For nearly 3 decades, hundreds of thousands of fear fans have made a yearly pilgrimage to Universal Studios Florida to experience the nighttime event known simply as Halloween Horror Nights. Over the years, the event has grown and changed, and 2018 is the biggest ever – more haunted houses and scares than ever before.

With a total of 36 record-breaking nights through November 3, Halloween Horror Nights 2018 will be the most intense event in history. Cinematic greats, slasher films, cult classics and original nightmares inspired by the past will come to life as guests face 10 disturbingly-real haunted houses, five scare zones and one powerhouse live show.

After the initial crowds had taken their chances, Palm Beach Happening traveled to the magic city on the second weekend of the more than month-long tribute to fear itself to share with you, our readers, some of the highlights of the event. We have ranked each house based on its level of theming, and general scare factor. The ranking is based on a scale of 1-10.

This year, the number of elaborate haunted houses has increased to ten – more than ever before. 

·         Halloween Horror Nights™ takes you deep inside the haunting world of Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS. The Demogorgon is hunting in our world now.

(This is the only house we didn’t make it to. With wait times averaging more than 2 hours, even with an Express Pass, you’re going to have to wait for this one. As there are nine more houses, we tried to hit them first, and simply ran out of time!)

·        Halloween 4- The Return of Michael Myers:  Evil has returned in an all-new house. This masked maniac is unstoppable, and there’s nowhere to hide. 

  • Theming: 9
  • Scare Factor: 8

(HHN always does a great job with Halloween themed houses. This year is no exception!)

·         Poltergeist – Restless spirits have overrun the infamous house atop a cemetery and will lure you into a place between life and death. Don’t get lost in the light. 

  • Theming: 7.5
  • Scare Factor: 5

(This was one of the first we went through, when the sun still hadn’t set, and seemed way too dark to enjoy most of the elaborate theming and animatronics. You might want to hit it later in the run.)

·      Trick ‘r Treat—this terrifying maze is breaking all the rules of our Halloween tradition.. 

  • Theming: 9
  • Scare Factor: 6

(This was awesome, but it’s hard to top the 2017 scarezone.)

·         The Horrors of Blumhouse – The haunted minds behind Happy Death Day and The First Purge have spawned another horror house. Will you live to see tomorrow?

  • Theming: 8.5
  • Scare Factor: 6

(This house has a great theme, and is overall probably one of the more elaborate. The scares aren’t there, but the design and thought is. )

·      Carnival Graveyard – Rust in Pieces: The caramel-coated carnivals of yesteryear have died, but something sinister has festered, waiting to torment those who trespass upon their salvage yard.

  • Theming: 10
  • Scare Factor: 8.5

(Probably one of the top houses of the year. It is interactive, and filled with lots of fun and a few frights. )

·       Dead Exposure: Patient Zero: Fear will infect you, plunging you into darkness against a plague of swarming, fast-moving zombies.

  • Theming: 8.5
  • Scare Factor: 6.5

(I had high hopes for this house, but it didn’t truly deliver. This house actually made me miss The Walking Dead! (IKR) ?)

–     Scary Tales – Deadly Ever After: The Wicked Witch of the West has cursed the land of the fairies, twisting beloved stories beyond recognition. There are no fairytale endings here.

  • Theming: 10
  • Scare Factor: 6.5

(A truly great house, with excellent backstory. The set decoration could not have been more ornate, but a few of the scenes needed a better explanation of what they were depicting. Still, probably the best of 2018!)

–      Seeds of Extinction – Humanity is extinct, wiped out by a cataclysmic meteor. In its wake something monstrous has taken root.

  • Theming: 9.5
  • Scare Factor: 7.5

(Although not the scariest house, this one was pretty cool. The absence of “people” in the house make it something unique, and one that can be built on in then future. )

–      Slaughter Sinema  – It’s showtime at the local drive-in, where you don’t just catch a movie; the movie catches you. When the credits roll, heads roll.

  • Theming: 10
  • Scare Factor: 6.5

(This is probably my second favorite of the year. It embodies the spirit of the event, and I can see it being redone year after year!)

Surrounded in shadow by screams and mad laughter, face nightmarish creatures on streets twisted into sinister scare zones.

Revenge of Chucky Chucky, the world’s deadliest doll, has brought a toy fair to gruesome life on the streets of Hollywood, twisting childhood toys into nightmares. You’ll be dying to play.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space – An interstellar circus tent has landed on the streets of Universal Studios Florida™. At this circus of fear, the joke’s always on you.

The Harvest – An old barn holds horrors from each house. Foul creatures lurk between the hay bales, ready for a harvest of blood and screams. (In our opinion, this zone needs a bit of help. Seems like they stole the idea from Howl-O-Scream, but didn’t do it as well!)

Twisted TraditionAn ancient evil has been reawakened and transformed Halloween into an abomination. (Awesome use of pumpkins!)

Vamp ’85 – As the ball drops in New York City, this New Year’s bash is about to bite. Literally. (If you’re a member of Gen-X, this zone is your childhood reimagined!)

Plus, Academy of Villains returns for its third consecutive year with an all-new show combining dance, acrobatics and theatrics in “Academy of Villains: Cyberpunk” – featuring a new storyline that tests humanity against technology.

Of course, Palm Beach Happening isn’t the only critic out there! Check out the review from View From The Cheap Seats!


For more information, visit


Remember that Halloween is a time for fun and frivolity. It is a time to come out of your shell, and to acknowledge the mischievous spirit that resides within all of us. Be sure to keep following Palm Beach Happening for news on other spooky events in the Palm Beaches. If you know of another local event that would appreciate the undead light shone upon it, please let us know!

Also, be sure to check out some of our other Faces Behind the Fear interviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.