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Spooky Review: Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 2023

Are you into Halloween mazes? Looking for your next scare this Halloween season? Look no further than Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights!

Universal Studios' logo for their Halloween Horror Nights
Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

My jam as a kid was Knott's Scary Farm and Universal's Halloween Horror Nights. My family use to go every year, and I loved walking the mazes. I didn't care about waiting in lines as long as the maze was well themed and contained plenty of good scares.

Once I had my first kid, all the scary stuff came to an end for me, and I was left with trick-or-treating at Disneyland and Legoland. But this year, my daughter was finally old enough (and interested enough) that we decided, what the heck? Let's do it!

So, for the first time in more than 10 years, I returned to one of my favorite Halloween places—Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights!

Well-Themed Scary Mazes

Let's get right to the important stuff...the mazes! Because if you're going to Knott's Scary Farm or Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, it's because you're looking to get your scare on. You want lots of mazes, tons of jump scares, and hundreds of monsters! And, if you're like me, you want your mazes to be well-themed. And that, folks, is exactly what Universal brings to the table.

This year's mazes included:

  • The Terror Tram: The Exterminatorz

  • Stranger Things 4: Escape the Curse of Vecna

  • The Exorcist Believer: An Evil Reawakened

  • The Last of Us

  • Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count

  • Universal Monsters: Unmasked

  • Evil Dead Rise

  • Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America

  • Holidayz in Hell

Each maze is unique, telling a specific story through the use of fantastic special effects, scary music, well placed monsters with killer movie make-up, and amazing freaky decor.

Although I would have loved to have done every single maze, we only managed to survive 4 of the mazes this year. We did:

  1. The Terror Tram: The Exterminatorz

  2. Stranger Things 4: Escape the Curse of Vecna

  3. The Last of Us

  4. Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America

We could have totally done more, but my daughter pooped out at 10 p.m., so we had to leave. But the fact that we were able to do 4 of the 9 mazes is pretty impressive.

Let's talk a little more about each one!

Halloween Maze #1: The Last of Us

This is a brand new maze this year, featuring the hit game, The Last of Us, which was also a brand new TV show to hit HBO in 2023.

Apart from being incredibly well themed with decor that made it feel like you were actually walking through the rubble of a post-apocalyptic world, the costuming was fantastic. The zombies looked real, with jaw-dropping make-up that looked like it came right off of a movie set. But I wouldn't expect anything less from Universal Studios, which is a huge advantage they have over other places with scary Halloween mazes. They do killer monster make-up!

The maze was a decent length, with plenty of Stalkers, Clickers, and Bloaters jumping out to scare you at every turn. And one of the best parts was the actors that played Joel and Ellie, reenacting different scenes from the popular video game. It just brought the whole story to life in a unique and fun way!

Halloween Maze #2: Stranger Things

Our next stop was Netflix's smash hit, Stranger Things, and this year, the maze focused on season 4. What was neat about this maze is that the entire thing was built inside of an actual sound studio! And just inside was Eddie's mobile home.

In fact, that's how you enter this maze, by walking through Eddie's front door and into one of the most grotesque scenes from the show—Chrissy's very disturbing death. From there, you travel the maze, trying to avoid Vecna, who continuously pops out from unsuspecting places.

One of the coolest parts of this maze is getting to see scenes from the show in real life. From the entryway of the Creel House to the halls of Hawkins National Laboratory, you get to walk through the Stranger Things universe.

And, just like The Last of Us maze, scenes from the show are reenacted with actors, making you feel like you're part of the whole thing!

Halloween Maze #3: The Terror Tram

One of Universal Studios most iconic rides is the Studio Tram Tour, which takes you into Universal's backlot and let's you get close and personal with some of the most interesting movie sets, like the Psycho house or the plane crash from War of the Worlds! But during the Halloween Horror Nights, you actually get to step off the tram and walk through these amazing and iconic movie sets!

This year, the theme was a bug infestation. From creepy spiders, to roaches, to beetles, entire sections of the backlot were infested with gigantic bugs wanting to exterminate the human population.

Of all of the mazes, this one was probably the least scary because it was well lit, making it difficult for jump scares, which are the foundation of most Halloween mazes. But despite the lack of the scare factor, this one is always so much fun because of the ability to walk the backlot. My husband even got to touch the massive, real commercial 747 airplane that was brought to the movie set and then chopped up for Spielberg's 2005 movie, The War of the Worlds, featuring Tom Cruise.

Halloween Maze #4: The Monsters of Latin America

Next up was Monstruos, which all 3 of us agreed, was the best maze of the night!

Honestly, we were going to skip this one in favor of something more intriguing, like The Exorcist. But the wait for this line was extremely short compared to the others (only 15-20 minutes versus 100-180 minutes). So, we decided to give it a try, and boy are we glad we did.

From the very beginning, you step up to a facade that looks like the entrance to an old crypt and a graveyard where La Muerte (Death) is waiting for you. Upon entering, you find yourself in catacombs, wandering underground, and then you're running to escape 3 terrifying monsters: Tlahuelpuchi (think super creepy vampire), La Lechuza (an owl-faced witch), and El Silbon (a ghostly legend from Colombia).

Not only was the decor of this maze absolutely top-notch, but the costuming was incredible! The jump scares were the best in this maze, and an added feature I noticed that I did not experience in any of the other mazes was the use of smell.

Yes, you read that right—smell. When you walk into the catacombs, you are hit with the strong smell of dirt, making you really feel like you are underground. In another section, you walk into a room with hanging animal carcasses and blood. And when you step in there, the smell of rotting meat hits you! None of the other mazes appeared to utilize smell like this one did, and it was a chilling detail that really sold the story!

Halloween Horror Nights a Success!

After being out of the "horror scene" for more than 10 years, I was so happy to come back to this amazing place! Nothing brings out the spooky vibes like a classic Halloween maze, and Universal does it better than anyone else!

The Lamont household gives the experience a 5 out of 5, and if it weren't because of my daughter, I certainly would have pushed to do more of those mazes. Now that I know my girl's into a little scare factor, I'll definitely be coming back next year!

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