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Insider’s guide to HHN 2018’s exclusive food and drinks

Halloween Horror Nights 2018

Surviving all the haunted houses, hitting all the scare zones, and catching all the stage shows over the course of the night can sure work up quite the appetite – and, on the other side of the gastronomical divide, Halloween Horror Nights has a long and well-entrenched history of mixing booze with its scares. In order to satiate both your stomach and your thirst, Universal has a wide assembly of tents, bars, and concoctions, some of which are just as exclusive and ever-changing as the mazes and zones themselves are.

Not only has interest in these tasty delights been increasing over the past few years, Universal itself has been keen to simultaneously expand and contract its culinary offerings. It’s a lot to keep track of, and since you’re already preoccupied with looking up Horror Nights’s latest attractions and memorizing the best touring plan, we’ve decided to take care of everything for you.

So sit back and relax – until you’re chased around Universal Studios Florida by chainsaw clowns and poltergeists, that is.

Last update
October 18, 2018

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Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – the drinks

Let’s face it – just as the houses are the heart of Halloween Horror Nights’s horror attractions, drinks are the heart of its culinary lineup. They’re the items that everyone clamors after, the fuel that propels many an otherwise-nervous guest through the night’s thrills and chills.

They were also, in the case of the 2017 event, the cause of much controversy, as Universal made an attempt to tamp down a bit on HHN’s free flow of alcohol. Don’t worry, though – it seems like for this year, things are starting to move back to normal, if only a little.

Let’s go over everything step by step, from what, exactly, is offered at Horror Nights 2018 to where you can find it.

HHN 2018’s mixed drinks

Totally LIT event drink at Halloween Horror Nights 2018

What is a mixed drink? A beverage in which two or more ingredients are mixed together – simple as that. (No, a mixed drink doesn’t have to be alcoholic in nature, although most of the famous ones are exactly that.)

Universal has a wide range of this trusty favorite, and they can be broken down into two clear-cut categories: the HHN event drinks (or, sometimes, signature drinks) are special concoctions that are exclusive to the annual event and which always change from year to year; everything else is, well, everything else – you can ask the bartenders to make whatever your little horror heart desires, whether that be a screwdriver or a Long Island iced tea.

Event drinks

The Halloween Horror Nights event drinks for 2018 are:

  • Totally L.I.T. (Long Island Iced Tea) – vodka, tequila, gin, rum with triple sec, lime, sour, and Coca-Cola.
  • Wicked Rad Punch – blueberry vodka, raspberry vodka, triple sec, lemonade, and grenadine.
  • Gnarly Twist – a perfect sweet-and-sour combo of both the Wicked Rad Punch and Totally L.I.T.

These can be found at any of the several drink tents or stands that have been set up all over Universal Studios Florida, and they cost $12.99 (a price which includes a 20-ounce souvenir cup, as seen above) for your first pour and $8.99 for every refill. (Be advised that some attendees routinely believe that the alcoholic content is pretty low in these event drinks, at least in comparison to their price tags.)

Other mixed drinks, beers, and wine

Now, on to everything else. Last year, Universal moved to restrict the availability of mixed drinks, stripping them from every tent and instead placing them in only three locations: Finnegan’s Bar and Grill, Chez Alcatraz (the small-but-fully-stocked bar next to the Jaws photo op), and Lombard’s Seafood Grille‘s new(ish) dockside lounge, The Wharf. For 2018, alcohol’s presence is on the move once more; you can now find your favorite liquor-injected sips at a few new spots, such as the bar that is set up in front of Transformers: The Ride – 3D.

And, as in every year, each drink tent will still serve a full assortment of beer and wine, whose prices start at $7.99 and $8.99, respectively. Draft beer, meanwhile, comes in a couple of different price points: a beer in a basic cup begins at $7.99; in a 20-ounce souvenir cup starts at $10.49; and souvenir refills begin at $6.99.

What’s that – you need to know which beers, exactly, are on hand? No problem:

  • Bud Light
  • Fat Tire
  • Full Sail Pumpkin Ale
  • Jai Lai IPA
  • Miller Lite
  • O’Town Brown
  • Playalinda Blonde Ale
  • Sam Adams Oktoberfest

Just please be aware that different locations may have different selections of beers; the bar near Transformers, for example, carries Miller Lite but not O’Town Brown or Playalinda Blonde, while the situation is reversed at the drink tent near Starbucks.

