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Welcome to the country’s premier Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida. On these pages you will find all the information you need to survive the terror, including details on the attractions and shows as well as tips on how to save time and money.
Below you will find our overview of Halloween Horror Nights 2012. Once you have digested that information, use the navigation links at the bottom of the page to learn even more.
November 1, 2012
It’s all over for this year. Want to see some ideas for how Universal can improve next year’s event? Click here
Halloween Horror Nights 2012 – overview & explanation
Each step brings an eerie feeling that something horrifying is tracing your every move with lifeless eyes. You frantically search for a place to hide as a growling, flesh-hungry mob gains ground. Turning a corner, you breathe a sigh of relief… Until you look ahead. Screams pierce the night as you’re overcome. You never had a chance. There is no escape.
Beginning September 21, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights returns for 25 nights as the nation’s best and most intense Halloween event. This year, once guests step inside Halloween Horror Nights, they will not be able to escape the horror that awaits them, including terrifying haunted houses featuring some of the biggest names in pop culture – like AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and Silent Hill. And, with a completely reinvented street experience, scarecators will seek them out no matter where they turn.
HHN 2012 event dates & times
September: 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30
October: 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31
HHN peak nights: Oct 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 27
You can also view these dates on our Universal crowd calendar.
6:30pm – 12am: Sept 21, 22, 27, 30, Oct. 4, 17, 24, 31
6:30pm – 1am: Sept 28*, 29*, Oct. 7, 11, 14, 18, 21
6:30pm – 2am: Oct 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28
*Please note that, on Sept 28 & 29, HHN was originally scheduled to be open until 2:00am. That has been changed to 1:00am.
An overview of HHN 2012
This event is without a doubt one of the best Halloween events on Earth. Universal quite literally transforms all of the Universal Studios Florida theme park into a horror-filled extravaganza celebrating all things scary.
The event has three primary elements: haunted houses, scare zones, and shows. And this year, we have a brand new element: a lagoon show! We will take a look at each one of these elements after we answer a popular question…
What is the HHN 2012 theme and/or icon?
There is no overarching theme or single icon this year. Universal is using the expression “Once you’re inside… There is now way out!” quite a bit. However, that concept has not clearly manifested itself into a theme. And this year you will not find a primary character, like we saw in 2011 and 2010. While this is somewhat disappointing for us, it is not the first time Universal has kept the concepts developed for a particular year of HHN rather broad.
The haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights are “movie set quality” recreations of fantastic locations. Each haunted house is indoors, and they are usually located in either the unused queue area of a daytime attraction or one of the Universal soundstages. The haunted houses rely on every effect you can imagine to scare the pants off you, including loud music and sound effects, extremely tight passage ways, hideous creatures, strobe lights, air bursts, 3D, and of course very elaborate set decoration.
The haunted houses are the premier attractions at Halloween Horror Nights. It is important to know that the most popular ones will draw lines as long as three hours on peak nights.
Scare zones Re-invented street experience
Scare zones are essentially outdoor haunted houses that are set up in open areas around the theme park (for example, in the street area between Shrek 4-D and Despicable Me). The decorations and effects are usually not quite as elaborate as the haunted houses, but there are still many effects employed to gets screams out of guests.
In 2012 Universal is taking a new approach to scare zones. In the past a scare zone was a very specific area in the park, which made them quite easy to navigate around if you felt a bit uneasy. This year Universal has promised that all of Universal Studios Florida will be one big scare zone:
A completely reinvented street experience will unleash scareactors in an all-new, terrifying way. Roaming legions of menacing beasts, vampires, prisoners, warriors and more will inhabit every corner of the park. They will find you and invade your personal space like never before. There will be no boundaries. The rules of the past will no longer apply.
Check out our Scenes from HHN 2012 page for more information about the new street experience, plus tons of full-screen photos and a complete HD video.
Live stage shows
For 2012 Universal has brought back the perennial fan-favorite Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure:
Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theordore” Logan return with an all-new, especially excellent Halloween adventure. Party on as those two most excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture.
For those who have visited Universal, this show is similar in style to Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue, except it is performed on the larger Fear Factor stage next to MEN IN BLACK and photography is strictly prohibited.
In addition to Bill & Ted’s, Universal has added a new second show to replace last year’s Death Drums. The new show is a franchise of the 20 Penny Circus, and it is called 20 Penny Circus: Fully Exposed:
The 20 Penny Circus brings its “Magic for the People with Questionable Taste” to an unsuspecting Halloween Horror Nights audience.
This show can be found on the smaller Beetlejuice stage.
New this year: Halloween lagoon shows
Many of you already know that this spring Universal launched an all-new nighttime lagoon show called Cinematic Spectacular. The show combines famous movie scenes from Universal’s 100-year history projected onto state-of-the-art water curtains with fountain effects, fireworks, and an impressive soundtrack. It has been a huge hit with park guests, which is why we were all bummed to learn that the show would not be incorporated into Halloween Horror Nights. (Vacation planners, please note that the show isn’t even running during USF’s regular daytime hours on HHN nights — see our Cinematic Spectacular page to learn more).
However, while we may not be getting a Halloween version of Cinematic Spectacular, Universal is using the lagoon water curtains, fountains, lasers, and lighting effects during HHN in what can best be described as a set of mini-shows. These do not have a famous narrator or recognizable soundtrack, but the backdrop of the USF Lagoon at night makes the experience positively electrifying. Here is a spoiler-free quick look:
The biggest problem with the new shows is trying to see them! Universal (as of yet) does not print a schedule or give any pre-show announcement, so you just have to hope you’re in the right place at the right time. This is a real disappointment, because I believe these shows are a critical part to truly enjoy the HHN experience.
BONUS: Regular daytime attractions
During Halloween Horror Nights there are a few of the regular attractions running. Here’s the official list: Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Revenge of the Mummy, The Simpsons Ride, Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, and MEN IN BLACK: Alien Attack. Please note that if you purchase an Express Pass for Halloween Horror Nights, it works on the rides in addition to the haunted houses (except for Rockit, because that still does not have Express Pass access).
Halloween Horror Nights park map
Here is the in-park map for Halloween Horror Nights 2012 showing the locations of each haunted house and the two stage shows. You can click the image to view it full-screen:
What Halloween Horror Nights is not
This event is not Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, but at Universal Orlando. There is no trick-or-treating, and there are no characters dressed up in cutsie outfits. The single purpose of HHN is to scare you. As such, Universal strongly advises that children under the age of 13 do not attend. I tell people that HHN is like a horror movie brought to life. If you like horror movies, you will love HHN. If you do not like horror movies, you will probably hate HHN.
The most important stuff you need to know about HHN
This section has been moved to our brand new “After the apocalypse” survival guide.
You can learn more about Halloween Horror Nights by using the links in the navigation area below. If you’ve already gone through all of our HHN 2012 info here in the OI Universal Center, you can check out our HHN blog posts or take a trip back to last year in our archives from HHN 2011.