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Theatre: Halloween Horror Nights
Prepare to run like the dickens in 3...2...late.

Halloween Horror Nights is quite simply one of the largest annual Halloween events in the world. Hosted from the end of September to the end of October (occasionally extending to the first day or two of November), Halloween Horror Nights is hosted by Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood (expanding to Singapore and Japan as of 2011) every year. While the Orlando event is the biggest, all events revolve are several key similarities: haunted houses (sometimes referred to as mazes, though they all have a predefined path), scarezones (sections of the park themed with props and effects and populated with actors), and shows (with Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure being a perennial favorite). The houses and scarezones are populated with "scareactors", dressed in costumes and makeup and positioned to scare the bejeezus out of passerby.

While only the diehard fans usually know this, Halloween Horror Nights actually began in 1986 at Universal Hollywood; after a grisly accident where a scareactor was run over by a tram, Hollywood canceled the event. Universal would not revive their Halloween events until Orlando (to compete with the local "Terror On Church Street" haunt) introduced Fright Nights in 1991, an event that lasted for one weekend in October and included one house, The Dungeon of Terror, and a large number of shows, musical acts, and street performers. Fright Nights was massively popular, with the house achieving wait times of over 2 hours, and the name was changed to Halloween Horror Nights in 1992. '92 also saw the introduction of the Bill & Ted show, which has continued every year since. The event has only grown since then: in 2011 at its peak, for Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 21, there were 8 houses, 6 scarezones, and 2 shows. The event has gone from a few nights to (at its 2013 peak) 4 or 5 nights a week every week from September 20 to November 2. The biggest competitor at the moment is Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens. Hollywood's event (under the direction of John Murdy, who originally worked on the Orlando event) would eventually catch back up with the Orlando event in terms of scope and has been well received by fans and by the creators of the franchises that Hollywood bases their mazes on. The biggest competitor for Hollywood at the moment note  is Knotts' Scary Farm.

As a Universal Studios event, houses and scarezones based on movies are quite common, to the point where 2009's Orlando event included 6 movie houses out of 8 total. Universal Hollywood often has almost exclusively film-based events beginning in 2006, and House of 1000 Corpses even got its start as a Hollywood house. It does have the occasional original property, however, such as La Llorona in 2011note . One of the key points of the Orlando event is its use of icons: beginning with the Cryptkeeper in 1995, there's been a number of icons (as well as a great many unused concepts) that have been used to provide a face for the year. Orlando also uses the event website to expand upon the backstory of the icons, houses, and scarezones for each year, often mixed in with games (such as "Horror Unearthed" which had an online and an in-park component and the Alternate Reality Game Legendary Truth). Hollywood's event is predominantly movie-centric, and as such, doesn't have Icons and focuses on characters from the house/scarezone properties in the event and marketing. note  One of the other distinctions that Hollywood has over Orlando is the Terror Tram, which goes through many of the same sights as the distinctive Studio Tour...only for one reason or another, guests are forced off the tram and onto the the Backlot sets, with rethemed paths and scareactors galore.

     HHN Orlando 2013 Houses, Scarezones, and Immersive Content 

     HHN Hollywood 2013 Houses and Scarezones 

Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan both have their own versions, with members of the Orlando event's Art & Design Team providing guidance. Singapore's event weaves in both common Horror Nights staples (the use of Icon characters and common HHN maze/scarezone themes) mixed in with haunted attractions based in Singaporean culture. Japan's event started with a focus on licensed properties such as Friday the 13th and The Mummy. It gained mainstream gaming media attention in 2012 for its Resident Evil scarezone, complete with appearances from some of the franchise's most recognizable protagonists and monsters along with Raccoon City wall projections.

Information about the Icons and other original characters created for the event can be found at the (still heavily under construction) Characters page. A partial list of some of the many multimedia properties that Horror Nights has adapted over the years can be found under the Trivia page. Feel free to help out with the Characters page and with crosswicking the tropes.


