Scare scale: An inside look at Halloween Horror Nights houses 2019

News 6 team takes stab at this year's mixtape of horror

News 6 breaks down the houses and mazes at Universal's Halloween Horror Nights.

ORLANDO, Fla – Universal Orlando Resort is welcoming back its annual event, Halloween Horror Nights, and the News 6 team is taking a stab at it to see if this year lived up to the Halloween hype.

This year's event is a bloody good 80s arcade mixtape 

The ever-popular fall tradition for thousands of people around the world is now in year 29 and is unleashing some of the biggest names in horror through 10 terrifying haunted houses, two shows and five sinister scare zones. 

"This year's event is sure to be a totally terrifying good time. We transform the entire Universal Studio's theme park from daytime thrills to nighttime chills. We are bringing the biggest names in horror and pop culture to life allowing our guests to come face to face with what really scares them," Universal leaders said during the opening night event.

News 6 producer Landon McReynolds and morning reporter Ezzy Castro returned for a second round of fear and got an inside look at this year's event.

See their rankings and highlights below.

Haunted Houses: 


Landon's ranking: No. 2 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 1

HHN returns to Universal Orlando.

Who are you gonna call?

For the first time, fans of the 1984 Sony classic "Ghostbusters" will get to venture through their favorite scenes at this year's Halloween Horror Nights.

Castro said she didn't want to give too much away but said even though this movie is a comedy, you will jump! Also, she said get ready to smell some delicious marshmallows.

"We have Janine and all your favorite characters from 'Ghostbusters,' plus all the ghosts you want to experience too. Guess what? We even have the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man," said Charles Gray, Universal writer and show director. 

McReynolds said the house was not technically scary, but brought a ton of smiles to his face. He said that the house was overall amazing, and to be on the lookout for Slimer.

'Stranger Things'

Landon's ranking: No. 7 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 4

Warning: Video below contains adult language 

HHN returns to Universal Orlando.

For the second year in a row, the '80s will return in a new "Stranger Things" maze that will take braves souls further into the chilling world of the Upside Down. Guests will come face to face with demodogs and even get a peak at the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor from season 3.

"Stranger Things" star Priah Ferguson, who plays Lucas' younger sister, Erica, stopped by Universal on Friday to walk through the maze. "I was scared! I love the detail they put into this 'Stranger Things' haunted house. I think you guys will really enjoy it," she told the media.

Universal said this year's maze will pick up right where last year's maze ended. 

"We are going to be dropping some massive spoilers and by that, the largest creature ever created in season 3," said Patrick Braillard, entertainment creative development show director.

You'll probably wait in line for this one. From the moment you enter "Stranger Things," you're immersed into a world that is taken over by elements of the Upside Down. There's more action and more surprises, and just wait for that big surprise at the end, said Castro.

The maze could have used just a few more scares, but having watched both season 2 and season 3 recently, this was just cool to see. This house gets some extra points from me for the "Neverending Story" music playing as you walk out the exit door, said McReynolds.

'House of 1000 Corpses'

Landon's ranking: No. 8 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 7

Universal Orlando is opening the door to Rob Zombie's horror cult classic "House of 1000 Corpses."

“You will see if we have 1,000 corpses inside, which we do. It is gross, aggressive and really bloody,” said Braillard.

The maze will have guests entering the 2003 movie's offbeat roadside tourist attraction, Captain Spaulding's Museum of Monsters and Madmen, and entering the chaotic home of the Firefly family, a group of infamous serial killers.

This was the first house we stepped into. McReynolds hates to say it, but he's never seen this movie. From the outside it looks like a carnival fun house, but inside, it's a mad men freak show, McReynolds said.

Castro said if you love Rob Zombie's work, you will love this house. Get ready for some dead bodies and blood. Just like the movie, "This can't be real, this can't be real!”

'Graveyard Games'

Landon's ranking: No. 1 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 3

The original concept house will transport guests into the Ascension Parish cemetery. You will come face to face with dark mausoleums, coffin piles, and spirits that are out for revenge after two teens have awakened them. Guests should be prepared, or they will come to a "dead" end, Universal said on its blog.

"This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful houses we have ever created, but inside this Louisiana cemetery are some of the most vicious ghosts you have ever encountered. Leading the way is the glowing mother, " said Gray.

McReynolds said he jumped within the first 60 seconds, and it didn't stop there. The house was fantastic and the level of detail was incredible. Everyone has to walk through this house before you leave the park.

This house also came in near the top of the list for Castro.

She said the house offers scares and screams while walking around the cemetery. She also said those trespassing should expect everything in this house to come to life, and not in a good way.


