Universal Horror Night
This being a movie studio we had high hopes that the production value and presentation would be top notch. You are not allowed to dress up or wear any type of costume. You are also not allowed to bring any food or drink. We made sure to bring an empty container though to fill with water in the park as I was expecting to wait in long lines. Overall, a great event and worth the admission. If you go on the workday or Sunday you will not have to contend with long lines. You may even have shorter lines for attractions like Transformers, The Mummy, and Simpsons but it comes at the cost of a longer line for the mazes. What we typically do is get a day ticket and ride the rides in the morning, leave the park at noon and watch a movie in the CityWalk and then take a nap in the car until Horror Night.
Generally over the years there have been two types of mazes at Universal Studios: Gruesome or suspense. We typically prefer the suspense since in the back of our heads we know nothing is real.
As a summary over the years the following is true:
Backstage Lower Lot: Krampus, Ash vs Evil Dead,
Lower Lot: Exorcist, The Shining, Insidios
Top Lot: Purge, Blumhouse
Jurassic Park in the dark
American Horror Story
Being rushed through some mazes
We got to the gates right when it opened so we wouldn’t have to wait too long for our first maze. We’ve flown out in the past for this event so I will make mention of past attractions as they might return in the future. What we have noticed is that our feelings towards a maze will depend on if the performers tried to scare us or if we went through the maze unbothered. So sometimes, it can just be your luck that you get target repeatedly or walk through the maze without a scare.
This is our plan of attack for the night in order to get the most done before midnight. As mentioned, we get there right when the doors open and line up for the first maze. The mazes open at different times and are listed on the map. The first one to open around 5pm is typically the one next to transformers and in the past has been: The exorcist or The Shining.
Last year the exorcist maze was a pitch black attraction with jump scares at every turn. The best were the false walls were the exorcist woman would jump out from. The shining was a similar concept and it did not disappoint. Always go in a group if you can and space out between you and the other groups and go slow. People tend to just rush through the maze.
We then headed to the backlot as those are the next to open. Typically there are three mazes in the backlot: One based on a tv show or upcoming movie such as Ash vs Evil Dead or Krampus. The other is usually gruesome: Alien vs Predator or Saw. The last has always been based on that season of American Horror Story. The order in which you do them does not really matter since it should be so early that you can do each twice as we did before the next mazes open at 7pm.
Typically there is a gruesome maze whether it is Alien vs Predator or Saw. American Horror Story has always been a disappointment. It could be because I don’t watch the show but it doesn’t change much over the years. There are usually a ton of pigs and a couple jump scares but it too is a gruesome based maze.
There is usually a maze promoting a movie or a show so those usually change every year. Don’t sleep on this mase though as it is usually the best of the three. They probably want it to do well because it is promoting a movie or a show. In the past they have had Krampus and Ash vs Evil and we typically go through this Maze twice. They usually have high production value and are suspenseful mazes.
We then head back to the lower lot and ride Jurassic Park in the dark. You wouldn’t think it would make a difference and the ride does start out exactly the same but when you enter the control room everything changes. You finish the ride in the complete dark with “Welcome to the Jungle” playing. The thing about the darkness is that it makes you forget about the plunges and how far down some of the plunges go so it does make the ride extra thrilling.
Next to Jurassic park, is the ride that usually opens at 7pm and is typically based on Insidious. A damn good maze and at this point the lines are starting to build up so this is typically a 20 minute wait at 7pm. A couple of years ago they had a BO issue but it has improved over the years but it could still exist if you get there late. I have never watched the Insidious movies but they do make for a good maze.
We then leave the lower lot and never return as the only mazes and attractions of interest are on the lower level. At this point in the evening it is dark enough to do the tram attraction. What a disappointment for a maze that should be tops. Only one year was it good and that was for the purge. Unfortunately they bring over a ton of people and rush you through the backlot which is unfortunate because the one year that it was good it was amazing. We went slow and had time to enjoy the long uphill walk. Instead you are rushed and if you linger you get yelled at to keep moving. The only reason to do this is to walk in the back lt and to walkthrough the War of the World’s set with the crashed jumbo jet. This maze though is not Scary. and feels short. We usually grab a bite to eat and then head to one more top level maze after the tram.
The walking dead attraction is amazing on the top lot and if you are a fan of the show this will is a must do. You get to some see some of the iconic scenes from the show and the production value is high relative to the other mazes and the fact that it is a permanent attraction. The lines will be low for this attraction since it is open throughout the year so fit it in at the end of the night or when the lines seem crazy do the other rides.
At this point the lines will be 40-60 minutes long and brings up the importance of line entertainment.This is where going in a group really comes in hand as opposed to a pair. Make sure to bring headphones so you can escape to netflix or music but the thing that helps us through those late long lines is a game called “Heads Up” which is a game where people give you hints and you try and guess the word displayed on your phone on your head. It is a fantastic way to pass the time in the line. You can easily make 30 minutes disappear by playing with a group. If you are by yourselves or in a pair I guarantee that the people in line with you will be happy to join in and play. One year we had a group of rowdy 20 year olds behind us in line and they happily joined in and played with us. Better to be part of the rowdiness than suffer from it.
The attractions on top are usually as good as the bottom lot but the only difference is the wait so they do seem worse by comparison. What they started doing in 2017 which was a stroke of genius was to combine two mazes into one really long maze. In 2017 they combined the Purge attraction with Blumhouse. We waited about an hour for both attractions but they took about 5 minutes in combination. I have never watched any of the Purge movies but they have been consistently one of my favorite attractions. Especially if it is a year where the Purge is running as the tram attraction.
The one must see attraction which should cover the cost of the attraction is the Jabbawockeez. Each year they produce an original show for the event and although I was never a fan or heard of the Jabberwockies they won me over with the first show many years ago. You don’t have to be a fan of the music or genre to enjoy the amazing coordination and synchronization with the music and effects. Make sure to arrive early as all the shows fill up and if you get there at the showtime you won’t get in.
As this can be a long night and they don’t allow re-entry you will have to eat and drink in the park. There aren’t many water fountains so the trick we use is to find Krusty burger when we arrive and fill our container with ice. By the time we get thirsty the ice will have melted. We also eat at Krusty Burger as it is genuinely good food at a reasonable price for what you get. One clogger burger and you won’t be hungry the rest of the night. If you do have room for dessert, I would recommend the simpsons big pink iconic donut. It is the most basic offering but it is delicious and enough for two people.
At this point in the evening, you will be full, tired, and sleepy and may want to go home. If it’s close to midnight we go home since we are old fogies but if you got there early you really should just have one maze left to do and can weigh fatigue vs fright. For us though we are quick to call it a night as we have more frights awaiting us.
~ Happy Travels! ~