Vacation savings from Orlando Informer!Save with Orlando Informer!X

Universal Orlando Globe

Save up to $76

on select Universal Orlando Resort tickets

Vacation savings from Orlando Informer!Save with Orlando Informer!X

Universal Orlando Globe

Save up to $76

on select Universal Orlando Resort tickets

13 tips, tricks, & secrets for Halloween Horror Nights 2019

Halloween Horror Nights 2019

There’s no denying it – evil will take over at the most frightening place on Earth: Halloween Horror Nights 2019 at Universal Studios Florida. This is our first-time visitors’ guide for conquering that evil, composed of our 13 best tips, tricks, and secrets for saving time and money at the nation’s premier Halloween event.

A scareactor at Halloween Horror Nights 25 gets up close and personal with a guest.
A scareactor at Halloween Horror Nights 2015 gets up close and personal with a guest

Last update
September 10, 2019


#1 – Pick your HHN 2019 nights very carefully

If you only take away one tip from this page, let it be this first warning, communicated to you in the most serious manner possible: do not go to Halloween Horror Nights on the busy event dates, which are often referred to as peak nights.

Here are those peak nights so you can scratch them off your calendar: Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27.

Why is this our most important tip? Simply put, on busy nights the popular haunted houses will have wait times as high as three hours, and even the so-so houses will have waits up to two hours. Can you imagine waiting two or three hours to walk through a maze that takes two or three minutes to see? Then exiting that haunt and getting straight into another two- or three-hour line? You don’t want to imagine it, and you definitely don’t want to experience it!

Busy nights also mean the biggest crowds in the streets – and if you’ve heard anything about the Horror Nights crowds, you’ve likely heard they drink a lot. Sometimes, that drinking leads to more rowdiness than the average guest will find entertaining. So, avoiding busy nights not only guarantees you’ll spend considerably less time waiting in line, it also means you won’t have to shrug it off when a group of drunk guests cut into your haunted house line and no one sees them do so.

Please don’t take this first tip as a broader statement meaning you should never go to Halloween Horror Nights. We’ve been going for years, it truly is the nation’s premier Halloween event, it’s won more awards than we can count, and once you’ve gone the first time, you’ll likely start planning for next year immediately. Just don’t go on a peak night – even if you can afford the $159 Express Pass.

So, when should I go?

Even though it has a little less Halloween spirit, really the best time to go to HHN is during the first three weeks of the event or November 1-3.  Visiting during these times will ensure that crowds and lines are smaller (although certainly not obliterated), and smaller crowds will ensure you can do everything without standing in line for an unreasonable amount of time. And given how popular Horror Nights has become, there will still be plenty of enthusiasm in the air – even on a Wednesday or Sunday.


#2 – Select the right number of nights to visit

If you think this event is going to freak you out and you’re not feelin’ it, so to speak, one night will be plenty. Just make sure you get there early so you can check out a lot of the grounds before the sun totally sets for the night (and be sure to read our HHN for non-horror fans guide).

If you really like Halloween and horror movies, but your life doesn’t necessarily revolve around them, then for a first-timer we recommend two nights. Keep in mind that if you visit when it’s slower and follow our touring plan, you’ll likely be able to see and do everything in just one night – but a huge appeal of Halloween Horror Nights is the people-watching, and a new night means all-new visitors getting scared out of their minds. Plus, since much of the HHN activity happens in the darkened streets of Universal Studios Florida, it’s often easy to miss all the small details with just one night’s tour around the park.

If you are a hardcore Halloween and horror fan, and you basically spend the entire year planning for October 31, then you will fall into an elite category of HHN fans who go as many nights as they can: 10 times, 15, or more. In this case, definitely plan on three nights, at the very least – and also plan on buying a pass that includes multiple nights and checking out the VIP tour options (both of which you can learn all about in our admission guide).

#3 – Pack your wallet and start preparing now

You’ve probably seen this reminder on our pages before, but it’s important, so here it is one more time: Halloween Horror Nights is a separately-ticketed event, which means, one way or another, you need to pay for admission. There are lots of deals and combos (which, again, are explained in detail in our admission guide), but for the purposes of this page, just be aware that purchasing a ticket to visit Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure during the day does not get you into Horror Nights automatically – the opposite of other popular Universal annual events, such as Mardi Gras.

Conversely, keep in mind that purchasing admission for HHN does not get you into the parks during the day.

And if you plan on attending the event, please buy your tickets in advance. There’s no point in arriving at Universal Orlando, getting psyched for the night to start, then spending the first hour waiting in the ticket line. Virtually anything you can buy on-site you can also buy online – and tickets purchased online can be printed at home, so you’ll be able to walk directly to the turnstiles.


#4 – Head east!

In other words, don’t buy tickets for Halloween Horror Nights in California.

Universal Studios Hollywood hosts its own version of Horror Nights, and unwitting guests buy admission for the wrong coast all the time. Not only is this a headache because you have to buy new passes, it’s worse than you think, since the Hollywood and Orlando parks operate as completely separate entities – so you can’t simply swap your California HHN ticket for a Florida one. Plus, West Coast admission is, generally, less expensive than the East Coast’s, as its event is smaller. This means you’ll also be in for some sticker shock.

(You can learn more about Halloween Horror Nights in California at our sister site, California Informer.)


#5 – Parking isn’t free, either

Speaking of sticker shock, we got one more warning for you.

Throughout most of the year, Universal usually offers free parking after 6:00 pm. However, during Halloween Horror Nights, plan on paying full price – $26 for regular self-parking and $40 for preferred self-parking – until at least 10:00 pm. Also, for Premier passholders, remember that the complimentary valet parking benefit is not available during HHN (you can read more in our complete insider’s guide to annual passes).

