REVIEW: Banner year for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood

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There’s nearly a month left to check out Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, and if you haven’t been yet, this year is not to be missed! This year’s maze lineup features some very scary and very fun mazes featuring some beloved cult classics. We sampled each maze for you, screaming our heads off, and lived to tell the tale. Here’s what you can’t miss at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights!

TRICK ‘R TREAT

If you haven’t seen Michael Dougherty’s 2007 cult classic, see it before you get to HHN this year. This maze nails the movie, so fans will be thrilled, but I can imagine it might be a little confusing if you don’t know the source material. Sam, the spirit of Halloween, is present throughout, punishing those who don’t follow his rules. Nestled next to the Mummy ride, this maze packs great scares with great attention to detail.

STRANGER THINGS

The Netflix sensation is brought to life for the first time anywhere in this maze that tracks the story of the show’s first season. While the Demogorgon pops out throughout, the maze is far more reliant on details and atmosphere to create creeps than raw scares. Fans of the show will appreciate every scene’s immaculate set design, but be prepared for a long wait if you don’t have Universal Express passes. Take advantage of 5 PM early entry and head straight to this maze to save the most time.

POLTERGEIST

This maze is the most fun I’ve had at a haunt event in years. At first glance, the original POLTERGEIST film might not seem like the best material for a maze, but John Murdy and his team knocked this out of the park. Several great scares, fantastic effects – we did this one twice, and you’ll want to as well.

THE FIRST PURGE

It wouldn’t be HHN without THE PURGE, and while I haven’t seen this latest film, I can’t say I found that maze very compelling. There were some nice creepy moments, but overall this felt like one of the lesser mazes this year. It’s worth doing, but don’t wait too long for it if you have bigger fish to fry.

HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE: VOL. 2

Combining scares from TRUTH OR DARE, UNFRIENDED and the Blumhouse title sequence, this maze felt a bit disjointed. Sometimes going through mazes depends on your timing, and more than a few scenes felt empty on our one trip through. If you have to skip any mazes for time, this would be the one to forego.

UNIVERSAL MONSTERS

This maze is not to be missed! It embodies everything HHN should be while using Universal’s oldest but most beloved horror IPs. This is an extremely well-designed maze, with rocking new music from Slash, and excellent makeup and effects. If you can get through the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA scene without screaming, you may not be human! We wanted to do this one again but didn’t have time. Don’t skip it!

HALLOWEEN 4

Wedged into the WATERWORLD queue, this maze follows the events of 1988’s HALLOWEEN 4: THE RETURN OF MICHAEL MYERS. I haven’t seen the film, but the maze is easy to follow – everywhere you turn, Michael Myers is trying to kill you, usually with a loud noise, a strobe effect, and some classic misdirection techniques. I screamed over and over and over, so Myers definitely was doing his job.

TERROR TRAM: HOLLYWOOD HARRY’S DREADTIME STORIEZ

TERROR TRAM is one of those things that you want to be great, and sometimes it is, but it’s hard to work in genuine scares in an open, crowded environment. This year’s installment centers around Hollywood Harry, the rogue clown who is torturing tram guides and wants you next. The coolest thing about this is getting to walk through real sets from PSYCHO and WAR OF THE WORLDS. Our timing might have been off here as well, as there was no chainsaw wielding monsters chasing us at the start.

THE WALKING DEAD

This maze is a permanent attraction available year-round at the park and receives some more scare-actors during HHN hours. Since it’s available all the time, see the other mazes before you come to this one. It’s fun and nails some fun scenes from the show, but you can do it at any time.

JABBAWOCKEEZ

If you get tired of being on your feet, the Jabbawockeez perform several times each night on the Special Effects Stage. While not necessarily horror-oriented, they put on a spectacular show.

HOW TO SEE IT ALL

Halloween Horror Night is extremely popular, and wait times for some mazes can exceed 2-3 hours throughout the night. The easiest way to make sure you see it all is to purchase a premium ticket package with Universal Express (one-time front of line access for all mazes, shows, and attractions) or the RIP Tour (unlimited front of line access, plus dinner, exclusive lounges, and transportation). As guests of Universal Studios Hollywood, we were able to take advantage of Universal Express and it worked like a dream. Fridays and Saturdays are more crowded than weeknights too.

If you don’t have the budget for upgrades, you can still see it all with minimal wait times. If you purchase your tickets online directly from Universal, you’ll receive Early Entry access starting at 5 PM. Arrive at 4 PM, be at the front of the Early Entry line, and you can go straight to the Lower Lot to see STRANGER THINGS with little to no wait. Then see TRICK ‘R TREAT, followed by POLTERGEIST, BLUMHOUSE, and THE FIRST PURGE. If you play your cards right, you can be through four or five mazes by the time the event actually starts at 7 PM. Lines usually die down again in the last hour of the event after 1 AM.

Grab your tickets now, as some dates will sell out in advance!

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