Upon entering Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, there is no turning back. The sun hazily sets in the Orlando sky and you realize you’ve entered a twisted world where the ghastly roam and screams are prized.
Welcome to your worst nightmare.
Each year from late September through the end of October, Universal Studios Orlando transforms its namesake park into a nightly spectacle filled with haunted houses, scare zones (special areas that guests must pass through that are filled with freakish characters) and live shows.
“It’s pretty scary but it’s fun,” said Jennifer O’Toole, 23, of Delray Beach. “I have been to Halloween Horror Nights a few times before and it’s interesting to see what direction they will take each year.”
Traditionally, Universal has organized the event around a specific icon in both its Los Angeles and Orlando theme parks, using it as a figurehead for the year’s general concept.
The creative team at Universal truly does hope to inspire fear, working on each edition of Halloween Horror Nights up to a year in advance. Special attention is given to intricate details in all aspects of the event, even the “scharacters’” costumes.
“On the actual nights to get ready [for Halloween Horror Nights] it’s like a ballet,” explained Lora Wallace, a member of the Halloween Horror Nights creative team. “It’s very chaotic from 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m., when everyone is getting ready, with the blood station over here and the prosthetics station over there.”
At Halloween Horror Nights, visitors can expect the extraordinary.
“We have to show fans we’re taking the event into the next two decades,” said Patrick Braillard, a member of the Halloween Horror Nights creative team, about last year’s 20th anniversary.
Daniella Fernandez, a junior at UM, is an avid fan of Halloween Horror Nights and has been attending the event for as long as she can remember.
“I like the adrenaline rush; I’m really into horror movies and I like to be scared,” she said, breaking into a wry smile. “I like to test them because I don’t get scared easily.”
Fernandez feels everyone should visit Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights at least once.
“I definitely recommend it. Everyone should go because it is a totally different experience than anything else,” she said. “And it’s fun anyways to go away for a weekend, all just to celebrate Halloween.”