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Halloween Horror Nights (formerly known as Fright Nights) is an annual special event that occurs at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Singapore, and Universal Studios Japan. Universal Studios remains operational during the day and transitions to Halloween Horror Nights at night. The Halloween-themed event occurs during the fall season and features haunted houses, "scare zones", and live entertainment – many of which use Universal Studios' characters. Its intended audience is teenagers and young adults.
Halloween Horror Nights began at Universal Studios Florida in 1991 under the title Fright Nights. It began as a three-night event October 25, 26, and 31, 1991, with one haunted house, The Dungeon of Terror. The first year, the admission price was only $12.95. From 1991–2001, the event was held at Universal Studios Florida.
The event was renamed "Universal Studios Florida Halloween Horror Nights" in 1992 and advertised as the second annual Halloween Horror Nights. There were two haunted houses, with The Dungeon of Terror returning to the Jaws queue building, and The People Under The Stairs making its debut in Soundstage 23. The HHN2 event ran five nights, October 23, 24, 29, 30, and 31.
The Third Annual Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Florida saw the event increase to seven nights. Due to the re-opening of the Jaws attraction, the in-park haunted house moved from the Jaws queue in Amity to the Nazarman's facade in the New York area. The number of haunted houses increased to three, with the third at the Bates Motel set (see Psycho) at Universal Studios Florida.
Halloween Horror Nights 4 expanded to an eight night run in 1994. This year marked the return of a newly-designed Dungeon of Terror, along with three more haunted houses, for a total of four. In addition to Nazarman's and the Bates Motel, the new locations were in the Earthquake overflow queue and the Boneyard. This year also marked the first use of the term "scareactors", as well as the first official "Ghoul School" for actors participating in the event. Ticket prices increased to $36.00 this year.
Halloween Horror Nights V is the first time Universal marketing began using Roman numerals in the title of the event. Featuring a 12 night run and three haunted houses, one of which was a dual-path house, it was also the first time Universal themed the event around an icon, in this case the Crypt Keeper (see Tales from the Crypt). The event was subtitled "The Curse of the Crypt Keeper".
Print ad for Universal's first Halloween effort, at USH in 1986
Universal Studios Hollywood had featured Halloween attractions in 1986 and 1992. The 1986 effort was actually a tram tour, and bears little resemblance to the modern event. The 1992 event was a direct result of the success of Fright Nights at Universal Florida the year before, but was not successful. Halloween Horror Nights officially launched at Universal Studios Hollywood October 9, 1997, running through the 2000 season. From 2001 to 2005, Halloween Horror Nights went on hiatus at USH, then returned in 2006. It has continued yearly since. Between 2007 and 2014, USH made use of Universal's House of Horrors, its permanent haunted attraction, as a part of HHN, by re-theming it for the event.
Back in Florida, Halloween Horror Nights VI through X followed the formula developed for HHN V in 1995, growing from 15 nights in 1996 to 19 in 2000. There were 3 haunted houses each year, although from 1998 on, two each year were dual path houses, for a total of five experiences. One notable change was the first 3-D haunted house, in 1999, in the Nazarman's facade. By 1999, ticket prices were $44.00. In 2000, Universal launched its first in-house created Icon, Jack the Clown.
Halloween Horror Nights XI,