Halloween Horror Nights

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Halloween Horror Nights
Halloween Horror Nights Logo.JPG
Universal Studios Florida
Status Operating
Opening date October 25, 1991; 26 years ago (1991-10-25)
Universal Studios Hollywood
Status Operating
Opening date October 9, 1997; 20 years ago (1997-10-09)
Universal Studios Singapore
Status Operating
Opening date October 21, 2011; 6 years ago (2011-10-21)
Universal Studios Japan
Status Operating
Opening date 2012; 5 years ago (2012)
General statistics
Season Halloween (September – October)
Owner Universal Parks & Resorts
Website Official website
Universal Express available

Halloween Horror Nights (formerly known as Fright Nights) is an annual special event that occurs at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore, and Universal Studios Japan. Universal Studios remains operational during the day and transitions to Halloween Horror Nights at night. The Halloween-themed event occurs during the fall season and features haunted houses, "scare zones", and live entertainment – many of which use Universal Studios' characters. Its intended audience is teenagers and young adults.

History[edit]

Program cover for Fright Nights (HHN1) at Universal Studios Florida 1991

Halloween Horror Nights began at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 under the title Fright Nights. It began as a three-night event October 25, 26, and 31, 1991, with one haunted house, The Dungeon of Terror. The first year, the admission price was only $12.95.[1] From 1991–2001, the event was held at Universal Studios Florida.

The event was renamed "Universal Studios Florida Halloween Horror Nights" in 1992 and advertised as the second annual Halloween Horror Nights. There were two haunted houses, with The Dungeon of Terror returning to the Jaws queue building, and The People Under The Stairs making its debut in Soundstage 23. The HHN2 event ran five nights, October 23, 24, 29, 30, and 31.[2]

The Third Annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Florida saw the event increase to seven nights. Due to the re-opening of the Jaws attraction, the in-park haunted house moved from the Jaws queue in Amity to the Nazarman's facade in the New York area.[3] The number of haunted houses increased to three, with the third at the Bates Motel set (see Psycho) at Universal Studios Florida.[4]

Halloween Horror Nights 4 expanded to an eight night run in 1994.[5] This year marked the return of a newly-designed Dungeon of Terror, along with three more haunted houses, for a total of four. In addition to Nazarman's and the Bates Motel, the new locations were in the Earthquake overflow queue and the Boneyard. This year also marked the first use of the term "scareactors", as well as the first official "Ghoul School" for actors participating in the event.[6] Ticket prices increased to $36.00 this year.[7]

Halloween Horror Nights V is the first time Universal marketing began using Roman numerals in the title of the event. Featuring a 12 night run and three haunted houses, one of which was a dual-path house, it was also the first time Universal themed the event around an icon, in this case the Crypt Keeper (see Tales from the Crypt). The event was subtitled "The Curse of the Crypt Keeper".[8]

Print ad for Universal's first Halloween effort, at USH in 1986

Universal Studios Hollywood had featured Halloween attractions in 1986 and 1992. The 1986 effort was actually a tram tour, and bears little resemblance to the modern event.[9] The 1992 event was a direct result of the success of Fright Nights at Universal Florida the year before, but was not successful.[10][11] Halloween Horror Nights officially launched at Universal Studios Hollywood October 9, 1997, running through the 2000 season.[12] From 2001 to 2005, Halloween Horror Nights went on hiatus at USH, then returned in 2006.[13][14] It has continued yearly since.[15] Between 2007 and 2014, USH made use of Universal's House of Horrors, its permanent haunted attraction, as a part of HHN, by re-theming it for the event.

Back in Florida, Halloween Horror Nights VI through X followed the formula developed for HHN V in 1995, growing from 15 nights in 1996 to 19 in 2000. There were 3 haunted houses each year, although from 1998 on, two each year were dual path houses, for a total of five experiences. One notable change was the first 3-D haunted house, in 1999, in the Nazarman's facade. By 1999, ticket prices were $44.00.[16] In 2000, Universal launched its first in-house created Icon, Jack the Clown.[17]

Halloween Horror Nights XI, coming so close after the events of September 11, 2001, caused Universal to make many changes to tone the event down. Lots of gore was scrapped from the event, and blood was replaced with green "goop". The names of several houses, scare zones, and shows were changed. The original icon character "Eddie" was scrapped. Edgar Sawyer was conceived as a demented, chainsaw-wielding horror movie buff that had been disfigured by a fire. He was supposed to be a threat to previous icon Jack and the tagline "No more clowning around" was used and even seen on early advertisements and merchandise. Eddie was ultimately removed from the event before it began, although he was still appearing on that year's logo and merchandise with the official "I.C.U." tagline. As a hurried replacement, Jack would return along with a line of merchandise bearing the tagline "Jack's Back." Eddie's back-story was changed, and his name was changed to Eddie Schmidt, Jack's younger brother.[18] The event again ran for 19 days, admission was $48.00, with three haunted houses (one dual), for a total of four. The dual house was in Soundstage 22.[19][20]

