This is the first in a series of articles previewing and reviewing Universal Studios’ annual Halloween Horror Nights.
Universal Studios in Orlando’s ‘Halloween Horror Nights’ has been a staple in the haunt community since 1991, when it premiered as ‘Fright Nights’. Universal Hollywood, Singapore, and Japan soon followed suit. But the main event is in Orlando. Every year, event fans pack into the park after 6pm from September through early November. What awaits them is a smorgasbord of haunted houses, scare zones, fright-themed merchandise, food, and drink, and live shows. Oh, and Harry Potter. Lots of Harry Potter.
Universal’s daytime main attraction, Diagon Alley, is open for business, and a welcome respite from the chainsaw-wielding gangs that roam the streets in front of Moe’s Tavern and Mel’s Drive-In…er, Die In, and several shops are busy with fans eager to don some Hogwarts robes and cast a spell. But outside the shuffling brick wall of the Harry Potter universe, ghouls and psychopath rule the roost.
In past years, there was a Bill and Ted show (yes, that Bill and Ted, of Excellent Adventure, and Bogus Journey fame), but that all changed with ‘Halloween Horror Nights 28’ last year, when the actors who played Bill S. Preston (esquire) and Ted “Theodore” Logan retired from the stage show. It was replaced with dance troupe ‘Academy of Villains,’ which previously was a street show, but now occupies the ‘Fear Factor’ stage.
The only news so far this year are the dates of the event: September 6, 2019 through November 2, 2019. Nearly two full months of horror-themed madness, up from previous years by about seven nights. The other tidbit is the fact that, like last year, there will be ten themed houses and five scare zones. The houses will be based on existing horror properties and all new, original houses. Previous IP houses have included An American Werewolf in London, Jason vs. Freddy, American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, and Stranger Things, among others. Original ideas included houses like Vampyr: Blood Bath, Giggles and Gore Inc, and Zombiegeddon.
Every year, fans wait with bated breath for the reveals of the mazes and scare zones, with the news trickling out tantalizingly via social media, and speculation running wild. This year is no different. Theories began flying around quite literally the day after last year’s event closed. Perhaps even earlier. So far, nothing has been announced, but when there are announcements, Fan Fest will be there to analyze and report on them.