HHN HISTORY OVERVIEW

Halloween Horror Nights is an annual Halloween event that occurs at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood. The event premiered at Universal Studios Singapore in 2011. The Universal Theme Parks remain operational during the day and are then converted to Halloween Horror Nights in the evening. Halloween Horror Nights features haunted houses/mazes, "scare zones" and live entertainment. Universal incorporates both original and licensed content into the event. Beginning in 1991 at Universal Studios Florida with only one house, Halloween Horror Nights has continued annually. It has become one of the largest and most elaborate Halloween events in the United States.

EVENTS AT A GLANCE

1991

Year 1

Fright Nights

"Dying For A Good Halloween Party?"

Featured Characters/Icons: Original Universal Monsters

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1992

Year 2

HHN II

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1993

Year 3

HHN III

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1994

Year 4

HHN IV

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1995

Year 5

HHN V: The Curse of the Cryptkeeper

Featured Character/Icon: Cryptkeeper

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1996

Year 6

HHN VI: Journey Into Fear

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1997

Year 7

HHN VII: Frightmares

"You'll Never Sleep Again!"

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1998

Year 8

HHN VIII: Primal Scream

"The Last Scream You'll Ever Hear."

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

1999

Year 9

HHN IX: Last Gasp

 

"Sayonara"

"Save Your Final Breath...You'll Need It For Screaming!"

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2000

Year 10

HHN X

"Not Afraid of the Dark? You Don't Know Jack!"

Icon: Jack

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2001

Year 11

HHN XI: I.C.U.

"I.C.U."
"Jack's Back"
"No more clowning around."

Icon: Jack

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2002

Year 12

HHN: Islands of Fear

 

"Your Time Has Come."

 

Icon: The Caretaker

Location: Islands of Adventure

 

 

2003

Year 13

 

HHN 13: The Director Will See You Now

"Do You Want To Be In Pictures?"

"The Director Will See You Now."

"You Oughtta Be In Pictures."

Icon: The Director

Location: Islands of Adventure

 

 

2004

Year 14

HHN XIV: 2X the Fear

"2X/Twice The Fear"

"What's Your Breaking Point?"

 

Location: Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure

 

 

2005

Year 15

HHN: Tales of Terror

"No One Will Live Happily Ever After!"

Icon: The Storyteller

 

Location: Islands of Adventure

 

 

2006

Year 16

HHN: Sweet 16

"Horror Comes Home"

Icons: Director, Jack, Caretaker, Storyteller

 

Location: Universal Studios

2007

Year 17

HHN: Carnival of Carnage

"Choose Thy Fear"

Icon: Jack

 

Featured Characters: Freddy, Jason, Leatherface

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2008

Year 18

HHN: Reflections of Fear

"I Dare You To Say It One More Time!"

Icon: Bloody Mary

 

Location: Universal Studios

2009

Year 19

HHN: Ripped From the Silver Screen

"It's Showtime!"

Icon: The Usher

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2010

Year 20

HHN XX: Twenty Years of Fear

 

"A New Era of Darkness Begins"

 

Icon: Fear

 

With appearances by The Storyteller, The Director, Jack, The Usher, The Caretaker, Eddie, and Cindy

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2011

Year 21

Halloween Horror Nights 21 

"Are You In?"

Icon: Lady Luck 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2012

Year 22

 Halloween Horror Nights 22

"Once You're Inside...There Is No Way Out!"

Icon: N/A

 

Theme: The Walking Dead

 

Location: Universal Studios

2013

Year 23

Halloween Horror Nights 23

 

"What Evil Has Taken Root?"

 

Icon: N/A

Theme: The Walking Dead

Location: Universal Studios

 

2014

 Year 24

Halloween Horror Nights 24

"You've Been Warned!"

