Everything You Need to Know About Halloween Horror Nights 25: Part 2

by on September 17, 2015 5 Comments

Filed under: Universal Orlando Resort

Halloween Horror Nights XXV runs and Universal Orlando from September 18 – November 1, 2015. Before you continue, make sure you check out yesterday’s Halloween Horror Nights Preview Part 1.

We’re taking an in-depth look at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) at the Universal Orlando Resort. Part one focused on the houses and scare zones, part two here will explain everything else including a special Touring Plan for the event. Come back tomorrow for a full review of Halloween Horror Nights XXV.

Shows

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure

Based on the 1989 film and its 1991 sequel, this comedic parody show is always a highlight of HHN. The boys return for the 2015 iteration of one of the best theme park shows on the planet; expect choreographed musical numbers as well as jokes about Donald Trump, Kim & Kanye, and all things Disney.

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No photos are allowed in the Orlando show, so here’s a photo from Hollywood’s version by Leslie Kalohi on HHNYearbook

The Carnage Returns

Jack’s third presence at the event will come in the form of an all new stage show. HHN 17 featured a show called Jack’s Carnival of Carnage and it’s taken eight more events for that show to receive its well deserved sequel. Jack and his girl Chance put on a carnival show that’s not for the faint of heart. Expect cheesy and inappropriate jokes in between Jack’s sadistic forms of torture.

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The Carnage Returns Stage

Ticket Options

Horror Nights runs off of a tiered ticketing system for those with daytime tickets — where event tickets prices increase based on the day of the week and the date (becoming more expensive near the end the season). General admission tickets (not add-ons to park tickets) are the same price every night.

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Screenshot from HalloweenHorrorNights.com

Annual Pass Holders and Florida Residents receive discounts on both types of tickets.

Frequent Fear

This ticket option is intended for those who wish to attend the event on more than one night. The Rush of Fear Pass is available with or without HHN Express, Universal’s line cutting system, and includes every event night up to Sunday October 4th. Frequent Fear is also available with or without HHN Express and includes every Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday of the event, as well as the first Friday and Saturday night. Frequent Fear Plus includes everything the regular Frequent Fear pass includes as well as HHN admission during all Friday nights of the event.

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Screenshot from HalloweenHorrorNights.com

Express Pass

Universal’s Express Pass is an absolute must when touring Horror Nights on peak nights. That being said, the expense of Friday and Saturday night admission plus paying for an Express Pass prices HHN out of a lot of people’s budgets. Another downside to the Express Pass is that even the Express lines can become quite crowded — last year sometimes reachin lengths of 45 minutes. Of course this only happened when the regular lines were approaching three hours, but when paying up to $110 to skip the lines, you expect a non-existent wait. It’s a catch-22 — if you visit Horror Nights on a slow night the lines aren’t long enough to make Express worth it, but if you go on a night when you need Express, the price and extended waits might make it not worth the money.

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Screenshot from HalloweenHorrorNights.com

Note: The Unlimited Express Pass granted to hotel guests does not work for Halloween Horror Nights.

Food/Drinks

The Dead Walker

A staple of recent Horror Nights events, the Dead Walker (a mixture of vodka, fruit juice, and Full Throttle energy drink) is perfect for those who like a sweeter drink. Served in a blinky cup and priced at $10, the drink is a little pricey, but the $7 refills give it a little more value.

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The Dead Walker from 2013’s event. (Photo by Brandon Glover)

Blood Suckers

Sold by Naughty Nurses and served in blood bags, these peach-flavored jello shots are always a huge hit. You’ll find them for sale everywhere at the event, even in line for the houses!

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(Photo by Brandon Glover)

Twisted Taters

A growing theme park treat, the Twisted Tater has been taking parks across the country by storm. What sets Universal’s offering apart is the bevy of flavor seasonings they offer. Past favorites have included Sea Salt and Garlic flavor.

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(Photo by Brandon Glover)

ScareActor Dinner

The first two weekends of this years event, Horror Nights will be hosting an exclusive pre-event dinner. Guests will be treated to an all-you-can-eat buffet, scareactor photo-ops, and a digital download of one photo taken during the dining experience. The event is $49.99, and can be reserved through the Universal Orlando Resort Guest Contact Center at 407-224-7840.

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Buffet menu (Taken by @HauntSceneRadio)

Hotel Packages

Horror Nights offers vacation packages for each of its onsite hotels. Packages include three night accommodations, two days of park to park admission, and one night of Horror Nights admission. Packages start at $129.99 per person, per night for a Universal Partner Hotel, all the way up to $255.99 for Lowe’s Portofino Bay, and The Hard Rock Hotel. More info and booking information, here.

Stay and Scream

For those guests in the park during the day, Universal provides several areas where they can spend the time between the closing of the park, and the opening of Horror Nights. This years locations are Diagon Alley, Springfield USA, inside and around Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, and near the former Lucy: A Tribute building. Make sure to take advantage of this feature if possible, as it allows you to skip the often lengthy security lines outside the front gates.

RIP Tours

Want to experience Horror Nights in style? The RIP Tours are HHN’s take on a guided tour that allows guests the chance to skip the lines at each house once, reserved seating for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, and one time Express access at select rides and attractions after the tour ends. The tour also includes access to an exclusive VIP lounge with cash bar, and valet parking. Valid Horror Nights admission is required, and the tour starts at $139.99 per person, with a private tour option starting at 1,399.99 per group, up to 10 people.

Unmasking the Horror

Want a more in-depth look at the amazing detail the creators of HHN put into the houses? Or maybe you or someone in your group isn’t too sure about taking on the houses in the dark. The Unmasking the Horror Tours give guests the opportunity to tour the houses with the lights on, and really take in everything these houses have to offer. There are two separate tours that will each take a look at three different houses. The first tour departs at 10:30 AM, and the second departs at 2:00 PM. Guests can either book one of the 2 hour tours for $64.99 or both for $109.99. The best part? Photos are encouraged, and because the tours are done with the lights on, every detail can be captured. Check out Derek Burgan’s Touring Plans reviews of the two tours in 2013, here and here.

