If you’re a die-hard fan of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights annual events, you’ve probably heard the terms haunted “houses” and “mazes” used to describe the same thing. The main attractions at Halloween Horror Nights have been referred to as “houses” at Universal Studios Florida, and “mazes” at Universal Studios Hollywood. Although there doesn’t seem to be any specific reason for the interchanging names, it looks like that difference will no longer exist moving forward.
It is admittedly something the general public doesn’t care about or probably even know about. We’re getting into some minutia here. But the recent change was a big enough deal for Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights creative director, John Murdy, to take to Twitter, writing,
“I think it’s only appropriate to take a moment of silence to mark the passing of the term “maze” from the lexicon of HHN at USH. They shall hence forward be known as ‘houses’ in the vernacular of HHN at UO.”
Although I’m sure this was written partially in jest, it is also a notable change, breaking years of tradition.
If I were the person making the decision about which term to use, I would choose “houses” as well. Even though I’ve been used to the term “maze” ever since I was first introduced to Halloween Horror Nights in 2006, it honestly never felt right to me. Mostly because these haunted attractions aren’t mazes.
According to Oxford Languages, the definition of a maze is, “a network of paths and hedges designed as a puzzle through which one has to find a way.” Therefore, the Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood “mazes” were never really mazes. In general, there isn’t a decision to be made about which way to turn. There is one trail to follow heading in one direction. I think it would be fun to experience a legitimate haunted maze at the event, but that would understandably be a logistical nightmare getting guests through at a rapid pace while trying to find the way out.
To be fair, the word “house” isn’t exactly a perfect fit either, since they’re not really houses. But the title of “haunted house” has been used since The Great Depression. For that reason, I tend to accept the phrase “haunted house” more than I do “haunted maze.”
Now if you want to get super nerdy here for a moment (thanks for indulging me), I personally believe the best term would be “haunted path.” The haunted attractions at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights are indeed, “a way or track laid down for walking.”
Which term do you feel is most fitting for the Halloween Horror Nights; house, maze, or something else? Leave a comment and let me know.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your FREE gifts of “America’s Hidden Mickeys,” “On the Rohde Again,” “Theme Park Comfort Kit” and more at DizneyCoastToCoast.com. DePaoli’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily represent Attractions Magazine.