30 years of screams: Halloween Horror Nights


Photo provided by: Avery Demetree

Halloween Horror Nights is an event that occurs at Universal Studios between Sept. 3 and Oct. 31 that provides people with the opportunity to walk through up to ten haunted houses, ride roller coasters, and interact with performers all after hours. The 30th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights lived up to its renowned position as one of the largest “scare-fests” in the world, as the performers went above and beyond many people’s expectations, despite the safety precautions put in place.

Makayla Martindale, Sports Editor

As of this fall season, Universal Studios dusted off the cobwebs for the 30th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). My friends and I took full advantage of the chaos as the 15 of us took on the sinister haunted houses, walked through the Scare Zones more times than I can count and repeatedly rode roller coasters such as Rip Ride Rockit and Revenge of the Mummy. Though I thoroughly enjoyed a full evening of fright, I fear that my experience was dulled by the presence of plexiglass shields within the attractions and the depersonalization of the characters throughout.

When we entered the park, all of the outdoor rides were shut down due to rain, but rather than waiting for the crewmembers to dry off the tracks, we headed to our first haunted house of the night: The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin. This house brought the infamously nightmarish creatures to life. Full of shadows, screams, and scares, it was a great way to start the evening. There are ten haunted houses this year, all of which I went through. Some of the haunted houses that stood out were Beetlejuice, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the HHN Icons Captured house, which contained the classics. 

My personal favorite was the Beetlejuice haunted house, as the beginning of the house includes a long hallway with walls that appear as if they are spinning. The more disoriented I became, the less prepared I was for the jump scares, optical illusions and well known Beetlejuice characters. In addition to the houses, some of the park’s rides were operating, which contributed to the screams that rang throughout the park.

While all of the haunted houses were fun, the event is known for their performers who get so close to you, they seem to almost touch you. However, this year’s houses did not live up to that, as all of the places that the characters would have jumped out to scare us were covered with a plexiglass shield. Do not get me wrong, the loud noises the performers were able to create by banging on the plexiglass were shocking enough to make me jump and fall in the middle of the first house, but I felt that it lacked the creepiness of having someone invade your personal space.

Similarly, as we walked through the Scare Zones around the park, I noticed that they were lacking in terms of the “fear factor” that they provided in comparison to years prior, due to the fact that the characters were limited by a distance that they had to maintain between themselves and us. Although these are safety precautions against COVID-19, I still think that they could have kept the same amount of personal space, or lack of it, as previous years because of the fact that most characters needed to wear some sort of face mask anyway. Additionally, there were only three main Scare Zones: near the Revenge of the Mummy, the entrance of the park and the Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory show, which was a let down, considering it made the vast majority of our walk around the park uneventful.

However, the aversion that I feel towards the decreased amounts of fright while at Halloween Horror Nights, is minute compared to the amount of fun that we had in the haunted houses, Scare Zones, and rides. Hopefully Universal Studios will be able to continue the terror that it brought them fame for years to come.