My Frightful Time at Universal Studios Hollywood: Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
At Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
At Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights

I kicked off the first weekend of October checking out one of the biggest Halloween events in Los Angeles—Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights. I’ve been going to this event for several years as part of my birthday festivities. However, I didn’t attend the last two years, so it felt good to return! I thought it’d be fun to share some details and photos from that spooky evening.

Like many affairs in 2020, Halloween Horror Nights was cancelled, so I was ecstatic when the creators announced earlier this year that their haunt would be “back with a vengeance” for 2021. The frightful mazes are the main attraction, and the themes change annually. This year’s selections included Netflix’s 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, and Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge. This amazing lineup was revealed during the summer, so my anticipation had been building for months! I make it a point to walk through all the mazes because they’re not repeated the following year. If I skip one, then I miss out entirely on the experience.

Main entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
Main entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights

I’m a huge fan of The Haunting of Hill House series and was very excited to experience this maze. Tales of haunted mansions and spirits thrill me, and this attraction captured those elements. If it weren’t for the procession of people behind me waiting to make their way through, I would’ve lingered behind in the rooms to soak up the atmosphere. For those who’ve seen the show, The Tall Man and Bent-Neck Lady made an appearance. The Exorcist is terrifying as both a film and maze. The attraction highlighted key moments from the movie, from Regan levitating off her bed to the priest attempting to exorcise the demon from her body.

  • The Bride of Frankenstein Lives maze entrance
  • Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
  • Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights

A few years ago, the theme park began dedicating one maze to Universal Monsters and Hammer Horror Films, and for 2021 it was The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. While I enjoyed every maze, that one was my favorite. Oddly enough, it wasn’t the scariest, but walking through it felt like reading a story. I’m a major bookworm, so I appreciated the literature references and how it unraveled The Bride’s tale of woe and destruction. The props and costumes were also beautifully executed.

The Terror Tram is featured every Halloween with different themes and is always fun to ride. This year it was inspired by The Purge movie franchise. The tram takes you to a hilly area, drops you off, and leaves you to walk the dirt path back to the pickup spot. There are scary sights to see along the way, and an added treat is the Norman Bates photo op, which is featured every year. The notorious Psycho House from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie has been on permanent display at Universal Studios since the 1960s, and you have to ride the tram to access this area. Norman comes out of his crypt especially for Halloween Horror Nights to slay…ahem…I mean greet guests.

There was also a Day of the Dead outdoor cocktail area decked out in vibrant Mexican décor, serving up delicious refreshments. VIP members had permission to enter an exclusive spot called Dante’s Bar. I did not have access, but it looked pretty devilish from what I could see. Monsters and tons of other creepy creatures walked the grounds waiting to pop out at you from dark corners. I was excited to see that this year the amusement park kept The Wizarding World of Harry Potter open for Halloween Horror Nights! In the past, this section was closed off during the haunt event, but that evening I was finally able to catch a glimpse of Hogwarts.

  • Day of the Dead Bar
  • Day of the Dead Bar
  • Dante's Bar
  • Dante's Bar
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights did an impressive job delivering frights this year. While the haunt season will be ending soon, it does return annually beginning in early September. A word of advice, I recommend purchasing the Universal Express tickets. They are more expensive than general admission, but they’re worth it. I used to do general admission and would wait in line for mazes for up to two hours! The event takes place typically from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., so to make the most of your time, try to do upgraded tickets.

I hope you enjoyed this recap and the images. If you’ve been to Halloween Horror Nights, either at this location or the one in Orlando, Florida, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

To celebrate my birthday, there were a few other events I attended this past month that I finally have time to write about, so I’ll be sharing those soon too!

9 thoughts on “My Frightful Time at Universal Studios Hollywood: Halloween Horror Nights

  1. Amazing, Jennifer! What an electrifying – and totally immersive – way to get in the “spirit” of Halloween.
    Clever play on words, right? And not all trite!

    Seriously, though, the tour is an intoxicating mixture of the fun that’s Halloween (Harry Potter) as well as the freaky (The Exorcist). Not sure of the other movies’ backstories, but “The Exorcist” is based on true events. Or so the line goes. From my neck of the woods, too, sort of, as the original events happened in Mt. Rainier, MD, a DC suburb.

    Anyway, I took this way off-course, didn’t I? Getting back to your tour, the cocktail area was perfect mix of both elements which give Halloween its thrills and chills. In keeping with the general Mexican aesthetic, DotD features much that’s bright and richly-colored, but also has the charged tinge of foreboding.

    Plus, Goth or not, everybody needs to eat and drink, right? Halloween, Halloween…it’s great to see you again. It’s been too long.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!
      What an experience it would be to visit those sites where The Exorcist was filmed. Yet more reasons to visit the East Coast. And I’ve heard Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Orlando is really amazing! That would be fun to write about.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. One day, Jenn, I hope!

    I’ve heard similar things about Universal Orlando, though for the perfect feel, little tops Salem, MA in October! The original and archetypical Halloween, centuries before the day became popular.

    Your writing really captivates, not just because it thrills, but because you always select the best topics. There’s that, and it also fulfils nostalgia for what was “home” once, in early childhood. I look forward to reading your take on what’s “home” now. Someday…

    Liked by 2 people

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