Icon: N/A

 

Theme: N/A

 

Location: Universal Studios

 

 

2015

Year 25

Halloween Horror Nights 25

 

"Jack's Back"

 

Icon: Jack The Clown

 

Theme: 25 Years of Fear

 

 Location: Universal Studios

2016

Year 26

Halloween Horror Nights 26

 

"You Won't Stand A Chance!"

Icon: Chance

 

Theme: Sequel To HHN 25

Location:  Universal Studios

 

 

2017

Year 27

Halloween Horror Nights 27

 

"Your Soul Is Requested"

"The Best Nightmares Never End"

Icon: None

 

Theme: Festival of the Deadliest

 

Location: Universal Studios

2018

Year 28

Halloween Horror Nights 27

 

"True Fear Comes From Within"

Icon: TBA

 

Theme: 80's Horror Films

 

Location: Universal Studios

HHN HISTORY - INTERACTIVE MODULES

1991-2006

1991-2008

20 YEARS

OF FEAR

HISTORY OVERVIEW

UNIVERSAL FRIGHT NIGHTS

 

Halloween Horror Nights began at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 under the title "Fright Nights". The event was renamed "Halloween Horror Nights" in 1992. The 1992 event was advertised as the "second annual" Halloween Horror Nights. Halloween Horror Nights began as a three night event. It has since been extended to include up to 24 nights. Each year's event, though unique, incorporates certain characteristics common to other years. These include houses/mazes, shows, scarezones, event icons, themes, and event phrases. Many popular resident attractions are also open during the event. The rides/attractions enhance the event and help alleviate the crowds.

(F.Y.I. - Halloween Horror Nights officially launched at Universal Studios Hollywood in 1997, although the park had featured Halloween attractions in 1986 and 1992. For 2001 to 2005, Halloween Horror Nights went on hiatus at Universal Studios Hollywood and eventually returned in 2006. While the Hollywood location shares similarities with the Orlando event, much of the two events are coordinated separately with their own design teams and attractions.)

From 1991–2001, the Orlando event was held at Universal Studios Florida.

 Dungeon of Terror was the first maze at the 1991 event. It was held in the queue of the newly built Jaws attraction.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 2

 

 The second event (1992) introduced the annual Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure show. Universal A&D also began to use the soundstage buildings for houses/mazes in 1992.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 3

 

The first three years also included scare actors that roamed throughout the park.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 4

 

The fourth event (1994) introduced the use of scarezones. Scarezones brought the roaming street scare actors together into themed areas for easier and more concentrated scares.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 5 - 6

 

The fifth and sixth years (1995 & 1996) introduced the concept of an "event icon". The Cryptkeeper from the famous HBO horror series was utilized as the first icon. This icon was not a character created specifically for Halloween Horror Nights. The Cryptkeeper would also host the 1996 event.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 7 - 8 - 9

 

The 1997, 1998, and 1999 events did not feature an icon. The event icon would return for HHN X in 2000.

(F.Y.I. - Some fans would argue that the first event also included icons. The classic Universal Monsters were used in advertising and appeared at the event as "featured characters". Future events would include "icons" and supporting "featured characters" as well.)

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 10 - 11

 

The 2000 event featured Jack The Clown (Jack Schmidt/The Ringmaster) as the icon. This time the icon was an original character created by Universal Studios specifically for HHN. Since then many other original icons have been used. Jack returned to host the 2001 event after a newer original character was abandoned due to the events of September 11th. The 2001 event was originally to be hosted by Eddie Schmidt/Edgar Sawyer. The event was softened and the chainsaw wielding Eddie was shelved until future years.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 12

 

Halloween Horror Nights moved to Universal's Islands of Adventure in 2002.

In 2002, HHN 12 welcomed The Caretaker (Dr. Albert Caine) as the icon.
 
Cindy Bearer, a child, was to have been the original icon for HHN 2002. She went down in history as a Halloween Horror Nights reject that was scrapped by Universal and replaced by Dr. Albert Caine..."The Caretaker". Caine's character was based off of Cindy's father, Paul Bearer, a character found in Cindy's original backstory.

