Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights (formerly dubbed Fright Nights) is an annual event held at Universal Studios theme parks in Florida, California, Singapore, and Japan. The parks are open throughout the day and transform into Halloween Horror Nights during the evening. The Halloween-themed festival takes place in the fall and contains haunted homes, fright zones, and live entertainment, many of which feature characters from Universal Studios. It is aimed for teenagers and adults.

Halloween Junkie - Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights


Halloween Horror Nights debuted in 1991 as Fright Nights at Universal Studios Florida. It debuted on October 25, 26, and 31, 1991, as a three-night event including only one haunted house, The Dungeon of Terror. The event was held at Universal Studios Florida from 1991 until 2001.

In 1992, the event was renamed “Universal Studios Florida Halloween Horror Nights” and billed as the event’s second year. Two haunted houses made their return, with The Dungeon of Terror returning to the Jaws queue building and The People Under The Stairs making its Soundstage 23 debut. The five-night event took place on October 23, 24, 29, 30, and 31.

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida expanded to seven nights for the third year. Due to the reopening of the Jaws attraction, the in-park haunted house was relocated from the Jaws line in Amity to the New York area’s Nazarman’s facade. The number of haunted houses has been raised to three, with the third located inside Universal Studios Florida’s Bates Motel.

In 1994, Halloween Horror Nights 4 was extended to an eight-night run. This year, the Dungeon of Terror returned with a new design, as well as three additional haunted houses. Along with Nazarman’s and the Bates Motel, new locations included the Earthquake overflow queue and the Boneyard. This year also saw the debut of the word “Scaracters,” as well as the inaugural “Ghoul School” for event participants.

Halloween Horror Nights V ran for 12 nights and featured three haunted houses, one of which featured a dual-path. Additionally, it was the first time Universal centered an event around a character, in this case the Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt. The event was dubbed “The Crypt Keeper’s Curse.”

In 1986 and 1992, Universal Studios Hollywood hosted Halloween attractions. While the 1986 attempt bore little resemblance to the present event, it was overshadowed by the unfortunate death of a store employee who, like many other employees at the time, had volunteered to perform in the event. The 1992 event was created in direct response to the success of Fright Nights at Universal Florida the previous year, however it was a failure. Halloween Horror Nights opened on October 9, 1997, at Universal Studios Hollywood and ran until the 2000 season. Halloween Horror Nights had a sabbatical from 2001 to 2005 at Universal Studios Hollywood before returning in 2006. Since then, it has occurred annually. Between 2007 and 2014, Universal Studios Hollywood re-themed Universal’s House of Horrors, the park’s permanent haunted attraction, for Halloween Horror Nights.

Returning to Florida, Halloween Horror Nights VI through X maintained the format established for Halloween Horror Nights V in 1995, expanding from 15 nights in 1996 to 19 nights in 2000. Each year featured three haunted houses, though beginning in 1998, two of the houses featured dual-path experiences, for a total of five encounters. One major update was the addition of the world’s first three-dimensional haunted house to the Nazarman’s exterior in 1999. Universal debuted its first in-house designed icon, Jack the Clown, in 2000.

Due to the proximity to the September 11 attacks to Halloween Horror Nights XI, Universal made numerous alterations to the event. Much of the event’s gore was omitted, and blood was replaced with green “goop.” Numerous residences, fear zones, and shows have had their names changed. Eddie, the initial icon character, was axed. Edgar Sawyer was envisioned as a deranged, chainsaw-wielding horror film enthusiast who had been disfigured in a fire. He was positioned as a rival to former icon Jack, and the tagline “No more clowning around” was used in early commercials and merchandising. Eddie was eventually ejected from the event before to its start, despite his continued appearance on the event’s logo and goods with the official “I.C.U.” catchphrase. Jack would return as a last-minute replacement, accompanied by a range of products under the motto “Jack’s Back.” Eddie’s origins have been altered, as has his name, which has been changed to Eddie Schmidt, Jack’s younger brother. Again, the festival lasted 19 days and featured five haunted houses. The duplex residence was located in Soundstage 22.