Landon's ranking: No. 5 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 2

The smash hit from the twisted mind of award-winning film director Jordan Peele has made its iconic debut at Halloween Horror Nights. 

The story is about Adelaide Wilson and her family, who return to a beachfront home where she grew up as a child. Haunted by her past, horrifying things unfold as four masked strangers show up at her family's home, forcing them to fight to survive. To make matters worse, things take a disturbing turn when the masked strangers turn out to be doppelgängers of each of the family members.

Guests will try to escape through the mirror maze, the family home, and even the dark tunnels where the doppelgängers, known as "the tethered," live.

Castro explained that she had never seen the movie "Us." However, the staff at Universal did a great job explaining what it was about and how they were able to create this haunted house. She rated it No. 2 because It got her scared the most.

Universal tour guides said Peele stopped by the maze while in development to make sure it lived up to his expectations. 

This house totally lived up to the movie. From one room to another, you felt like you were watching the film come to life. The scare actors inside were just creepy, with the stares and smiles as you walked by. It had its scary moments, McReynolds said.

'Killer Klowns From Outer Space'

Landon's ranking: No. 10 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 8

The popular 1980s "Killer Klowns from Outer Space" are back for a sequel!

The cult favorite was featured as a scare zone in 2018 and has now been transformed into an all-new haunted house featuring new and old clowns, including a rare appearance from Klownzilla.

Universal said guests will be transported to the sleepy town of Crescent Cove, which has been taken over by a pack of murderous clown-like creatures. Once inside, guests will hear the screams and cries of people trying to escape the crazed clowns and their sinister, side-splitting antics.

During the opening night of the event, the Chiodo brothers, the creators of "Killer Klowns from Outer Space", stopped by to express their excitement for Universal bringing the film to life in a whole new way.

"It's a dream come true! After 31 years, you would think there would be an audience to allow this to happen, and we're really so excited. We thought clowns were the scariest things 30 years ago, and its so great to see a lot of people agree. People are standing in line to be scared by our clowns" said Charles, Stephen, and Edward Chiodo at the opening press event.

Castro and McReynolds both agreed that the house was not scary but a ton of fun to go through. 

Not a lot of screaming in this one, Castro explained. She says she kept a smile on and laughed a lot while saying "clowns are meant to be funny, right?"

'Universal Monsters'

Landon's ranking: No. 4 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 6

The Wolfman, Dracula, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Mummy and even Frankenstein and his bride are all coming out of the shadows in an all-new maze. Universal said its monsters are ready to unleash havoc, tear something apart and take anything away in their path, which could be you. 

At every twist and turn, you'll find yourself face to face with the very monsters you grew up to love and fear, said Castro.

"Universal has always been the home of the monster movie, and this year is our love letter to the Universal monsters. We invented the horror genre, and this year was our opportunity to tell in part an anthology film staring all the monsters," said Patrick Braillard, show director.

For a fan of all these monsters, and just the Universal horror legacy, this was an awesome maze. It truly screams Halloween, and is a must do during the event, McReynolds said.

'Nightingales Blood Pit'

Landon's ranking: No. 9 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 9

Ancient Rome is falling into ruins. Blood seeps deep into the ground, and a horrifying new evil has come-- The Nightingales. Universal calls them a grisly race of creatures that have been here since the dawn of time. Guests will try to survive alongside gladiators, but the evil lurks around every corner.

This is not the first time guests have experienced this type of evil.

In 2011, Halloween Horror Nights brought to life "Nightingales: Blood Prey."

The same creatures fed on the sick and dying soldiers during World War I.

"Due to the success of those creatures in 2011, we decided to re-imagine them in prehistory. It's 117 A.D. There has been a drought for 150 days, and the emperor has decreed that the gladiatorial games will continue until the blood soaks into the ground enough to bring the rain. The smell of that blood entices the Nightingales to show up" said Braillard.

Castro commented that this was one of the last houses she walked through. She said this maze will make you want to walk as fast as you can.

Every twist and turn is tight, and it's a bit dark at times. This one fell short of some expectations, McReynolds explained. He says he probably needs to walk through it again to appreciate it more.

'Yeti: Terror of the Yukon'

Landon's ranking: No. 3 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 5

Get ready to freeze in fear as the Yeti terrorizes the Canadian tundra. 

Loggers and campers are trying to seek refuge from a blizzard.

As the conditions worsen, guests find out they're not alone. 

Castro said this is a nice house to cool off in for the night! Guests know there will be a yeti coming after you at some point, but don't get too comfortable. She says she remembers jumping a couple of times in this one.

