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Your Ultimate Guide To Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios

I'm Staci

Dallas-based frequent traveler, RN, Schnauzer mom, musician wife, and lover of a good airport lounge.

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This post is evergreen and is updated to reflect the current or upcoming Halloween Horror Nights season.

The 2023 Halloween Horror Nights season will last between September 1- November 4, 2023.

Gosh, I don’t even know where to begin. Halloween Horror Nights – aka HHN- went from not-on-our-radar to #1 on our Fun Things To Do list literally overnight! Jeff and I are NOT horror movie watchers. We do not go to haunted houses. Once, I almost made it into a haunted house here in Texas, but saw the clowns on the back porch having a smoke break and broke down…I couldn’t go in.

I bet you’re wondering why, then, are we telling you that Halloween Horror Nights is a must-do? We booked our first vacation to Universal Studios during Halloween. The dates were based solely on when Jeff was off work. We said, “we will just go to HHN one night and see what the fuss is about.” We ended up going every single night that trip and canceled our beach vacation the next year to go back during Halloween. It was that. much. fun.

Halloween Horror Nights Quick Facts

  • HHN is a separately ticketed event occurring usually somewhere starting around September 1 through November 1 each year
  • Tickets prices run around $68 per person/per night. Add this into your Universal Studios Vacation package and get special pricing deals. Purchase single-night HHN tickets here.
  • One Halloween Horror Nights ticket includes an average of 10 haunted houses, 5 scare zones, one entertainment show, and various roller coaster rides in Universal Studios park. I especially enjoy the fun, themed food and drink options that can be purchased for an additional cost.
  • Halloween Horror Nights is not recommended for individuals under the age of 13. While we do see children at this event, we (and Universal Studios) do not recommend this to children. The content is geared toward older individuals, the scares are BIG, and the stage makeup/sets are movie-grade. This isn’t Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disney. This is Saw, the movie.
  • On Halloween Horror Nights event days, Universal Studios will close early at 5 pm so HHN can switch over and re-open at 6:30 pm.
  • If you have a day ticket to Universal Studios AND a ticket to Halloween Horror Nights, you can participate in “Stay and Scream” without having to leave the parks for the turnover between events (more about this below.)
  • Guests attending during the day won’t see any of the gruesome sets for Halloween Horror Nights, as they are covered during the day for guests not wanting to experience even a twinge of Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Absolutely no masks or costumes are allowed. This is to protect guest safety and so guests can distinguish scare-actors (staff) from other guests.
Killer Clowns from Outer Space Scare Zone photo op.

What Is Halloween Horror Nights?

Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is a themed event that takes place in Universal Studios park consisting of an average of 5 scare zones, various themed foods, and 10 haunted houses. Each year, they choose a theme (our first year was 80’s themed!) and incorporate areas around the park to walk through (scare zones) and haunted houses. Halloween Horror Nights can go until 1 or 2 am, so rest accordingly if you plan to last until closing.

Scare Zones

Scare Zones are more like walking areas (you have to walk down anyway to get around the park) that change at night to incorporate Scare Actors. It is similar to walking through a haunted house, without feeling closed-in and trapped. The scares are lighter but the decor is still very in-depth.

One of our faves has been the 1980’s themed NYC New Years’ ball drop. In this area, vampires come out for a taste of blood when the ball drops (every 30 minutes or so). This was insanely fun because the crowds were so thick with attendees, you didn’t see the Scare Actors creeping up behind you. Sounds awful if you aren’t into this kind of atmosphere but I assure you, it’s more fun than scary.

Haunted Houses

Universal Studios does a good job of mixing up the house themes between big franchise winners like Stranger Things and Ghostbusters and their own created themes like Yeti: Terror of the Yukon and Graveyard Games. There are an average of 10 haunted houses each year. If you only go one night and are a fan of haunted houses, we recommended getting a RIP Tour pass. RIP Tour gets you an escorted tour right into each house with zero lines/waiting. This ensures you experience every house within a few hours’ time, but does cost about $200 per person.

