In the theme park game, Universal Studios has always been the number two player behind Disney, but there's one time of year when that changes. Halloween Horror Nights has been a major draw to the Universal parks for 30 years now and it is by far the biggest event held at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Florida. It's something that not only fans of Universal Studios, but fans of Halloween in general, look forward to every year. Unfortunately, both parks have made the decision to cancel the event in 2020.
It's perhaps not too surprising. While theme parks are open in some parts of the country, and Universal Orlando Resort has been open since early June, most events that bring large crowds have been either canceled or scaled back in a big way. Universal had delayed making decisions on Halloween Horror Nights up until now, it was clear there were hopes the event could go forward, but an official statement has been released confirming that HHN is gone for this year. Read the complete statement below...
It was always going to be difficult to hold Halloween Horror Nights under anything other than ideal conditions. The event is primarily made up of massive haunted houses, basically big mazes, that guests wander through at their own pace, with various animatronic creations and real humans jumping out to scare them along the way. There would need to be significant management of the maze in order to ensure social distancing between groups inside that would both limit the number of people who could attend and probably just be a logistical nightmare for Universal Studios.
The mazes were always a combination of original concepts with others themed after popular films and TV shows. Previous years have seen mazes based on Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, and Us.
At this point, it's impossible to know what the situation is going to be in October, but with work on Halloween Horror Nights certainly needing to start before then, a decision needed to be made, and Universal has decided, rightly, to err on the side of caution.
Walt Disney World had already made the decision to cancel Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, that resort's annual Halloween event, but that was likely in part because, while MNSSHP is certainly popular, it's not nearly the draw that HHN is for Universal. The decision to cancel the event is going to hit Universal right in the wallet, which is only going to make an existing problem that much worse.
To be sure, fans of Halloween Horror Nights are in mourning for their favorite event of the year. Having said that, there is also a clear understanding as to why the decision was made, and a general agreement that Universal Parks & Resorts has made the right call, which doesn't mean the first year in three decades without Halloween Horror Nights doesn't suck.