The Rumor Queue: Is Universal Orlando gearing up for Halloween Horror Nights lite this year?

by Tharin White

Universal Orlando confirmed on July 24 that Halloween Horror Nights was cancelled for 2020. But fans have held out hope that something would still happen. Recent rumors, permits, and audition call-backs seem to point to a smaller, modified offering. This will not be a Halloween Horror Nights 30 event reborn, but instead more like a taste of Halloween.

halloween horror nights

This smaller-scale offering is not yet confirmed by Universal Orlando, and nothing is set-in-(tomb)stone until they say so. Rumors originally spiked when the event was first cancelled, but it was mostly seen as a want from fans and not a true possibility. Shortly afterwards, though, Universal began to tease fans on the Halloween Horror Nights Twitter account:

This tweet got fans wondering what could possibly happen at the parks with social distancing intact. Could the 30th anniversary event still happen?

'Beetlejuice' And 'Halloween Favorites' Revealed Inside Halloween Horror Nights 2020 Tribute Store

Then came the final two rooms of the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store. These immensely detailed rooms harken back to past years of the event and showcase the film icon Beetlejuice.

Again, rumors of haunted houses or other speciality offerings outside of the merchandise and food seemed to have died. But building permits for houses re-ignited the spark.

Once again, we all began to think that, possibly, a version of Halloween Horror Nights could happen. These permits seem to show that four of the originally-planned 10 haunted houses could be near completion.

And today, Sept. 11, 2020 @SunshineFrights on Twitter noticed two metal frames were installed in places that we normally see entrance signage for Halloween Horror Nights houses.

halloween horror nights
The entrance to a haunted house from a past year’s Halloween Horror Nights.

Theses metal frames usually showcase the estimated wait time, a description of the house, and safety information.

If this framework is for a set of houses, what should we expect to happen to keep this mini-event safe? And what houses do we expect to have made it to this point?

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Here is what we know: the operating hours for Universal Studios Florida are a bit longer over the next two weekends. We also know that the metal frames have shown up in the park, and that Halloween Horror Nights has possibly been teasing something for weeks. We know permits have been filed that seem to relate to the event, and there has also been a temporary stage set up in the park, which you can see below.

universal orlando

We have heard Universal may be attempting to make a miniature horror event that comes as a premium to regular park guests. Rumors say this may run during normal operating hours, and not as a special post-park closure ticketed event. Rumors also seem to suggest that two houses will be offered at a time. This doesn’t mean additional houses weren’t completed or won’t be offered, but it could help the resort offer new things as the weeks go by. The two separately-placed metal frames seems to solidify this rumor.

While it hasn’t been confirmed, we strongly believe in order to visit the houses, guests would need advance reservations. It is also assumed guests would go through in smaller groups with their own party. This will allow for distancing with guests instead of the usual conga line-style that we are used to at the main event.

halloween horror nights
Speculation Map by @HNNightmares on Twitter. Not official.

Above is an original speculation map for the event prior to its cancellation. If this was correct, the metal frames could represent four different houses. These four houses are also owned by Universal and not an intellectual property that was allegedly acquired for the event, like Billie Eilish or “The Haunting of Hill House.” This would mean Universal could more easily use the properties without approval from other companies.

The letter “N” on the map is close to the location of the temporary stage setup. Perhaps this could be a socially-distant scare zone? This could stand as a sample for guests to see somewhat scary characters who encourage horror fans to get a pass to the two house offerings. Or maybe some sort of horror show?

halloween horror nights

Based on current rumors, it is likely that this mini-event will happen in some form, but Universal doesn’t want to rush it and will need to do some test-and-adjust to get it right.

But, like all editions of The Rumor Queue, none of this is confirmed and must be taken as speculation for now. Much can change, and while some things are out of Universal Orlando’s control, they appear to be working hard to make the best of it.

Do you think these rumors are possible? Or did you hear something different? How much would you pay to go through two houses?
Let us know in the comments below.


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Paschal September 11, 2020 - 6:47 pm

That Speculation Map looks tight!


Ed September 12, 2020 - 5:02 pm

I work there part time. Its happening. Two houses for sure. And they are dragging their feet on three more.

B September 13, 2020 - 10:46 am

Good for them… mayne I will purchase season passes afterall

Courtney September 13, 2020 - 2:24 am

Ughhh I hope so! I want Beetlejuice!

Charlene L Henry September 14, 2020 - 12:51 am

If it is happening, is it only for pass holders?

Matt Roseboom September 14, 2020 - 8:21 am

We don’t know, but probably not.


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