the maze and missing out on a scare due to bad timing. Can anybody respond if things are the same or have gotten worst?

September 20, 2023 at 12:35 PM

I remember back when they used to pulse the lines for Orlando. My first was HHN 13. The event is just too popular and has huge attendance for this to even be considered anymore. You could cap attendance, but that would lead to higher ticket prices.

In theory you can get a pulsed experience if you walk a normal pace through the house. Most people tend to walk too fast or try to keep up with the person ahead of them.

September 20, 2023 at 1:05 PM

I personally prefer the conga-line approach. Pulsing causes too many log jams and jerks thinking that they're being clever by making their way to the front or back of the group to get all the scares. Conga line typically gives guests the most consistent experience.

September 20, 2023 at 2:38 PM

And even with pulsing at the house entrance, every house in Hollywood on opening night was a conga line by halfway through, anyway.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive