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Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights: A Non-Horror Lover's Guide

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights is one of the most famous and spine-tingling Halloween events in the world. While it's known for its terrifying haunted houses and gruesome scare zones, it also offers a unique and thrilling experience for those who don't necessarily enjoy horror films, like myself! In this guide, we'll explore the magic, excitement, and fascinating aspects of Halloween Horror Nights that go beyond the blood-curdling scares. I always thought I'd be too terrified to even step foot into this event. I'm so glad I took the chance in 2022 and that I was dead wrong!


The Atmosphere of Halloween Horror Nights

One of the most impressive aspects of Halloween Horror Nights is the immersive atmosphere. Universal Studios transforms into a haunted wonderland, with elaborate decorations, eerie lighting, and spooky music that create an otherworldly experience. Even if you're not a fan of horror, you can appreciate the effort put into the park's transformation. The vibe is unmatched. The other guests, scareactors, team members and effects all help to make it a night to remember.

Interesting Fact: Halloween Horror Nights typically features 10 or more haunted houses, each with its own unique theme, story, and set design. These houses are meticulously designed to provide guests with an unforgettable experience.

They take you inside the story, it's like you are in the movie/ show! Each year they choose a few intellectual properties that they receive the rights to feature. This year it was The Last of Us, Chucky and Strangers Things as the headliners. Then they create a few unique storyline houses and always feature classic Universal's Monsters such as Frankenstein, Phantom of the Opera or Dracula. My tip: The most frequent scare tactic is a jump scare so just look around every corner and you won't be as suprised.

Themed Scare Zones

For non-horror lovers, the scare zones at Halloween Horror Nights can be more thrilling than terrifying. These areas are filled with elaborately costumed actors who interact with guests, providing jump scares and entertainment. The scare zones often have themes inspired by popular horror movies, but they can also be based on nostalgic or comedic elements.

Interesting Fact: The scare zones are designed with specific stories and characters, making them feel like mini immersive worlds within the event. These zones are a great opportunity for photo ops and getting up close with the incredible makeup and costumes.

Here is an example of this years scare zones. If you do your reasearch, they all tie into the grand master of this years event, Doctor Oddfellow and his storyline ties into previous events. The creators really think thru every detail each year. And if you are looking for even more details check out the Discover Universal Podcast.

  • Dr. Oddfellow’s Collection of Horror in Production Central. You can even meet the man himself

  • Dark Zodiac in Hollywood. He's harnessed the zodiac with malicious results.

  • Jungle of Doom: Expedition Horror in Central Park. Look out for the Doctors creations from his 1920s expedition as they seek revenge.

  • Vamp ‘69: Summer of Blood in New York. He released a fleet of vampires at a small town music fest in 1969 and you are their next victim. (my favorite! who doens't love a 60s music fest!)

  • Shipyard 32: Horrors Unhinged in San Francisco. In this 1940s shipyard the Doctors collection of oddities has escaped.

Food and Beverages

Universal Orlando goes all out with special Halloween-themed food and beverages during Halloween Horror Nights. You can indulge in treats like themed cocktails, snacks, and desserts. Even if you're not a fan of horror, you'll enjoy the creativity and artistry that goes into crafting these delectable treats.

Interesting Fact: The food and beverage offerings change each year and often include cleverly named items like "Vampire's Kiss" cocktails, "Mummy Mac 'n Cheese," and "Frankenstein's Monster's Bride" desserts.

This year I tried the Classic Pizza Fries, French fries topped with marinara sauce, melted cheese, pepperoni and sausage. Then the Electric Death $12.50 for 12oz or $16.50 for the 20 oz souviner cup and the Pepperoni Pizza Skull for $8.99. Electric Death is New Amsterdam Gin, Blue curaco, lime juice, vanilla bean, simple syrup, pineapple juice and Dale Degroff's Pimento bitters. Shame on me because I don't love sweet drinks, I usually stay away from anything with simple syrup and yes this was too sweet. I also didn't taste any alcohol so for the price is was too weak, all I tasted was juice so if that's your thing it's just right for you.

Next year I need to go for more nights just to try all the food! There were so many things I didn't even get to particually the Stranger Things themed food booth Sufer Boy Pizza where they had my favorite a Hawaiian pizza. Plus I heard the Sour Apple Funnel Fries are to DIE for.

Shows and Entertainment

Beyond the screams, Halloween Horror Nights offers a variety of shows and entertainment options. These performances are not necessarily horror-themed and can be enjoyable for anyone. From live music to comedy acts, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Interesting Fact: In the past, Halloween Horror Nights has featured popular shows like "Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure," which is a comedic spoof of pop culture events from the year.

The last few years they have partnered with the Fuel Girls who specalize in fire, pryo and aerial stunts. Nightmare Fuel is the name of the show and this years iterattion is Revenge Dream. Nightmares come to life set to popular rock, metal and electronica. The show is fabulous and full of talented performers. My only warning is the costumes and moves can be very suggestive so it may not be appropriate for younger guests. The recommended age limit is 13 and up so as a parent it's your discretion whether it's appropriate for your child or not.

One of my favorite things from this year was the pop-up M3gan horde that perfroms a routine randomly thru the night. It's very reminicent of Thriller and I've never seen the movie but as a former dancer I loved this. My tip: if you see one M3gan look for a large open space and the rest to show up, a show should be forming! They are usually found in the Hollywood or San Francisco sections of the park.

Express Passes and Tips

If you're worried about long lines and crowds, consider investing in an Express Pass. It allows you to skip the regular lines for most haunted houses and attractions, maximizing your experience.

Interesting Fact: Express Passes come in various tiers, including the unlimited option, which allows you to experience each haunted house as many times as you'd like. For a lower price you can purchase just Express Pass which allows you to skip the line once per house.

I purchased the Unlimited option when I went on a Thursday night in September and it was $220 plus tax and well worth the price. I was able to go thru Stranger Things twice and saved a ton of time becuase The Last of us was 80 minutes when we got in line! We also got thru EVERY HOUSE which would not have been possible without the Express Pass. If your goal is to do as much as you can and you only have one night, get Express.

I also highly recommend staying on property and having a theme park ticket valid for the same day as the event. This will allow you early entry so you can be some of the first guests into the houses. What you will do is choose a Stay and Scream staging area to wait in. The areas are split by the houses so you need to choose the house you want to go thru first. The New York area this year included Stranger Things, Dueling Dragons and The Exorcist. Central Park and Springfield is for The Last of Us and Universal Monsters. Then San Francisco is for Chucky.


Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights may not seem like the ideal destination for non-horror lovers, but it offers a wealth of thrilling experiences beyond the scares. The immersive atmosphere, themed scare zones, delicious food, entertaining shows, and the option for Express Passes make it a fun and memorable event for all. So, don't be afraid to join in the Halloween festivities, even if you don't enjoy horror films – there's something for everyone to enjoy at Halloween Horror Nights!


Melissa Lenox specializes in personalized vacations. You should be able to relax on vacation and planning shouldn’t be stressful either. Let me do the hard work so you can enjoy yourself! My specialties are Disney destinations, Universal theme parks, Sandals and Beaches all-inclusive resorts, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. I am a Gold Travel Advisor with Coasters & Castles Travel, Blog Editor of Main Street to the World and a former Walt Disney World entertainment cast member. I'm also nerd at heart; I love Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

Follow me on my pages below or contact me at mlenox@travelcnc.com to plan your next adventure!

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