On Saturday, October 27th, 2015, I attended Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood for the second time in three years. In the two years since I had last attended the event, it was clear that a few things had changed.
The first change that I noticed was actually the night before I went when I was preparing to purchase my online general admission ticket. As opposed to the fifty-something dollars I dished out in 2013, the 2015 general admission prices both online and at the gate are now eighty five dollars, with the exception of a few “select nights.” However, it’s worth noting that these select nights often fall on a Thursday or other undesirable nights when most people have other commitments. This is no doubt a clever business decision aimed at selling as many tickets as possible, but being a season pass holder I was a bit disappointed that I was not offered discounts on more desirable days.
The second change that I noticed was what seemed to be a significant increase in the amount of people that were in attendance. Back in 2013, “Horror Nights” was most definitely a popular Halloween season event that prompted many long lines, but this year was rather ridiculous. As opposed to the hour/hour-and-a-half lines that I was expecting, I waited a whopping two and a half hours for The Walking Dead maze alone. It ended up being far from worth the wait.
With the notable increase in demand for Horror Nights, it makes sense now why Universal would raise it’s prices thirty dollars over a two year span. However, this price increase should be accompanied by an increase in quality as well.
The third change of note was the maze lineup/main theme for Horror Nights. In 2013, Universal chose AMC’s The Walking Dead as the main theme for Horror Nights and sported an Insidious maze, Evil Dead maze, and Walking Dead prison maze among others. This year, Universal chose “The Purge: Anarchy” as the main theme and sported a Walking Dead Wolves maze, Halloween maze, Aliens vs. Predator maze and a few more less worthy of mention. In my personal opinion, The Walking Dead theme was far more effective than the Purge theme. This may just be my personal bias for The Walking Dead, but the Purge theme just didn’t feel anywhere near as unsettling or frightening.
The theme’s main purpose is to transform the world famous studio tour into a terror tram that allows you to walk through the backlot past some historical Universal landmarks. These landmarks most notably include the Bates Motel and Bates house from Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 thriller Psycho. Aside from influencing the terror tram, the main theme also provides several scare zones throughout the park that maintain the theme of the show or movie selected. Based on my two experiences at Universal Horror Nights, I can say that under ideal circumstances a night of thrills and terror is a plausible possibility.
However, a front of the line pass priced this year at $160 might be worth looking into in order to avoid the insane wait times and experiences all of the mazes available. Although Halloween may have passed, Universal is still offering two “after party” nights on the 6th and 7th respectively.