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Theatre / Halloween Horror Nights

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Prepare to run like the dickens in 3... 2... late.

"Dying for a good Halloween party?"
Tagline for the first Orlando edition of the event in 1991

Halloween Horror Nights is one of the largest annual Halloween events in the world, hosted by the Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood every year, with Singapore and Japan joining the yearly fun in the 2010s. The event usually runs from the start of September to the end of Octobernote . While the Orlando event is the biggest, all events revolve around several key similarities: haunted housesnote , scarezonesnote , and shows. The houses and scarezones are populated with "scareactors", dressed in costumes and makeup and positioned to scare the bejeezus out of passerby.

Halloween Horror Nights actually began in 1986 at Universal Hollywood to compete with Knott's Scary Farm at Knott's Berry Farm (a rivalry that endures to this day); after a grisly Fatal Method Acting accident where a scareactor was run over by a tram, Hollywood canceled the event. Universal would not revive their Halloween events until the introduction of Fright Nights in Orlando in 1991, an event designed to compete with the local "Terror On Church Street" haunt 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's Excellent Halloween Adventure show, which continued on every year until 2017.

The event has only grown since: in 2019 at its peak, for Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 29, there were 10 houses, 5 scarezones, and two shows. The event has gone from running a mere three nights to, at its 2019 peak, running 42 select nights from September 6 to November 2. The biggest competitor for Orlando at the moment is Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens. Hollywood's 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. Hollywood's event is under the direction of John Murdy, who originally worked on the Orlando event, who is known not only for his fan interaction but his ability to get the biggest names in horror to contribute to the scares.

As a Universal Studios event, houses and scarezones based on movies, TV series and video games 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 license-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 mascot characters known as "Icons": beginning with the Crypt Keeper 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 (except in 2019) 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.

Ever since its Orlando debut, the event has taken only one hiatus year in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, given the event's up-close and interactive nature. 2020 would have been the 30th year for the Orlando event. Though the event proper was cancelled worldwide, Orlando would still put on three houses for daily visitors with social distancing parameters in place, consisting of Revenge of the Tooth Fairy, Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives! and a last-minute Beetlejuice house running only on Halloween and November 1st.

     Houses, Scarezones, and Immersive Content for 2023 at Orlando 
Haunted Houses


  • Dr. Oddfellow's Collection of Horror
  • Dark Zodiac
  • Jungle of Doom: Expedition Horror
  • Vamp '69: Summer of Blood
  • Shipyard 32: Horrors Unhinged


  • Halloween Nightmare Fuel: Sweet Dreams


  • Death Eaters Encounternote 
  • Tribute Store
  • Universal Monsters: Revenge of the Dead Coconut Club in 3D
  • Peacock's Halloween Horror Bar
  • Chucky's Twisted Playground
  • Spooky Swizzle Lounge
  • Spooky Sunset Lounge
  • Universal Monsters: Gallery of Legends

     Houses, Scarezones, and Immersive Content for 2023 at Hollywood 
Haunted Houses


  • El Terror De Las Momias
  • Ghostz
  • Toyz



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 Icons and common HHN house/scarezone themes) and haunted houses based on Singaporean culture. Japan's event focuses on licensed properties, both American (such as Friday the 13th and The Mummy) and domestic (including J-horror & supernatural mainstays Ring, Ju-on, Resident Evil and GeGeGe no Kitarō); it's also notable for having the first "extreme" house in the event's history worldwidenote , with 2015's Trauma.

In 2023, it was announced that a permanent year-round Horror Nights attraction would be constructed in Las Vegas, serving as the anchor for an expansion of the Area15 entertainment district.

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 is so popular it has its own wiki.

