- I visited the opening weekend of Disneyland and Universal Hollywood’s ticketed Halloween events.
- I rated them in different categories like dining, entertainment, wait times, and overall value.
- I think Universal’s event is best for horror lovers, but Disneyland’s is actually the better value.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The immersive event transforms the entire theme park using inspiration from some of the biggest horror films, classic franchises, and original storytelling.
Single ticket prices vary by date and run between $US69 ($AU95) to $US99 ($AU136), with a discount available for annual pass holders.
The event features walk-through maze attractions similar to haunted houses, scare zones, themed foods and beverages, character interactions, and a selection of attractions.
It runs from 7:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. depending on the night. But by prepurchasing my ticket online, I was granted an early entry of 6:00 p.m. with a selection of open mazes.
The family-friendly event runs select nights in September and October, and the ticket prices run between $US114 ($AU157) and $US169 ($AU233).
Themed after the popular character Oogie Boogie from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the event features immersive trick-or-treat trails, rare character meet and greets, exclusive parades and shows, specialty foods and beverages, and photo opportunities.
My entry into the park began at 3:00 p.m., and the event ran from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
They featured elaborate sets, props, and live scare actors all themed to specific storylines based on legendary horror films, major franchises, TV series, and original stories developed by the park.
This year’s themes included Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives,” “The Exorcist,” “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers,” “The Curse of Pandora’s Box,” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
Each trail featured several stations with candy and rare Disney characters who interacted with guests and posed for photo opportunities.
Popular characters for this year’s bash included Sid from “Toy Story,” Cruella de Vil, Oogie Boogie, and Agatha from “WandaVision.” These characters were exclusive to the event, so you wouldn’t see them on a normal park day.
This included Jurassic World – The Ride, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff, Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride, Transformers: The Ride – 3D, and The Simpsons Ride.
If you’re not into scary experiences, the event is a great time to ride the popular attractions because the wait times weren’t terribly long.
Because of the limited capacity at the event, this was an excellent opportunity to ride the new Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure with pretty much no wait.
I was also able to walk right on Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark, a special Halloween overlay on the popular Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! ride.
Other seasonal ride overlays included Luigi’s Honkin’ Haul-O-Ween and Mater’s Graveyard JamBOOree.
It was a totally unique experience and my absolute favorite of the evening.
The attraction allowed us to step out of the tram vehicle and peruse some iconic Hollywood sets, including the original Bates Motel and the house used in “Psycho.”
The immersive walk-through experience celebrates Disney’s favorite villains in a forest-like setting with cool lighting projections that tell a story.
Although I wouldn’t classify it as scary, it had that spooky feel that I welcome during the Halloween season.
Lines for food and beverages, including bottled water, were steadily long throughout the evening.
The atmosphere of the park had party vibes, and although costumes aren’t permitted, some people were dressed in horror-inspired wardrobes.
Costumes are encouraged (as long as they follow Disneyland’s guidelines) and the majority of people wear them.
People-watching proved to be one of my favorite elements of the event.
Those times climbed over the course of the evening into the triple digits, especially the popular mazes themed to “The Exorcist,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House.”
I anticipated it to be busy, but I didn’t expect to see wait times that high. During the course of the evening, I only ended up going into three mazes.
The wait times for the rides were much lower than the mazes. But if I’m paying for a special event, I tend to skip over things I can do on a regular park day.
The lines appeared long, but they moved quickly, and we were inside the treat trails within five minutes. I was able to complete three of the 10 treat trails within the first 20 minutes of the event, and by the end of the evening, I hit them all and repeated some of my favorites.
Wait times for attractions were also very minimal. Guardians of the Galaxy – Monsters After Dark had the longest wait at around 30 minutes.
The food venues themselves were also highly themed, like Leatherface’s Texas Family BBQ (inspired by “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”).
The Dia de Los Muertos plaza was extremely impressive and featured multiple food stands, a bar, live entertainment, and small productions. Plus, the brightly-hued facade featured work from famed Los Angeles graffiti artist, Mister Cartoon.
Unfortunately, it was difficult to sample several options as the concessions lines were long throughout the night.
The standout options were a hand-dipped ice cream bar and a specialty green-apple flavored churro.
Mobile orders were accepted through the park app, so I was able to get my food within minutes.
Each season brings unique merchandise themed to that year’s mazes and offerings. I absolutely loved the utilization of the classic movie monsters as well as the line dedicated to “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
The highlight was an Oogie Boogie spirit jersey.
Roaming characters, known as scare actors, wander scare zones. This year there were three zones themed to Universal Monsters: Silver Scream Queenz, Chainsaw Rangers, and Demon City.
The scare actors weren’t able to touch us, but they went as far as briefly chasing people for a scare.
The event also featured several performances from the hip-hop dance crew the Jabbawockeez. This is included in admission, and I thought it was a great way to take a break from the long lines.
On the building’s facade, light projections were timed to music to depict swarming bats and other Halloween surprises.
Equally impressive was the “Frightfully Fun Parade” that’s performed twice during the evening. I preferred the second showing as the sun had completely set by then.
The parade featured beloved Disney characters, villains, and the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. My favorite float was dedicated to Haunted Mansion and featured the ride’s famous bride as well as the hitchhiking ghosts.
Exclusively at HHN, guests are able to step off the tram, walk up the house, and see Norman Bates.
I really appreciated the attention to detail for this opportunity. They had proper lighting for the photo, so we got some great shots.
This included Oogie Boogie, Mad Hatter, and Hades.
Free digital downloads of character photographs were included with event admission, which added value to the experience.
The Universal Express pass, which runs from $US209 ($AU288) to $US339 ($AU467) depending on the package, provides expedited line access to all mazes, attractions, and shows.
R.I.P. Tours, priced between $US299 ($AU412) to $US439 ($AU604), are another option to ensure you get the most out of your visit. The small-group experience includes a guided walking tour of the event, unlimited Universal Express access, dinner, and valet parking.
If you live in the area or are planning on making several trips, you can also buy a Frequent Fear Pass for $US199 ($AU274) that gives you 26 entrances into the event or an Ultimate Fear Pass for $US329 ($AU453) that allows access to every night.
The price for the hour-and-a-half-long add-on event starts at $US84 ($AU116), and I thought it was appropriately priced. It was a relaxing way to end the night after running around the park for hours.
In addition to a dessert platter and unlimited drinks — including specialty cocktails, beer, and wine — I had unobstructed, reserved viewing for the “Frightfully Fun Parade.”
There’s also an Oogie Boogie Bash Parade Dining Package available that includes reserved viewing for the parade with a full meal.
Children are allowed to attend — I did as a kid — but the event doesn’t offer refunds, so you should make sure the child is really up for it first.
There’s an overall adult feel to HHN with its loud music and plentiful drinking opportunities.
Compared to HHN, the event is more appropriate for a wider range of children, but I think it can be enjoyed by people of all ages, especially those with an affinity for sweets and rare Disney characters.
Even though the upright cost was more expensive at Disneyland, the experience was much more valuable.
I think it’s vital to add the Express Pass in order to have a good experience at HHN, especially if the event is sold out — which makes the overall cost higher.
The lines were so long for the mazes that I was only able to experience a fraction of what I hoped to.