The event contains examples of:

     General Tropes 
  • Bloody Handprint: Many houses and scarezones.
  • Body Horror: Was there any doubt?
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Many of the gory houses include hidden water sprayers to simulate blood splattering on the guests. HHN Orlando's The People Under the Stairs in 1992 actually splattered guests with thick, red fake blood.
  • Cat Scare: The houses tend to rely on jump scares, so the same effect is often given through various sound effects without even an actor to perform them.
  • Chainsaw Good: Oh so much. HHN Orlando has the long running Chainsaw Drill Team and (sort of) Icon Eddie while HHN Hollywood has the pigmasked lackeys from Saw swarming the park and running visitors out of the park at the end of the night in the "Chainsaw Chaseout".
  • Creepy Child: Cindy is the most famous example, but children (all portrayed by small adults) have appeared in houses and scarezones as well.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Depicted ever-so often throughout the event.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Following Willing Suspension of Disbelief, the guests themselves follow this trope by entering dangerous environments on a whim.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Several houses have attempted (not always successfully) at making completely dark environments.
  • Death by Mocking: A common story among scareactors is the tough guy who makes fun of them getting scared shitless around the next corner.
  • Easter Egg: For Orlando: Carey, Ohio is the hometown of a member of Art & Design, and has been used as a setting for MANY of the houses and scarezones.
    • Orlando also has a honeypot bear that is hidden in one house every year. Starting in 2010, several houses in the event have buttons that, if pressed, can spark an event that either takes place right in front of the visitor that pressed it or affects visitors elsewhere in the house.
    • Hollywood has the "Log Bunny", a a log with bunny ears on it that serves as an unofficial mascot among the crew and is always hidden somewhere on the Terror Tram. One time, Log Bunny was kidnapped. As one would would expect, this was seen as Serious Business.
  • Daylight Horror: The event starts at least an hour before nightfall, giving plenty of time for the sun to shine over the scarezones.
  • Eye Scream: A common trope for corpses and scareactors, one prominent recent example being a ghostly nurse from 2010's Psychoscarepy: Echos of Shadybrook, who had a pair of scissors stabbed through her eye.
  • Facial Horror: The prosthetic and makeup work done by Universal for both park's events is movie quality and thoroughly horrifying.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Pretty much speaks for itself, with the always interactive scareactors. Plus there have been shows throughout the event that have the chosen victims being cast members disguised as regular guests, giving you the feeling that you're never safe.
  • Horror Struck: A common reaction by guests to scareactors. If they're not running screaming, that is.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Seen in various houses and scarezones.
    • Notably in Orlando, the Caretaker and his minions often cooking up pieces of his victims and in the backstory for the Leave it to Cleaver house.
    • Both Orlando and Hollywood have The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, natch.
  • Jump Scare: EVERYWHERE.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Common throughout the many years and events, but an especially prominent example is 2009's Leave it to Cleaver, set in a meat processing plant where vagabonds and criminals are made into Meatz Meats; all of the employees wear masks of a smiling boy's face.
  • Monster Clown: Jack is the most prominent, but many houses and scarezones have had clown scareactors. Eddie Schmidt from 2001 was given some mild clown makeup as well before being scrapped and kept the makeup in later appearances.
    • Hollywood has the Klownz scarezone, chock fulla clowns, some of them armed.
  • Mundanger: Any event that includes serial killers alongside ghosts, zombies, and demons.
  • Never Sleep Again: Both Hollywood and Orlando have included A Nightmare on Elm Street in various years, with Orlando's 2007 house, A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamwalkers, had the premise of the guests being given a drug that puts them into a long Freddyless sleep...that doesn't work.
  • Nightmare Face: Many of the costumes.
  • Ominous Fog: Many of the scarezones.
  • Rule of Scary: Guess what this event runs on? For example: just why did the cast of a chainsaw massacre film start slicing up the crew and everyone who wandered by? Because it gave them an excuse to fill an entire street with chainsaws!
  • Scare Chord: Used to augment many of the scares.
  • Screamer Trailer: Used for some commercials and promotional videos, such as Orlando's pre-reveal promotion for 2011.
  • Screaming Woman: Mostly among the guests.
  • Security Cling: Common among guests, sometimes performed on whoever happens to be in front of them at the time.
  • Sensory Abuse: Used to disorient guests and make scares more intense; commonly seen in the form of a room where the only light is from rapidly flashing strobes.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: Sometimes performed by street scareactors with sharp implements, such as sickles.
  • Spring Loaded Corpse: Many houses have a scareactor pretending to be a mannequin before coming to life at the right time.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Used sometimes with a "victim" scareactor to shock or distract the guests.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A great many houses and scarezones over the years, including 2010's Zombiegeddon and 2012's The Walking Dead: Dead Inside.