When the event moved to Islands of Adventure for Halloween Horror Nights 12: Islands of Fear, new opportunities and new complications arose for the event creators. Every island of the park was to be converted into a scarezone with its own featured house. Seuss Landing is used with express permission from Audrey Geisel, widow of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), who approved of its construction and the attractions within. Due to content control limitations related to Seuss Landing, Universal was restricted to simply darkening this island and playing the area music backwards. Strobe lights and fog were inserted in some sections, but actors were restricted until 2005.  Marvel Superhero Island was first used as a scarezone in Halloween Horror Nights: Islands of Fear. Reincarnated nightly as "Island Under Siege", it would be taken over by the Marvel villains. The Superheroes were either dead or had been defeated. Carnage, Scream, an army of chainsaw gangs, supervillans, scarred police officers, and the Punisher, roamed the streets.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 13

 

HHN 13 in 2003 remained at Islands of Adventure and was hosted by The Director(Paul Ravinski).

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 14

 

Universal experimented with a dual-park format in 2004. Both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure were used for the massive event. HHN XIV was also the first time since 1999 that the event didn't have an icon.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 15

The Storyteller (Elsa Strict) was the icon for the 15th year and she introduced fans to the tightly themed world of "Terra Creuntas". HHN XV was the first HHN event to provide an elaborate backstory for the full event. The backstory and "world" interconnected all of the mazes, scarezones, and shows. The 2005 event was returned exclusively to Islands of Adventure.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 16

In 2006, the event made a return to Universal Studios Florida. HHN: Sweet 16 was advertised as "Horror Comes Home". The event featured the four original event icons (Jack, The Caretaker, The Director and The Storyteller) returning in mazes and in two shows. The mazes and scarezones featured were remakes of some of the greatest mazes in the history of Halloween Horror Nights.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 17

For 2007, Universal acquired the rights to use New Line Cinema's characters Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface. They were included as featured characters in the 2007 events in both Orlando and Hollywood. (Universal Studios Hollywood used the characters for a second year in 2008.) Jack the clown returned along with the New Line characters for the 2007 event in Orlando. HHN 17 was subtitled "Carnival of Carnage".

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 18

HHN 18 welcomed Universal's fifth original icon in the form of Bloody Mary (Dr. Mary Agana). The 2008 event remained at Universal Studios.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 19

HHN 19: Ripped From The Silver Screen, in 2009, utilized a movie theme. The Usher (Julian Browning) was the 6th original HHN icon. He was in charge of the plethora of movie characters featured at the event. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, and Saw are a few movies that came to life on the streets of Universal Studios for the event.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 20

2010 marked the 20th annual installment of the event at the Orlando park. It was titled "HHN XX: Twenty Years of Fear" and featured the embodiment of Fear itself as the event's icon. Fear, the seventh original icon, ushered in "A New Era of Darkness". The original six icons, along with Eddie, Chance and Cindy were also featured characters in the Fear Revealed scarezone. The scarezone functioned as a "meet n' greet" area. The icons all had their own small set and were available for picture taking.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 21

2011 marked the first Halloween Horror Nights in the "New Era of Darkness". The theme revolved around "Luck" and "Fate" and the icon was "Lady Luck". This was the first year where a scarezone from a previous year (Saws N' Steam) was further developed into a maze.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 22

Halloween Horror Nights 22 in 2012 welcomed The Walking Dead, Silent Hill, Alice Cooper and Penn & Teller as featured IP collaborations. This year also marked the move away from static "scarezones" and featured a new "roaming" street experience. No icon was present this year. Instead, all of the construction within Universal Studios was tied into this year's event. The scenario that unfolded told us that an ancient cemetery was uncovered during the park construction and an ancient evil called "The Iniquitas" was released. The Iniquitas (ancient evil beings) summoned various "Dark Legions" to terrify guests throughout the park. Guests encountered Beasts, Vampires, Traditionals, Prisoners and Warriors....as well as hordes of zombies from The Walking Dead. An online/in-park game entitled "Horror UNEARTHED" further enhanced the street experience. Guests could "play" and earn points for their favorite Dark Legion.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 23

