The Krampus maze is our fave at this year’s Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights.(David Sprague)
Haunt season is upon us, and you know what that means … hellish long lines. Universal Studios is giving Halloween event fans a head start by kicking off their Halloween Horror Nights season first despite insanely long lines during its opening weekend. Here are some tips and hacks to maximize your experience that we learned on opening night.
Early Access and Front of the Line: If you can opt for these, you definitely should. Planning to do all of the mazes just based off a regular admission ticket would require a really slow day or a time turner. This season will be super packed because the park is filled with iconic slashers, and one of the mazes has different endings every time you visit. We strongly suggest upgrading to FOL ($139-$209) to be able to do everything in one night.
They brought out the big guns: This year you have mazes based off some of horror’s biggest icons. The Exorcist, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees have taken over the haunt. Lines for these mazes and FX’s “American Horror Story” had wait times of over 140 minutes and a max of 170 minutes. People in line have even tweeted being in line longer than that.
Kill your line babies: From the big mazes you pretty much should set up a game plan of which ones to hit. Prioritize two or three, then plot out which of the lesser-line mazes you want to try out. If you try to go for all of the main ones in one night you’ll probably only get to do three things and miss out on the park’s other offerings. The best mazes in our opinions are: Freddy vs. Jason and The Exorcist, followed by Halloween.
Krampus: We were disappointed to see that no one really went into this maze on opening night. The line was always about 40-50 minutes long. It’s a shame, because this maze and the movie it’s based on are amazing! It’s campy, Christmasy and scary if you’re familiar with the film or its lore. I recommend seeing the movie before you go to HHN because you’re thrust into the world of the film and its fantastic set pieces. It’s one of this year’s best thematic pieces and our personal fave.
“AHS:” OK, this one had one of the longest lines of the night. For the amount of people going in, I found the maze itself to be very underwhelming. You’re mostly going through long hallways in both “Murder House” and “Hotel.” The characters chosen to be the main scares didn’t quite do it for me, but if you’re a fan of the show I guess it’s fun to run into the gimp and not Lady Gaga?
Food: Also on your itinerary for the night be sure to add in standing in line for food. Every area has places to grab a bite open, but the lines are also very long. Unfortunately Hogsmeade is closed, so all those food options are out of the picture. Maybe get the most scared person in your group to stand in line for food in case they need a break.
Social Media Game: Horror Nights creative director John Murdy runs awesome Twitter giveaways on the event’s official account (@HorrorNights). If you follow and keep an eye on his tweets while in the park and get a code word to use in select mazes, you can snag unique prizes related to the maze. It adds another layer of fun to the night to scavenger hunt for.
Universal Halloween Horror Nights runs from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. through Nov. 5 at Universal Studios Hollywood. For tickets and more information, visit halloweenhorrornights.com/hollywood/2016/index.php.