     HHN Orlando Tropes 
  • Abandoned Hospital: The 2010 event featured Psychoscarepy: Echoes of Shadybrook; the house was a 15-years-later finisher to the popular asylum house series, replacing the zany and loud antics of the inmates with somber, psychotic ghosts in an abandoned building.
  • Abandoned Playground: The 2010 house The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes had an abandoned playground outside the burned-out orphanage, with the see-saw moving on its own.
  • Alien Geometries: Some houses, like A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamwalkers in 2007, had the rooms tilted or flipped around. Nevermore: The Madness of Poe from 2011 has a room where every surface has the narrator from The Tell Tale Heart kneeling next to the hole in the floorboards. The one on the wall immediately next to the guests hides the resurrected victim.
  • All Hallows' Eve: Along with being a Halloween event, The Hallow in 2008 was based around traditional Halloween: jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, and witches with boiling cauldrons.
  • Always Night: Subverted for scarezones and any house in the (now defunct) Jaws and Disaster queues (where some rooms allow daylight to flood in), as the event opens several hours before sunset.
  • Anal Probing: Performed on Mulder in the 2008 Bill & Ted show by the Predator.
  • Ancient Tomb: Played straight in 2010 with Catacombs: Black Death Rising (set in unearthed catacombs under a French town inhabited by undead plague doctors and plague victims), among other houses.
  • And Show It to You: Performed by The Caretaker during the opening show in 2002 to a "non-believer".
  • Another Man's Terror: The 2008 house Dead Exposure is set entirely in the photographs of a reporter in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Anyone Can Die: In 2002's Island Under Siege scare zone and Maximum Carnage house, all of the Marvel superheroes, including the likes of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine, are depicted as having been killed by the villains and their bodies strung up as trophies.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Several examples:
    • The website for 2004 included various artifacts for each house to provide a preview of their content, and Disorientorium included a Blackberry with the emails of a man who had begun to become obsessed with the Disorientorium until he began to go mad and finally commit suicide.
    • The plot for 2008 was given with a series of case files by the icon, Dr. Mary Agana, as she slipped into insanity during her work as a phobia therapist and eventually became Bloody Mary.
  • Artifact of Doom: The lantern in 2010, which held Fear.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: One of the rooms in 2007's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre house included a scene where Leatherface revved his chainsaw and smashed his way through a broken wall toward the guests.
  • Bat out of Hell: Dracula in 2009 was seen in the end of the house half-transformed into a giant bat.
  • Bedlam House: Shadybrook, the setting for most of the Psychoscareapy house series, which almost regularly has violent inmate breakouts.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The 2011 house Nevermore: The Madness of Poe included a room based on The Tell Tale Heart, complete with the deep bass thud of the heartbeat echoing through the room.
  • Buried Alive: Implied with some of the victims of The Caretaker.
  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: 2007 had Jason Voorhees as one of the poster boys, so of course one of the houses was set at Camp Crystal Lake, which had been renamed and reopened.
  • Cannibal Clan: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has seen appearances in 2003 and 2007 so far.
  • Creepy Basement: The People Under The Stairs and its sequel house.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Most prominently 2011's Winter's Night: The Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetery, which entirely takes place in the titular cemetery.
  • Creepy Children Singing: The 2011 scarezone "7" featured the Scala and Kolancy Brothers cover of "Beautiful People", with the Manson original taking over roughly midway through the night as the ladies lost their masks and became more corrupted.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Any appearance of the Midway of the Bizarre scarezone.
  • Creepy Doll: The Dead Silence house in 2007, among others. The Cabin in the Woods house in 2013 featured a number of the dolls from Dead Silence, including Billy himself, in the cellar.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The entire point behind the Body Collectors.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Averted with The Caretaker, who is tall, wears a top hat, and is quite well-spoken and proper.
  • Deadly Game: The theme of 2001's RUN, a low budget game show where contestants are expected to dodge both chainsaw wielding freaks and an extremely hazardous environment. The original treatment for the event can be read here.
  • Deadly Prank: Part of Bloody Mary's backstory involved her grandmother, a schoolteacher in Ohio, being killed in a Halloween prank orchestrated by the school handyman.
  • Death by Materialism: Greed's transformation in "7" was receiving more and heavier jewelry that began to suffocate her, turning her face blue.
