As a supportive horror movie enthusiast, I have never been able to muster up the courage to attend Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. This year’s tagline, “Never go alone” made me glad I heeded the advice. The warm, clear night starts with a walk right through the front gates where visitors are greeted with roaring heavy metal music, and then… the first scare zone.
Universal Studios Hollywood contains the immersive lands of Harry Potter, The Simpsons, and Dreamworks Studios (which is closed during the event), in addition to various sets and colonial houses used in some of their famous films. For the night, the space between each land is open for frightening encounters from dubious fiends and villains covered in blood, prosthetics, masks, and at times, towering above guests as they stride on stilts. Springfield USA is a “safe zone” where there are no Halloween decorations or ghoulish folks creeping behind you waiting to strike, however, you will hear the TreeHouse of Horrors theme music playing over the speakers, as a gentle reminder that while you may be safe now, the horror awaits you beyond the gates. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter dons its dementor-covered cloak and eerie Parseltongue audio assaults your ears. Once a guest steps foot out of these lands, they can expect the unexpected, including their first maze.
Mazes: The Haunting of Hill House – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Exorcist – Universal Monsters The Bride of Frankenstein Lives – Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers – The Curse of Pandora’s Box – The Walking Dead Attraction – Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge
While attending, I could only find the strength to walk through a few mazes and ride the Terror Tram. There’s just something about knowing that even though they won’t touch me, I’m still afraid I’ll fall into the vortex of the movie realm I’m entering. Even though I have seen the movie where this maze takes place and know exactly how it’s supposed to go, I’m still terrified. The first maze I went through was the Haunting of Hill House and while the Netflix series came out in 2018, I watched it specifically for the maze, hoping that somehow the knowledge I gained from the storyline would prepare me for what to expect in the chilling experience I was about to enter. Regal halls and dimly lit corridors were expected, but false walls and portrait jump-outs?! I could only handle so much.
The Exorcist is a classic for Horror Nights and not as filled with pop-out-at-you scares as much as other mazes at the park, but it does have higher-than-average flashing lights which might be a bit much for those sensitive to that feature. While we were not permitted to take photos in The Walking Dead experience, it takes you through a hospital, the woods, a cabin on fire, the prison, a place that seemed like a warehouse/butcher storage station, and LOTS of walkers. The Walking Dead experience had the most workers/participants of any other maze/walk-through I experienced. If you need a break from the constant dark mazes, the Terror Tram is an exciting breath of fresh air since the entire experience is outdoors.
The tram by day embarks on a scenic and detailed look behind some of Universal’s most beloved and iconic movies, but by night during the Horror Nights… The Purge takes over. Disembarking into the center of bands of murderous chainsaw rampages, and electrifying gruesome death scenes, guests can expect to see some chilling reminders of how easily society can fall apart if given permission to do so. Halfway through the Terror Tram pathway, guests can stop for a moment to take a photo with a Sam Loomis look-alike in front of the house from Psycho. After the long and adventurous walk, it was time for some sit-down entertainment.
Attractions: Jabbawockeez & Reminiscence of Dia De Los Muertos
Watching the Jabbawockeez show was a surprise and delight that I wasn’t anticipating to be as exciting as it was. It wasn’t part of the horror theme as the rest of the park, but it was amazing to take a moment away from the constant gore, excitement, and frightening world to watch amazing performances by dedicated dancers creating art. They performed multiple shows throughout the night and I will always recommend using the show as a way to take a seat to relax and enjoy a riveting performance while resting and preparing for the rest of the night. One place in particular (while unnamed) embodies a striking resemblance to the celebration of Dia De Los Muertos. It has vibrant, colorful scenery, and ornately decorative scenes that guests will love taking photos of, it’s definitely an Instagram-worthy photo spot.
Life can get a little boring and a well-executed scare could be just what you need to liven things up. This one-of-a-kind event is available on select dates taking place between September 9 through October 31, 2021.