    Haunted Houses/Scarezones with their own pages 

The event contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

     General Tropes 
  • Adaptation Distillation: All houses based on films or tv shows take the source material and strip it down to its most memorable scenes.
  • Always Night: Due to being located inside various buildings, all of the event's houses are set during the nighttime. The same cannot be said for the scarezones, however, as they are all outdoors and begin operating when it's still light out.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Universal Studios parks essentially become this during the event.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: This is the case with almost every single house and scare zone in the event's history.
  • Bait-and-Switch: A common tactic scareactors employ involves them following a certain guest, making it seem as if they're about to scare them, only to break off at the last second and scare the guest next to them instead.
  • Bloody Handprint: Many houses and scarezones.
  • 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.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Another very common sight throughout the event; a notable example being when "Amanda" from The Carnage Returns coughs up blood after being impaled through the stomach.
    Chance: Spitters are quitters, Amanda!
  • Bloody Hilarious: Every now and then the event will have situations involving extreme gore and blood being Played for Laughs.
  • Body Horror: Was there any doubt?
  • Brain Food: Brains being eaten (usually by zombies) is yet another staple of the event.
  • Captain Ersatz: In the past and to this day, Universal tends to sneak certain IPs into the event by referring to them as something more generic. For instance; in 2003, before the event actually featured them for real, Universal had Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Myers together in a house called All Nite Die-In by having the casting sheets refer to Freddy as "Nightmare Man", Jason as "Hockey Mask Killer", Leatherface as "Chainsaw Cannibal", and so on. This method has not always worked, however; as in 2006 Universal apparently got in trouble with the copyright holders of The Ring for sneaking a scene of the movie into the All Nite Die-In Take Two house from that year.
  • 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".
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Shown frequently throughout the event. The Caretaker in particular enjoys doing this to his victims.
  • 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.
  • Dangerous Windows: Windows in any of the event's houses are often where a scareactor will pop through.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Several houses have attempted (not always successfully) at making completely dark environments.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Certain scarezones throughout the years feature dead bodies being propped up and posed.
  • Death as Comedy: As said with Bloody Hilarious, sometimes the event will play a person's death off as being funny.
  • Death by Mocking: A common story among scareactors is the tough guy who makes fun of them getting scared shitless around the next corner.
  • Dies Wide Open: Many corpses in the event are depicted with their eyes open.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Occasionally used as a scare tactic in some houses/scarezones, where a scantily clad woman is positioned specifically to draw the attention of certain guests, leaving them completely vulnerable to a scareactor they didn't realize was there.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Two houses at the Orlando and Hollywood events had scenes depicting moments in films that had not yet come out. The final room of Saw: The Games of Jigsaw featured one of the new traps from Jigsaw, and scenes from Insidious: The Last Key were depicted in The Horrors of Blumhouse at Orlando's event and in Insidious: Beyond the Further at Hollywood's event.
  • 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 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.
  • Eaten Alive: A recurring trope throughout the various houses and scarezones.
    • 2012's La Llorona house had the title ghost swallow a girl whole
    • 2018's Slaughter Sinema had a mild instance of this during the Midnight Snack 2: The House Swarming segment, where a shotgun-wielding scientist is being gnawed on by several small creatures.
    • 2022's Bugs: Eaten Alive house was all about this trope, with mutant bugs attacking and eating Bzzzcon staff after a product demonstration for a new pesticide goes haywire.
  • Eye Scream: A common trope for corpses and scareactors, one prominent example being a ghostly nurse from 2010's Psychoscarepy: Echoes 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.
  • Fingore: One of the many forms of gore used in the event.
  • Flat Scare: Certain scareactors will sometimes pull this on guests as a form of Bait-and-Switch.
  • 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.
  • Hell Hotel: A recurring environment across the Orlando and Universal houses, most notably in 1997's Hotel Hell, 2022's Universal Horror Hotel, and the 2017 house based on The Shining.
  • 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.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It:
    • The Shining house in 2017 was titled Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. Rumors suggest that this was done per the demands of Stephen King, who wanted it to be made clear that the house is not an adaptation of his original novel.
    • In 2019, the Us house was occasionally called Jordan Peele's Us.
  • 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 full of clowns, some of them armed.
  • Mood Dissonance: Many of the regular daytime park's family-friendly attractions have remained opened during the events. Among the kid-friendly attractions that were left open included The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera, E.T. Adventure, The Cat in the Hat, Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, Shrek 4D, and Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem. Though this is no longer done at the Orlando and Hollywood events, the events at Singapore and Japan still continue to do so.
  • Mundanger: Any event that includes serial killers alongside ghosts, zombies, and demons.
    • In YETI: Campground Kills, guests also have to deal with attacks from a bear and venomous snake in addition to the rampaging yeti.
  • 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.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Though maybe not scarier per se, almost every year has one or two "dead zones", where there are no scare actors, and instead thick fog and extremely unsettling music is used to still give off the feeling that you're never safe. A prime example of this was Seuss Landing during every year the event was at Islands of Adventure (due to executive mandates from Dr. Seuss's widow Audrey Geisel).
  • Off with His Head!: Victims being decapitated is shown very often throughout the event.
  • Ominous Fog: Many of the scarezones.
  • Pinned to the Wall: It is common for a house to show a victim having been impaled against a wall.
  • Product Placement: Very often has the event featured houses based off of Universal's own movies that at the time were either about to be released into theaters or were released in theaters a few months before the event. Examples include Dead Silence, Doomsday, The Wolfman (2010), My Bloody Valentine 3D, The Purge, Dracula Untold, and Happy Death Day.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Along with using music from the likes of Midnight Syndicate, the event will also occasionally use soundtrack bits from films such as The Lord of the Rings, Inception, and Mad Max: Fury Road in its houses and 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.
  • Special Guest: Starting in 2007, the event has licensed many different horror characters from various franchises to star in their own haunted houses. It first began with Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface, with Jigsaw following soon after. It was in 2012 that this practice began to become a yearly tradition, with the event going on to utilize properties like The Walking Dead, Halloween, Stranger Things, Alien vs. Predator, American Horror Story, The Exorcist, Insidious, Trick 'r Treat, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and so on for numerous haunted houses.
  • Spring-Loaded Corpse: Many houses have a scareactor pretending to be a mannequin before coming to life at the right time.
  • The Stinger: Several houses in the past have had endings that trick guests into thinking that the house is over, only for one or two more scareactors to pop out for one last scare.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Used sometimes with a "victim" scareactor to shock or distract the guests.
  • Take That!: The scareactors tend to be a bit more threatening to anyone who brings Disney merchandise with them. Given the fact that Universal and Disney are rivals, this should come as no surprise to anyone.
  • Wolverine Publicity:
    • Out of all the IPs the event has used over the years, The Walking Dead has far and away been the most emphasized. It appeared in the event for five years in a row and received top billing in advertising every time. The Orlando event in particular really emphasized the series in 2013 when it made all the scarezones based around the show, with Walkers roaming around everywhere in sight.
    • Stranger Things completely dominated the marketing for 2018's event. Though the event's creative team had tried to set up sort of a theme for Orlando's event that year, it was still completely overshadowed by the series' presence.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A great many houses and scarezones over the years, including 2004's Deadtropolis, 2010's Zombiegeddon, and of course in every appearance of The Walking Dead.

