The year 2020 could be its own horror show complete with a pandemic, people in critical care in hospitals, fights breaking out in stores and restaurants over the face mask debate, and one of the worst hurricane seasons we have seen in a number of years. Major annual events have been canceled, usually packed tourist destinations have become relative ghost towns and vacations have been put on hold indefinitely. Among those annual events/tourist destinations that have been affected by COVID-19 is Universal Orlando Resorts' yearly scare-fest, Halloween Horror Nights.
In what was assuredly going to be their biggest and best year yet - the 30th anniversary - Universal had to cancel HHN 2020 as fears of coronavirus contamination became much scarier than any haunted house the theme park could have come up with. However, not wanting to disappoint fans, some of whom have gone to most if not all previous 29 years, once the parks reopened, Universal announced they have taken precautions to open two of the dozen or so houses they had originally planned for this year. Revenge of the Tooth Fairy and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives have been retrofitted with plexiglass and plastic sheeting so park guests can enjoy some of the Halloween experiences they have come to know and love year after year.
While very different than in years past, these glimpses into "what might have been" still offer some scares, maybe even more so since, due to social distancing rules, guests are not packed in like sardines in a single file line. Because of this, they can't necessarily see what scares are lurking around the corner whereas, in the past, it was easy to preview what was coming next. This makes walking through these houses even scarier, even with the plexiglass and plastic curtains.
Of the two houses, Revenge of the Tooth Fairy is definitely the scarier one but both houses still offer that same craftsmanship and attention to detail we have now come to expect. Sadly, they also make fans long for the pre-COVID years, when one could spend multiple evenings going through the scare zones and houses that were painstakingly created. Unlike in past years, the haunted houses ("HHN Lite" as it is being dubbed by some) are included in the price of regular park admission and offer the virtual line utilized on some of their permanent attractions. Of course, there is also plenty of merchandise to purchase at the expanded HHN tribute store.
Halloween Horror Nights has become one of my favorite and most anticipated events of the year, so I was amongst those who were disappointed with its cancellation, especially because it was the 30th year. These two houses give a little of that back to help everyone get into the Halloween spirit during these trying times. I only hope when things return to normal, HHN will be even bigger and better than before. I also suggest Universal Resorts look into the idea of calling the next full HHN…Halloween Horror Nights 30th anniversary, Part Deux.