[Review] Don’t Go Alone: Halloween Horror Nights

Don’t go alone. This festival of fears continues after 30 years. Its many entertaining haunted houses and scare zones never fail to scare.

Malena Molina, Writer

Universal Studios Orlando Resort recently reopened their Halloween Horror Nights event, filled with haunted houses, scare zones, spooky shows and delicious food. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights, Universal went all out to ensure that this year’s festival of fear was like no other.

I should warn you though-do not go alone. Lurking around the park, performers dressed in creepy costumes and wielding fake weapons were waiting to scare you everywhere you went. In their 30th year of organizing haunted houses and scare zones based on horror films and icons, Universal has continued to unleash your greatest fears.

Beginning Friday, Sept. 3 to Sunday, Oct. 31, feel the fear brought upon by Jack the Clown and Beetlejuice in the 10 haunted houses, themed accordingly to horror films and icons. Visit crypt TV and their deformed monsters in one of the five scare zones crafted to leave you trembling. If you are feeling faint, then stop by some of the themed kiosks to pick up some savory food.

Universal’s latest horror attraction is only available on select times and dates. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and ends by 2:00 a.m. On the Orlando Halloween Horror Nights website, you can check their blackout dates. Single-night tickets online are only $70.99 plus tax, but at the gate, they are sold for $122.99 plus tax. I would recommend buying the single-night tickets online because one night is enough time to explore the park and the price difference is too significant to pass up.

Starting the night off, I entered my first haunted house, “Welcome to Scarey: Horror in the Heartland,” not knowing what to expect. These houses of terror are exciting and welcoming until you take your first steps. This house is based on a small, innocent town that undergoes a horrific mass murder of all its citizens. Blood becomes the new paint as you walk through their living rooms and visualize the lives they had.

Waiting for an actor to scare you makes you anxious and all you can see is splatters of fake blood and guts of the carcasses who once used to be human. The actors are heavily dressed and masked, fitting in and hiding almost seamlessly if not for the saran wrap-like barrier to protect the actors and the frightened.

The second house was “The Haunting of Hill House,” inspired by a Netflix original series. As I have watched the show prior, my expectations for this house were high and I was not disappointed. Breezing through the house felt like walking through the mansion the Crain family once lived in. The ghosts of the mansions are played by actors hiding in the walls. Dark and fogged, you have to watch your step and be aware of the people in front of you.

The next house, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” transports you back into the movie and is very well done. Wooden panels give a barn setting as the ground is sprinkled with faux hay. Red paint and fake blood decorated the barn walls as a massacre scene splayed out for those passing by to walk by farther into the house. By far, this house was one of the scariest houses of the night. Actors are hidden well and are very terrifying with many jump scares. This house left my heart pumping and wanting more with every turn.

My fourth house of the night, “Beetlejuice,” a classic halloween film enjoyed by all, was another phenomenal haunted house. The wait was long and quite a walk, but was worth it when I passed through the house’s doors. Inside, an actor playing Beetlejuice, who was very in character, holds a flirtatious stance, entertaining the viewers walking in. It felt like walking through a wonderland of Beetlejuice, which was very captivating and full of energy and color. The walls and tunnels almost look alive because you could almost see it moving. Ending the journey of the Beetlejuice adventure, a black and white snake jumps at you from above, almost the size of a train.

The next haunted house I entered was “Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives,” which is based on the tale of Frankenstein’s heartbroken bride due to the death of Frankenstein. The walkthrough was like being a side character in a book, in which every step you take leads you to be more entranced in the story.

The site of Frankenstein’s death was a rocky mountainside, while bright flashing lights imitated lightning. As you walk further in, you can see his bride trying to replicate how the scientist brought him to life. Old timely mechanisms and technology outline the walls as you pass by his bride. While this house was not as frightening as others, it was still just as entertaining with a few jump scares that ended in laughs.

Continuing onto the next house, “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy” is the story of a kid who denies a tooth fairy their tooth. This seemingly innocent decision ends in bloodbath. The fairy turns the bedrooms of all the children upside down, creating an example of what happens when you make the wrong choice. As you walk through her story, many children turned fairy ghouls appear to make your heart race. The house mostly consisted of children’s bedrooms in gruesome twists, as the children are either torn to pieces or turned into fairy henchmen. This house was not a long wait and absolutely worth the fear of getting attacked by goblin children.

Following “Revenge of the Tooth Fairy” was “Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth,” a very pleasant house compared to the other horrifying ones ahead. Walking through offices of undiscovered mysteries, you find yourself intrigued with the characters and walk through distracted, missing the actors jumping out as the characters. Compared to the other houses, I might characterize this one as a little boring since it was more calm as opposed to the more horrifying houses present.

The next house, “The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin,” contains an entrance with smiling, teasing pumpkins waiting for you to enter. As you walk in, an ambience of orange lighting and overgrown roots overtakes your senses. Expecting a mundane haunted house, I was caught by surprise by the attention to detail on the storyline. “All hail the Pumpkin King” was written in blood as more and more citizens are found dead. As I walked through, my nerves did not calm down and continued to be stimulated as I ducked and jumped away from the Pumpkin King.

Next on my list of favorites was “Halloween Horror Nights Icons: Captured,” which allows you to experience characters from Halloween Horror Nights again all together as frightening as ever. Jack the Clown makes an appearance in a circus-themed haunted house, but unfortunately, he did not create as many screams as the others. For example, the Texas Chainsaw massacre, in comparison to Halloween Horror Nights Icons: Captured, held the title for the most screams heard.

Last, but definitely not least, was “Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience,” the goriest haunted house in the entire event. The haunted house focused on a puppeteer who made puppets out of severed limbs. This haunted house will leave you with goosebumps even after you leave. Blood covered the old abandoned theatre as the actors were strategically hidden to leave the viewers trembling. This was definitely the best haunted house this year and the most entertaining.

In between houses, there were horror shows to enjoy, like “The first Marathon of Mayhem,” a water and light show with projections on the flowing water. The lights and actions of the water were captivating and so exhilarating to watch as you saw projections of Jack the Clown and other Horror Nights icons.

The second show was “Halloween Nightmare Fuel,” the best show I have ever watched. It starts with a man afraid to sleep because of his overwhelming nightmares. The dancers were completely in sync when dancing, even when one had their own solo to perform. The performers captivated the audience, making them practically scream for more.

All in all, this Halloween event was very exciting. However, the resort could have been decorated more like previous years. For instance, the entrance to the event two years ago had arcades lined up across each other with actors dressed like players. The scare zones were amazingly decorated with stages and many props, but it was still just as thrilling. Every moment was spent at a house, scare zone, horror show or devouring delicious food.