UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is Universal Studios’ annual Halloween-themed event which takes place across the chain. It began at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 as Fright Nights, arguably a knockoff of the world-famous Knott’s Scary Farm event. Over the years HHN has grown and spread. The event now spans beyond the month of October, with multiple “hard ticket” evenings every week. During these evenings, the theme park closes to day guests. Each event features nearly a dozen scare mazes, scare zones, and live shows. Select rides remain open during the event. HHN is an “adults only” event with an R-rated, family-unfriendly tone.
Scare Mazes – HHN’s bread-and-butter, scare mazes are frightening walkthroughs where guests come face-to-face with costumed “scaractors.” Scaractor etiquette is a fine art, as they are encouraged to terrify guests without ever touching them.
Mazes are often built into rides’ overflow queues. They are not meant to be permanent. A number of gimmicks have appeared over the years, from branching pathways to 3D paint to large animatronic-quality puppets.
Universal Studios Hollywood has a permanent, year-round scare maze. In the past it has been themed to the Universal Monsters. Presently, it is a Walking Dead maze. This attraction is often plussed and slightly rethemed for HHN. As a permanent attraction, it features set dressing and animatronic effects which temporary mazes cannot match.
Scare Zones – Scare zones are outdoor areas which serve as an extension of the mazes. Like the mazes, scare zones boast creative new themes every year. Scaractors often roam in hordes, mingling amongst the guests. Every night when the event ends, scaractors perform the “Running of the Chainsaws” which sends frightened guests running for the exits.
Live shows – In addition to the one-time opening ceremonies, certain recurring live shows have become HHN staples. These include “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Jabbawockeez” (a hip hop dance crew) and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure,” a recently retired year-in-review roast. These live shows serve as a respite from the pulse-pounding terror found elsewhere.
Terror Tram – Unique to Universal Studios Hollywood, the Terror Tram is a repurposing of the Studio Tour. The trams’ TVs feature on-theme narration, with hosts ranging from Eli Roth to Chucky. Guests are allowed to exit the tram and explore the backlot, notably Psycho’s Bates Motel and the crashed airplane from War of the Worlds. Scaractors and frightful theming populate these sets.