Halloween Horror Nights moved to Universal's Islands of Adventure in 2002.[21] The Caretaker was not the original icon for Halloween Horror Nights 12 in 2002. Cindy (sometimes spelled "Sindy"), the daughter of mortuary owner Paul Bearer, was originally the icon of the event. In the event's premise, every land would be ruled over by her "playthings". After several child abductions in the area, the Cindy concept was abandoned and her father Paul Bearer morphed into Dr. Albert Caine, also known as The Caretaker. Cindy would eventually appear in 2006's "Scream House Resurrection", and 2009's "Shadows of the Past" and "The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes". HHN12, the first to be held at Universal's Islands of Adventure park, featured five haunted houses, with admission set at $49.95.[22][23][24] Note that Universal Marketing changed back from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals in numbering HHN, although it can be found both ways when researching the event.

Halloween Horror Nights 13 again took place at Islands of Adventure. It featured six haunted houses. The Icon was The Director.[25]

In 2004, HHN14, the resort experimented with a dual-park format, which connected and utilized parts of both parks.[26] The fourteenth edition featured Eddie Schmidt, from HHN12, as the Icon, along with Jack, The Director, and The Caretaker. Halloween Horror Nights 14 is distinguished by being held both in Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida, with parts of the two parks joined for the event. It ran 18 nights and featured seven haunted houses.[27]

HHN 15, in 2005, was another two-park event. It ran 19 nights, had seven haunted houses, and an admission of $59.75. This year was the first time Universal offered backstage tours of the Halloween Horror Nights sets.[28][29]

In 2006, HHN16, the event returned to the Universal Studios Florida park only,[30] ending the dual park experiment. Admission was $59.95.[31][32] It ran 19 nights, featuring seven haunted houses.[33][34]

For HHN17, in 2007, Universal Studios acquired the rights to use New Line Cinema's characters Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface for Halloween Horror Nights. There were eight haunted houses.[35] The event ran 23 days, with a cost of $64.95.[36]

HHN18 (2008) and HHN19 (2009) both featured eight haunted houses. A musical tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show was an unique addition, running both years.[37][38][39][40]

2010 marked the 20th installment of the event at the Orlando park. It was titled "Twenty Years of Fear", and it featured "Fear itself" as the event's icon.[41] There were eight haunted houses. The event ran 23 nights and admission was $74.99.[42][43]

2011 (HHN21) and 2012 (HHN22): eight and seven haunted houses, respectively; 25 nights and 22 nights, respectively; $81.99 and $88.99. "Roaming hordes" replace scare zones and The Walking Dead arrive as the event icon in 2012. [44][45][46][47][48][49]

In 2011, Universal Studios Singapore (USS) began their Halloween Horror Nights event. There was one haunted house, the event ran seven nights, and admission was S$60.00.[50][51] USS HHN2 in 2012, ran seven nights, had three haunted houses, with admission at S68.00.[52][53] By 2015, USS HHN5 had grown to four haunted houses, three of which were designed using local Singaporean horror legends and myths.[54] USS HHN6, in 2016, featured five haunted houses, ran 16 nights, with admission at S$69.00.[55]

In 2012, Universal Studios Japan (USJ) joined the Halloween Horror Nights franchise with an event themed to the Biohazard video games (titled Resident Evil in western countries). It ran 36 nights, from September 14 through November 11. Tickets were ¥8,400.[56][57][58][59] By 2015, USJ had increased its "Universal Surprise Halloween at Universal Studios Japan" (which includes Halloween Horror Nights) to 59 days, featuring both daytime and nightime activities.[60]

2013 USF HHN 23 featured a haunted house based on An American Werewolf in London, another based on Cabin in the Woods, and a third based on Resident Evil which was imported from USJ, plus five more, for a total of eight. The Walking Dead continued as the event icon and The Rocky Horror Picture Show Tribute returned.[61] It ran 27 nights.[62] Admission was $91.99.[63]

2014 USF HHN 24 featured eight haunted houses and a return to the use of scare zones, absent since 2012. Universal again makes use of licensed properties from others, including “The Walking Dead”, “Alien vs Predator,” “From Dusk Till Dawn,” “Halloween,” and “The Purge”. There are two shows, Bill and Ted and the Rocky Horror Tribute.[64][65]

