While extending Halloween Horror Nights‘s run by one night – as recently happened, with the addition of Sunday, November 4 – is one way to expand the Halloween celebrations at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal has just come up with a completely different method for also furthering the festivities: throwing in a daytime component for children for the very first time.
Officially – and simply – called Halloween Party, kids aged 12 and under will be able to go trick-or-treating on the Upper Lot on Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28, where they’ll encounter a number of Universal characters decked out in costumes of their own (like Woody Woodpecker as Dracula, Hello Kitty as the Bride of Frankenstein, and the Minions as prisoners [as seen, of course, in Despicable Me 3]). These character locations will be active from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (with an one-hour break from 1:00 to 2:00 pm), as will certain stores, which will also be getting in on the candy action.
Furthermore, to complement the main draw that is trick-or-treating, Universal will be throwing a Halloween Party in the Plaza over at (where else?) Universal Plaza; here, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, a number of family-friendly games, activities, and music (thanks to the presence of a DJ) will be on-hand, as will some of the in-costume characters, who will be around to do their meet-‘n-greet thing. (Just what kind of activities are we looking at? A “costume showcase” and an up-charge Halloween-treat-decorating kit, as well as a free carnival game voucher that can be redeemed at several different locations throughout the park.)
If it seems somewhat strange for Universal to suddenly, after 12 consecutive years of putting HHN on, break from its adults-only Halloween practices, that’s because it certainly is – but that doesn’t mean it’s also inexplicable. Not only does this new family addition round out the Halloween season with more experiences for guests, it also allows for more foot traffic, which the company undoubtedly hopes will translate to more spending on everything from merchandise to food and, just maybe, Express Passes. Given that it was only a few years ago that the Lunar New Year was added to the park’s annual-events calendar – and given that the holidays keep getting beefed up with the likes of Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – trick-or-treating should be seen as merely the next natural step for the company to take.
Which leaves us with the question: what will the next be?
Stranger Things lights-on tour
Actually, we may have already gotten that answer – well, sort of.
Announced right alongside the Halloween Party, and representing another first for the West Coast, Universal is offering a daytime, lights-on tour of its most popular Halloween Horror Nights maze this year (and, just perhaps, ever), Stranger Things. From Monday, October 29 through Friday, November 2, guests will be able to make their way – on their own, without the direction of a guide – from one “movie-quality set” to the next of the headlining haunt in order to see “how the Upside Down comes to life.”
Interestingly enough, not only does this move double down on the effort to get more guests into Universal Studios Hollywood and exposed to the company’s various Halloween events, it also puts the Californian version of HHN more in line with Universal Orlando Resort’s – over on the East Coast, Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tours are available, which are premium add-on experiences that take guests through either three or six of that year’s haunted houses and which are among the very best times to be had at all of Horror Nights. That USH attendees can do much the same for free, even if on a slimmed-down scale, speaks volumes about both Universal’s confidence in its Stranger Things adaptation and in its efforts at increasing its word-of-mouth advertising for the final two weekends of the annual event.
Universal’s Halloween Party will be held one weekend only, on October 27 and 28, while the Stranger Things lights-on tour runs from October 29 to November 2. Both are included in the price of admission.
Find out everything you ever wanted to know about HHN – plus more! – in our insider’s guide.