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building at Halloween Horror Nights with sign
building at Halloween Horror Nights with sign
Original photo by Bellanee Plaza
Culture > Entertainment

A Scared Girl’s Guide to Halloween Horror Nights

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

If you had told high school me that Halloween Horror Nights would become one of my favorite annual events, I would have been unconvinced. I’ve always loved horror movies, but an entire night full of people dressed like monsters jumping out at me while rock music blasts and strobe lights flash? Let’s just say, I prefer my scares to remain on the screen.

Growing up two hours from Orlando, I received invites to visit Halloween Horror Nights year after year, especially from my horror-addicted best friend. I always declined; I was so afraid of the event that I’d avoid the spooky-themed sets even as a daytime guest of the parks. You’re probably wondering what could have possibly convinced me to attend the event after years of having no desire whatsoever to go. To be honest, all it took was a free ticket, courtesy of my annual pass, and boatloads of peer pressure from my friends. On my first visit, I recall asking as I walked into the park, “Why do I feel like I’m going to regret this?”

Three years of HHN later, it’s safe to say I do not regret it. While the way I do Halloween Horror Nights as a chronically anxious girl may be unorthodox, I wouldn’t trade the memories I’ve made for the world. So, without further ado, here are my tips and tricks for visiting Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights as a chronically scared girl:

Never Go Alone

This one may seem obvious, as it’s the tagline for the entire event. Allow me to get a bit more specific: go with someone who is not afraid to be your human shield. I’ve always had a group of at least three people. My ideal candidate for a HHN buddy is someone who will hold my hand while we walk through the scare zones, who has a shoulder for me to lean on when I am too afraid to open my eyes in a house, and who is ok with taking ride breaks in between scares. Bigger groups are ideal, as there is usually someone who has the same nightly agenda in mind as I do, and I can also cleverly position myself in the middle of a “clump” while we venture through scare zones.

Bring Headphones or Ear Plugs

This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s ok. Blasting my own upbeat music into my airpods has become my go-to while walking through scare zones and even some houses. Contrary to what one would assume before visiting, the scare actors almost always go for the guests who look the most scared. If I’m jamming out to the Moulin Rouge! soundtrack, I’m going to look much less afraid than I would if I were listening to the sounds of the screams all around me. While I enjoy the intricate theming, I don’t love being followed by clowns with chainsaws.

Last year, this strategy worked so well for me that when my “scare zone song” made #1 on my Spotify Wrapped, I discovered that the day I had listened to it the most was the day I visited Halloween Horror Nights. Having my music makes me look brave, but I’m just blocking out the most overstimulating element of the night to enjoy the theming.

Don’t Watch Videos

This seems counterintuitive for someone who fears everything, right? Personally, I’ve found that watching videos beforehand only makes me more afraid to go into the houses. Plus, you’ve then lost the element of surprise. Study up on which houses and scare zones you’d like to avoid, but steer clear of videos that will make you second-guess your ability to go into the houses; they’re never as scary inside as they seem.

Don’t Do Your Most Anticipated House First

I’ve been to Halloween Horror Nights three times, but I’ve only been in three houses. Year one, I freaked out after a 45-minute wait for The Haunting of Hill House. The only other house on my list that year was Beetlejuice, but with a 90-ish minute wait all night, most of my group opted to do the scarier houses with shorter waits. As a result, I spent most of the night going on rides and walking through scare zones. I still had fun, but deep down I knew I should have tried out the Beetlejuice house before hopping in line for the highly anticipated, but overwhelmingly ominous, Hill House.

By the time I returned for year two, I was determined to make it through one house. It was the year The Black Phone hit theaters, and it had instantly become one of my favorite horror movies. I decided that my house for the year would be Blumhouse, which was a combination of The Black Phone and a second film, Freaky. I did my homework on the films and prepared myself for the house. The night of, I had doubts that I would make it in, but with the help of my friends, I mustered up the courage to go into the house. I can’t recall a single thing that happened in the first half of the house, the Freaky-themed portion. My eyes were wired to the floor, and my hand was on my friend’s shoulder for guidance through the winding halls of the house. The song 30/90 blasts into my ears as I did everything in my power to make it through the flashing lights and artificial screams of the house.

            When I made it out to the courtyard, I felt a rush of adrenaline from my accomplishment; I had made it through what was essentially a whole house, and it was finally time to experience The Black Phone portion. I walked into the house with my head held higher and my eyes a little more open. I remember most of this half of the house and look back on the experience fondly. Yes, my music was still blasting, but I was just excited to experience one of my favorite films in such an immersive way.

This year, after two years of trial and error, I knew I was only interested in the houses that were themed for films I had seen. Two houses made my 2023 agenda: Universal Monsters: Unmasked, and Stranger Things. My group made a beeline for Monsters: Unmasked immediately upon entering the park, and with little time to think about what I was doing, I journeyed into the house with Masquerade blaring into my air pods. Once again, I remember very little of this house, but the adrenaline rush I got from surviving it gave me the confidence I needed to journey into uncharted waters in the Stranger Things house with my eyes open and airpods out. This was hands down my favorite experience in three years of HHN, and it was all possible because I listened to myself and took the steps I needed to build the courage to go inside.

Choose Your Night Wisely

There are two types of people: those who want to go on a crowded night to go undetected in scare zones, and those who get overstimulated by crowds and want to go on a quieter night. I fall in with the latter group, so my simplest tip is to go on a weeknight if you want less crowds. It seems obvious, but it’s an important inclusion.

bRING A cROSSBODY bAG or Backpack

I can’t stress this one enough: don’t bring a bag that you’ll drop if you get scared! Having something to hold onto as monsters jump out at you from all sides is not ideal. You’ll thank me once you’ve made it through an entire house and look down to see your bag safely sitting on your hip rather than on the floor of Vecna’s lair.


If you’re someone who needs to take breaks, plot out some safe spots beforehand. Restaurants are usually a nice place to unwind in the comfort of air conditioning, but not every dining location remains open throughout the event. Several rides and attractions also remain open for the duration of the night, so plot out the night in a way that makes sense with the occasional break. The Tribute Store (next door to Revenge of The Mummy) is also a great, albeit crowded, place to take a break while still enjoying the spooky theme of the event.

go Easy on Yourself

My final tip is the most important: only you know your limits! Don’t push yourself through ten houses of torture for the sole purpose of appeasing your group. They’ll be okay without you, and they’ll likely be too scared to think about your absence once they are inside the house. The most important thing is having a fun and memorable night. While my one-house-per-year average may not be what most would describe as a perfect night at Halloween Horror Nights, it’s what works for me and has made me want to push myself out of my comfort zone year after year by returning to the event.

I hope this helped and provided you with some useful tips on how to tackle Halloween Horror Nights as a scaredy cat like me!

Olivia is a first-year writer with Her Campus and third-year student at UCF with a major in Film and minors in Creative Writing and Theatre. In her free time, Olivia enjoys visiting local coffee shops, checking films off of her watchlist, and writing scripts! She hopes to become a professional screenwriter and playwright.