Combining some of the biggest names in horror with some truly terrifying original creations from the movie studio that birthed the genre in the first place, Halloween Horror Nights is not only Southern California’s premier Halloween event, it’s now a tradition and ritual unto itself.
In this complete insider’s guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know in order to have the time of your life – er, gruesome death. From saving time and money to providing an expert, handcrafted touring plan, everything you need to know to make your family’s descent into HHN a night you’ll never want to forget is here.
Are you ready to face your worst fears?
April 3, 2018
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – overview and explanation
With the studio being the birthplace of the horror genre, Universal Studios prides itself on creating the most authentic and immersive Halloween experiences anywhere in Southern California. There is no safe space inside the theme park, forcing you to come face-to-face with terrorizing monsters, roaming maniacs, and the jaw-dropping War of the Worlds set on the historic backlot. But all that’s during the night – throughout the day, you’ll still have access to all the fun and thrills of the park’s world-class attractions.
Entering its 12th year as Southern California’s premier Halloween event, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights will feature seven houses, three scare zones, a new Terror Tram experience, and a high-energy live show. What more do you need to be scared out of your wits?
While we may not have very much information on 2018’s event just yet, we still have all of last year’s details present, which we’re providing to you now in order to both whet your appetite and to give you an idea of what to expect this fall.
Halloween Horror Nights 2017 will run for 29 select nights, from September 15 through November 4:
September: 15, 16, 22, 23, 28, 29, 30
October: 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31
November: 2, 3, 4
The busiest HHN nights, often referred to as peak nights, will be October 7, 8, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 29.
Don’t forget that you can always check out daytime crowd predictions on our FREE 12-month Universal crowd calendar.
Keep in mind that most nights in October do sell out quickly, so we highly recommend purchasing your tickets at least one week in advance.
Halloween Horror Nights offers multiple ticket options to experience the event. There are annual passholder deals, SoCal student college deals, and for everybody else.
We strongly suggest purchasing tickets online at least 3 days before the night you would like to attend as the event does sell out. Tickets may not be available at the front gate.
- General Admission ($65-$95) online. $95 at the gate.
- Frequent Fear Pass ($159) online. A 16 night pass to the event on select nights.
- Front of Line ($159 to $219) online. Front of line privileges one time per maze and attraction.
- RIP Experience ($259 to $319) online. Unlimited front of line privileges to all mazes and attractions, gourmet dinner buffet, guided tour of the park, valet parking, and two complimentary alcoholic beverages.
- After 2pm Day/Night Combo Front of Line ($189 to $259) online. One time front of line privileges to all attractions during the daytime, and during Halloween Horror Nights.
- After 2pm Day/Night Combo General Admission ($95 to $135) online. Daytime admission and for Halloween Horror Nights.
- SoCal Student College Pass ($99) online. Admission up 6 nights of the event (Thursdays only).
Horror Nights is usually scheduled to start at 7:00 pm for general admission, and its closing time is 2:00 am on most nights. Note the Terror Tram does close earlier than event hours (typically between 11:15 and 11:45 pm), so check the park schedule given to you at the turnstiles.
Early entry is available every single night HHN is running and is a great way to jump-start your touring – and the crowds. The gates open at 5:00 pm, with select mazes opening at 5:15, 5:30, and 5:45.
With any purchase of a Halloween Horror Nights ticket, early access to select mazes is provided at no additional charge. A colored wristband will be distributed each night of the event at the turnstiles. The mazes available for early entry are:
- Insidious: Beyond the Further – 5:15 pm
- The Shining – 5:15 pm
- American Horror Story: Roanoke – 5:30 pm
- Saw: The Games of Jigsaw – 5:30 pm
- Ash vs Evil Dead – 5:45 pm
- Titans of Terror – 7:00 pm
- Titans of Terror Tram – 7:00 pm
- The Horrors of Blumhouse – 7:00 pm
- The Walking Dead – 7:00 pm
(Keep in mind that these times – or the attractions themselves – are subject to change.)
Do I get any deals at CityWalk with my ticket to Halloween Horror Nights?
In fact, yes! You must show your valid admission to receive the benefits. These deals are only valid on the date your ticket is for.
- Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville – Happy Hour from 3pm-6pm on Thursday and Friday.
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. – 10% off food purchases.
- Camacho’s Cantina – 10% off food purchases.
- Samba Brazilian Steakhouse – 25% off food purchases.
- Tony Roma’s – 15% off food purchases.