The Walking Dead returned to HHN 23. The Walking Deead appeared in a maze and in all of the Street Experiences. It was the first year of HHN where all of the Scarezones, or Street Experiences, were themed to one property.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 24

The Walking Dead returned to HHN 24 for the 3rd year in a row. The maze based on The Walking Dead was the largest maze ever created for the HHN Orlando event. Halloween and Alien vs Predator were fan favorite houses. Scarezones returned to HHN in 2014. The Purge: Anarchy took over the streets of New York. A scarezone, Face Off: In The Flesh, was based on the characters created on the SyFy Channel's hit show Face Off. A social media game called HHNCOMPOUND had guests engaged in park scavenger hunts throughout the event. The Legendary Truth came to life during the last 4 nights of the event. Guests used a new cell phone app to complete tasks that allowed them to get a "sneak peek" into The Legendary Truth Headquarters.

The traditional media event gift/invite did not arrive at the start of HHN24. It arrived at the conclusion of HHN 24. A USB drive signalling Jacks' return in 2015 was delivered to media outlets on Halloween. It also included dates for HHN25. This was the earliest the run dates for an HHN event had ever been released.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 25

Halloween Horror Nights 2015 (#HHN25) was the 25th Anniversary of Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights! Jack The Clown made a return as the lead icon. He led the 25th Anniversary of the event. Other icons made returns in various forms throughout the event. Chance served as Jack's sidekick throughout the event in a stage show. A 9th house was added and traditional scarezones returned. Social media events revolved around the theme of "Jack's Maniacs" and a "Last Laugh" meet-up was held on the final weekend of the event. Legendary Truth also made a brief (but troubled) return during the final weekend of the event. A Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store/Museum was added to the event in the Twister store. The store offered HHN merchandise and special collector's items.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 26

Halloween Horror Nights 2016 (#HHN26) was billed as the first direct sequel to a previous event. Halloween Horror Nights 26 picked up after the events of HHN 25. The 2015 event told the story of what happened to Chance after the events of 2015. She was elevated to main event icon. She had a scarezone and a house. The Walking Dead returned for an unprecedented 5th consecutive year!  The Walking Dead maze was a well received "best of" compilation house. 

A Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store was opened in the Macy's building in New York. The store once again offered HHN goodies and special collector's items.

The Unmasking the Horror Tours stopped allowing photography in IP houses after the first weekend of the event.  Photography was permitted only in original concept Universal mazes.

A 10th house was added in the form of an "upcharge" house. The Repository was an interactive  story-based maze that required separate admission. The highly detailed maze began in the Archive Room. Visitors interacted with the scareactors as the story unfolded. Visitors were whisked off to The Cell for a puzzle problem. After finding several "keystones", the experience moved to The Airlock Lab for a description of a task that needed to be solved. The centerpiece of the maze the the VR (Virtual Reality) Room in which visitors navigated a 3D environment in search of a code. The finale room was The Escape Room where the keystones and codes had to be used to solve a puzzle. A Debriefing Room at the exit offered photo ops, drinks, and allowed visitors to watch subsequent teams solve the puzzle on a TV screen.

No media gift was delivered at the start of this year's event & no media preview nights was offered prior to Opening Night.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 27

Halloween Horror Nights 2017 opened on September 15, 2017.

The theme of the year was "Festival of the Deadliest" and Mr. Bones was an "unofficial icon" in the festival scarezone. The Bones character was featured in advertising and on merchandise. This year marked the final performance of the Bill & Ted show.

HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 28

Halloween Horror Nights 2018 offered the most haunted houses of any event to date. The 10 houses were a combination of IP-based properties and original concepts. The theme of the event was "80s Horror/Slasher Flicks".

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