As spooky season descends, your first thoughts might not turn to theme parks, but one of the season’s biggest celebrations is happening at Universal Studios: Halloween Horror Nights.
Basically, between Sept. 1-Nov. 3 at Universal Studios Orlando and Sept. 7-Oct. 31 at Universal Studios Hollywood, they turn the entire theme park into a haunted house of sorts, complete with scarers roaming the grounds, special scary attractions, and extended hours that go into the wee hours of the morning.
Now, this whole thing is NOT for the entire family, due to the horror-themed nature of the festivities, it’s recommended for ages 13 and older. But if you’re into that sort of thing, this special time of year could be a legit way to save money at Universal Studios.
We’ll tell you all about Halloween Horror Nights, and how it might be the most affordable major theme park option out there.
1. If you’re planning a 1-2 day visit to Universal Studios, the standard Halloween Horror Nights ticket will save you 26%-31%.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios is a special 6-7 hours of creepy delights most days of the week in September and October, but you can’t just use your regular day ticket to get in. When the spooky event starts around 6 or 7 p.m., you either have to buy a special ticket or leave the park.
But you can buy these event tickets by themselves, which is good because they’re cheaper than day tickets. In Hollywood, Halloween Horror Nights tickets cost as low as $74.99, and in Orlando, it’s $79.99 — a savings of 26%-31% when compared to both parks’ day tickets, which start at $109.
Watch out for price hikes as Halloween nears, especially on weekends. For example, the ticket can go up to $125 in Orlando and $112 in Hollywood. But even then, you’ll still save 25%-30% compared to a regular ticket. (But there will be crowds then.)
Here’s how it breaks down:
2. Some popular rides, like Harry Potter, are open during Halloween Horror Nights — with much shorter wait times.
If you’re going to Universal Studios for Halloween Horror Nights, you’re in for a treat! While everyone’s busy with the haunted houses, the rides have way shorter wait times. But heads up, some rides close 1-2 hours before the event ends. Here are the rides you can usually hop on, according to Theme Park Center:
Universal Studios Hollywood
- Revenge Of The Mummy
- Jurassic World – The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- The Simpsons Ride
Universal Studios Florida
- Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
- Transformers: The Ride
- Revenge of the Mummy
- Men In Black Alien Attack
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit
Just a heads up, these rides might not always be open, so don’t be too bummed if one is closed.
3. Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights also has a bunch of attractions you don’t get to see any other time of the year.
Besides all those other theme park benefits, you can’t forget about all of the things that make Halloween Horror Nights unique! Here are the scary attractions you won’t find during regular park visits:
- Scare Houses: Walk through creepy mazes filled with monsters and scares.
- Scare Zones: Areas in the park where performers dressed as zombies and witches roam to give you a good fright.
- Live Shows: Special performances that tell spooky stories or feature Halloween-themed dances.
- Limited-Time Food and Merch: Exclusive Halloween snacks, drinks, and merchandise only available during the event.
- Costumes: Not only are cast members dressed up as creepy things, but it’s pretty common for guests to come in Halloween costumes, too. Just make sure you adhere to their costume rules. (No, you can’t dress up like a Universal employee.)
4. If you’re planning a 3-5 day visit to Universal Studios, you can save time and money by getting a ‘Fear Pass’.
If you’re planning for several days at Universal during the fall, you might consider skipping the daytime hours entirely, instead saving your money with a multi-day “Fear Pass.”
The thing about these passes is that they’re good for MORE than just three days, unlike the three-day general admission tickets you buy, or buying three individual HHN tickets. The cheapest pass gives you access to 18(!) different nights at Universal Orlando for less than the cost of three individual tickets.
Note: If you’re considering visiting more than three days in a year at Universal Studios Hollywood, you might want to explore their Annual Pass options, which start at $229. It’s more expensive than the cheapest Fear Pass, but… it is good for an entire year, instead of 30 days in the fall.
5. It’s a cheap way to spend Halloween night — just $89.99 — and it’s not super crowded.
If you’re trying to shore up Halloween plans that don’t involve trick-or-treating, there might not be a better option than Universal Studios.
Surprisingly, a ticket for Halloween Horror Nights on Oct. 31 isn’t even close to their peak price — it’s just $89.99 at either park. And crowd prediction websites don’t even think it’s gonna be busy at all. Sounds like a pretty killer Halloween deal, honestly. Want more time? Pay that extra $10 to begin your night at Universal Hollywood at 5:30 p.m. instead of 7:00.
Some people I know have spent more than that on costumes. And others I know spent even more than that on candy.
Note: With any Halloween Horror Nights tickets, make sure you buy online ahead of time; it appears that you’ll pay a LOT more (like 45% more) if you get your tickets at the gate.
6. Get a few bucks off per ticket — plus 2% back — when you book through AAA.
If you’re a AAA member, you might not know this, but they have a whole tickets section of their website — and they’re running a special on Halloween events, including Halloween Horror Nights at Universal.
The discounts are meager compared to the online prices at Universal, but every little bit helps. I found a ticket for the Sept. 6 HHN for $70.46. The online price is $74.99, so like I said, not big savings. But why would I pay extra if I don’t have to?
In addition to getting a little discount, you’ll earn 2% back in AAA Dollars for your Halloween Horror Nights purchase. AAA Dollars can be redeemed towards your annual membership renewal dues, redeemed for cash back or applied towards select products or services.
Note: This deal also applies to Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disney Parks, Six Flags Fright Fest, and Busch Gardens’ Howl-o-Scream, among other seasonal attractions.
7. Spring for the $149 “Day/Night” ticket to get access to the otherwise-crowded Super Nintendo World.
Universal Studios Hollywood’s brand-new Super Nintendo World has been a HUGE attraction at the theme park since it opened earlier this year, but if you want to see Mario & Co. without everyone and their mom, your best bet is going to be to get the expanded “Day/Night” pass during Halloween Horror Nights.
The “After 2 p.m. Day/Night” pass costs $149 per person, per day, and gets you into the park at 2 p.m. — an extra 4+ hours compared to the regular HHN ticket. You can visit some haunted houses early, starting at 5:30 p.m. Then, you get to enjoy Super Nintendo World with smaller crowds during a special 7 – 10 p.m. window.
It’s nearly double the cost of the $79.99 base ticket for Halloween Horror Nights, but if your heart is set on seeing the Mushroom Kingdom, the price might be perfect.
Note: There’s also an “After 2 p.m. Day/Night Universal Express” ticket for $329 that comes with one-time fast pass access to rides and shows during the day and Halloween nights.
Before you book, make sure you’re up to speed on all the Universal Studios savings tips.
We hate wasting time and money — and while you can make the argument that theme parks are the epitome of how to do that, you don’t have to flush your entire budget.
Make sure you check out our Universal Studios Orlando savings tips, as well as our Universal Studios Hollywood savings tips, to help you make your money go even farther when you book your spooky season trip.