Universal Studios Hollywood has been in full-blown Halloween mode since launching Horror Nights on September 8th, and I attended during its second weekend of being open. Now, normally I wait to do this event closer to my birthday, but prices during October for the express pass increased like crazy, so to save some money, I decided to go earlier. Was it any less exciting attending in September? Not at all! Here’s a recap of this year’s festivities and what you can look forward to if you’re planning to check it out.
The theme park was packed with people and with all sorts of demonic creatures lurking in dark, mist-filled corners waiting to jump out at unsuspecting guests. Electronic music was blaring through giant speakers and neon lights flashed down on pathways. Returning this year was the Día de los Muertos plaza, featuring a grand bar, a cafe, and colorful decor. Before heading into mazes, I ordered a smoky margarita, which was served in a skull-shaped mug that lit up. I’m not a tequila drinker, but they weren’t serving wine, so I made do with what was on their menu. I have to say I enjoyed the cocktail. The ingredients tasted fresh, and it wasn’t sugary or syrupy, which are two things I despise in a drink.
After finishing my beverage, I was ready to brave the haunts. Universal Studios Hollywood is situated on a hillside and consists of multiple levels that you have to take escalators to access. From years past, I’ve learned it’s best to navigate the park by starting at the bottom and working my way up. There were eight haunted houses, and the lower levels contained a good portion of them. I didn’t get many photos inside the mazes because I wanted to fully immerse myself in the demented environments, but I did capture images of the exteriors.
For months, there’s been a lot of talk surrounding The Weeknd’s After Hours Nightmare. I thought it was interesting that the music artist was taking a stab at creating his own haunt. The attraction looked spectacular inside and reminded me of a futuristic version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” The characters and decor were seductive and dark, and it was a feast for the eyes and ears as the singer’s music resounded through the maze. In a separate area, there was an accompanying After Hours Nightmare Bar serving adult libations. I heard that The Weeknd himself was there that night walking around the park and checking out how patrons were reacting to his haunt. I didn’t catch a glimpse of him, but at one point security rushed past to get to the bar and I heard excited screams. I suspect it was because the star was making an appearance.
If you’re afraid of clowns, then Killer Klowns From Outer Space would have terrified you. It was creepy in all the right ways! I also walked through Scarecrow: The Reaping, which had a ravaged harvest theme. I was really anticipating entering Universal Monsters: Legends Collide. It featured The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy battling against each other. Wherever Dracula is, I follow like an unholy disciple.
The Terror Tram is a must when you’re in the bowels of Universal Studios. The theme changes every year, and for 2022, it’s bringing to life Jordan Peele’s movies Us and NOPE. What I love about this attraction is that guests are driven a portion of the way, then dropped off to walk a dirt path where all sorts of nightmares await to taunt unlucky passersby. One component that hasn’t changed is the Psycho photo op. The actual house featured in the classic horror film is situated along the trail with Norman Bates lingering on the front porch with his knife. If you go, don’t miss the opportunity to stop and take a picture with the killer. It makes for great memories.
As I ascended through the park, I paid a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. New this year were the numerous Death Eaters walking around hidden among the mists. Fans of Michael Myers will appreciate the Halloween maze. Images of the masked murderer were everywhere. There was also La Llorona, based on the Latino legend of a mother who drowned her children. My husband’s favorite attraction was the Universal Horror Hotel, which transported people to the roaring 20s and was haunted by spirits of the establishment’s former guests. The final attraction of the evening was The Horrors of Blumhouse. It highlighted the movies Freaky and The Black Phone. The latter I’ve seen and totally recommend. This maze was a fantastic way to end the night. The props, characters and setup were spine tingling and pulled me into these twisted worlds.
In addition to the haunts, the park’s rides also operate during the event, so I had a jolly good time going on The Mummy and Jurassic World. Although, I wouldn’t suggest going on that second one if you don’t want to get drenched. There’s water splashing at you everywhere.
Halloween Horror Nights is also happening in Orlando, Japan and Singapore. I know some attractions may differ, but I don’t doubt that they’re worth attending. I recommend purchasing express tickets if you can because wait times for general admission can be painfully long. I’m sad that I have to wait another year before returning to the event in Hollywood, but it was exciting getting to experience the festivities early in the season. For those out there planning to go, I wish you a scary and fun time.