- Wolfang Puck Bistro – 15% off food purchases.
Is there food available for purchase during Halloween Horror Nights?
Yes! Bring your hungry appetite as many of the park’s restaurants are open. In the backlot, there are two food trucks, one serving french toast grilled cheese with bacon and mac and cheese sandwiches, and one serving tacos and nachos. At Studio Cafe on the lower lot, specialty donuts from Voodoo Doughnut will be available for purchase. At Hollywood and Dine, deep fried twinkies and brookies will be available for purchase.
New this year is alcohol. At Duff Brewery and Moe’s Tavern, beer and wine will be available for purchase, with a 2 drink per person limit.
So, how busy will Halloween Horror Nights 2017 be on any given night?
Since this is the most common question we’re asked, we want to address it straight away. Generally speaking, Saturdays are always busy; on the flip side, though, the first two weeks, Thursdays, October 30 and 31, and November 3 and 4 are always some of the least-crowded nights.
Will The Wizarding World of Harry Potter be open during Halloween Horror Nights 2017 event nights?
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will not be open for Halloween Horror Nights this year. But if you purchase the after-2:00 pm day/night combo ticket, you will be able to access Hogsmeade up until 5:30 pm.
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – haunted houses
The haunted houses (or mazes) that Universal conjures with a surprising amount of detail and, in the case of intellectual properties, authenticity are the main draw of Horror Nights each and every year. Last year, the company did it even better by bringing to bear a record-setting seven houses – and while we don’t know whether Universal will be able to maintain (or, even, best) this number, we can say we’re already impressed by what’s been revealed thus far.
These haunts are situated in any open space that is currently available, such as unused queue areas or the Universal Studio backlot. Unlike at the event’s older and bigger brother, Halloween Horror Nights Orlando, where guests are admitted into the mazes in a constant “conga” line, the West Coast version has the luxury of being able to “pulse” attendees in small groups, heightening the experience’s immersion factor – and its scares. Each house takes about three to five minutes to walk through.
One of the most popular horror series out there, Netflix’s Stranger Things looks set to blow HHN’s attendance wide open this year. Relive the eight-episode first season step by step, from Will Byers’s disappearance in the woods to creepy forays into the alternate-dimension Upside Down to a final confrontation with both of the show’s baddies, the otherworldly Demogorgon and the secret government stooges that are responsible for bringing it into our reality.
BONUS: The Walking Dead
Location: Upper Lot, next to Starbucks
Okay, okay – no, technically, The Walking Dead isn’t a part of this year’s Horror Nights, but this year-round haunted house was directly inspired by the show’s long presence during the event, and it’s given extra resources to coincide with HHN to make it even scarier than normal. Think of it as a (permanent) bonus maze.
What We Recommend
We strongly recommend taking advantage of early entry for Halloween Horror Nights. On most weekend nights, wait times for the most popular mazes can be upwards to a three hour wait, and we want to help you minimize waiting in line throughout the night.
Please note this information is still based on last year’s information. As soon as Universal gives us all the necessary data to update this section of our complete insider’s guide, we will do so immediately.
The lower lot mazes (The Shining and Insidious: Beyond the Further), are the first mazes to open at 5:15pm. We would start with Insidious, then The Shining.
As a special treat to those who follow @HorrorNights on Twitter, at around 4pm on HHN nights, a password is tweeted out and for guests who find Tucker and Specs (wearing white shirts and black ties with paranormal tools) in front of the Insidious house, will be given a collectible item until supplies run out. Insidious tends to have a high wait at park open to about 10pm.
The backlot mazes (American Horror Story: Roanoke, Saw: The Games of Jigsaw, and Ash vs Evil Dead)
We recommend doing American Horror Story first, as it is the closest maze on the backlot and an easy route to access the other two mazes. The maze tends to have the longest wait throughout the night, upwards to a three hour wait for the majority of the night.
The next maze we recommend is Saw. As guests exit out of American Horror Story, they are funneled near by the entrance to Saw, which makes it an easy walk.
The last maze we recommend is Ash vs Evil Dead. As guests exit out of Saw, right next door is Ash vs Evil Dead. The maze does tend have a much shorter wait than the other two mazes in the backlot, upwards to a 60 minute wait.
Jabbawockeez or Titans of Terror Tram
If you have time, you can either opt to experience the Terror Tram or Jabbawockeez. Note that the Terror Tram does close earlier than the rest of the park, which then generates a rather hefty wait towards 10:30pm-11pm. The Jabbawockeez show performs several times a night, with its last showtime typically at 1:30am.
