Halloween Horror Nights 31 at Universal Orlando: everything you need to know
By Helen Wright
Home safe and sound from opening night and locked in our room at Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls with the serious heebie-jeebies, we thought we’d share a few tips and tricks on what to expect at Halloween Horror Nights 31. Orlando’s biggest Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights 2022 has now opened at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, and it’s a lot. Think haunted houses packed with actors ready to pounce from dark, shadowy corners. Streets filled with people partiying while panicking, as something sinister suddenly appears from nowhere. Two full-scale live shows alongside the sound of screming and laughter, with bars, pop-up food stalls and more.
WHERE CAN YOU GET TICKETS TO HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 31?
From the UK, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 31 tickets can be purchased in advance at attractiontickets.com. If you plan on visiting the Universal Orlando parks, Universal Studios, Universal Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay Water Park, you will also need general admisison to the theme parks in addiiton to your HHN31 admission tickets.
We have a designated post that has everything you need to know about Orlando theme park tickets and the best place to buy them, which you will find right here (opens in a new tab).
WHAT ARE THE HHN31 HOUSES LIKE?
As always, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 31 was a riot. I’ve been to opening night at HHN for the last five years and the adrenalin, excitement and anticipation sizzles like a Brit in the Florida sun. There are 10 haunted house mazes to ‘enjoy’ this year, including the ‘headline act’ of the event – a haunted house based on singer, The Weeknd – or rather, his nightmares… This is the first time Universal Orlando has partnered with a musical act to create a HHN set and The Weeknd – After Hours Nightmare was a hit with opening-night crowds, being the most anticipated and talked-about house of the season. I loved it.
The concept of the house was varying, terrifying visions from The Weeknd’s mind, played out to songs from his hit album ‘After Hours’. His perky, but often dark lyrics played into the theme perfectly and due to the club-like soundtrack, this production had a totally unique feel from HHN houses of Horror Nights past. In a corridor of mirrors, you don’t know if you are coming or going and the disco lights and warped music are utterly disorientating. Almost every guests came out clapping, cheering or laughing – including me – and I would have gone straight back in for a second go if the line outside wasn’t the scariest thing in the park… (*average queue time for The Weeknd: After Hours was 120 minutes)
The Halloween Horror Nights 32 houses are HUGE
The houses are massive, some taking more than two minutes to get though, which is good and bad, depending on how you look at it! The other haunted maze houses at Halloween Horror Nights 31 may not all have the ‘fame’ of The Weeknd house but don’t underestimate the creatives at Universal Orlando who fully understood the brief.
First up, Hellblock Horror – where crazed, zombie prisoners are on the loose. Then, it’s Descendants of Destruction and mutating humans are seeking refuge in the NYC subway, where the deeper underground you go, the harder it is to get out…
Fiesta the Chupacabras (a house themed on a blood-sucking Latin folklore), Spirits of the Coven (a 1920s speakeasy run by deranged witches) and Universal Monsters: Legends Collide (featuring Dracula, The Mummy and The Wolf Man in a battle of wills) all have incredible theming and plenty of scares to have people legging it for the hills.
Halloween is back at Halloween Horror Nights 31
Micheal Myers, my generation’s most petrifying baddie, returns to Halloween Horror Nights Houses this year in an all-new Halloween house, themed on the original 1978 movie. (The movie we tried to watch on EVERY sleepover, but ended up so scared we had to sleep with the lights on. Yeah, that one). It’s a fantastic house, and another fan favourite, with Micheal EVERYWHERE and a scare around every corner – just don’t look up the stairs…
Another popular horror brand is the Horrors of Blumhouse and there is a fun, Blum offering every year. Fans will delight this season with a mega-Blum-house concept, featuing two of their brilliant films Black Phone and Freaky. The theming in both houses is excellent and you do feel like you’re walking through the actual movie set. For some reason, I found these among the least scary of the HHN31 houses, but I was quite fascinated by the set and the theme so I may have just zoned out the scares while taking it all in.