Halloween Junkie - Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

Icons for events

Halloween Horror Nights has gathered a slew of iconic lead characters. These emblems are frequently accompanied by complex backstories involving the events’ themes, residences, or terror zones. They have been mostly utilized for promotional materials and marketing. The first unofficial icon was The Crypt Keeper, a character from the famous television series Tales from the Crypt at the time of his initial appearance at an event. The Crypt Keeper was reintroduced the following year for another of the residences, but was not included in the advertising campaign. After the Crypt Keeper, the event continued without an icon for three years. Imhotep was the icon for Halloween Horror Nights X in 1999, while Jack the Clown was the icon for Halloween Horror Nights X. This is the first time that Universal designed a symbol in-house. Every year since, with the exception of Halloween Horror Nights XIV, 22-24, and 27-29, Halloween Horror Nights has featured an icon, and in some cases, many icons. Jack the Clown, The Caretaker, The Director, The Storyteller, Bloody Mary, The Usher, Fear, Lady Luck, and Chance have been among these figures. Chance served as the 2016 Halloween Horror Nights icon. She was a new icon, although she used to act as Jack’s “sidekick” in his shows (however there are speculations that they are romantically involved) (her role and look being inspired by Batman antagonist Harley Quinn). In 2007, for Halloween Horror Nights 17, Universal once again leased intellectual property from other parties, this time from New Line Cinema for Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface, but retained Jack the Clown. Jack the Clown made a triumphant comeback to Halloween Horror Nights XXV in 2015, followed by Chance at Halloween Horror Nights 26 in 2016. In 2021, the icons returned to their home, Icons Captured, for HHN 30. Set in Fear’s Lantern from HHN 20, each group had their own dedicated area in which they re-enacted famous kills. Each night, a different icon would sit in the throne in the last room.

Halloween Junkie - Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

Houses That Are Haunted

The haunted houses are the event’s primary draw. When “Fright Nights” began at Universal Studios Florida in 1989,[89] there was just one haunted house: the Dungeon of Terror. [90] As the event has grown in popularity over the years, the number of houses has expanded to as many as ten, as of Halloween Horror Nights 28 in 2018. [91] The residences are listed in the charts above, organized by year, for each park. On average, the event features nine haunted homes and additional fear zones.

Halloween Junkie - Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

Zones of Fear

Halloween Horror Nights IV was the first year to include a “scare zone,” a term used to refer to particular outdoor areas that contain costumed figures that correspond to the zone’s theme with the intention of frightening those who enter. To access specific portions of the park, visitors must pass through various fright zones. Orlando rebranded fear zones as “street experiences” in 2012, saying that scare performers were no longer constrained to certain “zones.” Rather than that, there were a number of “hordes” that moved throughout the park every 90 minutes. By 2014, The Purge: Anarchy (based by the film), Face Off: In the Flesh, Bayou of Blood, and MASKerade: Unstitched have reintroduced the typical fear zones. However, Hollywood Horror Nights in California retains themed scare zones. Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando has relocated its scare zones in recent years, requiring guests to walk through at least one zone upon entering the park. While actors are not permitted to touch guests or vice versa, a large number of them can surround you at any given time. Numerous actors in these places carry props such as bats, chainsaws, and phantom firearms and can act as if they are about to attack you with their “weapons.” Additionally, actors are permitted to pursue tourists into and out of the fear zones. At times, actors will pose as regular event guests, only to be apprehended by various hoards, most notably The Purge.

Halloween Junkie - Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights
Photo by David Sprague


Halloween Horror Nights has included a variety of live entertainment performances. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show A Tribute,” “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure,” Robosaurus, and Academy of Villains have all had recurring episodes. From 1992 until its discontinuation during Halloween Horror Nights 27 in 2017, Bill and Ted’s show was included in every Halloween Horror Nights.

Universal Studios Florida will unveil a brand-new lagoon performance, “Halloween Marathon of Mayhem,” on HHN 29. The show will feature “iconic scenes from major horror films, cult classics, and television shows.”

Halloween Junkie - Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights


Numerous rides will stay operating during the festival. Some attractions have been rethemed during previous event years, such as Kongfrontation becoming Tramway of Doom for Halloween Horror Nights II. Since 2015, Diagon Alley has been open during Halloween Horror Nights. It was shuttered in 2014, despite having opened only a few months prior, and has not been re-themed or featured any scare actors to date.