The upper lot mazes (The Walking Dead, The Horrors of Blumhouse, and Titans of Terror)
As you make your way up the escalators from the Lower Lot, start out at The Horrors of Blumhouse. The entrance in on Baker Street in front of The Walking Dead.
If you have already experienced The Walking Dead in the past, the experience isn’t different from daytime to HHN.
The last maze on the upper lot is Titans of Terror. Located in the front of park next to WaterWorld.
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – scare zones
Punctuating the intense scares of the mazes are the tamer-but-still-deliciously-frightful jumps of the scare zones. These open areas, scattered throughout Universal Studios Hollywood, generally revolve around one ghastly theme and, best of all, allow you to hang back and watch other guests scream their heads off. They’re a great way to unwind (or not!) while on the way to the next haunted house or the next trip on the Terror Tram, and no HHN visit is complete without spending at least a little time in them.
Once again, we are providing you with last year’s roster in order to give you an idea of what to expect for 2018.
Location: front of the park
A scare zone with a demented twist on classic Halloween-themed characters – ghosts, vampires, witches, werewolves, and, even, undead children.
Location: Universal Studios backlot
A journey through Hell that includes coming face-to-face with a number of its demonic denizens, such as Half-Goat Executioners, Burnt Lost Souls, and Mad Monks.
Location: towards the Universal Studios backlot
A toxic-gas rupture has occurred in the tunnel, transforming those infected into “zombie-like subhumanoids.” Be prepared for lots of strobe lights, music, and monsters.
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – Terror Tram
Here is 2017’s information on the Terror Tram:
What is the Studio Tour during the day becomes the Terror Tram at night, exchanging production stops for a special haunted experience.
The tram will take guests to a special scare zone located on the famed Universal backlot, which, this year, will be home to the Titans of Terror themselves: Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface. Even better, Chucky from Child’s Play will join in the tag-team scares, serving as the host of the Terror Tram.
It’s been estimated that the whole experience takes about a half hour to complete, minus all the waiting for the individual elements (such as that famed Pyscho house photo op) that steadily accrues as the night wears on.
Please note that, during Halloween Horror Nights, the normal Studio Tour (including all of its various mini-attractions, such as King Kong: 360 3D and Fast & Furious: Supercharged) is suspended and entirely replaced by Terror Tram.
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – live stage show
Here is 2017’s information:
Halloween Horror Nights 2017 features a unique, live show performed by the renowned hip-hop dance group Jabbawockeez. It’s located in the Castle Theater, which is home to the Special Effects Show during the day.
The Jabbawockeez’s production this year features the far-out premise of having the white-masked dancers crash-land their UFO on Earth in the 1950s, which results in a musical journey as they attempt to make their way back home to the Westside of the galaxy.
The first showtime is typically at 8:00 pm, with additional times scheduled for about every hour and 15 minutes thereafter. We recommend arriving at least 25 minutes prior to the performance, just to insure a (good) seat.
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – regular daytime attractions
Need to take a breather from all the chills? How about some thrills!
There are several regular daytime attractions that operate throughout the night during Halloween Horror Nights. For 2018, we believe the roster will look a little something like this:
- The Walking Dead
- Jurassic Park: The Ride
- Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride – 3D
- The Simpsons Ride
Halloween Horror Nights 2018 – park map
Below is the map for Halloween Horror Nights 2017, since we don’t yet have 2018’s imagine. We provide this only as a courtesy, to help you get your planning taken care of as efficiently – and effectively – as possible; team members will actually hand out physical copies as you enter Universal Studios Hollywood.
What Halloween Horror Nights 2018 is not
Halloween Horror Nights is not family-friendly, as the entire event features gory content as well as scary monsters – it is, as such, strongly recommended for guests over 13 years of age. During the daytime, there are no props staged around the park, so there should be no worries about children getting scared while touring.
If you’re interested in pursuing a family-centered activity during the day before arriving at HHN for the night, you and your children can always make a quick stop at SoCal’s other themed destinations: SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California, Knott’s Spooky Farm (which is different from the HHN-esque Knott’s Scary Farm), and, of course, Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Resort.
I wanna learn more about Halloween Horror Nights!
We have an entire community of Universal and Horror Nights fans discussing the event right now! When you’re done here, join us for vacation planning and more in our Facebook community.