In search of the fear

Fans celebrate scare season with Halloween Horror Nights


photo by Allison Long

Junior Katie Jackson (right) and friends pose with Purge man. Scarers are prohibited to touch visitors while scaring and taking pictures.

Junior Jacqlene Rosu was walking with her friends, when a man with a Purge mask and a chainsaw started chasing her. With goosebumps, Rosu decided to close her eyes, hoping the man would leave her alone. Visitors actually sign up for this when they experience Halloween Horror Nights, an annual event held at Universal Studios from Sept. 15 through Nov. 4.

Halloween Horror Nights is an event that features haunted houses, scare zones and live shows that aim to scare visitors and encourage their Halloween spirit. Every year, the event is  based on popular horror films such as ‘Saw’, ‘The Shining’ or ‘American Horror Story,’ and many of the houses are changed annually.

Even though visitors often have to wait an hour to get into each  house, junior Kirsten Green pays $65 to go to Halloween Horror Nights every year.

“Halloween Horror Nights is the most awaited event of the year for me and my friends,” Green said. “We’ve been going since freshman year and we try to visit every haunted house and usually ignore the waiting time.”

For students like Green and junior Julian Perez, what makes this event fun is the experience of walking through the scare zones, parts of the park decorated according to a theme. Each of the five scare zones has characters who are allowed to scare visitors and chase them with props, like chainsaws and bats, but without touching them.

One of the most popular zones is ‘The Purge,’ which is based on the three movies by James DeMonaco: ‘The Purge,’ ‘The Purge: Anarchy,’ and ‘The Purge: Election Year.’ While walking through the scare zone, Perez was chased for three minutes by a man with a mask and a butcher’s knife who kept whispering “It’s Purge night and I’m coming for you” in his ear.

“Each scarer had a different way of scaring you,” Perez said. “Even though they had the same scare zone last year, this year, they made it more realistic.”

Most people are familiar with the scare zones and houses, but tend to forget about the live shows held during the event. This year shows include ‘Academy of Villains: Afterlife’ and ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure’.

First-timers usually go for the thrill of getting scared with the sound of a chainsaw or being chased through  a scare zone by demons and psychopaths. Sophomore Kameron Kirtley went for the first time with a group of friends, and even though he only went to two houses, he got to walk through all the scare zones.

“My favorite part of Halloween Horror Nights was the feeling of getting scared,” Kirtley said. “I’m a fan of horror movies, so I don’t get scared easily but this event was different.”

Halloween Horror Nights, however, has proved that it is not ideal for those who get scared easily due to the many jumpscares in the houses and the scare zones, as well as the event taking place at night.

The ‘Horrors of Blumhouse” house features three of the most popular movies in one house: ‘Insidious’, ‘Sinister’ and ‘The Purge.’ In the house, visitors encounter foggy hallways, victims of the ‘Insidious’ demon screaming for help and Purge girls with masks hiding behind trees ready to jump out.

Those who are fans of the event and enjoy the jumpscares tend to buy the Halloween Horror Nights express pass that lets them cut the lines at the houses. Even though this costs an additional $30, buyers prefer the certainty of getting to every house.

Tickets for the event vary depending on the day, ranging from $60 to $90 without coupons or extras like express passes. Students usually purchase them at Publix, or other retail stores where they can get a $10 discount, they buy online to save time and avoid standing in line.

Since the tickets are limited, students like Perez start planning for the event at the end of August. By doing this, he gets more discounts and has multiple nights to choose from.

“Halloween Horror Nights is an event you have to plan out ahead of time,” Perez said. “It’s everyone’s favorite night out because you get to celebrate Halloween like it’s supposed to be.”