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Halloween Horror Nights 2016 – Complete Insider’s Guide

Halloween Horror Nights 2016

It’s never too early to start panicking for the nation’s premier Halloween event: Halloween Horror Nights 26.

On these pages you will find all the information and insider secrets you need to survive the terror – as well as our very best expert advice on how to save time and money as you face your worst fears.

Halloween Horror Nights 25
Guests surprised by a scareactor at Halloween Horror Nights 25.

Orlando Informer is proud to provide our fans with the world’s most popular unofficial guide to this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event. Just like the entire OI Universal Center, our information is COMPREHENSIVE, OBSESSIVELY UPDATED & COMPLETELY FREE. We hope you will use all the wisdom we’ve gained over the years to make sure your family’s HHN trip is one night you will never want to forget!

Below we present our basic overview of Halloween Horror Nights 2016, which will be expanded and update as this year’s festivities draw closer. Once you’ve read through it, use the navigation links at the top or bottom of the page to learn so, so much more.

Atmosphere at Halloween Horror Nights 25.
Atmosphere at Halloween Horror Nights 25.

Last update
July 7, 2016

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 – overview & explanation

Think you have what it takes to survive the biggest names in horror and venture through original, twisted nightmares?

Now in its 26th terrifying year, Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights, the nation’s premier annual Halloween event, puts you right into some of the most pulse-pounding moments in horror history. During the day, you can experience the fun and excitement of Universal Orlando’s two amazing theme parks. But on select nights from September 16th through October 31, 2016, the streets of Universal Studios Florida theme park come alive with hordes of horrifying mutants, monsters and maniacs. All throughout the night you’ll be completely immersed in the worlds of the biggest names in horror.

With 25 years of experience to draw from, nobody creates a more nightmarish Halloween event than Universal Orlando, filled with truly original scares and authentic horror movie moments. You can explore terrifying haunted houses, each remarkably themed and detailed by Universal’s designers and special effects wizards. You’ll make your way through multiple scare zones where gory and grotesque creatures lurk around every turn. You’ll roar with laughter at outrageous live shows. And, you can experience many of the park’s most exciting rides and attractions.

Halloween Horror Nights is a eight-time winner of Amusement Today’s “Best Halloween Event” Golden Ticket award. Tony Timpone, Editor of Fangoria Magazine, said, “After visiting scream parks all across the U.S. for the last 20 years, I can easily say that Universal’s is the best in the business… Halloween Horror Nights is the ultimate Halloween experience.” The 26th edition of this must-see event promises to bring to life the ultimate in scares past, present, and future.

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 will run a record-breaking 31 nights (1 additional night when compared to 2015’s record-breaking 30 nights) from September 16 through October 31 on these select dates:

September: 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30
October: 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31

BUSIEST DATES

Here is our projection for the busiest dates, often referred to as peak nights:

Oct 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30

As always, you can check out daytime crowd predictions on our FREE 12-month Universal crowd calendar! Last year by September 1, all of Universal’s on-site hotels were fully booked (or very close to it) on 15 event nights. This included every Saturday event night being fully booked at Universal’s on-site hotels.

EVENT TIMES
The event is always scheduled to start at 6:30pm for general admission. Closing times for this year’s event have yet to be announced, but are expected to vary between 1am and 2am.

So how busy will HHN 2016 be on ______ night?

Since this is the most common question we receive, we want to answer it right away. Halloween Horror Nights 26 is busiest the week of October 19-23 and 26-30. In general, Saturdays are always busy. The first two weeks, Wednesdays, and October 31 are always some of the least crowded nights.

Will Diagon Alley be open during HHN 2016 event nights?
Universal has yet to release what areas and attractions will be open for the 26 year of Halloween Horror Nights. However, as first reported by Orlando Informer on our Facebook and Twitter, Diagon Alley (and Escape from Gringotts) was open during Halloween Horror Nights 2015. We’ll continue to check with park officials and let you know as soon as we confirm it’ll be open for 2016 event nights.

What is the Halloween Horror Nights 2016 theme?

Last year’s event was all about celebrating 25 years of Halloween Horror Nights, complete with fan favorite mashups. The face of HHN 25 was Jack the Clown. Jack is an original HHN icon that has headlined several years of the event.

