The scariest thing about Halloween Horror Nights isn’t the mazes — it’s the long lines!

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood is one of the most popular Halloween events in the country. Every year on select nights from September to November, the event attracts hundreds of thousands of guests to Universal Studios looking to experience the spine-chilling mazes, terror tram, live show, and scare zones.

No crowds on the final night of HHN in November. JonathanGreen85

It’s one of the most immersive Halloween events at any theme park, but what about the crowds? While Halloween Horror Nights may be best known for its movie and television-themed attractions, it’s also known for its sometimes ridiculously long lines. In fact, the event tends to be more crowded than Knott’s Scary Farm and Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland.

Even still, Halloween Horror Nights doesn’t have to be a miserably crowded experience. If you go on the right night, it’s still possible to enjoy manageable crowds and shorter lines.

Here are the Best and Worst Dates to Visit Halloween Horror Nights 2023:

Best & Worst DatesCrowd Forecast
BEST DATES* Universal Express shouldn't be necessary on these nights
September 7Early in the season is the best time to go. Check Calendar for best dates
September 8
September 10
September 14
September 17
September 21
September 24
September 28
October 4-5
October 11
October 18
October 25-26
October 29
October 31The last HHN dates are historically manageable
WORST DATES* Universal Express is highly recommended on these nights
October 7Mid-October is the worst time to go. Check Calendar for best dates
October 13
October 14
October 20
October 21

Halloween Horror Nights Crowd Calendar

Here’s the best general advice on when to go:

  • Go in September (Thursdays are best)
  • Go in November
  • Avoid Fridays and Saturdays in October
  • If you must go in October, go early in the month. Thursdays and Sundays are less crowded

Check the Crowd Calendar to find out if Universal Express is worth purchasing or not. It’s a must on “Forget About It” dates and recommended on “Yup, It’s Packed” dates. You can probably get away without it on “Hey, It’s Alright” days.

Tips for Shorter Lines

It’s no secret that the worst part about Halloween Horror Nights is the long lines. It’s the biggest complaint we hear from the event’s guests every year. On some nights, long wait times make it simply impossible to complete the entire park if you don’t plan ahead. Besides going on a good date, here are some other important things to keep in mind no matter what night you go on:

1. Arrive early! (seriously)

We can’t stress enough how important it is to arrive at Halloween Horror Nights early. We recommend arriving by 4:00pm to beat the traffic and have enough time to park.

Be prepared for long lines like these at the entrance for HHN. bethmv

Then be sure to take advantage of Early Entry! While the event officially starts at 7:00pm, the park opens early at 5:00pm and select mazes open as early as 5:15pm. Early Entry is included free for all online ticket purchases, including general admission.

On peak nights, Early Entry is the only way to get everything done without Universal Express or R.I.P. Tour tickets from our experience, so don’t miss it!

2. Buy your tickets online

Tickets and passes sell out frequently, especially in October, so be sure to buy your tickets early and in advance online. Purchasing ahead of time guarantees you admission on sold out nights, saves you from the hassle of waiting to buy tickets at the front gate, and grants you Early Entry. It’s a no-brainer. Just don’t forget to print your tickets out in advance or have them ready to be scanned from your mobile device.

3. Universal Express is usually worth it

We think Universal Express tickets (formerly Front of Line) are usually worth splurging for on Friday and Saturday nights, especially in October. Universal Express includes admission to Halloween Horror Nights and one-time express access to each maze, ride, and seated show.

Universal also offers the pricier R.I.P. Tour, which includes Universal Express Unlimited access to mazes and rides (express access as many times as you want), a guided VIP walking tour, and more.

Crowds/Wait Times

For the shortest waits of the season, go in September or November. Attendance at Halloween Horror Nights historically picks up in October and peaks around mid-October.

Thursdays in September are usually some of the least crowded nights of the season, with 30-60min waits on average. Fridays and Saturdays in September tend to be more crowded (around 60min waits), but are still more manageable than later in the season.

In October, try to go early in the month and aim for Sundays or Thursdays. If you visit on a peak night (Friday or Saturday), be prepared for the longest lines of the season (1-2 hour waits is the norm for mazes).

Typical wait times on a Saturday night in October. LDD432

By late October and early November, the big crowds die down significantly. Around 30min waits is the norm during the final Halloween Horror Nights dates in November.

For crowd predictions of all Halloween Horror Nights dates, be sure to check out the Universal Studios Hollywood Crowd Calendar.

Have you been to Halloween Horror Nights? What was your experience like? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

Image: HorrorNights

Halloween Horror Nights Crowd Calendar

  1. September is my favorite time to go! You can get all the mazes done no problem and even go multiple times. November is also great, there are no lines sometimes on the last days.

  2. Great tips! We always get the Front of Line passes so we can skip all the lines. It’s a must!

  3. Go in November, it’s always empty.

  4. Agreed, November is the best time to go by far.

  5. Early Entry is amazing. A lot of people don’t take advantage of it because they think you have to have Front of Line or pay extra. It’s free for everyone! If you show up at 7:00pm, you already just wasted 1-2 hours just trying to enter the park.

  6. September is great, relatively short lines and you can get everything done.

  7. Very crowded on Saturday nights! Not worth going.

  8. Early Entry is great! Thursdays are also not very crowded at all. We went last night and all the lines were less than 30min.

  9. Every line is at least one hour long on Fridays and Saturdays in October.

Leave a Reply