Horror fans rejoiced the return of Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando. Take a trip down memory lane with Cecetron as she recaps a full month of haunts at the 30th annual event.
With the news of the pandemic looming, many of us felt so alone and desperate for human connection. Podcasts were started, many of us made friends online, and we were too scared to leave our houses. As a huge fan of theme parks and with Halloween Horror Nights in 2020 postponed, I sat and waited. Fans on Twitter bonded together over the missing year and an event called HHN At Home was born. Thanks to Twitter’s HNNightmares in addition to other content creators, we felt a sense of community while awaiting news of Halloween Horror Nights return.
Fast-forward to March 5, 2021. An announcement from Halloween Horror Nights on Twitter reveals that Beetlejuice will be returning to HHN30. The community was all a buzz with news of the first house. It was like a dose of serotonin had hit us for the first time in what felt like ages. Who doesn’t love the ghost with the most? We waited with renewed hope that the event would go on this year. Beetlejuice’s return felt like our saving grace. It was two-months in June before more announcements regarding the event would surface. Jack Schmidt, also known as Jack the Clown, is an antagonist and the first icon created by Universal Orlando Resort for their seasonal Halloween Horror Nights event, made an announcement that he would also be returning! Fans went wild; we knew in our hearts that the event would be happening.
As the announcements continued rolling in, hope and excitement grew among fans. We’d been struggling for so long during the pandemic. This was the best news a lot of us had heard in quite some time. As an Orlando local with a podcast, The Scream Queens that covers Halloween Horror Nights very closely, I jumped on buying a Frequent Fear Plus Pass for the event. It’s a multi-night ticket that allows you to enjoy horror nights every Sunday-Friday of the event and I even added on express access, an upgrade to skip the regular lines one time each night at all haunted houses, plus at participating rides and attractions. I knew this would be essential if I wanted to enjoy and take full advantage of the event.
HHN30 featured 10 haunted houses, five Scare Zones and two amazing shows this year. I've complied a list to share some of my thoughts on this year's event. One of the most popular haunted houses this year has to be HHN Icons: Captured. What would happen if you took all the icons from years past and put them inside Fear’s Lantern? This house included all of the main icons from previous horror nights: The Usher, The Director, Fear, The Caretaker, Chance, Lady Luck, Jack the Clown and The Storyteller. Each time you venture through the house, you get a different icon on the Throne at the end! If you're a fan of Halloween Horror Nights, this house is a must visit as it explores these icons and their personalities.
When it comes to scares, Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin is definitely giving us just that! This house is also an original, created by the Art & Design team at Universal Orlando Resort. The haunted house features everything you could ever want to celebrate a traditional Halloween. There are pumpkins, witches and even ghouls getting in your path. If you dare to enter his realm, you’ll be leaving saying, “All Hail the Pumpkin Lord!”
When it comes to the Scare Zones, there are five wonderfully put together areas of the park, where scareactors will either be displayed on stages or roam the streets and try to scare you from every corner. My favorite of HHN30 stages has got to be: Lights, Camera Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge. Eddie is Jack the Clown’s brother and he was an unused icon from 2001’s event. This year, Eddie was back and ready to make his slasher film. He’s a ‘cut’ above the rest. If you made your way near Eddie’s stage and he'd rev his chainsaw just for you!
Another fan favorite was CryptTV! This Scare Zone is located in the San Francisco area of the park, and displays different monsters that are within the CryptTV universe, such as The Look-See, Mordero, The Sunny Cult Family and Miss Annity!
On top of the scares, there are two shows at the event. Halloween Nightmare Fuel features a protagonist who is having a nightmare and the stage show is filled with dancing, fire stunts and magic! This show is breathtaking and quite literally hot! On the other side, we have Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory a lagoon show that can be viewed from Universal Studios’ Central Park area. This show includes music and quotes from Jack the Clown himself, along with some of the other icons. There are also scenes from horror properties such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Haunting of Hill House, which are two of the events haunted houses.
When you go to an event like this, there is so much to see and do, but you can’t get it done without stopping every so often for snacks and beverages. As with every Halloween Horror Nights event, the famous ‘blinky cups’ returned. These are plastic cups that have a light blinking inside that are filled with alcoholic beverages. They are one of the most popular staples of HHN. Another great snack I tried was the “Leatherface Cherry Pie”. It was just sweet enough and I loved it!
Halloween Horror Nights 30th year has really been a beacon of hope for those of us who felt alone during the pandemic. It provided a sense of normalcy and hope that the world will one day get better and that we can continue to enjoy our favorite events and even conventions again. There are only a few days left to experience HHN30 this year whether you visit Universal Studios in Orlando or Hollywood. I hope I’ve convinced you to make a last minute trip or to start planning for next year!