Scaredy cats stay home! Forget Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Boo to You; today, we’re talking about Disney’s freaky cousin down I-4! Halloween Horror Nights 32 is officially in full swing at Universal Orlando, and the fog is continuing to roll in as guests line up for house after house full of terror and good times. The annual haunted celebration highlights the darker side of Halloween, featuring real scares and menacing entertainment in the form of scare zones and haunted houses, many of which are based on extremely popular horror franchises like Chucky, Stranger Things, and The Last of Us.
Although we’ve already provided our readers with an accurate breakdown of each house in the 2023 edition of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, we understand that if you’re only visiting once, you may not be able to get to each one without that terrifyingly expensive express pass. So, in an effort to help you have a murderously good time, we’re ranking the best and worst houses of the 2023 HHN season so you know where to run to first!
10: Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate
Remember Universal Orlando before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter? There was one popular attraction that was set in the back of Islands of Adventure, where Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure now stands. Yes, we’re talking about Dueling Dragons, the hanging coaster that saw you choose between two dragons, Fire and Ice, and face off in dueling rail systems. Although the popular roller coaster is long gone, Universal paid homage to the fan-favorite this year, incorporating the theming into one of their HHN houses. Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate is a fun addition to Halloween Horror Nights, with immaculately decorated rooms and the choice to choose Fire or Ice; it is lacking heavily in the scare department, earning it last honors on this list.
9: Dr. Oddfellow’s Twisted Offerings
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando always has a sinister mascot, and this year’s is Dr. Oddfellow. The main scareactor of HHN has had years of lore leading up to his debut at Halloween Horror Nights, and his twisted carnival-style house is definitely a fan-pleaser. However, despite it being amazing to look at, it too lacks in the scare department. Although it furthers the story and lore of Dr. Oddfellow, it’s your typical clowns and murderous carnival-based haunted house. However, a caveat if you’ll allow, Dr. Oddfellow does look quite menacing and creepy. His overall presence is concerning and foreboding, keeping Dr. Oddfellowe’s Twisted Offerings from falling into last place on this list.
8: Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings
Nothing goes better with Halloween than fall festivals and blood moons, and that’s what you’re going to get with this 2023 edition of Halloween Horror Nights. Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings is exactly what it sounds like: demonic worship gone bad. Set in a Colonial-era village where a cult is currently worshipping the blood moon, things go sideways when guests find themselves right in the middle of a real horror scene. Complete with a trip to the pub and a murder scene in a bedroom, Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings is indeed-well-dark. It does offer a few scares here and there, but the overall theming and plot are just unsettling. Although fans seem to be warming up to the haunted house, it still sits at number eight on our list.
7: The Darkest Deal
We may be a little biased here, so let’s get that out of the way, but as a house not based on a popular property, The Darkest Deal was impressive. Loosely focused on the tale of real-life musician Robert Johnson, this house explores a deal with the devil made by the blues musician in the delta of Mississippi. Ultimately, the real-life Robert Johnson would meet and early death at the age of 27 due to poisoning, but the house does a fantastic job of displaying the deal he reportedly made with Satan himself, giving the musician the ability to play the blues as no one else had ever heard. Of course, there’s always a price to pay, and guests to The Darkest Deal will find themselves in hell alongside Johnson after Lucifer comes collecting.
6: Universal Monsters: Unmasked
The fan-favorite monsters of Universal are back this year, featuring Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Phantom of the Opera. The twisted take on Universal Monsters: Unmasked finds guests braving the haunted house face-to-face with some of the goriest villains in cinema. Making your way through the catacombs of Paris, guests are met with awesome sets and scareactors who really went above and beyond during our visit to the haunted house. The combination of superb set design, familiar monsters, and a fantastic story, starting off in the rain above the catacombs, is perfection. The only reason Universal Monsters: Unmasked is not higher on the list is because the opening scene is so well done; the others fall short.