Jack the Clown at Halloween Horror Nights 25
Jack the Clown at the final night of Halloween Horror Nights 25.

Jack’s deadly sidekick was Chance. This year, she’s getting her “chance” in the spotlight as the icon of HHN 26. 2016 picks up right where 2015 left off, with Chance incarcerated from the previous year’s events. Chance has been updated with two distinct looks and states of mind. The entire content lineup for this year’s event ties into one of the two states of Chance’s mind. Guests will be able to experience Chance in her very own scare zone and haunted house.

Want to learn more about Chance’s history and her impact on this year’s event? We’ve got you covered.

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 haunted houses

Although there are shows, scare zones, and plenty of terrifying activities as part of Halloween Horror Nights, the haunted houses are the primary attractions for the event. Halloween Horror Nights 25 featured nine, one more than ever before. 2016 will also feature nine haunted houses.

HHN haunted houses are best described as “movie-set quality” recreations of fantastic and fearsome locations. Sometimes referred as mazes, each haunted house is indoors, often set up in the unused queue area of a daytime attraction or one of the Universal soundstages. These haunted houses rely on every effect you can imagine to scare the pants off you, including hideous creatures, blood-curdling sound effects, loud music, tight passages, strobe lights, air bursts, mirror effects, and, of course, very elaborate – and in many cases very gruesome – props and set decoration.

Throughout much of the event’s history, haunted house themes have been original creations. However, in more recent years, Universal has started basing more and more houses on third-party licenses (often referred to by fans as IPs or intellectual properties), such as AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Freddy vs. Jason Cabin at Halloween Horror Nights 25
A scene from Freddy vs Jason at Halloween Horror Nights 25.
Insidious - The Further at Halloween Horror Nights 25
A scene from Insidious at Halloween Horror Nights 25.

The first five HHN 26 houses has been announced: Texas Chain Saw MassacreThe Exorcist, The Walking Dead, Halloween II and a Chance house. While we wait to hear about the rest of the 2016 lineup, here’s a recap of last year’s houses.

2015 intellectual property houses included:

Last year’s original creations and stories include:

  • Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem
  • RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears
  • Asylum in Wonderland 3D
  • Body Collector – Recollections

For an overview of last year’s houses, click here.

In general, guests are sent through houses in a steady flow (sort of like a conga line, versus being “pulsed” through in small groups), and, once inside, each house is typically a three to four-minute experience.

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 scare zones

Stopping you mid-breath as you walk between attractions, scare zones are essentially outdoor haunted houses set up in open areas around the Universal Studios Florida (for example, in the street area of New York, in front of Revenge of the Mummy). The decorations and effects are usually not quite as elaborate as the haunted houses, but there are still many effects employed to get screams out of guests – and the “oversized” aspects of some scare zones, allowed by their position outdoors, often make them as thrilling as the average haunted house. This is particularly true for the ghastly part of you that likes to watch other people scream their heads off!

We’re still waiting to hear how many zones 2016 will have, but Halloween Horror Nights 25 featured 5 scare zones along with roaming hordes. All of the zones were completely original concepts. You can read about the zones that were at HHN 2015 here.

The first scare zone for Halloween Horror Nights 26 has been quietly revealed to be based around this year’s icon, Chance.

Here’s a look at the fan-favorite Purge scare zone from 2014:

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 live stage shows

Halloween Horror Nights features unique and outrageous shows each year.

It’s highly likely that Universal will once again bring back the perennial fan-favorite and ever-popular Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure:

Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theordore” Logan return with an all-new, especially excellent Halloween adventure. Party on as those two most excellent dudes skewer the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture.

This show is similar in style to the (recently closed) Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue show – lampooning pop culture and so on and so forth – except it’s written for more of an adult audience, it’s performed on the larger Fear Factor stage next to MEN IN BLACK, and photography is strictly prohibited. The first show time is typically at 7:30pm with additional shows scheduled about every hour and a half. Exact show times can be found in the in-park event guide map.

Other shows taking place at this year’s event are unknown, keep checking back.

BONUS: Regular daytime attractions

During Halloween Horror Nights there are quite a few of the regular attractions running – and since they take a backseat to the HHN thrills and chills, they are often walk-ons. Here is what was open during 2015:

Please note, if you purchase a HHN Express Pass, it works on the rides in addition to the haunted houses. The only exception is Escape from Gringotts, which will not have express access.

