A Scaredy Cat’s Guide To Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights is an annual event at Universal Studios theme parks in Florida, California, Singapore and Japan. It began as a 3-day event at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 and has slowly grown into a major nearly 2-month event in 4 parks around the world that includes multiple walk-through haunted houses themed after horror movies, scare zones, live entertainment, etc.

Some people ADORE Halloween Horror Nights. They might like horror movies and how the houses tie in with the films. Or they might just like getting scared – and between that sense of anticipation and how good HHN is at the element of surprise, it’s a perfect combination for “controlled” or “safe” fear. Jonna N., a huge fan of HHN, says, “I love the atmosphere. Especially the sets and the immersion. I also enjoy the science and the thrill of the scare factor.” Michael G., a photographer/writer for Inside The Magic and also a longtime HHN fan says, “I love the ambiance, especially in scare zones (it doesn’t hurt that they are perfect photo ops for me) and the original houses. The creativity and detail does not cease to amaze me, especially the movie quality sets/effects.

Then there are people like me – I don’t get scared and I don’t even like horror movies, but as someone who puts a lot of time and effort into our annual Halloween decorations for trick-or-treaters, I just geek out at how they do things.

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And then there are people like my husband Joe who just don’t like it. At all. Possibly on the border of hating it. But maybe would like to go because, for example, they like whatever movies the haunted houses are themed after. But their fear gets in the way.

This post is for you guys in the latter category …

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That Time When Steven Spielberg Gave A Studio Tour At Universal Studios Hollywood

The Studio Tour (a.k.a. The Backlot Tour) at Universal Studios Hollywood has been an icon of the theme park since its debut in 1964.  It’s been so popular that the concept was mimicked at Walt Disney World when its then-called Disney-MGM Studios opened in 1989, and several parts of the attraction, including Earthquake and Jaws were built as standalone attractions when Universal Orlando Resort opened in 1990.

The tour includes several staged events and attractions, such as a flash flood, King Kong 3D and Fast & Furious: Supercharged, as well as the aforementioned Earthquake and Jaws attractions. It also travels through and past multiple past and present film sets.

Steven Spielberg has had a relationship with Universal Studios as far back as around the time of his high school graduation, when he apprenticed there as an unpaid assistant in the studio’s television department. Following a decades-long directing and producing career that has spanned from “Jaws,” to “E.T.,” to “Jurassic Park” to “Back To The Future” to “Men In Black” to “Transformers,” it was plainly established that, as the longtime head of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, once said, “Universal is, and always has been, Steven’s home.”

So who better than Spielberg himself to give a Universal Studios tour, right? 😉

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Experiencing “Dark” Disney & Universal Attractions With The Lights On

Some attractions at Disneyland (DL), Walt Disney World (WDW) and the Universal parks are nearly 100% outdoors – DL’s Grizzly Peak, WDW’s Slinky Dog Dash Roller Coaster and UO’s One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish all come to mind. Other attractions (DL’s Radiator Springs Racers, WDW’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Roller Coasters and Uni’s Jurassic Park, for examples) are partially outdoors and partially indoors, which gives the parks the opportunity to control more aspects of the ride experience. Still other attractions are nearly 100% indoors – i.e. The Haunted Mansion and Soarin’ at the Disney parks, or Harry Potter & The Forbidden Journey or Despicable Me at Uni – besides even more control over the experience, it also protects guests from the weather (which is more of an issue at the Florida-based parks that have to deal with more rain, thunder, lightning and extreme heat and humidity than their California-based counterparts).

Many of the partially and completely indoor rides are considered to be “dark” rides, which means the rooms you go through are dark, either to make it seem scarier (i.e. Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, E.T. Adventure) or to get the riders to focus on whatever the “lit up” scene they’re up to (i.e. DL’s Monsters, Inc., WDW’s Journey Into Imagination, Universal’s Revenge of The Mummy).

There are occasional opportunities to see “dark rides” with the lights on – Disney Cast Members are sometimes allowed to experience the attractions that way, and there are occasional behind-the-scenes tours at the various theme parks for guests to have the experience. When something goes wrong on a dark ride, the emergency lights sometimes go on, which is also a way to see these usually “dark” rides in a whole new way. Several videos of these “special” experiences have been captured on video, and we gathered a bunch of them. Enjoy!

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How To Find Out How Crowded Travel Destinations Are

We recently wrote about when are the best times to go to Walt Disney World but that’s only one travel destination, of thousands upon thousands, in the U.S. Trying to find out how crowds are at a particular location, to help in planning a visit, can be an effort in futility if you don’t know where to look.

Well, we found out where to look, at least for a bunch of places in Southern California 😉

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Some AMAZING Ticket Deals At Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando Theme Parks!

If  you’re a fan of Universal Orlando Resort OR Universal Hollywood Resort, heads up that they have some really, REALLY good deals on tickets going on right now that you may want to consider:

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