Universal described the house as a remote camp that's been torn apart; floors are caked with snow, bones and gore. The screams of those who did not survive the towering monsters are also heard lurking in the background.

Image by: Universal Orlando Resort

McReynolds described the house as being detailed. It's snowing everywhere. Just as you think you're about to be safe, you take another turn, and boom, there is another yeti. Be warned these monsters are not just coming at you from the sides, but maybe from above.

'Depths of Fear'

Landon's ranking: No. 6 | Ezzy's ranking: No. 10

Get ready to dive into a deep-sea mining company that has been infested by parasitic "mouthbrooders." 

Guests will try to escape the horror as the creatures spew their acidic flesh-eating eggs upon humans inside. Most people trying to escape the watery grave will face the infected who are driven into madness. As pressure begins to build, an implosion awaits, and the time is ticking for you to get out alive.

McReynolds said that this one was tough to rank. He really liked the idea of going deep into an underwater mine with an alarm blaring as a warning to escape in time. The "mouthbrooder" creatures looked like giant fish, and the level of detail in the mine was very cool. One spot that stood out was an uphill tunnel walkway with iron pipping lining one side. Water appeared to be flowing downstream deeper into the tunnel from one pipe to another.

Coming at the bottom of the list for Castro, she said it was wet and loud inside the house. She said she remembers seeing a couple of gory things in there, so get ready.

Complete Rankings:

Ezzy's Favorite houses: 

  • Ghostbusters
  • Us
  • Graveyard Games
  • Stranger Things
  • Yeti: Terror of the Yukon
  • Universal Monsters
  • House of 1000 Corpses
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space
  • Nightingales Blood Pit
  • Depths of Fear
  • Landon's Favorite houses: 

  • Graveyard Games
  • Ghostbusters
  • Yeti: Terror of the Yukon
  • Universal Monsters
  • Us
  • Depths of Fear
  • Stranger Things
  • House of 1000 Corpses
  • Nightingales Blood Pit
  • Killer Klowns from Outer Space
  • Halloween Horror Nights live entertainment:

    Marathon of Mayhem

    HHN returns to Universal Orlando.

    New for 2019, Universal welcomes in "Marathon of Mayhem".

    The show is one of the most amazing things we have ever created at Halloween Horror Nights, It is a must-see at our lagoon's edge. Lasers, projections -- it is all the most horrific icons, of horror nights all in one " said Laura Sauls, manager of creative development at Universal Orlando.

    The show feature giant water screens, more than 100 fountains, lasers, electro-music and awesome special effects.

    You could think of this show as a mixtape highlight reel of some of this year's houses, said McReynolds.

    The new show will run each event night at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and midnight.

    Academy of Villains: Altered States

    Check out the Academy of Villains at Halloween Horror Nights.

    Back for its fourth year, Academy of Villains takes over the "Fear Factor" stage near the "Men in Black" attraction near the back of the park.

    This year's killer powerhouse show takes a dark steampunk-style approach.

    In the show's intro it explains that a scientist's city is sick, and in his efforts to make things better, he's only made things worse. In fact, he's unleashed an evil monster that lives inside himself.

    "Academy of Villains: Altered States brings dance, theatrics, lights and pulse-pounding music together," said Sauls.


    The show runs nightly during the event, and times can be found in a park event map or the Universal Orlando app.

    Scare zones: 

    Along with the houses and live entertainment, five scare zones will take over the streets of the park.

    Click here for a complete breakdown.

    Map and locations 


    Made with Visme Infographic Maker

    Halloween Horror Nights mobile game: 'Terror Trivia'

    New for this year, Universal Orlando has launched a mobile game that will test your knowledge before the chills even arrive.

    Universal Orlando

    Handheld horror is packed right inside the Official Universal Orlando Resort App, and will allow you to kill time in line while also earning points along the way, Universal describes on their website. 

    Features include: 

    • Terror Trivia: 13 multiple-choice levels 
    • Production DIE-ries: a look behind the scenes of the houses
    • Event Achievements: special QR codes bring extra badges, points and surprises
    • The Arcade: unlock exclusive '80s-inspired mobile arcade games

    The app is free to download.

    Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights Sept. 6 to Nov. 2.

    Don't press fast-forward on this year's premiere Halloween event.

    Click here for tickets and hotel packages.


    About the Author:

    Landon joined News 6 in 2017. He grew up in Southern Illinois and graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelors degree in TV and digital media. When he is not at work you can catch him at one of Orlando's theme parks or the beach. Before working at News 6 he worked for stations in Miami and Fort Myers.