Halloween Horror Nights park map

The map for HHN 26 will be released in late August or early September. Below is the map for Halloween Horror Nights 25, keep in mind this map does not feature the rides that were open during the event.

Universal provides free event guide maps at the front of Universal Studios Florida for all guests, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. We simply provide this example to help you plan and get a sense of the event’s layout.

Halloween Horror Nights 25 event map
Halloween Horror Nights 2015 guidemap.

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 Passholder Nights

In 2016, Universal is expected to continue their tradition of offering Passholder nights the first two Fridays and Saturdays of the event. Learn more on this page.

RSVP is always required for Annual Passholder Nights, check back in August for the link to reserve your spot. Dates fill up quickly.

What Halloween Horror Nights is not

This event is not Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party set at Universal Orlando. There is no trick-or-treating, and there are no characters dressed up in cutsie outfits.

The single purpose of Halloween Horror Nights is to scare you. As such, Universal strongly advises that children under the age of 13 do not attend. We tell people that HHN is like a horror movie brought to life. If you like horror movies, you will love HHN. If you don’t like horror movies, you’ll probably hate HHN. It’s that simple.

Just for clarification, the “children under the age of 13″ statement is a guideline, not a policy, so you can bring your kids to HHN and Universal will not ask for proof of age. However, be aware that if anyone in your party does not like the event and needs to leave early, Universal has the right not to refund used tickets or change the valid date. Since at least one adult will need to leave with an unhappy child, this could prove to be an expensive gamble. But again, no proof of age is needed just for admission.

Universal Orlando Halloween events for kids

The section above usually leads parents directly to this question: So what can I do with my kids during Halloween at Universal?

For better or for worse, Universal really puts all of their energy into Halloween Horror Nights. The “for worse” part means the resort likely won’t be organizing anything for kids this year – at least not in the size and scope of HHN.

If you have young kids who want to celebrate the holiday, plan on taking them to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party or SeaWorld’s Spooktacular. Personally, we recommend SeaWorld because their Halloween event is included with regular admission, and it’s a great event too.

Will my kids get scared visiting Universal Studios during the day?

This is the other popular question asked by parents with young kids. Because many of the decorations for Halloween Horror Nights are elaborate and large, it’s not possible for Universal to remove everything HHN-related during the regular daytime hours. This means, when touring Universal Studios Florida in September and October, you’ll occasionally come across stuff that looks like this:

Halloween Horror Nights 24
Halloween Horror Nights 2014.
Halloween Horror Nights 24
Halloween Horror Nights 2014.

The good news is that Universal doesn’t do a single thing during the day like they do during Halloween Horror Nights – not one scareactor, not one siren effect blaring, no sudden air bursts, nothing. So aside from the oversized props spaced out in a few spots around the park, there is absolutely nothing to fear visiting Universal Studios Florida during the day. Honestly, most of the HHN props look more silly than scary in the bright sunlight.

Think the props will be distracting? Remind your friends that you’re visiting a working movie production studio, so everyone should expect to see miscellaneous props set out around the park!

Does anything happen at Islands of Adventure?

Unfortunately, no. Other than perhaps some very minor decorating, there is nothing Halloween-related at Islands of Adventure. In fact, when you’re inside IOA in the fall, you’ll be hard pressed to even know it’s Halloween season. Like we explained earlier, Universal really does put every ounce of its seasonal effort into Halloween Horror Nights.

I wanna learn more about Halloween Horror Nights!

That’s good, because we have so much more to share. Follow the links at the bottom of this page to view our expert advice regarding admission, Express Passes, first-time visitor planning, and more.

If you just want to get more of a “feel” for the event, check out our HHN 2013 video playlist on YouTube – you can experience the atmosphere of the event and see exactly what the scare zones looked like last year.

Last but not least…

We have an entire community of Universal and HHN fans discussing the event right now! When you’re done here, join us for vacation planning and more in our Facebook community.

Want to skip all the details and just price out a trip to this year’s event? Orlando Informer Travel will find the best deals for you – for free (seriously). Learn more

Halloween Horror Nights 2016