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As a long-time theme park enthusiast and Halloween lover, I make it a point to visit Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Hollywood every year. This incredibly immersive Halloween event transforms the park into a terrifying landscape filled with haunted houses, sinister scare zones, and outrageous live shows.
After attending multiple times, I've compiled my top tips for getting the most out of your Halloween Horror Nights experience:
Purchase Tickets Early
Halloween Horror Nights often sell out, so I recommend purchasing your tickets as early as possible. Tickets go on sale several months in advance, so keep an eye out and buy them as soon as you can to ensure the night you want to attend is available. General admission, VIP, frequent fear passes, and RIP tour packages are available.
Opt for a Frequent Fear Pass if You Plan to Attend Multiple Times
For horror fanatics like myself, no one night is ever enough at Halloween Horror Nights. If you plan to attend multiple nights, choose the Frequent Fear Pass. This grants you entry for up to 17 select nights over the course of the Halloween season. The more nights you plan to attend, the more value you get with the Frequent Fear Pass.
Lines get long quickly on opening night, so arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled opening time to beat the worst of the crowds. The earlier you arrive, the more mazes and rides you can experience before lines become unmanageable.
Prioritize the Most Popular Mazes and Shows
With limited time, you won't be able to do everything in one night. Focus on the brand-new mazes and the perennial fan favorites first, as those will have the longest wait times as the night goes on. Be sure to catch the Jabbawockeez show early too, as the theater fills up fast.
Take Advantage of Single Rider Lines
If you don't mind splitting up your group, take advantage of the single-rider lines at the rides. You can board much faster than waiting through the standby line. Just be aware that you likely won't end up in the same ride vehicle as your group.
Explore the Scare Zones
Halloween Horror Nights aren't just about the mazes - don't miss out on the immersive scare zones throughout the park! These themed zones feature chilling characters that will give you a fright as you walk through the park. From a Purge-themed zone to a creepy Christmas scare zone, they're a terrifyingly fun addition you can't miss.
Pace Yourself and Take Breaks
Attempting to rush through all the mazes in one night is exhausting. Pace yourself and take breaks to sit, rehydrate, and have a snack. Trying to cram too much in will burn you out before the night is over. Split up the biggest mazes with shows, scare zones, and rides for a balanced night.
Stay Until Park Close
Don't leave early! Some of the best entertainment happens in the last couple of hours after crowds have dwindled. Around closing time, monsters are scarier, rides have shorter lines, and you can mop up any last-minute mazes you missed earlier. Sticking it out until close means getting your money's worth.
Dress Comfortably and Wear Protective Footwear
With lots of walking and waiting in line, comfort is key. Wear closed-toe, flat, rubber-soled shoes - no heels or flip-flops! Skip the elaborate costume and opt for comfy layers. And don't carry more than you need; leave bulky purses and bags behind to avoid bottlenecking in the mazes.
Consider a VIP Experience
If budget allows, I highly recommend splurging on a VIP experience like the RIP Tour or private VIP tour. You'll get exclusive access to the mazes and front-of-the-line passes for rides, saving you hours of waiting in brutal lines. It enhances the night tremendously and is worth the extra cost in my opinion.
Review the Maze Ratings and Triggers Before You Visit
Halloween Horror Nights get intense! Be sure to review the ratings and trigger warnings for each maze online before you visit so you know what to expect. The extreme mazes with gore, violence, and crude humor are not for everyone. Going in informed allows you to steer clear of mazes you'd rather avoid.
Stay at a Universal Hotel for the Early Entry Benefit
When staying at a Universal property like the Pacific Wharf Hotel or Cabana Bay Beach Resort, you get access to Early Entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Arrive early and you can ride the rides like Escape from Gringotts with minimal wait before Horror Nights officially opens. It's a great way to experience that area without insane crowds.
Purchase Express Passes
If you don't want to splurge for VIP but still want to skip the regular lines, Express Passes are clutch. These allow you to use a shorter Express Lane for each maze and ride once. Express passes don't guarantee immediate front-of-line access, but they greatly reduce your wait. They're pricey but can be added to your ticket purchase for serious line-cutting power.
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Stick Together as a Group
It's easy to lose your group or get split up in the maze queues. Have a plan to regroup in case you separate. I advise bringing glow sticks or other accessories that will make your group members easy to spot in case you get divided in the darkness.
Charge Your Phone but Don't Rely on It
Phones die quickly when you're using them all night for photos and videos. Come with a fully charged phone but don't rely solely on it - make physical meet-up points just in case. Carrying an external charger is wise if you plan on using your phone heavily throughout the night.
Try the Horror Nights-Themed Food and Drinks
Part of the fun is enjoying all the exclusive Horror Nights food and beverages only available during the event. Indulge in themed snacks, meals, and cocktails. The "blood bags" cocktails that come in IV bags are a delicious signature drink worth trying.
Stay Scared with the Horror Nights Playlist
Get yourself primed for the scares ahead of time by listening to the official Halloween Horror Nights playlist on Spotify. It's filled with eerie music and sound effects from the event's iconic houses to set the mood. The Halloween Horror Nights Tales of Terror podcast is also fantastic prep to learn backstories on the gory mazes.
Halloween Horror Nights completely transform Universal Studios into a terrifying haunted playground each night. Following these tips will help you get the most fright and fun out of your evening! Let me know if you have any other questions about planning the ultimate Halloween Horror Nights experience.