     HHN Orlando Tropes 
  • Abominable Auditorium: Halloween Horror Nights 2009 is based around the Universal Palace Theatre, which seems to be some kind of malevolent Genius Loci that kills people who break any/all rules of theatre etiquette while in it.
  • The '50s: 2016's Vamp '55 was set in a 1955 high school prom/parade.
  • The '60s: 2023's Vamp '69, set at a Woodstock-esque music festival.
  • The '80s: Served as the overarching theme of the event in 2018 and 2019. Specifically, 2018's Vamp '85 was set during New Year's Eve 1984.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Eddie and Cindy's original plots for their years were ditched after unfortunate incidents in real life. For Cindy, it was for a string of local kidnappings that happened sometime before the event started. For Eddie, it was the 9/11 attacks, where they toned down the nature of the event significantly more than they would normally consider and brought back Jack.
    • There's speculation that there was more to the "What Evil Has Taken Route" theme for HHN 23 than was initially intended, as the Evil Takes Root viral storyline had mentions of a "rooted evil" that was unleashed. The Evil Takes Root blog doesn't go further about it, the Legendary Truth ARG for that year finished up the storyline of that year with no further mention of any "rooted evil", and the event itself heavily focused on The Walking Dead in marketing and in the parks.
  • 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.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation: 2019's Ghostbusters house primarily followed the story of the original film, but also included appearances from ghosts that were in Ghostbusters II and Ghostbusters (2016). It also employed the black slime portals - rifts to the ghost world - from Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In some scarezones and houses, characters who weren't villains or even malicious in their source material are antagonistic towards visitors. The Punisher, an anti-hero, was one of the villains in the Maximum Carnage house, while in both Die-In scarezones, RJ MacReady, the closest thing to a hero in The Thing, joined the title monster in terrorizing guests. In the Nevermore: The Madness of Poe house, the vulture-eyed man from "The Tell-Tale Heart" and the narrator's wife from "The Black Cat" attacked guests while in their respective stories they were the innocent victims of Ax-Crazy narrators.
  • 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 had 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 in the Eyes: Done with Jack/Eddie at the end of 2001's commercial.
  • All There in the Manual: Many of the original houses and scarezones throughout the event's history will come off as confusing to a lot of guests that haven't heard the backstories behind them on either the event's website or on the "Behind the Screams" tour.
  • Alliterative Title: Several house/scarezone titles:
    • Death Drums
    • Immortal Island
    • Silver Screams
    • Acid Assault
    • Slaughter Sinema
    • Graveyard Games
  • American Title: The American Gothic scarezone.
  • Anal Probing: Performed on Mulder in the 2008 Bill & Ted show by the Predator.
  • Ancient Rome: The setting for 2019's Nightingales: Blood Pit, with the plot being that the Nightingales are feasting on dying gladiators.
  • 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 such as 2016's Tomb of the Ancients.
  • And Show It to You: The Caretaker has done this several times.
    • During the opening show in 2002 to a "non-believer".
    • During his mini-show in the Icons scarezone of 2015.
  • 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 scarezone 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.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The Usher's victims were people who broke the Universal Palace Theater rules by behaving obnoxiously during a movie.
    • In 2015's The Carnage Returns show, one of the people Jack and Chance slaughtered was said to be an internet troll.
    • The victims shown in 2019's Graveyard Games were teenagers that disrespected the graveyard's spirits by vandalizing the place.
  • Attack of the Town Festival:
    • 2015's Psychoscareapy: Unleashed scarezone had the Shady Brook inmates crashing a family-friendly Halloween block party.
    • Twice in the 2022 event.
      • Sweet Revenge takes place during a family-friendly parade, where an evil candymaker's sweets turned regular trick-or-treaters into homicidal maniacs.
      • Bugs: Eaten Alive takes place during a tech fair, where an industrial accident unleashes giant, ravenous bugs on a pest control company's demonstration pavilion.
  • At the Crossroads: The first scene in 2023's The Darkest Deal is set here; this is where we see Pinestraw Spruce selling his soul for musical fame.
  • 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 at the end of Dracula: Legacy in Blood 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.
  • Big Applesauce: Most of the scarezones located in the New York area of the park involve something terrible happening to NYC.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The event's "Sweet 16" in 2006 had Jack the Clown, The Caretaker, The Director, and The Storyteller teaming up together to all serve as the Icons of that year.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: 2022's Bugs: Eaten Alive revolves around an infestation of giant bugs at a tech expo after the demonstration of an experimental pesticide goes horribly wrong.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: 2019's Yeti: Terror of the Yukon was set in a remote Canadian forest, filled with deadly Yetis. The Yetis would return in 2023's Yeti: Campground Kills, this time in a state park in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Bloody Horror: The ending of 2004's commercial shows the walls bleeding an incredible amount of blood.
