Halloween Horror Nights 2021 Guide: What To See & Expect

Halloween Horror Nights returns in 2021 in a big way after being canceled in 2020. Sadly, the annual event couldn't go through last year due to the ongoing pandemic, but Universal Studios Hollywood is in a much better position to push forward with the event this year - and they went as big as possible.

Years ago, Halloween Horror Nights' popularity exploded with themed mazes that went beyond the core Universal Monsters (and other notable horror franchises). It was perhaps the inclusion of The Walking Dead maze, which came at the height of the show's popularity, that catapulted the event into a must-attend extravaganza. Then the additions of mazes around releases such as The First Purge, Insidious, and ultimately, Stranger Things made it all the more exciting.

Related: Why The Wolf Man Is The Most Tragic Universal Classic Horror Monster (Not Frankenstein)

Since season 4 has yet to release, Stranger Things was absent from this year's lineup, as was Ghostbusters, despite Ghostbusters: Afterlife coming up very soon. Instead, Netflix partnered with Universal Studios to launch their first Haunting of Hill House maze. But that's far from the only thing to look forward to and see at Halloween Horror Nights 2021.

Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House - The main attraction at Halloween Horror Nights 2021 is The Haunting of Hill House, an accurate maze adaptation of the popular horror series from Mike Flanagan. As the promo images show, the focus is on the Bent-Neck Lady, and several notable scenes from the show are perfectly represented here.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Perhaps the most impressive and immersive of all the mazes is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This isn't the first time the horror franchise has been used at Halloween Horror Nights, but the layout and actors involved have cleverly adhered to COVID safety guidelines without losing its overall appeal.

The Exorcist - Another maze that stands out from the rest is The Exorcist. As ever, the iconic film feels tailor-made for experience like Halloween Horror Nights. Each room takes attendees through the original movie and at one point - SPOILERS - the 12-year-old Reagan's head spins around and spits water at you, making it one of the more shocking moments from all the mazes.

Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives - The big Universal Monsters attraction this year is The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. Similarly to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there are a lot of tables and bodies, but here, the thrill comes from having several Brides lunge out at you.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers - It wouldn't be a proper Halloween Horror Nights without a maze for Halloween. The neat thing about this year's maze is the sheer number of Michael Myers actors; they'll have maze-goers constantly guessing which one is real. Going through the Halloween maze is a perfect way to get hyped up for Halloween Kills releasing this October.

The Curse of Pandora's Box - A surprisingly scary maze this year is The Curse of Pandora's Box. It was first added in 2019, but Universal Studios seems to have mastered the approach in 2021. It's by far the darkest maze - lighting-wise, that is - which certainly pays off. A room will go pitch black and a neon-lit monster will suddenly appear in front of you, so be vigilant!

AMC's The Walking Dead - Of course, The Walking Dead continues to be a staple of Halloween Horror Nights. Although there's nothing particularly new here in 2021, it's only natural to pass through the zombie-themed maze at some point in the night. It's almost like a palette cleanser before moving on to the new, bigger attractions.

Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge - Aside from the mazes, the big highlight at Halloween Horror Nights every year is the Terror Tram. The Studio Tour itself is a huge draw to the park, and this year, combining the tram with The Purge was certainly an inspired decision. Walking through the Psycho and War of the Worlds sets with murderous fanatics chasing after you is thrilling.

As always, the mazes are the main draw to Halloween Horror Nights, but there's more to do than walk from haunted house to haunted house. Namely, this year, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is open. Unlike previous years where this portion of the park has been closed, the themed land is a pathway to The Haunting of Hill House and The Curse of Pandora's Box mazes, therefore, it only makes sense that the area would be open to attendees. And because of that, the rides, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Flight of the Hippogriff, are open - not to mention there are several carts serving butterbeer that make it easy to get a quick refreshment before heading down the long route to the mazes.

Furthermore, the rides down at the Lower Lot are all opened - Jurassic World: The Ride, Transformers: The Ride 3D, and Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride - alongside The Exorcist maze. All of the shops are open as well, and there are some intriguing souvenir items, particularly clothes, that parkgoers can take home.

One of the biggest questions that plague would-be parkgoers is which ticket to buy. Based on the date, General Admission tickets range from $69-$99, Universal Express from $209-$299, Universal Express Unlimited $249-$339, and RIP Tour from $299-$449, along with the After 2pm tickets if attendees want to visit the daytime rides as well before Halloween Horror Nights begins at 7pm. Typically, it is possible, to an extent, to do all the mazes with the General Admission pass, if timed correctly and if attendance isn't maxed out. However, it's also possible to do every maze and ride opened in the park within four hours with the Universal Express pass - either the one-time entry pass or the unlimited (which allows you to revisit any attraction).

In recent years, Universal Studios began offering the RIP Tour pass for Halloween Horror Nights, which returns in 2021. It's deemed the "ultimate Halloween Horror Nights experience" and, truthfully, does offer perks that elevate the night. In addition to have "front of the line" access to all mazes and rides, RIP Tour guests are taken on a guided tour through the event - individual parties up to 9 guests and tour groups up to 12. The pass also comes with a private trolley and a specialized photo opportunity, along with perhaps one of the biggest perks: a reception with an "all-you-care to-enjoy dinner" that includes alcoholic drinks. Complimentary valet parking and a credentialed badge and lanyard are also included. Of course, all of that is baked into the cost, which begins at $299.

Next: Every Upcoming Universal Monster Movie (& Which Were Canceled)

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