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The 2013 tour inside An American Werewolf in London. (Photo by Brandon Glover)

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The 2013 tour inside Resident Evil. (Photo by Brandon Glover)

HHN Merchandise

Every year fans of the event clamor to the various kiosks and stores scattered throughout Universal Studios Florida and CityWalk to check out that years merchandise. Expect a gory T-Shirt with all of the houses listed on the back, along with one or two other shirts for a specific house. Lanyards, vinyls, and the previously mentioned blinky cups are all big sellers. The Walking Dead usually has its own kiosk full of merchandise, from shirts to key chains to glassware and pins — everything a super fan of the show could ever want. Most of it isn’t branded for Horror Nights, and usually can be found cheaper at stores like Hot Topic or even on Amazon.

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Last year’s event T-Shirt.

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The Walking Dead rules HHN merchandise.

Touring Plans

The rule of thumb with Horror Nights wait times, is that the Intellectual Property (IP) branded houses (those themed after TV shows and movies) almost always draw the biggest crowds. That means you’ll want to hit these houses either as soon as possible, or after midnight. Generally, the more current the IP is, the more popular the house. That’s not always the case though.  Last years “Halloween” house based on the 1979 John Carpenter classic consistently drew longer lines than the house themed after Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Til Dawn” TV show that’s currently on the air. This year, expect The Walking Dead, Insidious, and Freddy vs Jason to command the longest lines. Here’s a step-by-step plan:

  1. Start by exiting the Springfield Stay and Scream area, heading into KidZone to start the event, and experiencing The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead.
  2. The exit of The Walking Dead will bring you right next to the entrance of The Purge, so hit that next.
  3. Experience Insidious next as you’ll have exited The Purge right next to its entrance.
  4. Cross the lagoon and experience Run next to the Beetlejuice stage.
  5. Depending on the time, now would be a great time to experience Bill & Ted as the first show of the night usually allows seating without too much of a wait.
  6. Next head towards the Transformers meet and greet location to experience Asylum In Wonderland. This house’s location and lack of a strong IP should keep the line shorter, even at the height of the event.
  7. Experience Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem.  This house’s line peaks early on as guests flock to it upon entering the park. By this time, the majority of guests should have already entered the park and walked through the house.
  8. Now might be a great time to take a break from the houses and spend some time experiencing the scare zones. Unlike the houses, the scare zones have no set path and are best enjoyed by simply stepping to the side and watching. Also check for a showtime for The Carnage Returns, which has no seating, and won’t require queueing. The remaining three houses should have pretty sizable waits, so spend some time experiencing the attractions without lines.
  9. Once the wait for Body Collectors: Recollections has gone back down to a more manageable length, make your way to Shadybrook Sanitarium.
  10. Proceed to the Music Plaza and experience An American Werewolf in London.
  11. And last but not least, “take the bus” to Camp Crystal Lake and witness the epic battle in Freddy vs Jason.
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The line for The Walking Dead house at HHN 24 consistently filled up the Music Plaza.

 

Conclusion

Overall, HHN is one of the most exciting events of the theme park year. What sets it apart is the amount of high quality themeing and entertainment the park manages to create each year. Millions of dollars go into the houses, scarezones, and shows (for an event that only lasts 30 nights) while nearly every other seasonal event in Central Florida repeats itself every year with only minor improvements. Even if you don’t like being scared, as a theme park fan you owe it to yourself to check out the event. The level of detail put into the houses is at or above even the best designed Disney attractions.

Huge Thanks to Brandon Glover and Derek Burgan for their photos and help with the article.

Posted on September 17, 2015

5 Responses to “Everything You Need to Know About Halloween Horror Nights 25: Part 2”

  • If I’m going to Islands during the day with no park to park, is there any early entry, or side entrance option? It seems a bit unfair to have to wait with the night only crowds at the turnstile if I was actually in a park that day.

    • I reached out on Twitter and heard there was a Stay and Scream option on the Islands of Adventure side. At 6 o’clock they began leading you behind the soundstages over to the Studios side. Not sure if it’ll be back again this year.

  • This will be our first year attending HHN (we just moved to Florida, so now a weekend visit is much more reasonable). We plan on attending on September 25th. How necessary is an Express Pass? We can only go for one night, and I would like to experience all of the houses, scarezones and shows. Also, how do we find out what time the park closes on HHN nights? Is it always at 2:00 am or does it vary night by night? And finally, I would love to do the rides too if possible, especially Gingotts as it looks (according to the map) like it might be open. Any suggestions?

    Thanks! I appreciate your excellent post and suggestions…

    • The weekend of the 25th is normally not an issue, but last weekend was a lot busier than usual so it’s still up in the air as to whether or not the event will continue to have larger crowds than usual…you don’t have to buy express before entering the park, either. They have kiosks and team members selling express passes all over the place. Use your own judgement to make the call, but if houses like Body Collectors and Run have high wait times within the first hour, take the plunge and buy an express pass.

      The website has hours posted but IIRC the park closes at 1AM next Friday.

      All the rides, except for Rip Ride Rockit, typically have wait times less than 10 minutes. Even Gringotts rarely has wait times above 15 minutes.

    • So far Diagon Alley has been empty on HHN nights, which can’t be what Universal expected, but is perfect for people who want to soak up the atmosphere (and get great pictures!) I agree with Jane in that what’s nice about Express is you can always add it on if you feel it necessary. Some crowds at the parks in general this month have been surprisingly large.