  • Bowdlerise: There have been two cases in the past where one of the commercials for the event was refused airtime until some cuts were made:
  • Buried Alive: Implied with some of the victims of The Caretaker.
  • Burn the Witch!: Inverted. In 2010's The Coven scarezone, it's the Puritans that are being burned at the stake by the witches.
  • Breeding Slave: 2019's Depths of Fear featured vicious sea monsters that would implant its eggs into unwilling human hosts.
  • Cameo Prop: A number of film props, especially from Van Helsing, have been used in houses.
  • 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, 2007 and 2016 so far.
  • Cannibal Tribe: The tribe featured in 2003's Jungle of Doom house and Night Prey scarezone.
  • Circus of Fear: Jack's "Carnival of Carnage" in 2007 and 2015 is a straightforward example.
  • Code Name: In The Carnage Returns, Jack and Chance have code names for some of the torture-and-kill circus acts that they consider using on Amanda before deciding on just simply killing her. The code names would vary between shows, almost all of them being a Shout-Out of some kind. Examples included: "The Pinewhip Derby", "The Time Warp", "The Robosaurus", "The Frank Kincaid", "Hate to Fly", "The Storyteller", "Amity 6 to Base", and so on.
  • Continuous Decompression: A scene in the Interstellar Terror house from 2008 showed one of the ship's crew being sucked out into space due to a tear in the wall of the spaceship.
  • 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. 2019's Graveyard Games was also set in one, the story being that the graveyard is infested with vengeful spirits that were awoken by disrespectful teenagers.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: Used often in a house that's set in a haunted location.
  • 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: Anything involving Jack.
  • Creepy Crows: Several houses have employed the use of them, but most notably the Nevermore: The Madness of Poe house with its section for "The Raven".
  • 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. Also, the Dollhouse of the Damned from 2014.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The entire point behind the Body Collectors.
  • Crossover: 2015 has two houses centered around this: RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears (which mixes together RUN and Hellgate Prison), and Body Collectors: Recollections (which mixes together Body Collectors, Psycho Scareapy, and Winter's Night).
  • Cross-Cast Role: In 2015's Icons - HHN scare zone, the Crypt Keeper was played by a woman (though obviously not easy to tell due to the mask the scare actress is wearing).
  • Cruel Cheerleader: Taken to a whole new level in 2016's event, which featured a band of chainsaw-wielding cheerleaders. In addition to being to being Ax-Crazy, each of the cheerleaders still acted like the typical Alpha Bitch.
  • Crusty Caretaker: Averted with The Caretaker, who is tall, wears a top hat, and is quite well-spoken and proper.
  • Dark World: The entire 2002 event was set in a twisted version of Islands of Adventure, called "Islands of Fear". The demented individual islands included:
    • Port of Evil (Port of Entry), a seaside town filled with psychopaths.
    • Island Under Siege (Marvel Super Hero Island), a city where Carnage assembled a Legion of Doom and successfully killed all of the Marvel superheroes and took over everything.
    • Treaks and Foons (Toon Lagoon), an island filled with demented-looking cartoon characters.
    • JP Extinction, an alternate Jurassic Park where a science experiment gone awry created mutant dino/human hybrids that broke free, with the ensuing chaos also letting all of the park's dinosaurs loose.
    • Island of Evil Souls (Lost Continent), a realm overrun with evil orcs and ruled by a creature known as "Nightmare".
    • Boo-Ville (Seuss Landing), an empty Who-Ville where the Grinch roams (based on the TV special Halloween Is Grinch Night). note 
  • Dead-End Room: In the commercial for 2004's event, a man is shown to be stuck in an all-white hospital room, as each times he leaves, the door leads him right back to the same room. On top of that, something horrifying happens each time he's in the room.
  • 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.
  • Deal with the Devil: The entire point of 2023's The Darkest Deal, based loosely on the story of Robert Johnson and specifically the urban legend surrounding him. In the early 20th century, blues singer Pinestraw Spruce sells his soul to The Collector in exchange for musical talent and fame. At the end of the house, The Collector comes to take Pinestraw's soul... right in the middle of what turns out to be his last performance. A segment set in a graveyard prominently features a mausoleum filled with people who all died at the age of 27, implying that they too were musicians who made the same deal with the Collector, especially since the real Johnson is considered the first member of the "27 Club".
  • Death by Materialism: Greed's transformation in 7 was receiving more and heavier jewelry that began to suffocate her, turning her face blue.
  • Death Row: What Bobby "The Blade" Galletta, a serial killer, is placed on in the backstory for the house, Afterlife: Death's Vengeance, with the opening scene showing his execution by the electric chair.
    • The finale of the scrapped Severe Fear house would've had the guest being placed in a fake electric chair.
  • Demonic Dummy: Used in the 2007 Dead Silence house.
  • Devoured by the Horde: In the finale of 2008's Dead Exposure house, Charlie MacPherson is ripped to pieces by a zombie horde.