This is a good place to remind our readers that overnight parking is not allowed at Universal’s main parking garages. If you think you might need to do this, just plan a budget and get a room on-site at either Cabana Bay Beach Resort or Endless Summer Resort for the night.


#6 – Watch the forecast

Orlando’s average low temperature in September is 72.4 F (22.4 C), and our average low in October is 65.8 F (18.7 C). In addition, we still see plenty of rain in September and October.

So definitely check the forecast before arriving at Halloween Horror Nights and consider bringing extra layers of clothing, as well as rain ponchos. Not only will this help you stay warm and dry, extra layers can also provide a psychological barrier between you and the roaming demon hordes. Lockers are available for rent, too – see our complete guide to rental and ride lockers for more information (items can be retrieved from lockers up to an hour after HHN is scheduled to close for the evening).

If you happen to forget a light jacket or sweatshirt, don’t worry – Universal has gobs of Horror Nights apparel it can’t wait for you to buy.  Just be ready to pay around $50 for heavier clothing items, like hoodies.


#7 – On a brighter note, wear sunglasses

This might seem like a strange tip, but for those touring the haunted houses while it’s still daylight out – which will happen if you take advantage of HHN early admission or if you’re on-site when the event regularly opens at 6:30 pm – wearing sunglasses will make the transition from the outdoor light to the haunts’ lack-of-light easier to adjust to.

And trust us: you’ll want your vision as sharp as possible to catch all the details inside the houses – and, maybe, avoid the worst scares!


#8 – Eat before they try to eat you

We recommend that you grab your dinner before going into Halloween Horror Nights. If you do so, you won’t have to waste your time looking for dining options when you could be going through haunted houses, exploring the streets, or watching the live stage shows. Having a leisurely meal ahead of time will also give you a chance to discuss your final plans for touring – and come up with a safety word for you and your friends! – before the event starts.

Looking to save a little money? Just eat anywhere off-site. If you need to eat on-property, the food court on the second floor of Universal CityWalk has the least expensive prices.

One more food-related tip: even if you are not dining at Mel’s Drive-In near Hollywood Blvd, be sure to stop by for a great photo op.

Mel's Drive-In at Halloween Horror Nights
Mel’s Drive-In at Halloween Horror Nights


#9 – Fastest way to escape the horror

Bring your photo ID if you want to drink, and be prepared to be carded with every purchase, everywhere.

Are you going with other guests who forgot their IDs, or who are too young to drink? The quickest way to get kicked out of the park for good is to share a beer with someone who isn’t supposed to have one. Universal has a large force of both uniformed and plain-clothes security, along with Orlando police, all around Horror Nights, and this is the main illegal activity they’re watching for.

And don’t bother trying to sneak alcohol in – or anything else you’re not supposed to have, for that matter. The security checkpoints are amped way up for HHN – think airport-style security and scanning.

Feeling feisty, anyway? Do keep in mind that Universal Orlando is private property, and, as such, the resort has the right to refuse entry to anyone for any reason it sees fit (barring discriminatory practices, of course). Once in a while, we hear a guest who’s getting kicked out say something like, “You can’t do this – I paid for admission!” Oh, yes, they can, and you’re not automatically entitled to a refund.


#10 – Early bird gets the scares

If you have the opportunity, be certain to take advantage of early admission to Halloween Horror Nights. This is usually available on select nights for passholders during the first two weeks of Horror Nights; then, throughout the entire event, it’s available to any guest who has daytime admission to Universal Studios Florida and can get inside the turnstiles by 4:30 pm. See our full guide to early admission for everything you need to know on this front.

What if you can’t get early admission? Then get to the event early – line up at the front gates at least an hour before opening (especially on a weekend night). Yes, it’s still light out and the atmosphere may not have fully kicked in, but if you want to see the houses with the shortest possible wait, getting there early is your best option.

Can’t get to HHN before 5:30 pm? Keep reading…


#11 – Wait until the midnight hour

There’s still some hope for short lines. A lot of those early birds start getting tired and leave the park well before the event ends, so you’ll start to see the wait times drop down the later it gets (keep in mind that, on many dates, Halloween Horror Nights is open until 2:00 am). This option is not as good as using HHN early admission, but it’s better than planning on arriving at 8:00 pm and leaving by 11:00 pm.


#12 – Decide if you must express your fear

Halloween Horror Nights Express Passes are separate from the Express Passes used during the day at Universal Orlando’s three parks. (HHN Express is also separate from HHN admission tickets.)

Equally important, the unlimited Express access guests receive when staying at select Universal on-site hotels (Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Portofino Bay Hotel) is not valid for Halloween Horror Nights. Do not think that you are tricking the system by having your party of four stay at Royal Pacific for $200 instead of buying four HHN Express Passes at $159 per person.

(By the way, here is an easy way to identify a Horror Nights rookie: she is using her Express Pass at 6:30 pm, when haunted houses have a wait time of 10 minutes. You should never, ever use Express for a house with a short wait – go through the regular lines first, and then use your Express access to go through a second time later in the evening, when lines are long. [This is also great advice for using Express at any of the rides, as well.])


#13 – Face the truth

Halloween Horror Nights is scary, and the event is filled with a lot of guests who, for better or for worse, like to drink. Just as Universal states, Halloween Horror Nights is absolutely not appropriate for young children.

Do you have a question about Halloween Horror Nights? Please let us know by posting in our OI Community Facebook group.

Halloween Horror Nights 2019