Halloween Horror Nights was a magical event, which felt like stepping into a creepy home and witnessing some of the terrors held within.
Halloween is right around the corner, and that means that all our favorite spooky activities are ramping up.
From ghost tours and midnight showings to scary stories and haunted houses, this time of year is especially fun for us horror nerds. However, with the risk of Covid still hanging over us, it is hard to get too excited given the very real fear that events might not be COVID safe.
Thankfully, Halloween Horror Nights went above and beyond to make the event as safe as possible.
(Of course, what fellow park-goers do safety-wise is beyond the venue’s control, sadly, so there is still some risk; please do not go to these events without being vaccinated.)
Since I was a child, I was obsessed with the idea of Universal. When I learned they held an annual horror night event, I became ecstatic. I dreamed of going, but I never expected I would get there.
This past weekend, my dream came true, and it was beyond what I could imagine.
The big-name houses this year were HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE and BEETLEJUICE.
Sadly, the BEETLEJUICE line never dropped below 45 minutes, so we were unable to attend, but the Hill House haunt was spectacular.
(Pro-tip: buy the Scream Early pass; it allows you to get in line for a haunt early, and it’s well worth the cost).
What Universal Horror Nights does better than any haunted house is to set the atmosphere.
The TEXAS CHAINSAW HOUSE created a sense of unease from the moment you entered it as you are buffeted by rancid smells and the squealing of pigs being sent to slaughter.
You can almost feel the Texas heat and see the dust settling as you slowly make your way to the house. As you step through the porch, it transports you to that first film and you take the part of every poor soul who stumbled into that twisted torture den.
As the haunt continues, you are harassed and followed by several characters all from different films. The house never fails to remind you just how visceral the Texas Chainsaw film was, and I left feeling like I had just escaped the twisted family.
On top of the houses, Horror Nights has something called Scare Zones. These are areas where actors/actresses can interact with guests and attempt to freak them out and scare them. These zones are well marked on the Universal App, so if these are not your thing you can easily avoid them.
Additionally, there are a variety of shows that repeat on a timed schedule. It is said that these shows are the best the event has had in years, and for the ones I witnessed, I would agree that they were amazing.
However, where Horror Nights truly shined for me wasn’t the haunts or the scares but the extra steps they took to make the event as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Covid still exists and is as dangerous as ever. With the introduction of the vaccine, however, things have begun to open.
Horror Nights realized that they needed to keep both their staff and their patrons safe. To do this, each house is equipped with safety measures to ensure the scarers and those walking through the house are never face to face. Be it barriers or well-maintained distance, horror nights keep everyone safe while still delivering the highest quality of scares and houses.
The scare zones are also Covid safe, with the actors all having costumes that incorporate masks in ways that are completely unnoticeable. Throughout the park, there are reminders to keep distance and recommendations for those vaccinated and unvaccinated regarding mask protocols.
Additionally, the event is incredibly wheelchair-friendly. My wife fell and sprained her ankle badly before the night even got underway. Thankfully, we were able to acquire a wheelchair and continue our adventure without a hitch.
Attending Horror Nights might not be in the cards for everyone right now. But I strongly recommend that, if you are an avid horror fan, you make plans to attend in the future. This event is 30 years strong and only seems to be getting better with age. You don’t want to miss out on the fun.