  • Dirty Mind-Reading: In one scene of 2016's Academy of Villains: House of Fear show, one of the characters puts a dream-reading helmet on an asylum inmate, and what's shown first as a result is a Sexy Silhouette of a naked woman dancing.
  • Drive-In Theater:
    • The setting for two scarezones: 2009's Horrorwood Die-In and 2015's All Nite Die-In - Double Feature.
    • 2018's Slaughter Sinema is set during a Grindhouse Marathon being presented at the Carey Drive-In.
  • 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.
  • Enforced Plug: The commercial for almost every year of the event usually has an alternate version shown on certain stations that has a plug at the end for either Coca-Cola or Coke Zero.
  • Escape Pod: 2019's Depths of Fear involved the guests having to get to the escape pods of a mining corp base that had been plunged into chaos after being invaded by mysterious sea monsters.
  • 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.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Cold Blind Terror house from 2005 was set inside a freezing mountain cave with mysterious monsters.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: All of the icons inexplicably seem to get along with each other well, and are always seen together whenever the event is celebrating an anniversary.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • Both the Alien vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason houses.
    • 2003's Immortal Island scarezone depicted a battle between a Fire King and an Ice Queen, both of whom are equally evil.
  • Fashion Show: 2019's Vanity Ball scarezone had a catwalk in the middle of the street that the zone's many "models" would parade down.
  • A Fête Worse than Death: The 2022 house Fiesta De Chupacabra takes place in a remote Latin American village, where the titular festival is used to lure in tourists so they can be killed and have their blood harvested to sate the titular Chupacabra.
  • Finger Muzzle: In 2015, The Caretaker would sometimes do this to his victims together with his "Hush Little Baby" rhyme before killing them.
  • 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.
  • The Freakshow: Done during many of the event's years, often in the carnival section of the respective year. Sometimes, real sideshow performers are brought in to increase authenticity.
  • Fun With Blenders: 2006's show for the returning icons, The Arrival, included Jack killing a man with a giant blender. He reprised this act for 2015's The Carnage Returns show.
  • Grimmification: The event has had numerous dark versions of fairy tales over the years. The Scary Tales houses are the best known instance of this, along with 2015's Asylum in Wonderland house.
  • Ghost Town: The Ghost Town houses from 2004 and 2016, of course.
  • Giant Spider: Seen in some houses, such as 2002's Fear Factor.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Carnage Returns show from 2015 has the final victim's death from "The Big-Ass Saw" being covered up, although the mangled corpse is shown immediately after.
  • Greaser Delinquents: 2016's Vamp '55 scarezone is themed around a band of vampire greasers attacking a '50s high school prom/parade.
  • 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.
  • Halloween Episode: Along with being a Halloween event, The Hallow in 2008 was based around traditional Halloween: jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, and witches with boiling cauldrons.
  • 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.
  • Headbutt of Love: The Usher did this with a female helper before his final kill in 2015. Yes, really.
  • Headless Horseman: Seen in 2008 in both The Hallow and the American Gothic scarezone.
  • Hero Killer: Part of the premise of Island Under Siege is Carnage and his ilk killing the Marvel heroes.
  • High-School Dance: The Vamp '55 scarezone from 2016 involves a high school prom/parade getting terrorized by vampires.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 2015's Psychoscareapy: Unleashed scarezone had the inmates invading a family Halloween block party.
    • 2018's Vamp '85 had vampires crashing a New Year's Eve party in New York City.
  • Horror Hippies: The theme of the Vamp '69 scarezone in 2023 was a Woodstock-esque music festival in upstate New York that gets attacked by vampires, causing many of the attendees to be turned.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The Halloween Nightmare Fuel shows introduced in 2021 considerably amped up the sex appeal compared to the Academy of Villains shows that preceded them, with the dancers, both female and male, in Stripperiffic Hell-Bent for Leather outfits. (And, for a more literal use of "hotter", they're also filled with pyrotechnics.) Much discussion about them in HHN fan communities has used words like "horny" and "bisexual" to describe them. They're staged by, and named for, a British dance troupe called the Fuel Girls who specialize in such performances.
  • 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 descended on the streets and people are being rounded up and slaughtered in alleys.
  • Hungry Jungle: Jurassic Park was themed as such during 2003 and 2005's event, with mysterious beasts or cannibals running around the area.
  • Immediate Sequel: 2016's event was the first direct sequel to a previous year's event in the Orlando event's history, revealed to guests through the queue video for Lunatics Playground 3D: You Won't Stand A Chance. The death of Amanda Black in The Carnage Returns show led to Chance getting arrested for the crime. With Chance in Shadybrook and Jack back in his box, Chance ends up developing a split personality to cope with Shadybrook and Jack's absense.
