Halloween Horror Nights 2018
With the longest run, and seemingly the largest crowds of any of the Southern California Halloween theme park events, Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights has carved its footprint into the season and amounted a mass of followers that look forward to its annual offerings. The event is so popular, sell-out nights occur frequently, even with the opening falling in the middle of September, a week prior to Knott’s Scary Farm, and two weeks before Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor. Horror Nights does not stop when its namesake holiday takes place. As in previous years, guests will still have the opportunity to experience the frights into the first weekend of November. Unlike its competitors, the Horror Nights creative team produces entirely new mazes every year. Concepts are often repeated, but the experience is different. What also sets the studio’s event apart from others is that most of the attractions are based off of intellectual property of current and classic feature films and television programs.
The past few years, the popularity of The Walking Dead and American Horror Story has attracted the masses to experience in person, what they have seen on screen. This year, Netflix’s Stranger Things takes center stage in what promised to be the most popular maze of 2018. To much everyone’s surprise, the overall consensus placed the Poltergeist and Universal Monsters mazes at the top of the favorites list. It was fun to see Stranger Things come to life, but the maze delivered few scares. Scenes direct from the 80’s classic were painstakingly recreated in the back lot Poltergeist attraction that won over crowds. On the upper lot, the nostalgia of Universal’s Classic Monsters, combined with a creative soundtrack from Slash stole the show. Other walk-through mazes this year include Halloween, which has been a staple at Horror Nights for some time. With a new Blumhouse/Universal Studios franchise release of the slasher series out in theaters this month, the maze was a no-brainer. Speaking of horror powerhouse Blumhouse, a maze on the back lot features several of their latest film releases. Across the street, guests can experience an attraction straight out of the latest The First Purge movie.
The Terror Tram has always been a sore spot with fans. Despite a different theme each year, it often feels stale and reused. This year, management ditched a franchise movie theme and create a story around a creepy clown straight out of a comic book. Guests pass through scenes from the series, while walking amongst various locations deep within the daytime tram tour. The Terror Tram was a highlight this year, despite using a familiar trail. The mazes themselves over the last few years have developed a style. Some love it. Some hate it. Either way, there is a pattern to each maze. Scene, black hallway, pop-out scare, scene, black hallway, pop-out scare, and so on, and so on… Whether intentional to create a thematic feeling, or done for cost-saving reasons, the pattern is unmistakable. This has caused a debate amongst Halloween fanatics greater than anything in politics happening today. Also noticeably different over the course of the past few seasons, is that of the design of the Scare Zones. What once spanned across nearly every inch of the multi-level theme park, has been relegated to small sections. Not only have the scare zones seemed to have shrunk, two of the five have been cordoned off into areas where they can almost be considered mini mazes. This prevents guests from hanging out and enjoying the atmosphere. The third scare zones takes place on your walk to the back lot. There is no place to stop, and even if there were, the strobe lights are so blinding, you would not want to. The remaining two scare zones are placed near the entry plaza. During our visit, there were only a handful of scare actors on the streets at any given time. In terms of entertainment, Jabbawockeez, the hip-hop dance crew is back with a new show, filled with high-energy music, incredible dance moves, and effects that ends up being the most memorable experience of the night. Do not miss this show!
Visiting Halloween Horror Nights has been an annual tradition since junior high school, and a year has never been missed by this “self-labeled” Halloween fanatic. The event has evolved and grown up over the years to be much more structured. But then again, so has the theme park itself. Halloween Horror Nights reflects this. As previously mentioned, the Jabbawockeez were a highlight of the evening. The Trick ‘r Treat scare zone was our favorite. In terms of mazes, Universal Monsters took our top spot, followed by Poltergeist and The Terror Tram. Note: Purchase your tickets in advance, and online. Online ticket holders can enter the park at 5:00 p.m., which is two hours prior to general admission. The two mazes on the lower lot open at 5:15, with the back lot mazes opening shortly thereafter. It should be noted that the Toxic Tunnel and Holidayz in the Hell scare zones do not start operating until 7:00 p.m., despite being on the path to the open mazes. If you do not want to walk all the way back to see these after they open, stay on the back lot and see them on your return. On the night we visited, we were able to do the five lower/back lot mazes, eat dinner, ride The Mummy and see both scare zones by 7:30. We would have been done sooner, but we waited around for Holidayz in Hell to start operating. From there, we went directly to the Terror Tram. This attraction stops runnng prior to park closing, so plan accordingly. If you are short on time, or visit the park often, you can skip The Walking Dead attraction, as the experience is no different than it is during the day. During Halloween Horror Nights, the following attractions are NOT open; Waterworld, Dreamworks Theatre, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Animal Actors, Despicable Me, and the Silly Swirly. Jurassic Park is currently closed for a major rehab. If you purchase a special light-up necklace, the color changes as you walk through different zones. Look for the glowing orange pumpkin stands. They sent out a signal that talk to your necklace. For full information, dates, and ticket prices, visit: https://hollywood.halloweenhorrornights.com/ ATTRACTION OVERVIEW
Upper Lot Mazes Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers (Waterworld Queue) Fall victim to the silver screen’s most deplorable slasher. Based on the cult-classic horror film franchise, this new maze will truly have you on edge…of Michael Myer’s knife that is. Universal Monsters (Universal Plaza) Inspired by Universal’s legendary horror films, the Universal Monsters maze—featuring an original score produced and composed by GRAMMY® Award-winning musician, SLASH—will shake horror fans to the core with a petrifying modern rendition. Featuring Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera and The Wolf Man, among others. The Walking Dead Attraction (Baker Street) Enter the post-apocalyptic world of AMC’s “The Walking Dead”. Prepare to fight for survival in a fully immersive journey as you navigate through a world overrun by walkers with an insatiable appetite for the living. Follow in the footsteps of the human survivors as you battle your way through nightmarish iconic landscapes that bring the most popular cable TV show in history to life!