  • Demonic Dummy: Used in the 2007 Dead Silence house.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: As the event has gradually expanded over the course of the decades, this is to be expected. The very first Orlando HHN was named Fright Nights and only included a single haunted house, with most emphasis being on the various music and stage acts around the park; it's been described as "a giant Halloween party". In 1992 it's confirmed that they were still using thick fake blood for their blood spray effects rather than merely water, and the famous Chainsaw Drill Team and set scarezones (rather than actors semi-randomly placed around the streets) only appeared in 1994.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The 2010 Legendary Truth house was based around a ghost hunt gone wrong, and the house was thus filled with various spirit-detecting equipment.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: In the 2011 house based on The Thing (2011), not only is the Thing coming after the guests, but research team members driven mad with paranoia also attack from time to time.
    • One of the major points of Halloween Horror Nights XX was that, barring two victims, every scareactor was a monster out to get you.
  • Fog of Doom: The 2009 scarezone Containment, which centered around a chemical weapon in the form of a mysterious green fog infecting the locals and driving them insane as they melted to death.
    • 2011's The Forsaken also utilized this to immense effect (as a Shout-Out to The Fog) as it enshrouded the eponymous Forsaken wreaking havoc in a sixteenth century Spanish fort.
  • Ghost Ship: The S.S. Frightanic in 1998 and Ship of Screams in 2003. A scene from Frightanic made a reappearance in 2010.
  • Ghost Town: The 2004 house Ghost Town, of course.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Quite common with the various mannequins of corpses, including one in 2008's Body Collectors: Collections of the Past. One of the deaths in the 2007 Carnival of Carnage show included a security guard on a rack being pulled in half.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Universal Studios seems to regularly be beset by demons, zombies, ghosts, cannibals, and the God of Fear.
  • Haunted House: Played straight in 2010 with Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate, which in turn was based on The Legend of Hell House. While the houses are often referred to as "haunted houses" by the media, LT is the only house to truly be a haunted house.
  • Headless Horseman: Seen in 2008 in both The Hallow and the American Gothic scarezone.
  • Hell Hotel: 1997's Hotel Hell.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: The first Bill & Ted show at Halloween Horror Nights (1992) gave Jason Voorhees a chainsaw, which accidentally cut down a balcony on the western set while swinging at the duo.
  • Homicide Machines: 2006's show for the returning icons, The Arrival, included Jack killing a man with a giant blender.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: 2007's Psychoscarepy: Home for the Holidays had a van full of Shadybrook inmates crash into a house on Christmas Eve and begin terrorizing the neighborhood.
  • Human Resources: The 2010 steampunk scarezone Saws n' Steam was set in New Yorkshire after fissures in the earth dried up the oceans, forcing the steam-reliant citizens to turn to extracting water from corpses. Saws n' Steam is set after anarchy has set in the streets and people are being rounded up and slaughtered in alleys.
  • Immoral Reality Show: RUN. Unlike other examples of the trope, it's unknown if people watched it (let alone if it was actually broadcast as opposed to being a ruse to capture victims), it was extremely low budget even for reality show standards (so low that portions of the course were made of junkyard debris), and in the website for the 2006 event (that the sequel Hostile Territory appeared in) it was confirmed that the whole operation went bankrupt.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you haven't seen The Cabin in the Woods before you go see the house it's based on, prepare to see a load of these. Although, considering the nature of the film, it's understandable they wouldn't even try and make it spoilerless. The big "purge button" scene will be part of the maze. The ending scene with the god won't...but some past Horror Nights characters will.
  • Lighter and Softer: Due to the climate after 9/11, the 2001 event would be overhauled, making it the first and likely only time a Horror Nights event would ever evoke this trope. The original icon, Eddie, was retooled before being scrapped and replaced with the last year's icon, Jack, names of various houses and scarezones were changed, scares were toned down and all instances of blood were switched out with green "ooze". Eddie would appear in scarezones and houses later on and houses such as RUN and Scary Tales would get sequels that were much closer to the typical Horror Nights tone.
  • Lost in the Maize: Attempted with the Field of Screams scarezone in 2004, but hurricanes wrecked the cornfield and forced a lot of artificial replacement. Played straight in the Wizard of Oz room in the 2008 house Scary Tales: Once Upon a Nightmare.
  • Medical Horror: Shadybrook, The Caretaker's dissections, Dr. "Bloody" Mary Agana, and the list goes ON.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Operatives: If it wasn't for participants of the 2010 Legendary Truth campaign helping LT with opening the Lantern, Fear wouldn't have been released.
  • Mirror Monster: Bloody Mary is the most prominent example (being the 2008 icon), with a number of houses over the years also including fake mirrors and portraits holding scareactors.
  • Monster Progenitor: Fear.
  • Not His Sled: The haunted house adaptation of the 2010 Wolfman film at Universal Orlando's event in 2009 was the first hint anyone got of the ending of the film: the werewolf gets shot. In the house, however, the fatal shot is performed by a nameless hunter.