  • 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. 2015's RUN house, Blood, Sweat, and Fears was a more 80s themed Running Man-esque experience set in an alternate future with no ties to Eddie Schmidt whatsoever.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: 2009's Dracula: Legacy in Blood house had several victims impaled on large spikes outside of the house's facade, as a reference to Vlad the Impaler.
  • In Name Only: 2002's Maximum Carnage house was not an adaptation of the comic book of the same name, instead featuring a completely different story that still starred Carnage nonetheless.
  • In the Back: The Carnage Returns show has "Amanda" being impaled twice from behind.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover:
    • On the event's first year in 1991, there was a show called Beetlejuice's Graveyard Tours, set at the now-demolished Bates Motel set. The story of the show was that in an effort to raise funds, Norman Bates begins to offer tours of a graveyard located next to the motel. To help him, he summons in Betelgeuse to give the tour, and from there a variety of antics ensued. The show also had a subplot about the Blues Brothers staying in the motel for the night.
    • Also on the event's first year, there was another show called Beetlejuice - DEAD In Concert!, which involved the title character confronting the Ghostbusters and then possessing them into singing various songs. This show was popular enough that it was eventually made into a year-round show that continued on until 2005.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Several houses and scarezones in the event have been set during a dark storm — 2016 in particular had two instances of this with the Ghost Town - The Curse of Lightning Gulch house and Dead Man's Wharf scarezone.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: The Carnage Returns show from 2015 featured this, with Chance throwing a knife at a wheel (with a victim attached to it) to decide what fates the individual victims will be met with.
  • Lady Luck: Lady Luck was the mascot for the 21st Halloween Horror Nights, which was known as "No One Beats The House (Be Careful What You Wager)". She took the form of a beautiful woman in a green dress, but also showed a more monstrous face in her other form. The scarezone Your Luck Has Run Out was based entirely around her.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you haven't seen The Cabin in the Woods before you visit 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 isn't in the maze, it's at the begining. The ending scene with the god wasn't included...but some past Horror Nights characters are.
  • 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.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: A very twisted parody of this occurs in the 2008 commercial. In the advert, Bloody Mary is shown preparing herself for someone about to summon her, by somewhat-doing her hair, filing her nails, and using blood as her lipstick. Here's a link to the commercial, but be forewarned that it contains a Jump Scare or two.
  • 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 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.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The whole premise behind 2002's JP Extinction scare zone and Project: Evilution house revolved around a rogue Jurassic Park scientist mutating humans with not only dinosaurs, but all kinds of animals in general. Depicted in the zone and house were people merged with animals like a Dilophosaurus, a rhinoceros/Triceratops, a parrot, a ram, and so on.
  • Monster Progenitor: Fear.
  • MST: 2002's event featured a special version of The Eighth Voyage of Sindbad, where the show would at first start off normally, only to be interrupted by characters from Will & Grace, who would then stick around for the entirety of the show to mock the characters and story as it continued on.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • 2015's Freddy vs. Jason house featured two different outcomes - either Jason wins and appears at the end with Freddy's severed head, or Freddy wins and appears at the end with Jason's mask. The endings were completely randomized, solely based on when one would walk through the house.
    • 2004's commercial for the event had several different endings, which varied depending on the airing or channel.
    • 2022's Universal Monsters: Legends Collide, themed as a fight between Dracula, The Mummy and The Wolf Man, has a different "winner" every night.
    • 2023's Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate has four possible endings. The final section of the house has two paths, fire and ice. One path has Merlyn victorious, congratulating the guests for saving the kingdom. The other has the enemy warlock winning, scaring the guests while holding up Merlyn's severed head. The correct path is randomized throughout the night, with unique dialogue and props for each situation.
  • Mummy: Used as a mascot of the event in 1999, and were also heavily featured in 2016's Tomb of the Ancients.
  • Nazi Zombies: 2009's War of the Living Dead scarezone featured zombified American soldiers and zombified Nazi soldiers facing off against one another. However, for the sake of political correctness, the scarezone never explicitly referred to the opposing forces as Nazis.
  • Never Say "Die": Out of fear of people finding the event insensitive following 9/11, HHN in 2001 was drastically altered to remove any major hints of death or violence. This trope in particular was invoked, as some of the event's attractions had their names changed; Deadly D'illusions became Dangerous D'illusions and Festival of the Dead Parade became Nightmares on Parade.
  • "No Talking or Phones" Warning: The video on the archway in 2009 had The Usher giving a twisted version of this, with him killing the violator by ripping out their tongue and impaling them through the mouth with his flashlight.
    • The Bill & Ted show has one of these at the beginning of the show every year, with the "no videotaping" rule being especially enforced. note 
