Universal Studios’ annual Halloween Horror Nights kicks off in mid-September, and for horror film aficionados and scare-zone lovers, there’s no better time of year. For the rest of us self-proclaimed scaredy-cats and haunted house first-timers, however, the idea of walking through the alien-infested town of Hawkins, Indiana or being accosted by an evil army of possessed toys might induce something akin to genuine terror.
Whether you’re venturing out to the event for the first time or want to be a good support system for your friends who may not be as immune to 80s-themed zombies and twisted fairy tale villains as you are, here are a few tips for surviving Halloween Horror Nights.
Know your limits (and those of your friends and family).
What are you scared of? More importantly, how do you react when you’re scared? If you’re the type to shudder or scream, soldier on. If, on the other hand, you’re more inclined to throw a punch at the first scareactor you see, Halloween Horror Nights may not be the right event for you. While the actors will do their best to get in your face as you move through scare zones and haunted houses, it’s crucial to remember two things: 1) they can’t touch you, and 2) they’re looking to get a reaction out of you. Don’t react, and they’ll back off—if not instantly, at least more quickly than they otherwise would.
Knowing your limits will help you plan the safest and most enjoyable experience at Horror Nights, but it’s also important to know the limits of any family or friends who may be attending the event with you. Discuss your expectations with your party before you go, and don’t be afraid to plan a few breaks if you need them.
Don’t try to do everything in one night.
There’s a lot to see (and scream at) during Horror Nights each year, from the VIP Tour to the scareactor buffet, scare zones, and haunted houses, not to mention the live entertainment and shopping. Five different scare zones are themed around Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Revenge of Chucky, Twisted Tradition, The Harvest, and Vamp 85: New Year’s Eve. Universal also set a new record in 2018 after adding a tenth haunted house to their rotation, so guests can choose from Stranger Things, The Carnival Graveyard: Rust in Pieces, Slaughter Sinema, Poltergeist, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, Dead Exposure: Patient Zero, The Horrors of Blumhouse, Trick ‘r Treat, Scary Tales: Deadly Ever After, and Seeds of Extinction.
Needless to say, even the most ambitious and steely-souled guest might have a hard time trying to get everything done in one go—and if you’re feeling nervous about your ability to handle a high level of gore and horror, you’re far better off picking a few things you really want to do and leaving the rest for next year.