Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Is Universal Orlando Planning a Daytime Fall Halloween Event?

Halloween Horror Nights 2020 (aka HHN 30) is canceled. Period. 10 houses, five scare zones, and shows are not happening this year. The event is likely to return in 2021 as travel returns to a pre-COVID level thanks to the use of face masks, vaccinations, and therapeutics for COVID-19.

Construction on HHN30 continued through the summer and up until the day of the cancelation announcement. Currently, most of the houses sit, complete, in soundstages and tents. 

Over Labor Day weekend rumors began to spread about a possible "#HHNLite" event to feature some of the HHN offerings. Lots and lots of speculation started to happen, quickly. Let us break down what we know, what is speculative, and what this fall could hold.

First, Team Members are scheduled for sound stage positions to start Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. Several scare actors cast for two HHN30 houses received emails about their availability, though we do not know for what yet as their hiring is conditional over an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). 

Now, for speculation. The current information points to a daytime, upcharge experience featuring at least one haunted house featured in HHN30. Open houses would be staffed by a limited amount of scare actors distant from guests and likely feature social distancing/pulsing of groups. To keep the experience in check the tickets will be limited and require hour reservations for the experience. Universal is unlikely to label this as Halloween Horror Nights to keep branding separate, reduce confusion, and still use the HHN30 plans for next year (we jokingly refer to it as Universal's Fall Fright Days). The event sounds like it will appeal to locals as an upcharge to a day ticket, not a separate dedicated event.

At this point, Universal, like Busch Parks, is looking for all ways to generate revenue during this time. Disney's parks are placed under the consumer products banner where sales of Elsa dolls and DVC payments offsets losses in the parks. Busch found a niche at SeaWorld and BGW with offering exclusive upcharge events when their parks either couldn't open or were open and needed additional revenue. 

What does this mean for HHN30 in 2021? Probably not much, the houses will remain up till next year including any featured in this year's Fall Fright Days (again, our jokey name). As of this time, we expect all the originals to return for next year along with most of the IPs, the obvious question mark being Texas Chainsaw Massacre as that was a replacement and not complete with construction.

This is still a very fluid rumor with no confirmation by Universal, it is best to treat it as such and not jump to conclusions. An announcement might come as early as this week based on other's speculation but we have not heard any other such information.

*updated 12:30pm 9/8/2020 for clarity*

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