  • 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.
  • Once an Episode:
    • There are several traditions that are done for almost every single year of the event, such as the "Rat Lady", or turning off the "R" and the "V" on the signage for the "Mel's Drive-In" restaurant.
    • Almost every Bill & Ted show features We Will Rock You being played to warm up the audience.
  • One-Word Title: Several houses/scarezones:
    • Creatures!
    • Deadtropolis
    • Disorientorium
    • Gothic
    • Hive
    • Invasion!
    • Nightmaze
    • RUN
  • Only in Florida: At the start of the Carnival of Carnage show from 2007, this was alluded to when Chance talked about all the death and dismemberment the audience was about to witness.
    Chance: Everything you're about to see is real and performed by unprofessionals! Plus, it's illegal... in 48 of the 50 states!
    Jack: That's why we're doing it in Florida!
  • Or Was It a Dream?:
  • Planet Terra: "Terra Cruentus", a disturbed planet that served as the setting for the event in 2005.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The Cabin in the Woods, where the guests are passing through the installation shortly after the Purge button is hit.
  • Prequel: 2019's Nightingales: Blood Pit acted as a prequel to the original Nightingales from 2011, as it's set during Ancient Rome, whereas the original house was set during World War I.
  • Prospector: Evil ghost prospectors appeared in the mine tunnel scene of 2016's Ghost Town - The Curse of Lightning Gulch.
  • Psycho Serum: The plot of Havoc: Dogs of War.
  • "Psycho" Strings: Music from Psycho is used frequently throughout the event, especially including the trope namer.
  • Pun-Based Title: PsychoScareapy is a pun of "psychotherapy".
  • Raptor Attack: 2002's JP Extinction scarezone and Project Evilution house featured scareactors dressed as the Velociraptors from Jurassic Park.
  • The Remake: 2016's Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch is an updated remake of 2004's Ghost Town house.
  • 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.
  • The Rival: Busch Gardens' Howl-O-Scream is the event's main competitor.
  • 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) have included them. 2017 in particular had a house centered entirely around them, called Scarecrow: The Reaping.
  • Scary Scorpions: The 2003's Infestation show 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.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism: The plot of 2019's Depths of Fear involved guests having to get to the escape pods of a mining corp base after the self-destruct mechanism for it gets activated.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: 2004's Fright Yard scare zone had the forum usernames of several of the event's fans graffiti'd all over the scenery.
    • A Throw It In! invoked moment in one of the performances of 2015's The Carnage Returns show has Chance and Jack name-dropping a very-well known user among the Universal Orlando fan community with inside information.
  • Signs of Disrepair: During every year of the event, the "R" and "V" letters on the sign for the Mel's Drive-In restaurant are turned off. "Mel's Die-In" is of course the result.
  • Slashed Throat: In The Carnage Returns, Chance slices one of her minions' throat in response to Jack saying that they'll need to make "a couple of cuts".
    • Additionally, many of the corpses that appear in the event have slashed throats; some of the undead characters have them as well.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Storyteller was the only woman among the "first batch" of Icons. This was later fixed with the addition of Bloody Mary, Chance and Lady Luck.
  • Snow Means Death: 2011's Winter's Night and 2015's Body Collectors: Recollections made heavy use of this trope.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A very common trope with at least one house or scare zone in almost every single year of the event. A particular example of this would be the "PsychoScareapy" houses and how they play "Theme from A Summer Place" throughout the whole thing.
  • Space Whale Aesop: For HHN 2009: don't break the rules or cause any other kind of trouble at the movie theater unless you want the undead spirit of an Usher killed by visitor negligence to show you why "broken rules" = "broken necks".
  • Spoofing in the Rain: Several faded posters of Singin' in the Rain appeared as a sight gag in 2011's Acid Assault, contrasting with the horrifying situation of the city and its residents being melted by the acid rain.
  • 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.
  • Stage Magician: There have been a few magician acts in the event throughout the years, most notably from Brian Brushwood.
  • 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.
    • 2015's Scary Tales: Screampunk scare zone uses a steampunk-inspired art direction, as suggested by its title.
  • Stewed Alive: The Scary Tales house from 2008 featured a Hansel and Gretel scene with the two characters screaming while being baked alive in an oven.
  • Sunglasses at Night: All of the greaser vampires in 2016's Vamp '55 scarezone wore sunglasses, despite it being nighttime.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: In the Coca-Cola variation of 2004's commercial, the man depicted in the ad is shown being able to finally escape the inescapeable hospital room, and he grabs a Coke to celebrate.
  • Tagline: Almost every year has its own one, with some years having multiple taglines.
    • 1991: "Dying for a good Halloween party?"
    • 1997: "You'll never sleep again!"
    • 1998: "The last scream you'll ever hear!"
    • 1999: "Save your final'll need it for screaming!"
      • "Sayonara!"
    • 2000: "Not afraid of the dark? You don't know Jack."
