This Halloween’s festivities are afoot with 2022's Universal Horror Nights recently kicking off, but unless you are local with allegiance to Los Angeles and Orlando, there’s an ever-present question about which one of the two U.S. theme parks is the best place to enjoy all the scares each year. While there seems to be an inherent skew in favor of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights being the best of the two, especially since the Florida location has more houses and scare zones, Hollywood has numerous unique attractions that perhaps makes it go chainsaw to chainsaw with Orlando this year in particular.
I’ll have you decide where you go, but as a regular of Team Hollywood, I found there to be a few extra reasons why the West Coast could be the way to go this season. Let’s get into it:
The Jordan Peele-Inspired Terror Tram
First off, coinciding with the release of Jordan Peele’s Nope this summer, a portion of the actual Nope set, Jupiter’s Claim, arrived to Universal Studios’ backlot in July. Along with Jupiter’s Claim being a new addition to the Studio Tour whether it’s spooky season or not, the location is an integral part of the seasonal Terror Tram attraction in 2022, which is only available at Hollywood’s Horror Nights.
If you’re a horror fan these days, chances are you’re also a Jordan Peele fan. Although I was a tad bummed to learn the entire Terror Tram experience doesn’t completely take after his filmography as I went through it, the attraction always makes for an intriguing trip through the studio backlot, also involving the set of Psycho, and this year was no exception. It features the return of Hollywood Harry and a dive into Peele’s world of the Tethered from Us as guests go through Jupiter’s Claim. Though I’ll admit the scare experience isn’t necessarily cohesive, especially in contrast to last year’s Terror Tram themed after The Purge, the Jordan Peele mashup was a fun addition to the journey I most certainly would have missed at Orlando.
The Death Eaters Scare Zone At Hogwarts
In years past, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was a safe haven during Horror Nights to get away from all the scary monsters and such in the rest of the park for a little while. But in 2022, Universal Hollywood added something called the “Death Eaters Encounter” within this section of the park. What that means is there are Death Eater scarers lurking around as you go through Hogsmeade for some Butterbeer and such. With them, a lot of green smoke and general eeriness. They previously appeared in Universal’s Islands Of Adventure park, which is separate from the park that hosts Horror Nights in Florida.
The Death Eaters Encounter is just that, an encounter. Walking through, you’ll likely be approached by one of Lord Voldemort’s followers, wearing masks and waving their wands in an effort to catch you off guard and remind you that the Wizarding World has plenty of darkness to it. The addition to Hollywood isn’t major, but I think it signals the added potential of the West Coast Horror Nights finding different ways to draw out scares in ways Orlando doesn’t. Here’s hoping Voldemort himself shows up next year!
There’s A Full The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare Bar
In my ranking of all the 2022 Hollywood Horror Nights houses, I named The Weeknd’s After Hours Nightmare house the most inspired attraction of this season. The house is available at both Hollywood and Orlando parks, but a bar inspired by the house is only happening in Hollywood. The bar is situated next to the Jurassic World attractions on the Lower Lot of Universal Studios Hollywood, not too far from the actual After Hours attraction.
The exclusive addition to Hollywood is a moody location that furthers the vision of The Weeknd’s haunted house at the theme park this year, and the menu is pretty noteworthy as well. There are four different The Weeknd-inspired cocktails, Pizza Fries and your choice of three different kinds of seasoned fried: Bleu Cheese Buffalo, BBQ and Truffle Parmesan & Black Garlic.
The cocktails include “After Hours Nightmare,” which comes with a grenadine-filled syringe and a tequila-based drink with peach, lime and raspberry flavors. Then there’s the “Blinding Lights” with lighted ice cubes (of course) along with vodka, sour apple liqueur, lime juice and club soda. The other two are “Out of Time,” a rum-based blue cocktail and “Save Your Fears,” which has vodka, grapefruit, lime juice and a tajin rim. If you need to fuel up with munchies and some liquid courage, the limited time bar at Universal Hollywood will make you feel fancy and on theme.
Particularly Great Original Houses
The above are really just cherries on top to the big awesome Universal Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights attractions to check out this year. Yes, it’s their original houses. Overall, there are four original houses that are not in Orlando in Hollywood, but three of them really stuck out to me.
First off, Hollywood has one based off the cult classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space returns after its debut in 2019. It’s Hollywood’s most lighthearted (yet still very creepy) house. On Orlando’s side, the closest to its tone is their original Bugs Eaten Alive, which is on the bottom of CinemaBlend’s own ranking of Orlando’s 2022 Horror Nights houses. Beyond Killer Klowns, I was especially scared by La Llorona: The Weeping Woman and Scarecrow: The Reaping. Those two houses were incredibly scary and cleverly put together, and no, you can’t walk through them in Orlando’s park.
Every year it’s been obvious that Orlando is the better option for Horror Nights, if not for the sheer amount of more things the park offers during spooky season. But now more than ever, Hollywood is showing that it can contend next to the bigger park and really put on a great event for scary season. Between the exclusive Terror Tram, the use of the Wizarding World, a full bar based on The Weeknd attraction and especially spooky mazes, the West Coast is on its way to move up the ranks. You can get your tickets for Universal Hollywood Horror Nights now, which runs until October 31.
YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.
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