Sorry Mickey, Orlando's biggest haunted Halloween party is not for kids. The most anticipated, thrill-filled, scare-tacular celebration of terror screams into Universal Studios Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights 26 during select nights from September 16 through October 31. Celebrating 26 years of mayhem, HHN is scarier than ever.
Fear fans and horror junkies from around the world make their way to Universal Studios Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights each year. A Golden Ticket Award-winner for eight consecutive years, recognized by Amusement Today, one of the most prestigious awards in the amusement industry, the nation's top Halloween event puts guests face-to-face with some of the most notoriously terrifying names in the horror genre. The intensely-real original content by Universal's talented costume designers, make-up artists, set builders, technicians, actors and storytellers immerse guests in 360-degrees of terror throughout the theme park.
“This is like Christmas for us,” says Universal Director of Entertainment Michael Aiello who heads up the event. "We have really upped our game this year.”
This year's event includes eight haunted houses, five scare zones and two outrageous live shows along with rides on many of Universal's amazing attractions running through the dead of night. Upping the ante of last year's fan-favorite and the largest maze ever created, AMC’s hit series, “The Walking Dead,” returns with most horrifying scenes from the show's six seasons. This year, guests escape Hershel’s barn, become reacquainted with the Governor, run for their lives in Terminus and end up in the creepy sewers of Alexandria with their only escape through a forest filled with walkers.
Other mazes include the gorey cult classic “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre;” the iconic American supernatural horror film “The Exorcist;” the terrifying Christmas legend “Krampus;” Universal Orlando's three original mazes, "Lunatics Playground 3D – You Won’t Stand A Chance," "Ghost Town – The Curse of Lightning Gulch" and "Tomb of the Ancients;" and John Carpenter’s classic horror film, “Halloween.”
Aiello says the original Halloween maze for Halloween Horror Nights 24 was such a massive success he's been inspired to continue the story. "You’ll experience the final scene of the 2014 maze and immediately walk in-between the homes of Haddonfield. You’ll be attacked by Myers the entire way before seeking refuge within the hospital. We’re recreating all the iconic events from the story, including Myers’ fiery 'end.'"
Two all new haunted houses make their highly anticipated debut this year. FX's smash-hit horror series "American Horror Story" is ripped from the screen into Universal Studios featuring scenes from Season 1: Murder House, Season 4: Freak Show and Season 5: Hotel. Also new this year is a maze that merges classic horror theatrics with break-through virtual reality technology. "The Repository" equips guests with custom virtual reality headsets and then immerses them in a reality-bending dimension of horror. The experience can be purchased as an add-on upgrade to Halloween Horror Nights admission for $49.99 plus tax, per person.
"I'm still in relative shock on what we've been able to assemble for this year's slate of content," Aiello says. "The lineup for Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 26 is something special."
The two live shows include the return of the classic "Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure," a parody of college frat life showcasing plenty of celebrity spoofs, off-color Disney jokes (i.e., a slutty Anna and a fat Elsa), and vulgar humor revolving around today's pop culture. This year, however, in leu of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show," a performance troupe of the world's most infamous inmates take the stage in an explosive display of insanity, mayhem and dancing titled, "Academy of Villains: House of Fear."
Walking through the park from maze to maze is no safer than in the haunted houses. Five elaborately haunted street scenes await guests where they'll interact (whether they want to or not), with "scaractures" in original realms including “Survive or Die,” “Banshee’s Lair,” "Dead Man’s Wharf," "Vamp 1955" and "A Chance in Hell."
There are dozens of hotels and resorts minutes from Universal Studios but the accommodations onsite at Universal Orlando Resort immerse guests in the magic of the movies throughout their entire stay. For the best value for your Halloween Horror Nights vacation, look no further than the stylishly retro Cabana Bay Beach Resort with affordable family suites, two oversized pools, a lazy river, on-site bowling and even one-hour early admission to the parks. For a more relaxing getaway, both the Loews Sapphire Falls and Loews Royal Pacific Resorts offer laid-back vibes complete with beaches, pools and water views. Guests who prefer a more illustrious resort experience distinguished by upscale amenities and spacious accommodations choose Hard Rock Hotel or Loews Portofino Bay, each offering unique luxury experiences.
Tickets for Universal Studios Orlando Halloween Horror Nights 26 are required in addition to regular daytime park admission but can be added on for reduced pricing beginning at $55.99. Tickets can be purchased online at HalloweenHorrorNights.com/orlando and start at $104.99 for general admission. For those dying for a killer treatment, the R.I.P. Tour rolls out the blood-red carpet with a guided walking tour, VIP entry to all haunted houses, special access to select rides and valet parking. Note: Only select rides are open during HHN. To see Diagon Alley and other major attractions, a daytime ticket is required.
SLIDESHOW: Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights
(Photos ©Universal Orlando Resort)