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Is Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights picture-perfect, or an overhyped date night?

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Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is an LA staple as much as the park itself, with unmatched movie-quality makeup, set pieces, and effects. But for how many years can you keep that fresh and terrifying?

Welcome to the first in our series of LA-area Halloween theme park night reviews. We’re starting with one of the more serious horror experiences — Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights (henceforth referred to as HHN.)

The term ‘jump scare’ is synonymous with clickbait, and that’s what you get with HHN. Sure, you’ll see grown men screaming, but it’s usually a cheap thrill.

For every awesome movie scene they recreated in perfect detail, there’s the same masked character behind a black curtain or window accompanied by an ear-shattering music cue that’s really doing the heavy lifting.

This has always been the Achilles heel of HHN — they’re beholden to movie properties with a particular ambiance and narrative that pigeon holes them into an experience closer to the actual studio tour than a haunted house.

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A perfect example is a new maze base on Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film ‘The Shining.” This maze follows the movie scene-by-scene, punctuated by dudes in absolutely terrible Jack Nicholson masks wielding axes.


The only exception to this is their new Evil Dead maze, just because that movie is so damn fun, you couldn’t not enjoy walking through that world.

HHN is expensive as hell. No two ways about it — $95 is a lot for admission to a park just between 7pm-2am. Worse yet, you just paid $95 to wait in line all night to go through maybe three mazes max.

If you want a Front of Line pass, you’re looking at $229, which I did, and was able to go through literally every maze and regular attraction that they kept open (nice bonus, but still $500 for you and your significant other.)

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The main walkway through the park is always a themed scare zone, with this year based on the underrated 2007 movie Trick ‘r Treat, with scarecrow actors and jack-o-lantern displays.

Aaand that’s it. Lacking, but when you put so much effort into the mazes, I don’t blame them.

Look, it has its flaws, but it's still fun. October is also an expensive ass month with all the Halloween activities (especially if you're in a relationship) so this becomes just one more thing to fill into your budget.

I leave you with this question as you decide which Halloween experiences to visit this season: how much would you pay to walk through your favorite horror movies?

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Check out more Halloween awesomeness on Circa:
Disneyland doubles down on Halloween fun
Relive the 80s slasher film era in this replica VHS rental shop
This Halloween taste test will determine the best candy for trick-or-treating

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