HHN ORLANDO - 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.
1991 Year 1
Universal Studios Fright Nights "Dying For A Good Halloween Party?" Featured Characters/Icons: Original Universal Monsters & Beetlejuice Location: Universal Studios
Universal Studios Florida Halloween Horror Nights Location: Universal Studios
1993 Year 3
"The 3rd Annual" Universal Studios Florida Halloween Horror Nights Location: Universal Studios
1994 Year 4
"The 4th Annual" Universal Studios Florida Halloween Horror Nights Location: Universal Studios
1995 Year 5
HHN V: The Curse of the Cryptkeeper Featured Character/Icon: Cryptkeeper Location: Universal Studios
1996 Year 6
Halloween Horror Nights VI: Journey Into Fear Location: Universal Studios
1997 Year 7
Halloween Horror Nights VII: Frightmares "You'll Never Sleep Again!" Location: Universal Studios
1998 Year 8
Halloween Horror Nights VIII: Primal Scream "The Last Scream You'll Ever Hear." Location: Universal Studios
1999 Year 9
Halloween Horror Nights IX: Last Gasp "Sayonara" "Save Your Final Breath...You'll Need It For Screaming!" Location: Universal Studios
2000 Year 10
Halloween Horror Nights X "Not Afraid of the Dark? You Don't Know Jack!" Icon: Jack Location: Universal Studios
2001 Year 11
Halloween Horror Nights XI: I.C.U. "I.C.U." "Jack's Back" "No more clowning around." Icon: Jack Location: Universal Studios
2002 Year 12
Halloween Horror Nights: Islands of Fear "Your Time Has Come." Icon: The Caretaker Location: Islands of Adventure
2003 Year 13
Halloween Horror Nights 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
Halloween Horror Nights XIV: 2X the Fear "2X/Twice The Fear" "What's Your Breaking Point?" Location: Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure
2005 Year 15
Halloween Horror Nights: Tales of Terror "No One Will Live Happily Ever After!" Icon: The Storyteller Location: Islands of Adventure
2006 Year 16
Halloween Horror Nights: Sweet 16 "Horror Comes Home" Icons: Director, Jack, Caretaker, Storyteller Location: Universal Studios
2007 Year 17
Halloween Horror Nights: Carnival of Carnage "Choose Thy Fear" Icon: Jack Featured Characters: Freddy, Jason, Leatherface Location: Universal Studios
2008 Year 18
Halloween Horror Nights: Reflections of Fear "I Dare You To Say It One More Time!" Icon: Bloody Mary Location: Universal Studios
2009 Year 19
Halloween Horror Nights: Ripped From the Silver Screen "It's Showtime!" Icon: The Usher Location: Universal Studios
2010 Year 20
Halloween Horror Nights 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!" "Terror Takes Center Stage" 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" "The best nightmares never end..." Icon: None Theme: Festival of the Deadliest Location: Universal Studios
2018 Year 28
Halloween Horror Nights 28 "We Know What Scares You" "More Houses Than Ever!" "True Fear Comes From Within" Icon: None Theme: 80's Horror Films Location: Universal Studios
2019 Year 29
Halloween Horror Nights 29 "Your Worst Fears Live Here!" "Maximum Screamage" Icon: None Theme: 80's Horror Sequel Location: Universal Studios
Halloween Seasonal Event 2020
(HHN Canceled - Covid Pandemic)
2021 Year 30
Halloween Horror Nights 30 "NEVER GO ALONE!" Icon: TBA Theme: TBA Location: Universal Studios
SUMMARY OF HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
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 run over many nights from early September through November. The number of event nights grows each year. Each year's event, though unique, incorporates certain characteristics common to other years. These include haunted 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 spread out the crowd. This helps to alleviate long wait times for haunted houses.
(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 haunted 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 scareactors 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 returned to host a house of his own and the parade in 1996.
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 newly created 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. HHN 12 welcomed The Caretaker (Dr. Albert Caine) as the icon. It is reported that his daughter, Cindy, was the original icon created for the 2002 event during the early stages of event development. 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 did not have an icon.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 15
The 2005 event returned exclusively to Islands of Adventure.
The Storyteller (Elsa Strict) was the main icon for the 15th year and she introduced fans to the tightly themed world of "Terra Creuntas". The Terra Queen was another icon/featured character at the event. She was featured in a show and in the main storyline. HHN XV was the first HHN event to provide an elaborate backstory for the full event. The backstory and "world" interconnected all of the houses, scarezones, and shows.
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 haunted houses and in two shows. The haunted houses and scarezones featured were sequels to 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 were utilized at the event. 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 led a roster that featured a plethora of movie characters. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, and Saw are a few movies that came to life in houses and 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 HHH: 20 Years of Fear scarezone. The scarezone functioned as a "meet and greet" area. The icons each 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 haunted house.
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 attraction 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 Iniquitous" was released. The Iniquitous (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 Dead 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 a single property.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 24
The Walking Dead returned to HHN 24 for a record setting 3rd year in a row. The house 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 signaling the return of Jack the Clown 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 original HHN icons made returns in various forms throughout the event. Chance served as Jack's sidekick throughout the event in a stage show. The Walking Dead made a return for a staggering 4th year in a row!
A 9th house was added to the house lineup 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 2016 event told the story of what happened to Chance after the events of 2015. She was elevated to main event icon status. 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 were 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 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 included with admission were a combination of IP-based properties and original concepts. The theme of the event was "80s Horror/Slasher Flicks". HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 29
Halloween Horror Nights 2019 fed off the fear from #HHN28. The 80s were celebrated again. A surprise lagoon show entitled "Marathon of Mayhem" was presented to wild acclaim!
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 30 (2020) CANCELLED
2020 was to have been the 30th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights! The event calendar was released earlier than any previous year! The event was cancelled on July 24, 2020 due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood was also cancelled.
A Halloween Horror Nights Tribute store opened in Orlando and sold retro-HHN merchandise. Three haunted houses opened during daily operating hours as part of a Halloween Seasonal Event. Guests were able to experience the "Revenge of the Tooth Fairy", "The Bride of Frankenstein LIVES!" and "Beetlejuice" houses.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 30 (2021) ACTUAL ANNIVERSARY
2021 will be the ACTUAL 30th Anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights!! STAY TUNED!
ADDITIONAL HISTORY RESOURCES:
(These images are archived here for reference purposes. The images were sourced from the Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights "anniversary year" websites of the past. All images are ©Universal Orlando Resort.)