Whether you've attended the last 21 or HHN 22 is your first time, here are our expert tips for everyone to make the most out of their night.
Generally, Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest, with house waits running up to 2hrs+ for the most popular houses. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays are typically much better, with waits topping out around 1hr. Except last year Wed., Thurs. & Sun. were just as busy as a Fri. and Sat. - we'll see what 2012 will be like.
How to get around the waits?
Your ultimate experience will be with the RIP Tour. You'll enjoy a personal guided tour through the event with front of the line privileges for every house. That kind of access isn't cheap. The RIP Tour starts around $150 per person - and that doesn't include your admission to HHN. A more affordable option is an Express Pass, prices vary depending on the night, but prices start this year at $39.99. The Express Pass allows you into an express line which will generally be about a third as long as the regular line. If you're coming to the event for only one night, and on a Friday or Saturday, a splurge on the Express Pass is likely your only way you'll get to experience every house. That said, PTTP highly recommends spending more than just one night at this amazing event. A leisurely pace will allow you to really take in the full experience. Taking your time to enjoy the shows and scarezones is often just as much fun as the houses.
What's the Least Busiest Night to Go?
The best way to gauge how busy Universal expects specific nights to be, is to take a look at their Express Pass options. The Express Pass price varies for different nights and corresponds to projected attendance, so the most expensive night you should expect to be the busiest, the least expensive - the least busy, etc. The Saturday before Halloween is always their busiest night of the event. (Click graphic to enlarge)
Also, this year Orange County Public Schools have Friday, Oct. 19 & Friday, Oct. 26 off. Expect those Fridays, but mostly the Thursdays before (Thursday tickets are cheaper) to have more middle & high school students in attendance than a regular night.
- You will go through metal detectors before you even get to the ticket booths, so the less you bring with you (in pockets or bags) the faster you, and everyone else, will get through.
- This is an adult event and is not recommended for children under 13. There's nothing sadder than seeing a terrified 5 yr old with her head buried into irresponsible dad's shoulder as they go through a house. And strollers. No one wants to see strollers at this adult-oriented event. Leave the kiddos at home.
- Costumes and masks are not allowed. Leave that spike collar at home too - no dangerous jewelry.
- Behave yourself or you may end up in the temporary jail that is set up in the parking rotunda. And it's not Universal's temporary jail, it's run by Orlando's finest men in blue.
- What if it rains? Most of the park will continue to operate as normal rain or...um, gloom. The scarezones will close for safety reasons in more than a light drizzle and Rip Ride Rockit will close for lightning. Most storms only last at most an hour or so at this time of night, so just wait it out. Tough it out and you'll likely get to enjoy a considerably lighter crowd after the storm.
- Did you buy any of the blinky-light merchandise? You'll need to turn the lights off (or at least hide it in a dark pocket) before entering a house. Make sure you know how before you're about to go in.
- Any questions you have that we didn't address? Let us know!
Most of the big rides will be open (MIB, The Simpsons, Mummy, Rip Ride Rockit and Despicable Me) and usually have very low wait times. If you are at HHN for one night only, we recommend skipping the rides unless it's your only chance to hit one you've never done before.
1. Drinks are not allowed in the houses. You will have to finish it before you get in. (With the long lines, not a problem!)
2. Universal's drink policy is one drink per person. ID is mandatory, even with the "I'm over 21 bracelet" they will still ask for ID every time. They are very strict about this. You cannot order one for your friend and bring it back to them.
3. Souvenir Glasses - After attending opening weekend 2010, our stance has changed from "Don't do it!" to "It's ok, but watch the pours" - Read more about drinks here.
4. Shots A variety of shots are available throughout the event - either at the bars or from the bar girls who wander through the queues with trays of assorted alcoholic goodies. I know the jello shots are very popular (one year they were served in blood bags!) but aside from the fun novelty of it, you're paying an awful lot of money for jello with a hint of rum. Skip it, even the employees joke about how low the alcohol content is in them. For the last couple of years they've featured Jekyll & Hyde liquor available as shots as well.
5. Do not let anyone under the age of 21 hold your alcoholic drink for you - even for a second - like while you tie your shoe. You will get taken away by security. Universal is extremely strict about underage consumption. No exceptions, it's the law. Your word of warning here.
We definitely recommend eating before you come to the event. Why waste your precious time eating dinner? But if you do get the munchies later on, there are food booths set up with the typical theme park fare of hot dogs, turkey legs and other items. Finnegan's bar will be open for some good Irish fare as well. Usually Monster's Cafe is open and Mel's is converted into a D i e - in with a neon letter or two that are conspicuously unlit.
You are welcome to shoot photos & video to your heart's content out in the streets and scarezones but it is not allowed in the houses. There is nothing that will ruin the moment (not to mention blind the scareactors) than being behind someone who is taking flash photos in a house. Fellow guests will have several choice words for you, and you will be removed from the house by an employee. Don't be that inconsiderate person.
Party a little too much? No problem - there are plenty of cabs available and waiting. When you enter the parking rotunda, look for the taxi sign and you'll be on your way in no time. Make sure you get a price for your trip before you even get in the cab. Don't worry about your car - I don't know what their official cutoff date is, but you're safe for at least one day. (we've never had a problem).
#1 Piece of Advice
Do not wear flip-flops to this event! If you value your toes, wear sneakers. I promise you - your feet will get stepped on as the person in front of you jumps backwards after a good scare.
And be nice to the scareactors...they know where you live.