Universal reveals name for new Las Vegas attraction

October 17, 2023, 12:15 PM · Universal today announced the name for its upcoming year-round horror attraction in Las Vegas.

The anchor tenant in a 20-acre expansion of the AREA15 entertainment district, the new immersive experience will be called Universal Horror Unleashed, Universal said.

"Universal Horror Unleashed is another way we are using our unique style of horror storytelling to engage fans of this genre," Universal Destinations & Experiences President, New Ventures, Page Thompson said. "We look forward to bringing frightful fun to Las Vegas year-round."

So is this just a year-round Halloween Horror Nights? Not exactly, but Universal's press release said that Universal Horror Unleashed will offer "a variety of unique, immersive, and horror-centric experiences" surrounding "eerie eateries and bone-chilling bar areas."

Universal also promises a "continuously updated experience with must-see seasonal events and one-of-a-kind merchandise."

But what Universal has not promised is an opening date for Universal Horror Unleashed. Still no official word on that.

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Replies (7)

October 17, 2023 at 1:13 PM

On our trip to the West Coast this summer we went to the Stranger Things Experience in Seattle. This traveling experience set up shop in an empty warehouse space near T-Mobile Park, and included a walkthrough attraction into sets and spaces themed to the series with live actor-driven storylines. The finale was a high-definition, large format digital screen room with live action in front of it (think Bourne Stuntacular only where you can stand about 10 feet from the screen and actors). The experience finished in a retail area with Instagram-able sets with merchandise and food-beverages.

This is kind of what I expect from this Universal experience with perhaps different IPs guests can choose from, somewhat like the UO escape rooms. I'm not sure how long something like this could stick in one place without constant updating (FWIW we went to the Stranger Things Experience near the end of its run in Seattle, and you could tell it was running out of steam based on the thin crowds and having to move our reservation up an hour because they were trimming operational hours on the day of our visit). It might work at a place like Las Vegas if they can freshen it up with new IP or changing/updating the experience every year or 2, but it's going to take a lot of marketing and jaw dropping, one-of-a-kind experience to make it work long term. Very few attractions are able to last long term in Vegas, and given that this sounds more like traveling experiences/exhibitions (Van Gough, Harry Potter, Simpsons, The OFfice, Christmas IPs, etc...), Universal has to really invest to make this a hit if they want to last long enough to justify the costs for a permanent space. Also, as these traveling experiences become more prevalent (and better), they've got to continue to offer something that people can't get at home and that appealing year-round.

October 17, 2023 at 2:35 PM

AREA15 is cool, but this is definitely needed & will raise its profile. Right now, it's essentially a horror / sci-fi / pop culture themed CityWalk...

@ Russell, - I think the key with this Universal attraction will be in the marketing. AREA 15 is creepy from the moment you drive in the parking lot and see the plane crash debris, and destroyed Welcome to Las Vegas sign.

A permanent attraction with the Universal name attached will attract a large audience. True, there are some attractions that aren't able to last long time...but often times that depends on the leased location / theme / nature of the offering. Many of those are standalone experiences that leave a lot to be desired.

By becoming an anchor to a dedicated THEMED entertainment district that already brings in (halfway decent) crowds, Universal is in a good position IF the quality is there. And I do think they will deliver. It's already been mentioned multiple times by Las Vegas media, so awareness among locals will be / is high.

Connecting with tourist will also be key...but Universal has experience in that department, lol.

October 17, 2023 at 6:21 PM

This to me sounds like its a similar business plan to Merlin's Dungeons, which didn't work out well in SF.

October 17, 2023 at 8:07 PM

I think what gives this a leg up is its location and target audience. Many of the same people who want to check out Area15 (millennials) are also likely to be interested in a horror experience, especially if the IP they choose to use for these mazes is strong. Its biggest weakness is that you can't just walk to this experience from most of the strip.

One way or another, I'm intrigued by how they tackle this concept.

October 18, 2023 at 12:58 PM

Meow Wolf's Supermart at Area 51 PACKS them in, and that place is half-way interesting at best. The truth of the matter is that Vegas largely sucks and people are desperate for things to do, so half-assed stuff can still work pretty well there. See, e.g., David Copperfield's 40 year residency, haha.

October 19, 2023 at 11:51 AM

I visited Las Vegas in the spring for the first time in years, and I was so incredibly underwhelmed and unimpressed with it all (my wife also felt this way). They offer overpriced experiences that are incredibly disappointing in so many ways. I felt like every experience or show left me feeling as if I had been scammed. I hope Universal is successful here, but I will not be returning to enjoy it. I am sure that the Sphere will be injecting so much needed tourism dollars, and that certainly does intrigue me. I just don't know if it would ever be enough for me to come back.

October 19, 2023 at 12:49 PM

@Shaun - I feel like that's always been Vegas' M.O. - take your money while making you feel underwhelmed afterward. There was a point in time when Vegas was a bargain tourist destination, and perhaps given the recent over-development and cooling tourism industry it will shift back to that. However, I think people going to Vegas these days know what they're getting themselves into - pricey (though unique) entertainment, unnecessarily flashy rooms at somewhat high prices, and very few deals unless you're willing to sit and gamble $1,000/day or more. As they say, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", and that extends to your money. A trip to Vegas is a guilty pleasure these days, accentuated by the increase in live sports (NFL, NHL, F1, NBA, and college sports) in the city that visiting team fans now plan around (with MLB on the way).

I don't think the Sphere really moves the needle. It looks and sounds like a pretty amazing experience, but I highly doubt people will routinely be willing to dump $1,500+ on a ticket for U2 or similarly popular live acts after the first few shows of a residency.

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