The horrors of Halloween at Universal Orlando


A new year of Halloween Horror Nights is upon us, and this year the annual fright fest brought some improvements but still left ticket buyers with a sense of longing.

I attended several Halloween Horror Nights in past years when it was held at Universal Studios. The move to Islands of Adventure gets the event out of the rut it was in but this alone, unfortunately, does not make up for the problems that have surfaced.

My biggest gripe with past Halloween Horror Nights has crept back: the long lines.

I think it’s a shame that people have to wait for 70 to 90 minutes for a haunted house that consists of a five-minute walk-through of scares that usually only frighten those in the front of the group . Even before guests can get into the lines, they are subject to long treks.

For example, in the All-Nite DrIvE-IN Theater, houseguests walk through a long passageway that leads to the studio’s back lots. Walking for two minutes to get to another packed line is something that I found to be a little annoying. My biggest worry was that this long line would be used as a filing point for the other rows of lines that visitors would find at the end of their walk.

After filing through the lines at the All-Nite DrIvE-IN Theater, I was treated to the best house in the park. Various characters from such horror classics as Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th were around to scare visitors by jumping out of hidden crevices. Only one other house, Scream House Revisted, was worth the wait. The others seemed to be put up without much thought.

One of the scenes in the Pschoscareapy house made me more nauseous than scared. Let’s just say it involves a bathroom and feces. I will give it up to the Halloween Horror Nights production staff: Great job on such a near-perfect creation of such a disgusting scene.

The amount of detail present was something that made the wait time more tolerable for other guests. Elements such as the TVs that are left scrambled in a living room with Michael Myers lurking nearby are a great touch.

The usual street performers have been given an update and were around to scare groups of preteen girls all night. Thankfully the planning staff was wise enough to greatly reduce the number of chainsaw-wielding characters, which were, in years past, more of an annoyance than an amusement. A new addition was the air cannons that are held by the trolls in the Lost Continent area of Islands of Adventure. These puffs of air are pretty scary when you have no idea where they’re coming from.

Also interesting was the inclusion of the Infestation attraction, where guests are strapped into a chair with a box covering their heads as the director chooses which creature to throw into the box. The scary creatures consist of rats, cockroaches, snakes, tarantulas, scorpions, giant beetles and millipedes.

The popularity of this event is a testament to the fact that the reality-show mentality of the public is still strong and always makes for great entertainment.

As we were with the press, my fellow Oracle staff member and I were allowed to bypass the lines and join those lucky people who had purchased the Halloween Express Pass. These booklets of passes, which range in price from $15 to $35, are a great help to visitors looking to avoid the long lines. My biggest problem with this additional expense was that the booklets only allow buyers to use them one time to get into certain attractions.

If you plan on purchasing the booklets, you need to buy them in advance, because there are a limited number issued.

This was only the second night and the lines for the event were not as long as I have seen them in previous years. However, this could be a sign of past visitors’ distaste with the repetitiveness of the event.

The opening and success of such events as Busch Gardens’ Howl-O-Scream also may have caused past guests to spend their money elsewhere. Although there are new additions to the park, I would recommend that people looking for a scare go elsewhere. In spite of the shortcomings, I can still say that I had a good time; but then again, I didn’t pay $30 to $50 to have to wait in long lines.