    • 2001: "I.C.U."
      • "No more clowning around."
      • "Jack's Back"
    • 2002: "Your time has come."
      • "Are you ready to meet The Caretaker?"
    • 2003: "The Director will see you now."
      • "Do you want to be in pictures?"
      • "Have you met The Director?"
    • 2004: "What's your breaking point?"
      • "2X The Fear"
      • "Twice the park. Twice the fear."
    • 2005: "No one will live happily ever after."
    • 2006: "Horror Comes Home"note 
    • 2007: "Choose thy fear."
    • 2008: "I dare you to say it one more time..."
    • 2009: "You'll wish it were just a movie."
      • "It's showtime!"
    • 2010: "A new era of darkness begins!"
      • "This year the thing you most have to fear is... Fear himself."
    • 2011: "Be careful what you wager when you play with Lady Luck!"
      • "Nobody beats the house!"
      • "How much will you wager?"
      • "Are you in?"
      • "Your fate is in her hands."
      • "Come try your luck!"
    • 2012: "Once you're inside... there is no way out!"
    • 2013: "What evil has taken root?"
      • "So this is what fear tastes like!"
    • 2014: "More dead than ever."
      • "You've been warned."
      • "Fear will eat you alive."
      • "It's coming..."
    • 2015: "I'm back. You're welcome."
      • "All Jack'd Up!"
      • "Did you miss me?"
      • "25 years of terror have led to this."
    • 2016: "You won't stand a Chance!"
      • "Beyond your wildest screams."
    • 2017: "The best nightmares never end."
      • "Your soul is requested."
    • 2018: "True fear comes from within."
      • "More houses than ever."
    • 2019: "Your worst fears live here."
    • 2021 onward: "Never Go Alone"
  • Take That!: Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure often has these kinds of moments, but perhaps the biggest instance of it occurred in its 2014 show, where it dedicated a huge chunk of the show to mocking Walt Disney World's usage of the MagicBands, its heavy use of Frozen, and its long-delayed Pandora – The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom.
    • Going into houses with Disney merchandise on is a sure-fire way for you to get more scareactors after you than the normal person.
    • 2015 shows that Universal can agree with Disney on one thing: the HHN promotional gift given to press was a chopped-off limb still firmly grasping a selfie stick with Jack's writing in the flesh demanding that they not bring one when they come to the event. Said selfie stick still has a phone attached. When the press connected it to their computers, they found a wide assortment of pictures from the unfortunate guy that presumably got killed by Jack and Chance for sneaking into the backstage area... but not before they took a few selfies themselves.
    • Past HHN viral has also not been too kind to overzealous fans who try to sneak into event areas unauthorized to take pictures of construction, featuring characters who, much like the guy from the HHN 25 press gift, meet horrible fates. However, this also serves as a means for Universal to officially provide event sneak peeks before it starts.
    • The video that showed at the park entrance at HHN 2009 was The Usher's darkly comedic takedown of disrespectful moviegoers. In 2015, one of the kills would be revisited when reenacted live in the Icons - HHN scarezone.
  • Title of the Dead: The War of the Living Dead scarezone.
  • 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.
  • Tron Lines: 2019's Anarch-cade scarezone was filled with neon lights, having it on the scenery, the scareactors, and even the chainsaws.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: In 2019's Universal Monsters house, Frankenstein's Monster was shown torturing his creator by subjecting him to the same electric shocks he received when being brought to life.
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: Part of the setting for 2007's Vampyr: Blood Bath.
  • Video Arcade:
    • 2019's Anarch-cade scarezone was set in a twisted arcade filled with maniacs.
    • To go along with the '80s theme for 2019's event, the arcade next to Revenge of the Mummy, which normally hosts modern arcade games and claw grab machines, was converted into an '80s-era arcade complete with period-appropriate games like Dragon's Lair and Donkey Kong.
  • Villain World: A theme done several times throughout the event, such as 2005's "Terra Cruentas" theme as well as 2002's Island Under Siege and Island of Evil Souls scarezones.
  • 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.
  • Walk, Don't Swim: A couple of houses have had rooms that gave off the illusion of walking underwater, such as in the Creature from the Black Lagoon scene from 2019's Universal Monsters.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: 2004's Horror In Wax.

     HHN Hollywood Tropes 
  • The Backwards Я: The logo for the event in 2006 had both of its Rs facing backwards.
  • 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.
  • 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.)
  • Pop-Star Composer: 2018's Universal Monsters featured an original soundtrack composed by Slash.
  • The Rival: Knott's Scary Farm at Knott's Berry Farm is the event's main competitor.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Be sure to properly dispose of toxic chemicals instead of just pouring them down the drain willynilly unless you want to accidentally create a new race of mutant man-insects that will come out of the sewers to overthrow humanity.
  • 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 in scarezone names for some reason. Most blatant example: Klownz.


Halloween Horror Nights 10 Ad

A couple gets into a photo booth only to be menaced by Jack the Clown himself.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MonsterClown

Media sources: