Fog billows across the ground and zombies with rotted-out faces push through shrieking crowds.
George Romero isn’t directing because this is real life. Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is here to unleash terror for one last week. Here’s what you need to know if you plan on catching it before it’s gone.
This year’s headlining theme is AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” Seven other houses vary in theme from horror classics like “An American Werewolf in London” to this year’s remade blockbuster, “Evil Dead,” with no expense lost on detail. “[The ‘Evil Dead’ house] stuck to the movie and really did it justice,” theatre major Samantha Novaton said. “It was like watching it over again.”
So, if you’re one of the wayward souls looking for a fright fest there are a few basic things to remember:
1. GET TO THE PARK WHEN HHN OPENS:
Being a college kid typically means being broke, and being broke means a lot of nights spent at home. If you’re lucky enough to get to Orlando in the first place, be sure to get your money’s worth.
HHN opens at 6:30 p.m., so get there around 5:45 p.m. to beat the entry line. Not to mention the parking lot may look something like FAU’s parking at 10 a.m. on Monday mornings.
On Fridays and Saturdays the parks close at 2 a.m., giving you almost eight hours for fun–not counting time spent waiting in lines. The park closes earlier on Wednesdays and Fridays, at midnight and 1 a.m., respectively.
Being in the park early means more time to experience all HHN has to offer, and for those of you worried about being out before dark, kill a little time by going on Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket, The Simpson’s Ride, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, MIB: Alien Attack, or the newly opened Transformers: The Ride-3D. Revenge of the Mummy is also open if you’re trying to get in the spooky spirit. It’s roughly a three hour drive to Orlando from Boca. Even if you never make it to class on time, try and make it here.
2. WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES:
Your feet will definitely thank you for this. The houses are spread out across the park, and walking (or running) through this year’s “Walking Dead: The Undead Streets” Scare Zones after waiting in lines will have you feeling the burn. Supportive sneakers are probably the best choice, but I wore a broken-in pair of combat boots and was still fine by the end of the night. Others weren’t so lucky.
“I was exhausted,” said business major Priscilla Amalbert “from standing in long lines and walking around the whole park.”
As a sidenote, try and incorporate something spooky into your wardrobe. While Universal will deny entry if you wear masks or costumes, show some Halloween spirit with patterned tights or a cheesy t-shirt.
3. PLAN WHAT YOU WANT TO DO FROM THE EVENT MAP:
Dora the Explorer had the right idea. Pick up a map from the information booth and make a game plan for the houses and shows you want to see. This year’s HHN shows are “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show: A Tribute.” They only play at certain times throughout the night, so budget your time like a full time student with exams all on the same day. Speaking of time…
4. SPRING FOR EXPRESS PASSES:
It might mean eating ramen noodles for a week, but it’s worth it. Express Passes will let you skip the regular line once at each haunted house, participating show, and ride per guest. HHN Florida resident tickets start at $42.99, but Universal offers a package deal including HHN admission and an Express Pass starting at $59.99, available at halloweenhorrornights.com. HHN’s website says they only sell a limited number of passes, so be sure to get yours early and avoid standing in line with the same sweaty people for an hour or more.
5. STAY OVERNIGHT:
Being tired and driving three hours back to South Florida in the middle of the night is probably NOT the best idea. If you’re lucky enough to have friends or relatives who live in the Orlando area, see if you can crash at their place. If no one will put you up for the night, there’s various hotels surrounding the theme park, and Universal even has a “Gory Getaway” offer just for Florida residents — which includes one night hotel accommodations, admission to HHN, and a CityWalk Party Pass, starting from $89. Universal shows their different hotel offers online at halloweenhorrornights.com.
Start practicing that silver-screen worthy scream, then head on up to Orlando to put it to the test. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights wasn’t voted the best Halloween event by Amusement Today six years running for nothing.
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