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Here’s when Halloween Horror Nights starts this year, and what to expect

The Universal Orlando scare fest starts earlier than ever and will have a new haunt based on a popular Netflix show.
 
One of the 2022 haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando.
One of the 2022 haunted houses at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. [ ROBERTO GONZALEZ | Courtesy of Universal Studios Florida ]
Published July 13, 2023|Updated July 19, 2023

Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights has announced that Season 4 of the Netflix series “Stranger Things” will be the centerpiece of an all-new haunted house when the popular scare fest returns earlier than ever this year, beginning Friday, Sept. 1, at Universal Orlando Resort.

What has become a major Halloween event (called HHN by its legion of fans) has grown over the last 32 years to become the largest seven-week scare fest in the state, attracting more than 600,000 visitors by Nov. 1, according to industry estimates.

A punk vampire seen at Vamp 85, a New Year's Eve-themed vampire haunt at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights in 2018. The park has scores of scare actors roving across Halloween Horror Nights.
A punk vampire seen at Vamp 85, a New Year's Eve-themed vampire haunt at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights in 2018. The park has scores of scare actors roving across Halloween Horror Nights. [ UNIVERSAL ORLANDO RESORT | Universal Orlando Resort ]

Universal has made haunts based on “Stranger Things” before, and in this one guests will once again be transported to Hawkins, Indiana, where they will encounter the newest supernatural villain, Vecna, who is hell-bent on obliterating the volatile barrier between the eerie Upside Down and the real world.

“The ‘Stranger Things’ haunted house mirrors the mind-bending twists and supernatural terror of Season 4, immersing guests in a heart-pounding experience alongside valiant characters from the series, including Eleven, Max, Eddie and more,” a Universal news release said. “Guests will find themselves on the front line of Vecna’s deadly attacks on the citizens of Hawkins while traveling through iconic scenes, including the notorious Hawkins Lab, the enigmatic Creel House and Vecna’s chilling mind lair.”

The separate-ticket event will be held over a record-breaking 48 nights through Saturday, Nov. 4.

Season 4 of "Stranger Things" will be the setting for a new haunted house this year for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando
Season 4 of "Stranger Things" will be the setting for a new haunted house this year for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando [ Universal Orlando Resort ]

Tickets are now on sale at universalorlando.com/halloweentickets, starting at $79.99. There are also separate packages such as Rush of Fear ($179.99) and Frequent Fear Pass ($229.99) that allow guests to visit on multiple nights during the event and also upgrade to get express access ($199.99). Those looking for an early start can add the Scream Early ticket ($40) to get access from 3 to 5 p.m.

Universal previously announced that it will have haunted houses based on the horror film “Chucky” and “The Last of Us,” the video game, not the HBO series. The announcement video features a girl playing the game while chatting with friends. As one of them is explaining a conspiracy theory, a strange symbol appears on screen and the room goes dark. The infected stalk through the shadows toward the girl.

The movie- and TV-themed haunted houses are usually the biggest draws and can have waits of two hours or more. Easier to navigate, the park will also have scare zones set up throughout with heavily made-up scare actors jumping out to startle visitors. There are typically at least a half-dozen scare zones, which are like open-air haunted mazes.