Universal Orlando says you should “never go alone” to their signature haunted event, so we’ve got your Unofficial Guide to five things that you simply must bring when attending Halloween Horror Nights 31.
Central Florida’s fright season is currently in full swing, which means Halloween Horror Nights is now haunting Universal Studios Florida on select nights through October 31, 2022. While we’re longtime fans of the award-winning event, a good deal of planning and preparation is required to get the full value out of your after-hours park ticket. With that in mind, here’s what the Unofficial Guides team recommends that you pack if you’re going to brave the terrors of HHN 31.
1. Rain Gear
Hurricane season is here, and the typical afternoon thunderstorms have been especially intense this year. Torrential downpours on Halloween Horror Night’s opening night have been a soggy tradition for decades, but in 2022 heavy rainstorms have been hitting in the late afternoon or early evening on most event nights. HHN happens rain or shine—although outdoor rides and street Scareactors will shut down during a storm—so arm yourself with an umbrella and poncho, or be prepared to purchase one from a gift shop when the skies inevitably open up.
2. Refillable Cups
Touring Halloween Horror Nights is thirsty work, and you can quickly go broke paying à la carte for essential hydration. Purchase a refillable Freestyle mug (available in a special HHN style) to enjoy free fountain drinks and ICEEs all night long; if you activate it during the day, it will continue to work until 2 a.m. If you bring your own refillable bottle instead, Freestyle machines will still dispense free filtered ice water. Modest discounts are also available on souvenir cup refills of alcoholic cocktails, but they’re mostly too sugary and strong to recommend for repeated consumption.
3. Stay & Scream Admission
It’s impossible to overstate how crowded Halloween Horror Nights can get, with wait times for haunted houses averaging 60 minutes on peak nights. And while you can pay a bundle for Express passes, they’ll only cut those waits by about 50%. However, if you have a daytime ticket or annual pass to the parks (or purchase a $35 Scream Early add-on), then you can participate in Stay & Scream, giving you nearly an hour’s head start on the general public.
Pick your Stay & Scream area carefully, and check in with your HHN admission between 3 and 4 p.m. We picked the New York holding area, where I was able to eat an early dinner at Finnegan’s before lining up for Halloween, which has proven to be this year’s most popular house. Thankfully, I was in and out of both Halloween and its neighbor, Sprits of the Coven, before the front gates opened at 6 p.m.
Another alternative is the Central Park and Springfield Stay & Scream area, which gives priority access to HHN 31’s second-most-popular house—The Weeknd After Hours Nightmare—as well as Universal Monsters: Legends Collide. I reached these houses just after early entry guests had been processed, but ahead of those entering the park, and experienced minimal waits for both.
Descendants of Destruction and Bugs: Eaten Alive are in the rear of the park, so their lines don’t begin to build until later in the night, and Hellblock Horror never attracts much of a wait. As a result, on an off-peak Thursday night I was able to experience 6 out of 10 houses before 7 p.m., and I finished all 10 before 11 p.m. without waiting more than 40 minutes for any of them!
4. A Strong Stomach
Even if you are inured to gory dismemberments, you may want to remember an antacid if attempting to eat your way around Halloween Horror Nights 31’s expanded dining options, now offered from elaborately decorated booths around the park.
Fan-favorite gutbusters like pizza fries have been joined by “maggot”-covered hot dogs, fried “zombie brains,” and other revolting repasts. There are even items for vegans; we can vouch that Chucky’s chili has a kick!
5. Comfortable Shoes
In only one evening at Halloween Horror Nights 31, I walked 14 miles—more than a half-marathon—and the event still had several hours to go when I exited. Dress for fasciitis, not fashion, because you’re going to be on the move for most of the night. When you do need a break from shuffling past boo-holes, be sure to see Halloween Nightmare Fuel Wildfire, which offers acrobatics, illusions, and pyrotechnics, plus a stadium seat to rest on.
HHN 31’s other show is standing-room only, but Ghoulish! A Halloween Tale is well worth working into your itinerary. I enjoyed this frightful fantastic fountain even better than Disney California Adventure’s World of Color Villainous. Try to watch from the elevated lawn in the rear of the Central Park viewing area, or watch our 4K video of the complete show below:
If you enjoyed Ghoulish!, relive HHN 30 with this recording of the Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory show from 2022:
For all there is to see and do at Universal Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.