Hollywood Harry’s Dreadtime Storiez (Studio Tour) Hollywood Harry, the phantom clown infamous for terrorizing the Universal Studios backlot, has returned to Terror Tram as host of an all-new bloodcurdling experience. Brace yourself for the unspeakable horrors depicted in this demented rendition of Harry’s 1950s television show. As you journey through five spine-tingling bedtime stories, attempt to survive the chainsaw wielding monsters, bloodthirsty cannibals, rotten corpse scarecrows, homicidal clowns, and a merciless torture factory. Note: Terror Tram Line closes at 11:15pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and 11:45 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Plan your night accordingly so you don’t miss the Terror Tram experience.
Lower Lot Mazes Stranger Things (West of Transformers) Step inside the hair-raising world of Stranger Things and prepare to brave the Upside Down of this pop culture series phenomenon! Journey to small town Hawkins, Indiana—a seemingly peaceful community with dark, unnerving secrets. Trick ‘r Treat (East of Transformers) Experience Halloween night like never before with Trick ‘r Treat, the anthology horror film from writer/director Michael Dougherty that has become a modern horror cult classic! It is said that Halloween is the night when horrifying creatures roam free, but there are rules devised to protect us from their evil. Every year, one small town is taught a terrifying lesson: that some traditions are best not forgotten.
Back Lot Mazes The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter 2 (Back Lot – First Maze) Blumhouse Productions is back again with new suspense-filled moments from Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare, Unfriended and a nightmarish surprise ending that will leave you screaming for more! Enter the “Horrors of Blumhouse” film festival, where horror movies come to life. The First Purge (Back Lot – Center Maze) Get ready for The First Purge, a terrifying new maze that tells the story of how the blockbuster franchise all began. The New Founding Fathers of America (NFFA) have instituted the inaugural Purge, a 12-hour period on Staten Island, where all crimes, including Murder, are legal. Try to survive the NFFA’s experiment and make it through the night. Your government thanks you for your participation! Poltergeist (Back Lot – Back Maze) Based on the classic 1982 film by director Tobe Hooper and producer Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist will take you inside the iconic ghost story that set the bar for paranormal thrillers ever since.
Scare Zones Hell’s Harvest (Main Entrance)
Enter a pagan harvest festival where the dark spirit of Halloween was born! The streets are filled with strange bewitched dolls, brought to life through dark magic. This army of evil dolls are looking for the next victim for their human sacrifice…will it be you?
Trick 'r Treat (Entry Plaza)
The frightening characters from writer/director Michael Dougherty’s anthology horror film Trick 'r Treat have descended on the small Midwestern town of Warren Ohio during their annual Halloween celebrations. Lurking in the fog are vampires, werewolves, zombie school children and Sam, the vengeful spirit of Halloween who will stop at nothing to ensure his rules for the season are being upheld. Hell's Harvest. Monster Masquerade (Exit from Universal Monsters / French Street)
Step into the fog-enshrouded streets of old Paris and enter “The Danse of the Dead,” a macabre monster masquerade ball inspired by the original Universal Classic Monster movies The Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Toxic Tunnel (Walk to Back Lot)
There’s been a terrible industrial accident deep inside an underground utility tunnel. The noxious vapors that were released have transformed the emergency workers into radioactive monsters, filled with an uncontrollable rage and hell-bent on our destruction! Holidayz in Hell (Back Lot)
Every day is Halloween in this irreverent send up of the Holidays of the year. Encounter creepy Cupids, lecherous Leprechauns and evil Easter bunnies as you take a terrifying trip through these psychotic seasonal celebrations…screaming all the way!
Jabbawockeez (Upper Lot / Special Effects Stage) The acclaimed, award-winning hip hop dance crew returns to “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Hollywood with an all-new performance. With their signature white masks, the diverse group of dancers will perform a repertoire of innovative, synchronized choreography accompanied by a stunning laser lights display that will come to life in a full spectrum of color. The group’s signature moves and brand of humor will create an exclusive experience for guests in which the Jabbawockeez crew defies space and time in a pulse-pounding, action-packed performance to save the planet from a society obsessed with social media.