If you’re a fan of horror movies, it’s time to give up the treats and start experiencing the tricks.
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) is in its 23rd year, and features a different spooky theme each fall.
This season’s theme is “What Evil Has Taken Root?” featuring eight haunted houses inspired by video games, films and TV shows like “Resident Evil,” “The Walking Dead” and “Cabin in the Woods.” The event runs until Nov. 2.
Each house is detailed to perfection.
The route through the “Cabin in the Woods” haunted house leads you through a forest before entering the cabin where the frights begin.
The “American Werewolf in London” has gruesome transformation scenes straight from the cult classic.
But the scares don’t end when you exit the houses. “Walking Dead” themed scare zones are scattered around the park, and actors in zombie makeup roam around, scaring unsuspecting visitors.
Frequent HHN visitors are veterans purchasing tickets, finding lodging and exploring the entire park in one night.
But for beginners who want to make the most out of a frightful night, here are some tips on how to enjoy your Halloween adventure while staying on a budget.
What tickets to purchase
Tickets will probably be the largest expense of your trip, but the sticker shock will be worth it.
General admission for a single night costs $91.99; Florida residents get a discount, ranging from $42.99 to $69.99.
Be sure to avoid busy Friday and Saturday nights, and go on a less crowded Thursday or Sunday night.
But if you really want to enjoy your experience spend a bit extra (varying depending on the day you visit) and buy the HHN Express Pass.
This pass guarantees that you’ll be able to experience every haunted house and still have time left for rides.
The lines are sometimes longer than two hours and wasting that much time standing around means there is no way you can visit all the houses. Plus, no house is scary enough to make the two-hour wait worth it.
Where to stay
Don’t feel the pressure to stay at a Disney or Universal resort when you visit Orlando to attend HHN. The over-priced rooms are an unnecessary burden on your credit card.
Instead, check out off-site hotels like the ones near the Orlando Convention Center. You’ll be just as comfortable at a Comfort Inn or Quality Inn. The hotels can be as cheap as $50 for the night.
Another word of advice: Don’t stay longer than a night. There’s no need to stay more than one night if you’re only attending HHN.
If you want to visit some of the other theme parks in Orlando, then it’s best to stay longer than 24 hours – unless you want to look as exhausted as some of the zombies roaming Universal.
How to manage your time
Once you’ve made it to Orlando, there are a few ways to manage your time effectively.
Make sure you get to the park once it’s sundown. Any earlier, and it isn’t as scary since it’s not dark yet; any later, you won’t have enough time to go on all the rides or visit each haunted house without feeling rushed.
Remember to eat something before going into the park, or pack snacks and drinks. It’s worth breaking the bank for the tickets, but not for the over-priced theme park food.
Grab something to eat at CityWalk; it’s right outside the park, and you have to walk through it anyway to get to Universal’s entrance.
HHN is worth the price. Once you’re too old for trick-or-treating, you have to find another activity to celebrate the season. HHN is just the fix.