Whether you attend Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights alone, with a group, or as a couple, there are some guarantees. There will be houses you like, some that will terrify you, and others that are cool to look at but not so frightening. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights has been the gold standard for horror attractions for decades. Between their themed merchandise, exclusive food and drink options, and ever-changing attractions, it is the place to be for Halloween. Fans expect superior special effects, costuming, and set design. While most things hit the mark, a few lack the creative punch the others do. Here is our ranking of the haunted houses at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 2022.
Disclosure: As with all opinions, ours is purely subjective and based on our experience only. Our rankings are based on a host of criteria, including creativity, scare factor, quality of theme, house detail, and storyline.
10. Spirits of the Coven- You are in a speakeasy in the roaring twenties run by a gaggle of witches. The lovely vengeful women lure you in with their beauty, but before you can escape, they reveal their true form. There will be no escape from this coven. This is a house that showed enormous promise. The whole premise is fantastic. Unfortunately, the house’s story feels rushed, and you don’t spend enough time in the speakeasy with the pretty woman before the hags come for you. It would have worked better if the house built terror by layering dread before beating you over the head with the magical crones. The monster makeup on the witches is not particularly effective either, and I always felt like I could outrun or push down any evil-doer in my way. Note: Do not touch the cast!
9. Fiesta de Chupacabras- Welcome to a Latin American village where everyone celebrates the legendary cryptid Chupacabra. Come for the parade but stay for the streets lined with your blood. I wanted to like this house more than I did. Unfortunately, this place’s lack of dynamic light made it difficult to pick out the intricate masks and details everywhere. The overall effect is interesting but far from scary and feels more like a spooky Mexican village by way of Disney as opposed to a tourist trap of death. This house never had a sense of urgency, which detracted from the overall scariness. When you never feel like your life is in danger, whether you have one more Cerveza or not, it’s hard to fully commit to the fantasy. Nevertheless, it is a cool premise that has potential if fleshed out further.
8. Descendants of Destruction- Humankind is all but dead, and those who are left have fled deep into the subways beneath New York City. Unfortunately, not every creature who lives there has retained any shred of humanity. I know this is a controversial choice, but I really liked this house. Along with Hellblock, it is the most conventional of the houses, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the power to make you cling tighter to that person ahead of you. The jump scares came fast and furiously, and I didn’t see them signposted as I did in some of the other houses(looking at you, Chupacabras). I liked the subway car tableau, but a terribly placed site gag almost ruins the whole house. It definitely wasn’t as intricate or moving as Dead Man’s Pier, but the shriek factor is high,h and it could be worse.
7. Hellblock Horror- A prison becomes overwhelmed by monstrous mutants who will stop at nothing to escape their jail. This was the first house I went through after entering through the underused hotel guest entrance next to the old Blue Man Group theater. For those not in the know, that is directly to the left of the main entrance to Universal as you are facing it. On the plus side, light does not invade this house even if you are entering in full sun conditions so take advantage of early admission. There are quite a few jump scares, and as the first house, it is a good warm-up for what it to come. It isn’t a bad house per se, but it isn’t as well-themed or storied as some of the others. It also has a bit of a rushed afterthought sense to it. Likely this is because it was a replacement when the rumored Stranger Things house fell through at the last minute. Good regional haunted houses are on par with this house, but if you expect more from Universal, Hellblock will leave you wanting.
6. The Horrors of Blumhouse- This is actually two houses in one. The first is based on Freaky, the Vince Vaugn-led horror comedy that was a lot more fun than the house, and the second is The Black Phone starring Ethan Hawke as the Grabber. Freaky is boring, predictable, and lacking any personality. If you haven’t seen the movie, there is nothing to distinguish it from any other industrial-themed haunted house, and you mostly feel like you are still queuing for the next house. The Black Phone, by contrast, is much scarier even if you haven’t seen the movie. The mask Ethan Hawke wore in the film is evocative and genuinely terrifying, and the grimy condition of the house screams danger. Unfortunately, you have to wade through Freaky to get to The Black Phone, but the latter is so well done it almost makes up for the blandness of the former.
5. Universal Monsters: Legends Collide- The Wolfman, Dracula, and The Mummy are locked in a battle for supremacy with you smack dab in the middle. If you ever thought you would love to see all the old-school monsters duke it out in a Battle Royale right in front of you, this is the house. The classics deserve to be remembered for their impact on the horror world. These legendary killers have influenced so many greats. Everything from Brendan Fraser’s The Mummy franchise, which still holds up to George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, has roots in these old standbys. This house is pure unabashed fun. It’s not scary at all but so enjoyable I hardly cared. The coolest thing is the victor of this three-way battle changes nightly, so you will not see the same house twice if you are a frequent screamer.
4. Bugs Eaten Alive- A 1950s house of the future is overwhelmed by mutant bugs intent on eating their way through you and your group. It’s creepy and crawly and will trigger those not comfortable with our six and eight-legged friends. This house had one of the best set pieces I saw. The opening room is so perfectly cheeky you know you are in store for fun. The house is campy and nervy in equal parts and not to be underestimated. The sound design is enough to put you on edge. Between all the chittering mandibles, scratchy legs, and the itch-inducing strings of varying weights throughout the house brushing against you, you need a good shower after going through. It is one of the most effective houses of its kind. If bugs don’t bother you, this house won’t freak you out, but even the most nonplussed don’t like feeling like something is crawling on them.
3. The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare- Anyone who has seen one of the artist’s music videos or his Super Bowl halftime show is familiar with the kind of surreal weirdness that The Weeknd revels in. Strangeness and horror can work well together, and this house, based on his music and the wackiness in his mind, is pretty much what you imagine his nightmares look like. Color me shocked. This was the house I most anticipated purely out of curiosity, but my expectations were low. Not only is the house a total vibe, but it features one of the top two scariest set pieces in all of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. There is a chilling bathroom scene for which you should make a special effort to slow down if you dare. Kudos for The Weeknd not taking himself too seriously, either. It’s not everyone that would allow their head to be cut off.
2. Dead Man’s Pier Winter’s Wake- A fishing town comes to undead life when a widow’s grief curses the land and waters of a New England seaside village. This is hands down the most breathtaking haunted house I have ever seen. It is everything Universal is known for, with gorgeous scenery and a haunting storyline. You probably never thought you could have your heart broken and your hackles raised in the same place, but this haunted house manages to achieve both. The scare-actors are all perfectly conceived, with most favoring a soggy zombie sailor motif, but the human/sea creature hybrids are especially intriguing. It isn’t the scariest house, but the sheer work that went into the theming can’t be denied. Bonus points for the chill in the air when it is a thousand degrees with 100% humidity outside. You could spend hours in this house and never get bored. It is that well done.
1.Halloween- Welcome to Haddonfield on Halloween night. Michael Myers is back for his pound of familiar flesh and anyone else who gets near him. I am a sucker for The Shape. I’m not sure what it is about the slow-moving, coverall-wearing, inside-out Shatner mask-sporting boogeyman, but he is the single scariest slasher out there. He has taken over my nightmares since I was a kid, and walking through this house is like a cross between walking in scenes from the movies and a hellscape of endless stalking. It is filled with iconic scenes from the original film and enough Michael Myers lookalikes to induce a panic attack. One overwhelming scene should come with an anxiety warning. It is the only house that I actually tried to walk faster through because I was that scared.
Likes and dislikes are very personal to each attendee, so my list may look nothing like yours. Still, I hope I gave you an idea of what to expect and which houses might scratch that very special terror itch at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights Orlando. If you want to know if Universal’s RIP Pass is worth it to achieve all these houses without sweating it click here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.