Ranking All Halloween Horror Nights 32 Haunted Houses
As a lover of all things eerie, Universal Orlando Resort’s premier Halloween event is like a second home to me. Halloween Horror Nights is the best time of year, and it kicked off on September 1st and is running on select nights until November 4th. After stepping foot into the fog a few days this past weekend, I’ve had some time to simmer on my opinions of all ten haunted houses and here are my thoughts, ranking them one to ten.
#1 Universal Monsters: Unmasked
I enjoy all things Universal Classic Monsters and this house is no exception. From the moment you step in, you are greeted by a Parisian constable telling Guests to stay away and there are murderers on the loose. As you twist and turn through the Catacombs under the City of Lights, you come face to face with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Invisible Man. As The Invisible Man’s number one fan, this ranking comes as no surprise. This haunted house was full of shocks around every corner. Universal Monsters: Unmasked was also the darkest house, physically, of the evening. It was incredibly difficult to see anything until the monsters were right in your face – it was magnificent and scary.
#2 The Darkest Deal
The Darkest Deal was the biggest surprise of the event for me. The set dressing and storyline for this house were incredibly unique and all the scareactors inside the house were on their game. With an original soundtrack to boot, this house will definitely be one I return to. The Darkest Deal features Pinestraw Spruce who feels like his blues career isn’t taking off like he wishes it was, so he makes a deal with The Collector to help bolster his career, which takes a turn for the worse as the house ends with The Collector dragging Pinestraw Spruce (and you!) into hell. I felt like there was someone hiding around every corner, and I never knew where someone was going to pop out next.
#3 Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings
Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings is one of the first houses Guests see when they enter the gates of Universal Studios Florida and it’s a must-see. You and your scream squad are ushered into a colonial-era village where moon-worshippers witness a blood moon at their fall festival. These villagers take this as a sign to hunt down any non-followers and that’s you. Cult followers litter the house and it felt like there were so many scareactors throughout this house, maybe more than some others, which was incredibly scary, and it felt like all eyes were on you. The entire house has this harsh, red lighting, which really sets the tone and is a bit disorienting, which adds to the overall scare-factor of this house.
#4 The Last of Us
With the television show being a smash hit this year, it almost felt like a no-brainer that The Last of Us was coming to Halloween Horror Nights, but this house is based off Naughty Dog’s video game rather than the HBO television show. While I’ve still yet to finish the show, I have played the video game, so I was pumped to visit this house, especially since Joel and Ellie’s voice actors were set to reprise their roles. The house begins in the Pittsburgh QZ (Quarantine Zone) and Guests are thrown right into the action, fighting Raiders, Hunters, and Infected throughout the whole house without giving too much away. I appreciated how true-to-form this house was and really was as close to the video game as you could be without alienating non-fans or Guests who have just watched the television show. While I didn’t find this house as scary as some of the others on my list, the set pieces and acting alone have this high on my list.
#5 Dr. Oddfellow’s Twisted Origins
Dr. Oddfellow is Halloween Horror Nights 32’s icon and his haunted house is incredibly captivating. Oddfellow’s story is told across the whole park (and mostly in scare zones), but the beginning stems from this house where Oddfellow is sacrificing souls to gain the power of the Dark Zodiac. Guests are welcomed to Dr. Oddfellow’s carnival, where he is showcasing his twisted oddities for you to see. Without any spoilers, there are a lot of clowns, so buyer beware if you suffer from coulrophobia. The costuming and make-up are some of the most creative in the event, making this house quite the stunner. I feel like I didn’t see every actor or get every scare because I was simply so in awe of what was going on, which simply means I’ll have to go back and redo this house.
#6 YETI: Campground Kills
Set in a 1950’s campground, you and your scream squad are the target of menacing yetis who rip apart anyone who gets in their way. As a sequel to HHN 29’s Yeti: Terror of the Yukon, I don’t think this house is as scary as the original, although the humungous yetis are nothing to be messed with. I’m not tall by any means, but my partner (who is 6’3”) remarked how big they truly felt. The set pieces and general theming of this house was immaculate, but I feel like I missed most of the scares that weren’t yetis popping out from behind trees and walls. This house is another I feel like I must redo to get the full effect.
#7 Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate
The origin of this house started as a rumor that I thought too good to be true – a Dueling Dragons house?! It almost seemed unrealistic, but when it was announced, I was shook. This house serves as a sequel to the attraction and has a lot of similarities to the original ride queue. The house follows the warlocks, Pyrock (the fire dragon) and Blizzrock (the ice dragon) as they break into Merlyn’s Castle, each hoping to steal his spellbook for themselves. While I felt the concept was interesting, it didn’t feel like much was going on in this house. Maybe I missed some important scares based on my position in line, but it felt like nothing was happening for most of the house. At the end, you are tasked with a choice, just like in the original attraction – Fire or Ice. We chose Fire and saw Pyrock with Merlyn’s head. It appears there are four different endings to this house, so it’s on my list to do again to see if I get a different run on my next visit.
#8 Stranger Things 4
This is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I am not the biggest fan of the Strangers Things franchise. 2023 marks the third year of Stranger Things at Halloween Horror Nights and it’s beginning to feel reminiscent of The Walking Dead of HHN’s past. Stranger Things 4 takes Guests through the Upside Down and Hawkins, Indiana as you try to resist Vecna’s curse. I did find Vecna to be rightfully terrifying, but a lot of the scares and scenes fell flat for me, as I’m not a fan of the show. It was really cool to hear “Running Up That Hill” in the house but I felt like that was one of the only exciting parts for me as a non-fan. I’ll likely have to redo this house too, just to solidify my ranking, but I’m not rushing to do so.
#9 The Exorcist: Believer
Blumhouse’s newest film takes center stage at HHN 32, although not releasing to the public until October 6th. The Exorcist: Believer basically takes scenes from trailer of the upcoming film and sticks them into a haunted house. As a fan of The Exorcist from 1973, I had high expectations for this house, but a lot of the scares were either non-existent or just simply not scary. The set pieces were incredibe and seemingly larger-than-life, but the story didn’t seem to be all that present. I couldn’t really tell what was going on and then when I thought I figured it out, the house was over. I think that rewatching the trailer or even seeing the movie once it’s released will put this house higher on my list.
#10 Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count
I’ll start this off by saying I am not a fan of Chucky – I’ve never particularly enjoyed the movies and I’ve never seen the television show so I might be a bit biased on this ranking and it may be the reason it’s so low. I did find it interesting to learn that the original voice of Chucky recorded the lines from this house, but I didn’t find it very endearing. Dolls popping out from behind corners doesn’t particularly frighten me. The premise is that Universal built this house for Chucky, they invite him to come see it, and he hates it, so he takes over. Chucky has quite the legacy at HHN, appearing at the very first year in 1991, which is why I feel bad putting this house so low, but it didn’t wow me quite like the others did.
Now that you’re read this far, it’s your turn to jump into the fog with your scream squad and make a ranking of your own! Before doing so, check out Tickets2You’s tips and tricks for maximizing your night at Halloween Horror Nights 32 and stay turned for more HHN content as the season continues.
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