The house on the most epic scale this year has to be Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake, which is a huge maze with a complete story. In an assault to the senses, this house hits hard with the elements, including wind, rain and snow, as well as the undead zombie sailors rising from the waves to come and eat you for supper, of course. Everyone was a bit dazzled when we stepped out of that visual masterpiece into Florida’s September heat.
Finally, the house that creeped me out the most wasn’t about zombie killer manics or murderous monsters at all. It was full of BUGS. Apty called ‘Bugs: Eaten Alive’ this horrible house is set during a perky 1950s technology fair and provides some cute in-jokes and laughs before something goes ‘wrong’ and the bugs start eating everyone alive. It was seriously grim and the actors were almost unnessasary, because I was already screaming from the feeling of bugs all over me (they weren’t – it was all pretend – but when you’re in there and it’s dark… arghhhhhh).
WHAT IS A SCARE ZONE AT HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 31?
There are also five scare zones dotted around the park. For Halloween Horror Nights 31 newcomers, these are public areas you pass through as you make your way around the park, each with a cast of ‘scareactors’ and some sinister surprises hidden within them. One commonly asked question is whether the characters touch you at HHN and the answer is no. They may accidently graze you or come very close but it is not usually the case that the actors make physical contact with guests. Despite the park-wide party atmosphere, if you do want a break from the shocks and scares, there are pleny of areas of the park where you are able to relax and take a spook-free break.
Is Universal Halloween Horror Nights 31 suitable for children?
According to the official website, Halloween Horror Horror Nights 31 is not recommended for children under the age of 13. However, there is no minimum age for entry and I did spot children (and babies in prams!) at the event. The houses and some of the street areas could be very scary for children and it’s also useful to know that there is loud music and, of course, screaming, throughout.
If you are visiting Orlando with younger guests or guests who might not want to experience Halloween Horror Nights, take a look at our Halloween in Orlando for all ages post.
WHAT RIDES ARE OPEN DURING HHN31?
The rides open during Halloween Horror Nights 31 this year include Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit (which is even better in the dark than during the day), Men In Black: Alien Attack, Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers 3D, and Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, (in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley). During HHN31 is a great time to ride attractions, such as Gringotts, which always have a long wait during the day. During the Halloween festivities, you can walk right on!
How long are the lines at Hallloween Horror Nights 31?
The iconic Halloween Horror Nights 31 is one of the most popular events in Orlando, attracting hundreds of thousands of guests. Some events, certainly those opening few nights and the evenings leading up to actual Halloween are completely sold out and the park will be at capacity. This does result in an incredible atmosphere inside, but of course means lines for the houses may be longer than at quieter times. On opening night, no houses had lines with less than a 45 minute wait, with most being between 60-100 minutes all night.
The busiest days of the week to visit are Friday and Saturday night (with locals heading to the event in droves) and the quietest night is said to be Wednesday. Despite that, even mid-week, it’s reasonable to expect not to see every HHN31 house in one night. However, if you are hardcore and still keen to do all the Halloween Horror Nights 31 mazes in one hit, there are some ways to get maximum scares during your visit.
Halloween Horror Nights 31 Express Passes
There are two main ways to make sure you tick off all the houses on day one. First up, Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes are available to buy on Universal Orlando online and in the park priced from $199.99 per person + tax. This is in addition to your entrance ticket and valid for one night only. It is worth noting that these tickets are limited availability and can (and usually do) sell out. Plus, they become more expensive the fewer there is remaining. So if you know you absolutely want to hit the ground running and try to get on everything at least once, whilst it seems like another extra cost, I highly recommend it.
Even if you have given up on seeing all the houses in one night, having the Express Pass means you can enjoy the event at a more leisurely pace. Bear in mind that on busy nights you will still encounter some lines and wait times with the Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass (just not as lengthy as the standby line). As an estimate, this will be just under half the time you would usually queue per attraction. After 31 years as the world’s leading fright night, Halloween Horror Nights is very popular!
For a sneak peek at what to expect – watch our HHN28 video!