  • Occult Detective: Boris Shuster, who founded the paranormal investigation agency Legendary Truth.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Often pulled by icons in their promotional videos, with The Caretaker in his 2006 reunion video teleporting all around his mansion to chase a victim.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The Cabin in the Woods, where the guests are passing through the installation shortly after the Purge button is hit.
  • Psycho Serum: The plot of Havoc: Dogs of War.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Used in the queue video for 2010's Zombiegeddon, showing the haphazard ZAP team demonstrating how to kill zombies with various fruit facsimiles.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Used in the Psychoscareapy houses, as they're based out of asylums.
  • Room Full of Zombies: One of the most well-remembered rooms of 2008's Dead Exposure was filled with hanging zombie mannequins and actors mixed in; with the only lighting being blacklight strobes every few seconds, it caused more than a few moments of panic upon entering.
  • Scary Jack In The Box: Jack's rotting corpse was discovered in a giant jack-in-the-box, and he is sometimes seen appearing from one or appearing when a smaller version of his box is activated.
  • Scary Scarecrows: Various houses (2008's The Hallow) and scarezones (2004's Field of Screams).
  • Scary Scorpions: The 2003 show Infestation featured The Director putting various creatures on people, including scorpions.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: 2009's Leave it to Cleaver was about Meatz Meats, a meat company and deli based out of Carey, Ohio that used vagrants, outlaws, and people in the wrong place at the wrong time to make their famous meat.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Fear was sealed in a lantern until Legendary Truth "accidentally" released him.
  • Send In The Search Team: The premise for several houses, such as 2002's Screamhouse and 2008's Interstellar Terror (based on Event Horizon) is that you're part of an investigative team.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: 2009's Frankenstein: Creation of the Damned opened up with a shadow on the wall of the Creature snapping a man's neck and throwing him with one hand.....immediately before he lunged out at you from an alcove.
  • Skeleton Crew: 1998's S.S. Frightanic.
  • Spooky Painting: Holograms are often used to provide changing images.
  • Spooky Photographs: 2008's Dead Exposure used ultraviolet strobes and blacklight paint to give the impression of walking through photo negatives of a zombie apocalypse.
  • Steampunk: The 2010 scarezone Saws n' Steam, set in a world where New Yorkshire is left deprived of water by the oceans drying out and is forced to turn to the human body to power their machines. The scarezone was so well received as to be turned into a house in 2011, allowing guests to enter the processing plant.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Carey, Ohio seems to attract every crazy in the universe, from murderous schoolteachers to cannibalistic meat processing plant owners and employees to psychopathic horror show hosts and serial killers with body counts in the dozens. How it remains standing is a question for the ages.
  • Ultimate Evil: Fear.
  • Universal Horror: HHN Orlando celebrated Universal Pictures' 100th anniversary in 2012 with the Universal House of Horrors, fittingly enough; not to be confused with the yearlong attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood that gets used as part of Hollywood's event. 2009's movie themed event featured houses based on modern revivals of Frankenstein and Dracula along with a tie-in house for the then upcoming Wolfman remake.
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: Part of the setting for 2007's Vampyr: Blood Bath.
  • Viva Las Vegas: 2012's Penn & Teller New(kd) Vegas, in which an attempt by the titular magic duo to pull off the ultimate extreme magic trick — catching ICBMs with their teethgoes predictably wrong and results in the nuclear destruction of Las Vegas, the ruins of which are now locked under a radiation containment dome and overrun by radioactive mutants.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: 2004's Horror In Wax.

     HHN Hollywood Tropes 
  • Giant Eye Of Doom: The 2007 A Nightmare on Elm Street house at HHN Hollywood recreated the Roach Motel scene from the fourth movie, complete with a screen in the window to simulate giant Freddy looking in through the window.
  • Hotter and Sexier: While both Orlando and Hollywood concentrates mainly on the scares, Hollywood supplements their scares with some eyecandy. This comes courtesy of Freddy's Fly Girls, cage dancers dressed up in Freddy's trademark fedora, sweater and claws (and not much else.)
  • Universal Horror: A near constant at the Hollywood event since the 2007 relaunch due to Universal Studios Hollywood already having a year round Universal Horror based maze, Universal's House of Horrors. Early on, it was just the same attraction but with more scareactors, later on adding some level of theming (either based on franchises like Child's Play, The Strangers, The Wolfman remake or original theming like Vampyre: Castle of the Undead). At 2012's event, Universal Monsters Remix went back to straight Universal Horror theming but with a modern twist.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Common for scarezone names for some reason. Most blatant example: Klownz.

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alternative title(s): Halloween Horror Nights; Halloween Horror Nights
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