Universal Studios theme parks located in Orlando, Florida and Los Angeles, California have been putting on Halloween Horror Nights for thirty years. Starting in 1991, the Florida theme park began with only one haunted house, however, quickly formed into the largest Halloween event nationwide. The appreciation for Universal movie monsters skyrocketed due to Halloween Horror Nights, encouraging the theme parks to build the Islands of Adventure, which explores iconic movie monsters in Universal’s history. There is no doubt that Halloween Horror Nights has changed how Halloween is celebrated in the United States and continues to thrill and scare anyone who enters.
Originally, Halloween Horror Nights was titled “Fright Nights” in the first year, however, managers soon changed the title just a year later to Halloween Horror Nights. While Halloween Horror Nights is a thirty night long event currently, it was not originally as long. In fact, Halloween Horror Nights originally started off as only a three night event. However, the demand for the event increased over the years encouraging Universal Studios’ theme parks to lengthen the event. For the first ten years, Halloween Horror Nights was held strictly in the Orlando location. As mentioned, the event started off with one house, and has since evolved into an enormous event, with ten houses, five scare zones, and two shows. The first house that the event had was called the “Dungeon of Terror,” which was held in the JAWS attraction. After the first ten years, the event was moved to the Islands of Adventure, where it was held for the next few years until moving back to the Orlando theme park in 2006. Since 2006, the event has been held every year, except 2020 due to COVID restrictions, returning this year for its 30th year anniversary.
While every year did have unique elements that richened the event, most years have very similar concepts and event icons that were reused. Depending on the park and location, staff would sometimes open the event during the day, but limited these occasions as alcohol related incidents rose during these times.
There have been several different event icons over the years at the two different locations. The role of these event icons is to essentially appear in the park during the event, help with merchandising, appear in shows or scare zones, and other event occurrences. The event icon always has a backstory, and many times is a Universal Studios production. While there have been several event icons, there are a few that had an important section in the spotlight. One of the most famous event icons known at Halloween Horror Nights is Adaru. Adaru is the Sumerian god of fear, and while he does not appear as the first event icon, he is definitely the most influential. Adaru has never appeared in a house but in the scare zone “Fear Revealed.”
There is still time during this year to experience the absolutely terrifying Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios theme parks. From now until the first weekend in November the theme parks will be hosting the event every weekend after dark. Do not underestimate the frights brought to this event, it will not disappoint.
Halloween Horror Nights (2021) “Trapped” Trailer
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