I am a summer baby, through and through. I never want summer to end. My fellow New Yorkers think I’m crazy for thinking that this 90 degree, 90% humidity we’ve been living in for the last several weeks is paradise, but I love it.
That being said… Universal Studios Orlando is working some special kind of magic on my brain and making me wish so hard that it was October already!
Recently they announced the final of the houses for Halloween Horror Nights 26 and I am about as excited as a human being can be before spontaneous combustion occurs. I can NOT wait for it to be October!
Orlando seems to be one of those vacation destinations that people often roll their eyes at. Sure, there are plenty of things to do for families and for kids, and the various theme parks certainly have skilled marketing experts who are hired specifically to let you know just that. But I have only ever been to Orlando as an adult and every single time it drags me in and leaves me wanting more.
October is one of my absolute favorite times to visit Florida in general, but without question my favorite time to visit Orlando.
There’s a lot to say about the fall in Orlando. The weather is starting to cool, the crowds are thinning out, the decorations are unmatched, and Horror Nights…
This will be our third year in a row going to Horror Nights and I feel like it only gets better from one year to the next. It’s also possible that last year was exceptionally good because of the 25th Anniversary, but we have high hopes for HHN 26.
Over the last couple of weeks, Universal has been slowly releasing the themes for this year’s houses, the last of which was announced just yesterday. The list includes: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Exorcist, Walking Dead, Halloween, Krampus (!!!), and American Horror Story – to name only a few.
Luckily, Universal has thought of everything and has strategically placed liquid courage carts around the scare zones and houses so that I don’t chicken out and run for the hills (It’s Florida, PJ.. there are no hills).
For us, the best thing about Horror Nights is the production value. This is not your ordinary neighborhood Haunted House (although, some neighborhoods are certainly excluded from my visual of corny rubber masks and create legit terrifying experiences). The make up and costume designs are worth the trip, even if haunted houses and Halloween aren’t normally your ‘thing’.
The scare actors at Universal are top notch. Again, you will find no cheese here. They don’t just chase you with chainsaws, grunting. They interact and engage with visitors and really get them involved in the whole production. You, the visitor, become part of the whole experience.
This year, I think I’m most excited about the following things:
- Krampus house – I insanely feel this connection to the Krampus story. Not because of the movie, but because of how deeply I fell in love with Bavaria last December. I obviously, don’t expect much cultural authenticity – I do, however, expect a truly terrifying interpretation of the Bavarian anti-Santa.
- The Repository – a virtual reality experience, that you can add on to your HHN tickets for $49.95. I’m not sure if we’re really willing to spend that much for the experience (translation: I’m trying to convince hubby), but it sounds incredible. (description found here)
- Extra houses! Again, we’re fairly new to the HHN game (this only being our third visit), but in the past there have been only 7 houses, this year there seems to be 9! We better invest in some excellent insoles for our shoes.
- Actually… this is worth a little side bar. If you do go to HHN, be prepared to walk, a lot. Every time we’ve gone, we leave barely making it back to the car. This, unfortunately, is not an exaggeration. Do yourself a favor and sit from time to time and invest in really good shoes. You’ll thank me later.
- Wizarding World of Harry Potter as a potential holding zone – If you buy a park ticket for the same day as your HHN tickets, you are allowed to “Stay and Scream”. This allows you to stay in the park while it closes for visitors without HHN tickets, in holding zones. It also allows you to have access to the houses right when HHN opens for the night, so you often beat some of the early crowds. Holding Zones are scattered throughout the park and are often near places where you can grab a quick bite or have a drink while you’re waiting for the park to clear out. Last year, Wizarding World was available as a holding zone. We lucked out and the whole area was practically empty.We easily found a bench to sit and enjoy some Dragon Scales (beer). Definitely one of my favorite parts of last year’s trip to HHN.
Of course this list changes constantly as they release new announcements and updates and as my brain wanders from one point of excitement to the next.
So, Summer, I’ma let you finish, but… October better hurry up!