5: The Exorcist: Believer
This was probably the scariest house we visited during Halloween Horror Nights. It’s a strong contender for “house of the year.” Telling the story of two young girls who become possessed after they go missing in the woods, the creeps and scares are definitely waiting for you in this house. Featuring amazing set designs combined with NPC-like scareactors, this house is one of the few that left us uneasy as we exited. Although the story is similar in nature to what fans of the original Exorcist film remember, it is a completely different take but highlights many of the same features that frightened viewers so many years ago. Although scary and very well done, The Exorcist: Believer doesn’t crack our top five, not because it’s bad but because there are just better haunted houses at HHN this year.
4: YETI: Campground Kills
This isn’t your Expedition Everest Yeti we’re talking about today. Instead, YETI: Campground Kills is a trek through the woods while trying to escape a savage, bloodthirsty beast who wants to do more than accidentally show up in your vacation photos. This haunted house featured some of the best sets out of all of the 2023 HHN offerings. As well, the massive size of the Yeti featured within the haunted house is scary enough. Speaking of scares, if you’re looking for jump scares, this is the house for you! Although some may place it lower on their list, we felt like the fact that there’s so much lore out there regarding Bigfoot and the possibility of its existence just added that to the overall feel of the house. YETI: Campground Kills continues on a long run of Yeti-themed houses for HHN, and fans love this year’s edition.
3: Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count
Who doesn’t love insane, murdering dolls who are possessed by serial killers? You don’t? Well, then maybe skip Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count this year. Based on the highly popular slasher/ horror franchise featuring everyone’s favorite “Good Guy Doll,” Chucky makes his HHN debut in bloody disgusting fashion this year. Another early contender for “house of the year,” Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count, explores all of the ways Chucky has “dispatched” his victims. Although many don’t find Chucky to be scary at all, you’ll have a dreadfully good time checking out his haunted house no matter what. The designs are amazing, featuring many iconic scenes from his movies and television show. Horror fans will appreciate the work that went into bringing the animatronic Chucky to life right in front of their eyes if they can get out alive.
2: The Last of Us: Part 1
Just missing the top spot for best house at HHN 2023, The Last of Us: Part 1 is a zombie apocalypse dream come true. Based heavily on the first video game (not the series), the scenery and soundbites in this Halloween Horror Nights addition are perfect. There are plenty of scares to be had, and the amazing sights and sounds of clickers and infected alike cause chaos around every corner. Scenes are meticulously designed to replicate famous areas from the original game, all accompanied by audio straight from the franchise. It’s amazing; there’s simply no other word for it. Although the wait time is very long for this one, it’s worth every second you’ll stand in line once you find Joel and Ellie battling their way to meet The Fireflies in an attempt to save the remaining humans left on earth from ultimate extinction.
1: Stranger Things Season 4
This probably comes as no surprise to those who’ve already visited Universal Orlando for HHN 32. Stranger Things, the popular Netflix series, features a group of kids from Hawkins, Indiana, who find themselves in the middle of the Upside Down and have returned to Halloween Horror Nights. Vecna, Eleven, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, and Max have brought the extremely popular season 4 walkthrough to Orlando, and it’s a sight to behold. The sets are perfect, the casting is perfect, the scene choices are perfect, trust us- it’s just perfect. There are jump scares, epic scenes featuring Metallica, and an easy-to-follow story as you’re transported alongside the courageous teens on their latest venture into a world of monsters. The house is, without a doubt, the prime experience at Halloween Horror Nights, demanding a lofty budget to build, and it shows. Much like The Last of Us, this house is in high demand, with wait times equaling a couple of hours on busy nights, but it is a must-do, even if you don’t know Stranger Things that well.
So, there you have it! Of course our list isn’t final and each house may appeal to different people based on what they like and don’t like. However, in terms of judging the houses based on scares, set designs, and demand, we’re okay with this being our “unofficial,” but somehow official ranking for HHN 32. As the spooky season continues on, we’ll revisit our list as we venture back to Halloween Horror Nights throughout the fall. HHN at Universal Orlando runs through November 4th on select nights. Tickets can be purchased through Universal online.