Halloween Horror Nights XXV, in 2015 at USF, ran a record 30 nights, exceeding the 28 nights in 2014 and 27 nights in 2013.[66][67] HHN25 featured nine haunted houses, with admission at $101.99.[68][69][70]

Event summaries[edit]

Universal Orlando Resort[edit]

Universal Studios Hollywood[edit]

Universal Studios Singapore[edit]

Universal Studios Japan[edit]

Event icons[edit]

Halloween Horror Nights has amassed a number of lead characters, known as icons. These icons usually have elaborate back-stories that involve the events' themes, houses, or scare zones. Predominantly, they have been used for promotional materials and merchandising. The first unofficial icon was Crypt Keeper, from the TV series Tales from the Crypt, a series popular at the time of his first event appearance.[8] The Crypt Keeper returned the next year for one of the houses, but was not featured in the advertising campaign. After the Crypt Keeper, the event continued for four years without an icon. In 2000, for HHN X, Jack the Clown was featured as an icon. This represents the first time Universal created an icon in-house.[17] Halloween Horror Nights has had an icon, and in some cases, multiple icons, every year since, excluding Halloween Horror Nights XIV and 22-24. These characters have included Jack the Clown, The Caretaker, The Director, The Storyteller, Bloody Mary, The Usher, Fear, Lady Luck, and Chance. Chance was the icon for Halloween Horror Nights 2016. She was a new icon but used to serve as a "sidekick" to Jack (though there are rumours that they have a romantic relationship) in his shows (her role and look being inspired by Batman antagonist Harley Quinn[84]). In 2007, for HHN 17, Universal again licensed intellectual properties from others, in this case New Line Cinema for Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface,[35] however, Jack the Clown was still featured. Jack the Clown returned in 2015 for HHN XXV.

Houses[edit]

The haunted house (simulated) is the anchor entertainment and raison d'être for the entire event, at least through the lens of popular culture in the United States. When the event first started as "Fright Nights" at Universal Studios Florida,[85] there was simply one haunted house, the Dungeon of Terror.[86] As the event progressed through the years, the number has increased to as many as nine different houses, as of Halloween Horror Nights 25 in 2015.[68] The houses are enumerated in the expandable charts above for each park, sorted by year.

Scare zones[edit]

Halloween Horror Nights IV was the first year to introduce a "scare zone", a name given to specific outdoor areas that feature costumed characters that fit the theme with the intent of scaring people who walk through the areas. To get to certain areas of the park, it is necessary to travel through these scare zones. In 2012, Orlando re-envisioned the scare zones as "street experiences," claiming that scare actors were no longer restricted to specific "zones." Instead, there were a number of "hordes" which would change their location in the park every 90 minutes. By 2014, the traditional scare zones returned with The Purge: Anarchy (inspired by the film), Face Off: In the Flesh, Bayou of Blood, and MASKerade: Unstitched.[citation needed] However, Hollywood Horror Nights in California still has specific scare zones, that range in themes. While actors cannot touch you, many of them can surround you at one time. Many actors in these areas have props like bats, chainsaws and fake guns and can act like they are going to attack you with their "weapons". Many times actors will place the chainsaws against the cement to produce sparks to scare audiences. Actors are also allowed to chase visitors in and out of the scare zone.

Robosaurus in a show from Halloween Horror Nights 16

Live entertainment[edit]

Halloween Horror Nights has featured several live entertainment shows. Recurring shows have included "The Rocky Horror Picture Show A Tribute",[87] "Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure",[88] Robosaurus[89] and Academy of Villains[90]. Bill and Ted's show has appeared in every Halloween Horror Nights edition to date, beginning with HHN 2 in 1992. It is "...a scatter-shot mashup of pop culture, popular radio and unexpectedly mature content" according to a recent review.[91] Universal has announced that HHN27 will be the last year for the Bill & Ted Show.[92]

The Universal Entrance Decorated for Halloween Horror Nights 17

Rides[edit]

Several of the rides at Universal Studios remain operational during the event.[93] In past event years, some rides were re-themed for the event such as Kongfrontation becoming Tramway of Doom during HHN II. Since 2015 Diagon Alley has been open for Halloween Horror Nights. It was closed-off in 2014 despite opening just a few months earlier and to date it has never been re-themed or had any scare actors present.[94]

Commercials, Media & Awards[edit]

Universal's Halloween Horror Nights is known for the dark tone of its advertisements and commercials. In 2010, the directors of Daybreakers, Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, directed the commercial for Halloween Horror Nights.[citation needed]

Universal Studios Florida has won Amusement Today's Golden Ticket Award for Best Halloween Event 11 of the 13 times it has been awarded, including the last ten years straight.[95]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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