Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Studios Florida next month for its 31st installment, and now we know the full range of haunted houses and scare zones that will be frightening guests this year. Earlier today Universal revealed the final six haunted houses of this year’s event, all of them based on original concepts, as well as this year’s five new scare zones. They’ll be joining the four haunted houses Universe had previously announced, which are based on the original Halloween film, the classic Universal Monsters, Blumhouse’s Freaky and The Black Phone, and, uh, the music of The Weeknd. (I’m honestly most excited for that one.) Here’s a quick rundown of all the new details.
The six original haunted houses encompass a range of nightmarish scenarios. “Spirits of the Coven” is set in “an unsettling 1920s speakeasy” where guests wind up being turned into the drinks themselves by some nefarious witches. “Bugs: Eaten Alive” is exactly what it sounds like, a “skin-crawling infestation of spiders, roaches, flies, bees and more” that feast upon us unwitting humans. A beloved cryptid comes to (theme park) life in “Fiesta de Chupacabras,” where everybody’s favorite goat-sucker turns its sights on Universal’s guests. “Hellblock Horror” is set in a prison full of “horrifying monsters serving time,” and even though Universal doesn’t own Oz this one better have an Adebisi or Schillenger reference somewhere. A zombie fisherman preys on a tiny fishing hamlet in “Dead man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake,” and “Descendants of Destruction” seems to riff a little bit on Fallout 3 with its tale of a mutant-infested subway station after the apocalypse.
If you haven’t been to Halloween Horror Nights before, these 10 haunted houses will be elaborate mazes with original sets, detailed theming, and live actors playing creepy creatures that tend to jump out and scream at anybody walking by. (I can’t wait to see the Weeknd house recreate that hall of mirrors scene from his Super Bowl set.) You can’t just randomly stumble into ‘em; you have to line up and wait your turn to get inside, and those lines can get pretty long. Scare zones, on the other hand, are open air stretches of the park devoted to a specific horror theme, with a bevy of scare actors roaming around trying to spook you. They’re not as intricate or trasportive as the haunted houses, but they can be just as frightening and grotesque.
Halloween Horror Nights will have five scare zones once again this year. “Horrors of Halloween” sees The Pumpkin Lord (who, just going by the name, sounds like he could be a pretty sweet guy) siccing his “devious subjects” onto guests (okay, that part doesn’t sound all that sweet). “Scarecrow: Cursed Soil” stars a bunch of bloodthirsty scarecrows, and “Graveyard: Deadly Unrest” features “an ominous Halloween thunderstorm within a ghastly cemetery,” which sounds like a clever way to work those daily Florida showers into the storyline. “Conjure the Dark” introduces a sorceress who cranks out a whole host of monsters. Finally, the scare zone that intrigues me the most is “Sweet Revenge,” which is set at a classic Halloween parade in the ‘50s as the town’s trick-or-treaters somehow turn evil. I expect some pretty cool midcentury theming in that one.
That’s not all, though. In addition to the houses and scare zones Halloween Horror Nights is also known for its live entertainment. “Ghoulish! A Halloween Tale” is a new nighttime show at the Universal Studios lagoon starring the Grim Reaper and featuring “eerily-remixed” music by popular artists. “Halloween Nightmare Fuel Wildfire” is a stage show by the performance troupe The Fire Girls, who combine aerial tricks with dancing and, uh, fire into a spectacle with a metal soundtrack. This will be the group’s second consecutive show at Halloween Horror Nights.
Finally, there will once again be a Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store, although for the first time the store’s theme will reflect the themes of the event’s scare zones. This is an annual highlight of the event, as it’s some of the most impressive theming and design work you’ll ever see in a park. Guests can also find photo opportunities starring classic Universal monsters like The Mummy and Dracula at the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
This all starts on Friday, Sept. 2, and runs across 43 select nights up until Oct. 31. (Y’know, Halloween. It’s a holiday. Look it up.) Tickets and hotel packages are on sale now. For more information, check out the official Halloween Horror Nights webpage. And, if you’re more of a Universal Studios Hollywood kinda person, keep an eye out for info on that event’s final houses whenever Universal releases it.