Horror Nights for Newbies

A quick beginner’s guide to Universal Studios’ annual Halloween event


Universal Studios entrance on Sept. 30, 2019. Photo credit: Jordan Hom/SAC.Media.

Who doesn’t love a good scare?

I never thought I would. I was never into horror movies, and I don’t have the same enthusiasm about Halloween as other people. After going to Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, I can happily say that I’m a fan of horror.

Halloween Halloween Horror Nights is one of Universal Studios Hollywood’s biggest and most popular seasonal attractions. Thousands of anxious fans wait year-round just for the event to come. But for me, I had never been to a single one. My friends had the brilliant idea to go this year, but I was skeptical. Besides fantastic themed mazes based off of popular media and cast members jumpscaring guests, the entire event was foreign to me.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only newcomer to Horror Nights. Whether going willingly or being dragged in due to peer pressure, there are hundreds of first time visitors every year. So, to lend a hand to future attendees, I’ve composed a quick beginner’s guide for Halloween Horror Nights. Get ready for a frighteningly informational read and a night full of fun.

If there was a single thing that I would recommend, it would be to wear comfortable shoes. Horror Nights involves a lot of traversing just like any other theme park. But since the event’s main attraction are the themed walk-through mazes, it’s important to keep your legs as fresh as they can be. Running shoes are a great choice of footwear, being both supportive and comfortable. You won’t be just walking a lot though; the mazes will have long lines to get in, some taking nearly 2 hours to get into. Nobody likes standing in line. Look for any opportunity to sit down and give your legs a break. And don’t forget, after a long night of trekking through haunted houses, you still have to walk back to your car. Healthy legs make a happy human.

Just because mazes are the main attraction of Horror Nights doesn’t mean you can’t do anything else. You can ride the park’s many rides while you’re there to get your money’s worth. Most of the mazes are near other attractions, so plan which mazes you want to go through and see if any nearby rides are in operation. Be sure you keep track of the hour because the attractions close down at different times. Most of the rides remain open during the night, but the shows close down earlier. I would definitely recommend watching a live performance. They give you a chance to sit back, relax, and give your legs a break.

Another thing is to bring plenty of cash. On top of parking, you’ll be buying food and even some souvenirs. Spending hours at a theme park will definitely drain you, so having some spending money on fuel (both for you and for your car) is a necessity. Universal Studios is known for being expensive, so be ready to overpay for some snacks. Along with food, you may also be interested in the special event merchandise that Universal offers. Horror Nights souvenirs featuring mascots from each maze are on display in most of the shops in the park. Who would have thought killers on display would be so appealing?

As you journey through the park, you’ll encounter “Scare Zones.” These areas of the park feature actors in detailed costumes, walking around and jumping at guests. Demons, monsters and masked killers wander around these zones on the upper and lower levels of the park. Be on high alert if you don’t want to get spooked. And remember: they have a keen eye for those who look the most anxious. If you don’t want to fall victim to their tricks, be on the lookout for costumes amongst the crowd. Luckily, certain characters make noise when they surprise people, so keep your ears open for screams or chainsaws.

And most importantly, bring some friends! The more people, the better, especially if they are easy to scare or like being afraid. One thing that makes the Horror Nights experience so memorable is you and your friends having a good time getting scared. Whether you’re screaming your heads off or chatting over some food, the time spent with your buddies is what makes the event worth it. Be sure not to warn them if you notice any ghouls sneaking up behind them.

Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights is a night you don’t want to miss. From the creepy decorations to the roaming costumed actors, the dark, spooky atmosphere is a one-of-a-kind adventure that draws you in and doesn’t let go. So if you are going to Horror Nights for the first time, be prepared to walk, shop, and scream. It’s certainly worth the fare for the scare.