Halloween Horror Nights 31 VIP passes – The R.I.P pass
Finally, for the ultimate terror extravaganza, you can go for the R.I.P Tour. With this, you will join a small group and get a V.I.P tour of the event. This includes front-of-line entry to the horror houses (once per house, with a guide) and V.I.P park entrance, and valet parking for one vehicle. Due to extra security checks in place – believe me, free valet parking and speedy entrance is a HUGE perk. You can also enjoy a pre-tour drinks reception, access to exclusive cash bars and a Universal Express Unlimited access to all open rides after the tour (sadly not the mazes).
Even though the disclaimer does say that entry to all attractions is dependent on itinerary and not guaranteed, this is pretty much the best way to see all the Halloween Horror Nights 31 houses without any hassle – even though it comes at a price. This is what we did, and yes, it is probably the only way you stand a chance of hitting all the HHN31 mazes in one day. R.I.P Tour prices start from $299.99 + tax per person and do not include entry to the event.
Have you heard of the Frequent Fear Pass for Halloween Horror Nights 31?
I’m not going to lie – with more attractions than ever before, getting around ALL the mazes, scare zones and rides in one night is probably impossible without upgrading your experience. If you’re coming to Florida from the UK and staying in Orlando for a while during HHN’s reign, you could look at upgrading to the Frequent Fear Pass, which, at prices starting from £179.99 is slightly more expensive than a one night pass on the door, but will give you unlimited access to Halloween Horror Nights for a two week period – which is amazing. Doing it this way, you can come back as often as you want and do a few houses at a time and enjoy the atmosphere or use it to race to the one that had an impossibly long line the previous night, before the crowds arrive. If you don’t think you can handle more than one night at HHN31, there is more information on regular park tickets here and it is definitety worth purchasing dated tickets in the UK as soon as they go on sale to ensure your entry.
Staying at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel during Halloween Horror Nights 2022
Another TOP TIP is that I highly recommend staying at at Universal Orlando Resort Hotel during Halloween Horror Nights 31. There are multiple advantages for doing this. Firstly, the hotels at Universal are lovely! I have stayed at every resort now and I can confirm there is no bad option. The hotel you choose will be down to your taste and budget (rooms at Universal Orlando start at £55 a night) but all share the same excellent perk, which is Early Park Admission. This means access to the main theme parks (during the day for an hour before regular admission guests).
All the hotels also have FREE transport to the parks, either by boat, bus or with a short walk, meaning getting home after Halloween Horror Nights 31 is super easy – without any faff or traffic jams. Plus, you wont need a designated driver, so you can indulge in the crazy Halloween Horror Nights cocktails…
What time to arrive at Halloween Horror nights Halloween Horror Nights 31?
The park closes for regular hours at 5pm and if you are already inside the gates from a day exploring the park, you will be asked to wait in a restricted holding area so staff can get set up for the evening’s festivities. Being in here may give you a little edge on those entering from the main gate, depending on location, but guests here are not given any other early entrance privileges. Just a quick mention to say that if you want to enter Universal Orlando during the day, a separate entrance ticket is required in addition to your Halloween Horror Nights 31 pass.
If you aren’t entering from the holding area I recommend you arrive at the park 1-2 hours before the event opens. Horror fans take this very seriously and so you will see groups start to gather around this time. Collect your tickets from the window if you need to and be in line ready for the green light. Buying your Halloween Horror Nights 31 tickets in the UK at Attraction Tickets Direct means you will already have your tickets with you as these are issued from the UK and sent to you before you travel. This year, HHN31 opens at 7pm.
Tickets start from £65 per person
Halloween Horror Nights 31 is on NOW until October 31st 2022.
GETTING THERE FROM THE UK
For this event, we travelled to Orlando with Virgin Atlantic Holidays, and Universal Orlando Resort. Seven nights in Orlando, including scheduled Virgin Atlantic Economy Classic flights from London Heathrow direct to Orlando, a 3 Park Explorer Ticket and accommodation at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, £1,525 per person. Price is based on 2 adults travelling and sharing, and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. *Price is based on a departure on 25/10/2022. Virgin Atlantic Holidays is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. To book: www.virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859.
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