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Inside the Weeknd haunted house at Universal Halloween Horror Nights

Ever wanted to be inside a gory version of the Super Bowl halftime show?
The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare house features the music of the musician and goes inside his dark mind at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.
The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare house features the music of the musician and goes inside his dark mind at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. [ PATRICK CONNOLLY | Orlando Sentinel ]
Published Sep. 13|Updated Sep. 14

ORLANDO — This Halloween season in Florida, you can satiate your desire to see The Weeknd get decapitated in multiple ways with a trip to Orlando.

Is it a metaphor for the tortured nature of modern fame? A peek into the dark subconscious of a pop superstar expressed through performance art? A seasonal theme park attraction and brilliantly designed piece of corporate synergy, luring fans of a Universal Music Group artist to a Universal property, while also promoting their music?

Let’s just call the The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare the most interesting haunted house at the 31st iteration of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.

Plastic surgery plays a role in The Weeknd After Hours Nightmare house at Horror Nights.
Plastic surgery plays a role in The Weeknd After Hours Nightmare house at Horror Nights. [ PATRICK CONNOLLY | Orlando Sentinel ]

If you’ve ever wanted to be inside an only slightly scarier version of The Weeknd’s Super Bowl Halftime Show in Tampa, complete with mirrored hallways and the perfectly-appropriate, anxiety-laced pop music of The Weeknd, this is your chance.

During a recent media preview, it was the only haunted house where the people waiting in line were dancing — including a young woman sporting a red blazer and nose bandage like The Weeknd’s red-jacketed, busted-nose character from “After Hours.” And it was certainly the only haunted house to feature aggressive liposuction as one of its scares.

The inside of The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare haunted house seen during team member preview at Halloween Horror Nights Universal Studios Florida.
The inside of The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare haunted house seen during team member preview at Halloween Horror Nights Universal Studios Florida. [ ROBERTO GONZALEZ | Courtesy of Universal Studios Florida ]

Officially, the concept is an after-hours club where things go very wrong, and much like some nightclubs, the freakiest stuff is happening in the blood-splattered tile bathroom. While many houses rely on darkness for jump scares, After Hours Nightmare is often lit to let you to see the bandaged clubbers (are they monsters, or the Weeknd’s’ inner demons?), and it comes off as something fresh for a seasonal theme park attraction that is three decades old.

Now in its 31st year of Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios has the budget, the intellectual property rights and a long, well-deserved reputation for being the top spooky seasonal attraction in the state, along with the kind of popularity that can sometimes lead to massively long lines.

Among the other nine haunted houses this year are three others featuring recognizable properties, such as Halloween, which crisply re-creates Michael Myers’ dilapidated home and other frightening elements from the 1978 horror classic. The Horrors of Blumhouse combines two horror films, “Freaky” and “The Black Phone.”

Lastly, the classic Universal monsters including the Wolf Man, Mummy and Dracula fight each other in Universal Monsters: Legends Collide.

Original concept houses this year include Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake, featuring “undead fishermen in their watery graves,” and Descendants of Destruction, with its subway tunnels of an abandoned toxic city where humans are devolving.

This year’s theme is back to basics with “traditional Halloween,” and the five scare zones feature some incredibly beautiful and creepy decor and costumes. (Look out for the guy with a corn cob for a head in Scarecrow: The Reaping.)

New food items include some solid vegetarian options, like the African lentil and potato coffins and the fried zombie brains (fried cauliflower florets tossed in gochujang sauce and topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and scallions). There are also several cocktails garnished with an entire ice pop.

If you go

Halloween Horror Nights: This year, Universal Studios in Orlando has 10 haunted houses, five scare zones, two live shows, a terror-themed tribute store and a menu of themed foods and cocktails. It runs on select nights through Oct. 31. $73-$104.99 at halloweenhorrornights.com.

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