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Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – complete insider’s guide

Halloween Horror Nights 2017

It’s never too early to start panicking for the nation’s premier Halloween event: Halloween Horror Nights 27.

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, and 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 complete overview of Halloween Horror Nights 2017. Once you’ve read through it, use the navigation links at the top or bottom of the page to learn so, so much more.

Last update
August 31, 2017

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – overview and explanation

Atmosphere at Halloween Horror Nights 26.
Atmosphere at Halloween Horror Nights 26

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

Now in its 27th 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 (and brand-new water park!). But on select nights from September 15 through November 4, 2017, the streets of the 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 26 years of experience to draw from, nobody creates a more nightmarish Halloween event than Universal, 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 nine-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 US 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 27th edition of this must-see event promises to bring to life the ultimate in scares past, present, and future.

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 will run a record-breaking 34 nights (three additional nights when compared to 2016’s then-record-setting 31 nights), from September 15 through November 4 on these select dates:

September: 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, 29, 30
October: 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
November: 3, 4

Busiest Dates

The busiest nights of Halloween Horror Nights 27, often referred to as peak nights, will be October 7, 8, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29.

As always, you can check out daytime crowd predictions on our FREE 12-month Universal crowd calendar!

Keep in mind that, often by the beginning of September, all of Universal’s on-site hotels are fully booked (or very close to it) for the most popular HHN nights. This usually includes every Saturday event night.

Event Times

The event is scheduled to start at 6:30 pm for general admission.
It’ll close at 1 am on: Sept. 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24, Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, 30, 31, Nov. 3, 4
It’ll close at 2am on: Sept. 29, 30, Oct. 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29

So, how busy will Halloween Horror Nights 2017 be on ______ night?

Since this is the most common question we receive, we want to answer it right away. In general, Saturdays are always busy. The first two weeks, Wednesdays, October 30-31, and November 3-4 are always some of the least-crowded nights.

Will Diagon Alley be open during Halloween Horror Nights 2017 event nights?

Just like the past two years, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will be open for Halloween Horror Nights 27.

What is the Halloween Horror Nights 2017 theme?

As we initially reported many months ago, the event won’t have an icon for this year. The overall theme for the year revolves around the Festival of the Deadliest.

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – haunted houses

Saw: The Games of Jigsaw at Halloween Horror Nights 2017
Saw: The Games of Jigsaw at Halloween Horror Nights 2017

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.

HHN haunted houses are best described as “movie-set quality” recreations of fantastic and fearsome locations. Sometimes referred to as mazes, each house is indoors, often set up in the unused queue area of a daytime attraction or one of the Universal soundstages. These haunts 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. In general, guests are sent through the houses in a steady flow (sort of like a conga line, versus being “pulsed” through in small groups), and, once inside, each maze is typically a three- to four-minute experience.

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

American Horror Story

The popular FX show American Horror Story will be returning to Halloween Horror Nights 27. The haunted house will feature content from season two (“Asylum”), season three (“Coven”), and season six (“Roanoke”). This will be the “uber-maze” for 2017.

Some of the highlights from the second season will include Dr. Arden’s human “Rasper” experiments and an encounter with serial killer Bloody Face. In the “Coven” area of the haunt, guests will encounter New Orleans aesthetics, including Salem witches, the voodoo Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau, and the sadistic Madame Delphine LaLaurie. And, finally, guests will have an up-close and personal encounter with the Millers’ story in the “Roanoke” section, which will feature Piggy, the Polk family, and the ghosts of the blood moon.

The Shining

One of the most famous horror films of all time is finally coming to Horror Nights: Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 classic, The Shining. Expect to be stranded alongside the Torrence family in the Overlook Hotel while winter swirls outside and otherworldly forces torment you inside. Guests will be made to feel as if they each have the “shining,” with the haunt constantly playing tricks on them – and with such iconic scenes as the Grady twins, room 237, and the final, harrowing chase through the hedge maze being realized around them.

Ash vs Evil Dead

The sequel to the Evil Dead trilogy of films from the ’80s and ’90s, the television series Ash vs Evil Dead picks up the story roughly 30 years later – and continues the gore and shlock factors in equal measure.

Be prepared to relive key moments from the show’s first two seasons, and keep your eyes peeled for certain homages to the original movies (and, just maybe, the Evil Dead house from Halloween Horror Nights 2013). Everything else that you need to know about how much fun this maze is going to be is summed up in this sentence directly from Universal:

This is our blood-soaked, milk-eyed, crass, rock-‘n-roll-amped, chainsaw-wielding-felt-puppet love letter to everyone and everything connected to Ash vs Evil Dead.

Saw: The Games of Jigsaw

Part greatest-hits mash-up from the original seven Saw movies and part “thrilling, living preview” of this October’s Jigsaw, Saw: The Games of Jigsaw will function as one large trap unleashed by the big guy himself. Along the way, expect to encounter such memorable individual traps as the Razor Wire Maze, the Reverse Bear Trap, the Automated Scalping Machine, and the Pound of Flesh.