HHN 2018’s frozen drinks

Syrup & Waffles frozen drink at Halloween Horror Nights 2018
Syrup & Waffles frozen drink at Halloween Horror Nights 2018

2017 was the very first time that Universal decided to add an extra layer of exclusive liquid refreshments to Horror Nights: the frozen beverage. We’re happy to report that the practice continues for this year, consisting of two new (and, in one case, Stranger Things-inspired) concoctions:

  • Syrup & Waffles – a delicious blend of flavors that even has tiny waffles on top (in honor of Eleven from Stranger Things).
  • Candy Corn – the bottom layer is toasted marshmallow; the middle is the traditional candy corn flavor; and the top is whipped cream with sprinkles.

We expect each of these “specialty frozen beverages” to cost $4.99.

You can find these sweet treats (and we do mean sweet) at a few places: at New York‘s Gramercy Popcorn stand and the food and drink stand near the front entrance of the park.

HHN 2018’s Jell-O shots

It used to be that Jell-O shots were synonymous with Halloween Horror Nights – “shot girls” would endlessly prowl the premises, and the haunted houses’ longer queues would feature carts that had “trees” hanging with the specialty drinks. Just as with 2017, however, these iconic items continue to be MIA – which means that those trees are again decorated with popcorn instead of alcohol.


Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – the food

Just because Halloween Horror Nights’s food offerings tend to be overshadowed by their liquid counterparts, don’t think for one second that they’re any less noteworthy – or tasty.

Much like the drink tents, you can find a number of these dishes (some of which are similarly exclusive to HHN) at specially-erected locations all throughout Universal Studios Florida. Just don’t expect to come across as many of the food stands as the beverage ones – as was the case with last year’s event, many of the plates have been moved indoors to the regularly-operating restaurants.

Before we dive into what culinary options there are for Horror Nights 2018, please be aware of this super-important note: most of these items are exclusive to just one location, so if you have your eye (or is that your tummy?) on one of them in specific, you’ll have to make a special stop.

HHN 2018’s waffle dishes

Triple Decker Extravaganza waffle at Halloween Horror Nights 2018
Triple Decker Extravaganza waffle at Halloween Horror Nights 2018

Just in case you couldn’t tell how absolutely excited Universal is to have Netflix’s mammoth Stranger Things at its annual event (just a quick look at this year’s merchandise should be enough to do that), the company is making sure you know by dedicating an entirely new lineup of food to the hit property.

This year, you can join in on Eleven’s waffle obsession by enjoying the time-honored treat in any one of several different configurations:

  • Strawberry Shortcake ($9.99) – two waffles packed with fresh strawberries, strawberry sauce, and whipped cream. Available at San Francisco Bakery.
  • Bananas Foster ($9.99) – two waffles with banana cream cheese and hazelnut spread, topped with raisins, walnuts, whipped cream, and a bananas foster sauce. Available at San Francisco Bakery.
  • Triple Decker Extravaganza ($9.99) – three waffles filled with layers of whipped cream, chocolate, peanut butter morsels, and jelly beans. Available at San Francisco Bakery.
  • Fudge-Dipped Waffle on a Stick ($7.99) – exactly what it sounds like, topped with peanuts or sprinkles. Available at Benny’s Burgers and the Transformers food tent (more on this in just a moment).
  • Dipping Sauce ($0.99) – for those Fudge-Dipped Waffles. Pick chocolate, strawberry, or caramel.
  • Waffle Ice Cream Pocket Sundae – two chocolate-chip waffles stuffed with strawberry ice cream, making an ice cream sandwich. Topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, sprinkles, chopped peanuts, and a cherry. Available at Louie’s Gelato Window.

HHN 2018’s main food offerings

Pizza Fries at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights
The now-legendary Pizza Fries at Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Florida’s executive chef, Tom Danboise, worked with his team to create a raft of new dishes for Halloween Horror Nights 2018, with the majority of the additions – as we’ve already seen with the tsunami of waffles – getting their inspiration from Stranger Things in one way or another (Danboise watched the entirety of the first season three times over in order to parse each episode for ideas). Some come across as a stretch, admittedly, but others looks positively divine.

