Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida is an annual mecca for horror fans. Locals come repeatedly, but some fans can only make it one night out of the season. Others are coming for the first time and have no idea on how to see the event efficiently. Here are five must-dos:
1) Arrive as early as possible. If you only have a Halloween Horror Nights ticket, you have to get through metal detectors and then get in another line for the actual park gate. That can take a long, long time on busy nights, and the crowd grows as the evening progresses. You'll lose a lot of valuable time if you're not one of the first people at the gate. Parking can be a messy affair, too, and then there's the long walk from the garage to the actual park.
Better yet, if you have a day ticket, you can stay inside the park after closing and wait in a holding pen. You're released when Halloween Horror Nights opens (actually, it's usually a little bit before the official opening time), and you have a jump on the massive crowd outside the gates.
2) Get an Express pass. Yes, I know it's expensive, and yes, I know it's annoying to pay more money on top of your ticket fee. However, it's pure gold on crowded nights. If you only have one night, it virtually guarantees that you'll get to see all the houses. The other way to do that is to book an RIP Tour, but with Express you get to take your time going through the scare zones and enjoying the ambiance rather than following the group.
3) See Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure. If if you're too young to remember the original Bill and Ted movies, this show is a must-see. You don't really need to be familiar with the concept, since it's only marginally related. It's mostly about brutally and comically skewing pop culture. Expect lots of sexy gratuitous dancing.
4) Stay until closing time. There's so much going on at this event, with eight haunted houses, scare zones all around the park, and two shows. Commit to staying until closing, even if you're there on a 2 a.m. close night. The haunted house lines often get considerably shorter as the night wears on. Even if you saw them all with an Express pass, you can do your favorites again. You'll also have time for some dinner in the park if you missed it by arriving early.
Speaking of doing the houses more than once, I always recommend this. There are two casts for each house, so if you catch both it's a very different experience, since they bring their own slant to things.
5) Be prepared for bad weather. Rain is not uncommon in October, and the event goes on regardless of the weather. Be equipped with a rain poncho and/or pocket-sized umbrella. You can buy ponchos at the park, but they're cheaper at places like Target and Wal-Mart. Wear shoes that won't turn into uncomfortable, soggy blister-inducers if they get wet. Focus on the haunted houses while it's raining, and save the scare zones for breaks in the weather, since the outside scareactors don't work in heavy rain.
For four insider tips to help you see this event like a pro, jump to this article.