The screams have just begun at park opening for HHN

Purchase Single-Night HHN Tickets: $79.99 Plus Tax, Per Person Here

Express Passes

Similar to the daytime park Express Pass, Halloween Horror Nights Express Pass allows the holder to bypass a large chunk of the long lines into haunted houses. When lines can be upwards of two to three-hour waits, this can dramatically reduce wait times, ensuring entrance to most houses quickly. Passes are purchased on top of your ticket to the event and grants express access to each attraction once per night. You can enter the house again in the same night, but the pass is good for one entrance. Note: express passes reduce wait time, but do not allow you to walk straight to the front. If you want to bypass all lines, I recommend a VIP Tour instead. Your daytime Fast Pass does not work during Halloween Horror Nights.

Single-night HHN Express Pass: $119.99 plus tax, per person

Haunted House VIP Walking Tours

Do you want to be escorted to the front door of each house without waiting in any line, at all? Then you want to buy one of the VIP tour packages. This is different than a Halloween Horror Nights Express pass because while the express pass greatly reduces the length of lines and waiting, it does not turn a haunted house line into a walk-on attraction. VIP tour does not include Halloween Horror Nights event tickets.

R.I.P Tour: $319.99 plus tax, per person

Private R.I.P Tour: Get a guided V.I.P. walking tour of the event with Priority UNLIMITED V.I.P. entry to haunted houses for you and your group of up to 10 people. (Pricing varies by date and tour selection, subject to availability) Call 866-346-9350 to schedule

Unmasking the Horror tour

Multi-Night Halloween Horror Nights Tickets

Want to go more than just one night? We get it. We’ve done it! Here is a list of multi-night tickets in case one night just isn’t enough.

  • Rush of Fear Pass: $179.99 plus tax, and guests are able to visit the first three weeks of the event.
  • Frequent Fear Pass: $229.99 plus tax, and guests are able to visit every Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday night plus the first two days (Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15) and the last Friday (November 2) of the event
  • Frequent Fear Plus Pass: $269.99 plus tax, and guests are able to visit the same nights at the Frequent Fear Pass plus every Friday night of the event
  • Ultimate Frequent Fear Pass: Tickets are $374.99 plus tax, and guests can visit every night of the event

We typically get the Frequent Fear Plus Pass so we can go every evening we are there.

Stay And Scream

Stay-and-Scream allows those with tickets both during the day and Halloween Horror Nights to stay in the park during the change-over between events. There are dedicated areas depending on what house you want to visit first. For instance, in our first year, we really wanted to do the Stranger Things house (along with pretty much…everybody).

We knew the Stay-and-Scream area closest to this house was in the New York City sections by Finnegan’s Pub (Green star B on the map). Since we had day tickets and Halloween Horror Nights tickets, we made sure we were back inside the park by 3 pm (naps were needed) and inside the Finnegan’s Pub Stay-and-Scream area by the allotted time (around 4:30-ish). This gave us a dedicated line to wait in that took us to the entrance of this haunted house that generates an average of 3 hour wait times.

If you don’t want to buy a full-price daytime ticket and Halloween Horror Nights ticket, you can add a Scream Early ticket to your Halloween Horror Nights ticket for about $40. This gets you into the park around 3 pm so you can Stay-and-Scream.

Unmasking The Horror Tour

This is a daytime tour you can do to see behind the curtain of some haunted houses. Typically this tour lasts about 3 hours and your tour guide will walk you through several haunted houses with the lights on, so you can learn about and appreciate the creative talent behind these attractions. We highly recommend this if you want to know more about how these houses operate, but also if you are a scaredy-cat like I am. Seeing the inside of the house helped take the edge off when it came time to go through the real thing later that night. Don’t be mistaken, I still screamed my head off and this tour did not take the fun out of Halloween Horror Nights, in any way.

Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour: Pick from a 3 or 6-haunted house tour on select days during the Halloween Horror Nights season. Theme park and/or event admission is not included or required to participate in the tour. Pricing will vary depending on the date and tour selection. Theme park and HHN event tickets are not included in this ticket. Likewise, neither is required to take this tour.

3-House Tour: $119.99

6-House Tour: $169.99

Have You Been To Halloween Horror Nights? Tell Me What You Thought About It In The Comments Below.

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Dallas-based frequent traveler, RN, Schnauzer mom, musician wife, and lover of a good airport lounge.

Hi, I'm Staci!

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