The Horrors of Blumhouse

Take three of the biggest – and scariest – properties from the Blumhouse Productions library and combine ’em all together to create The Horrors of Blumhouse. Venture into the frightening stories of The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister, covering nine total films (including next year’s Insidious: Chapter 4) and countless “terrifying” and “creepy” scenes.

Want a taste of what’s to come? The Purge explores a dystopian near-future in which the country is encouraged to “purge” itself in a law-free 12-hour period once a year; Insidious follows the case files of demonologists who attempt to protect the world of the living from the realm of the damned; and Sinister blurs the lines of the factual and the fictitious, using a box of deranged snuff films to kick the process off.

Original houses

This year’s event will be home to four original houses, each with its own unique theme. Dead Waters will take you deep into a bayou and face-to-face with the Voodoo Queen. In The Fallen, you’ll find yourself in the middle of a never ending war of good vs evil. Scarecrow: The Reaping is set in a Depression-era farm where scarecrows are waiting to reap your soul. The Hive explores a more vicious side of vampires. For more on the original houses at Halloween Horror Nights 2017, check out our coverage of the announcement.

Dead Waters at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 2017
The Fallen at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 2017
The Fallen at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 2017

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – scare zones

Trick r Treat scare zone at Halloween Horror Nights 27
Scare zone at Halloween Horror Nights 27

Stopping you mid-breath as you walk between attractions, scare zones are essentially outdoor haunted houses set up in open areas around 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 maze. This is particularly true for the ghastly part of you that likes to watch other people scream their heads off!

For this year’s event, there are five traditional scare zones, along with a sixth roaming one:

The Purge (located in New York)

The Purge is coming to Universal Studios Florida in more ways than one this year, with Halloween Horror Nights’s designers asking, “What would it really be like if the Purge came to our New York streets?” You’ll find out – including learning how the night’s massive body count is cleaned away by morning.

The Festival of the Deadliest (Hollywood)

Billed as an “ancient tradition from the depths of where nightmares are born,” this hallowed celebration will unleash hellish terrors all night long.

Trick ‘r Treat (Central Park)

The second IP scare zone, Trick ‘r Treat shares the name – and several characters – with the 2007 anthology movie. Come learn the rules of the haunted holiday – or else…

Invasion! (San Francisco)

The year is 1956. Aliens have crash-landed in the San Fransisco wharf, but that hasn’t stopped them from terrorizing Earthlings or conducting sinister medical experiments on them.

Altars of Horror (Production Central)

Need even more chances to experience all of Halloween Horror Nights 2017’s various intellectual properties? Head to the first-of-its-kind Altars of Horror and get your gruesome hearts’ fill.

Roaming Hordes (various)

Chainsaw-wielding scary clowns – what Universal calls a “grotesque gang of gigglers” – are on the prowl, angry with how pop-culture has treated their clowning brethren.

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – live stage shows

Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure
Most excellent!

Halloween Horror Nights features unique and outrageous shows each year, including the popular Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure – which, we’re sorry to report, will be entering its 26th(!) and final season in 2017.

Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” 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 former Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue production – lampooning popular 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: Alien Attack, and photography is strictly prohibited. The first show time is typically at 7:30 pm, with additional performances scheduled about every hour-and-a-half. Exact times can be found in the in-park event guide map.

(Check out our in-depth feature for a full accounting of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure’s history – and the probable reasons for its cancellation.)

Last year, professional dance group Academy of Villains took Horror Nights crowds by storm. This year, they’re coming back with an all-new production called “Afterlife” that will “make you bear witness to what happens after we leave this life. They’re going to give you one mind-blowing and shocking dance performance that will escort you from this world to the great beyond.”

Academy of Villains at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 26
Academy of Villains at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 26

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’s the ride lineup for 2017:

Race through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will not be included in this year’s ride lineup.

Please note: if you purchase an HHN Express Pass, it works on the rides in addition to the haunted houses.

Halloween Horror Nights – park map

Below is the map for Halloween Horror Nights 27. Keep in mind that it does not feature the rides that are 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 Horror Nights’s layout.

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 map at Universal Orlando
Halloween Horror Nights 2017 map at Universal Orlando

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – Passholder Nights

Not unlike the numerous previous years, Universal will continue the 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, and dates fill up quickly. We’ll share the RSVP form on our Twitter account and update this page as soon as it’s released.

Update, 09.07.17 12:20 pm: reservations for Passholder Nights are now live! You can find the form here.

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 – merchandise

The merchandise for Halloween Horror Nights 27 has yet to be released, but you can take a look at what was offered in 2016 below.

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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 its 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 Horror Nights.

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 its 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 2016
Halloween Horror Nights 2016
Halloween Horror Nights 2016
Halloween Horror Nights 2016

The good news is that Universal doesn’t do a single thing during the day, like it does 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 the park 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 from that 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