Standing alongside these newcomers, of course, are a few tried-and-true favorites from previous HHNs, including the now-legendary Pizza Fries that were just introduced at last year’s event. When taken altogether, this culinary lineup looks like the strongest we’ve ever seen in Horror Nights’s history.

  • Cheeseburger Basket ($11.49) – topped with lettuce, tomato, and pickles and served with French fries. Available at Benny’s Burgers.
  • Fiery Onion Ring Burger – cheeseburger topped with onions, hot sauce, and pepper jack cheese. Served with a side of French fries. Available at Benny’s Burgers and Mel’s Drive-In.
  • Chicken Sandwich ($11.49) – marinated grilled chicken breast topped with lettuce, tomato, and pickles and served with French fries. Available at Benny’s Burgers.
  • Chili Garlic Chicken Sandwich – grilled chicken breast seasoned with pepper jack cheese and spicy chili sauce. Served with a side of fries. Available at Benny’s Burgers and Richter’s Burger Co.
  • Pepperoni and Sausage Pizza – even a simple pizza has gotten the Stranger Things tie-in – this is what Dustin offers his crush, Nancy, in the first season premiere.
  • Pizza Fries ($12.49) – pizza sauce on the bottom, fries in the middle, and mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and sausage on top. Available at KidZone Pizza Company and Louie’s Italian Restaurant.
  • Twisted Tater ($7.99) – choice of sour cream and chive, garlic, Parmesan, seasonal salt, or salt and vinegar.
  • 11 Mini Donuts ($7.99) – either powdered sugar or cinnamon doughnuts, covered in drizzles of red frosting (meant to emulate Eleven’s frequent nosebleeds).
  • Christmas Tree Light Cupcakes ($4.99) – either chocolate or red velvet cupcakes that are topped with whipped cream frosting and jelly bean “Christmas lights.”

While we have yet to try everything on the HHN 2018 menu, we can report that the Chili Garlic Chicken Sandwich is… not very delectable; it’s so heavy on garlic, it seems to be mostly good for warding off Demogorgons.

So, what restaurants are open during Halloween Horror Nights 2018?

Although some of these venues change their menus to reflect a different – and, in some cases, exclusive – lineup, basically every single one of Universal Studios Florida’s eateries are open during Halloween Horror Nights. There is one glaring exception here, and it should come as no surprise to those who are used to hearing about writer JK Rowling’s tight-fisted control over her property: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley’s The Leaky Cauldron remains closed during the event.

Bonus: out-of-park options

HHN Tombstone Doughnut at CityWalk's Voodoo Doughnut
HHN Tombstone Doughnut at CityWalk’s Voodoo Doughnut

Just because you leave Universal Studios Florida doesn’t mean that you also have to leave the horror behind – a couple of out-of-park locations are getting in on the Halloween Horror Nights action, helping to extend your scary immersion (to one degree or another). While this category only consists of two entries right now, this is more than what we’ve seen ever before, and it portends for some bigger, better tie-ins in the future.

Voodoo Doughnut

The brand-new Voodoo Doughnut over in CityWalk is currently offering the special-edition HHN Tombstone Doughnut, which is a raised doughnut filled with raspberry Bavarian cream and featuring cookie-crumble dirt and green “grass” sprinkles. It’ll be available only until November 3, the last day of Horror Nights 2018, so be sure to get it while the getting’s good.

Bayliner Diner

Cabana Bay Beach Resort‘s main eatery, Bayliner Diner, may not be serving up specially-themed goodies like Voodoo is, but it’s nonetheless providing a much-needed service: it’ll stay open until one hour after Halloween Horror Nights ends (meaning either 2:00 or 3:00 am, depending upon the date) and will sell such grab-and-go items as pizza, sandwiches, chips, beer and wine, and, but of course, candy. Consider it the perfect post-event snack-fest.

That’s all we got for our Halloween Horror Nights 2018 guide to food and drinks. Please keep in mind this is only one page in our HHN insider’s guide. For the most effective planning, please be sure to read through all of our pages, which you can access at any time using the navigation links at the top and bottom.

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Halloween Horror Nights 2018