There’s a very specific type of person who seeks out utter fear as fun during the Halloween season. The lifestyle choice isn’t for everyone, but when you are into that brand of adrenaline, this time of year becomes so much more than seasonal drinks, sweaters, and re-watching Hocus Pocus for the one millionth time.
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights has been going strong for over 3 decades now, and every year tops the one before, with scares that come straight out of nightmares. It’s definitely an experience, and even if you’re not the biggest fan of the horror genre, you should go at least once in your life — just to see what it’s all about.
As fun as the annual celebration of absolute terror can be, it’s still at a theme park. So we have some tips and tricks for you to stay prepared and as calm, cool, and collected (as humanly possible).
1. Bring a lanyard
First and foremost, keep your ticket close to you. If you’re going into the event with an express pass or you’re a part of the R.I.P. tour (the event’s VIP tour), you’ll be scanning your pass constantly. There’s nothing more frustrating than being that person in line who is fumbling in their bag for their ticket and holding up everyone else.
Also, there’s a chance you’ll be running from the costumed cast members dressed in horror gear and jumping from scares in the haunted mazes, so it’s just good practice to make sure your ticket doesn’t go flying in the air.
2. Travel water filters are a must
Theme parks are notorious for ripping off their guests when it comes to water. There are water fountains, but as many Los Angeles residents know — the tap water quality is horrendous. Do yourself a favor and bring a lightweight (preferably collapsible) water bottle and travel filter so you can save your cash for Halloween Horror Nights-themed concessions and avoid the disgusting taste of Los Angeles tap water.
3. Don’t run (seriously)
The event’s cast members are scare actors and will most likely try their best to scare your soul straight out of your body. Believe it or not, that’s kind of the fun of it all. However, it goes beyond just startling you unexpectedly as you turn a corner. In the scare zones (the common walking areas), there’s a good chance that one of the scare actors will attempt to chase you — you know, just like they do in the movies.
Thinking of hiding in a store? Good luck, because they will wait outside and taunt you. My advice is to just look confident, shoot them a little smile, and for the love of all things, don’t run away.
4. Choose your houses wisely
If you’re only going for one day, make sure to go in with a game plan. Halloween Horror Nights’ popularity has skyrocketed over the years, and the resurgence of the horror genre has brought in even more fans. A line’s (without the express pass and R.I.P. tour pass) average wait time is 70-90 minutes, so you’ll want to make sure you’re hitting up the best ones to maximize your time.
This year the park is featuring haunted houses from Halloween, The Black Phone, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, as well as The Weeknd‘s After Hours Nightmare. Universal Studios Hollywood will exclusively feature a Terror Tram, where you venture into the mind of Jordan Peele through his two latest films, Us and Nope. Universal Studios Orlando’s most popular haunted house this year has been the New England fishing town-themed Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake.
5. Go with a group if you can
If you’re someone who wants to go alone, then by all means, go for it. Not all of us are as strong of a soldier as you are. Going with one or two friends can be fun too, but there’s nothing like going with a group of 3 or more. There are plenty of benefits to this, but the main one being that experiencing this level of fear as a group is unparalleled.
I’m assuming this is how groups feel in horror movies too. It’s almost like a form of trauma bonding, but the light version, because you’re at a theme park and probably getting a little tipsy while you’re walking through the houses. Also, it’s harder to get picked out by a scare actor if you’re in the middle of a group.
6. Wear comfortable shoes
This should go without saying, but there’s always going to be one person who values looking good over comfort. Full stop. Turn around and put on a good pair of shoes that can carry you through the day. You’ll be on your feet for hours. Yes, there’s nothing like wearing a spooky outfit that looks great in photos, but your feet will thank you at 2 a.m., when you’re on your knees and slowly crawling back to your car and trying to hold back your pain tears. Good shoes, now!
Photo via Universal Parks/Roberto Gonzales