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Halloween Horror Nights

"Man, you shouldn't be out here. With Doc Oc on the loose this could be the most dangerous night of my life -- and yours. Be careful!" -- The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man --

You knew it was just a matter of time, right? While Universal Studios Florida has been an awesome home for Florida's finest fright fest over the years, late night chills and Islands of Adventure thrills were a match made in heaven.

So it went, that Universal's eerie Halloween Horror Nights moved to Islands of Adventure for the 2002 season. This year, even more of the haunted mazes and all the madness that Halloween Horror Nights aspire to wreak will take place on October 3-5,10-12, 15-19, 22-26, 28-31, & Nov. 1, 2003. Islands of Adventure will close at 5:30pm on those nights. An hour and a half later, once everyone has been cleared out and terror tapped in, Halloween Horror Nights XIII opens. On peak Friday and Saturday nights the frights will continue until 2am. It will run from 7pm to midnight the other dates.

Tickets? You need them. This is not included with your park's stay. It is a separate hard ticket event, and peak periods may sell out. You can buy tickets at the gate or in advance through Ticketmaster, area Spencer Gifts stores or online. It's not cheap. $51.95 a head during the peak weekend nights. However, you can upgrade your day ticket at the park for as little as $21.95 during the non-peak days.

Costumes? Don't wear them. They are strictly for the scare actors. However, if you want to make it an Islands of Adventure Halloween, check out these costumes.

Okay, as far as what will be open, the attraction listings only had two closures last year -- Pteranadon Flyers and Triceratops Encounter. In other words, all of the major attractions will be running alongside the various haunted house mazes scattered through the park.

One question that is all too common with families is whether young children should attend. Let's be frank. This isn't some low-tech puppet on a string or a scare actor with a sheet on yelling "Boo!" This is the real deal in terms of shock value. It's all make-believe, but will your child be strong enough to laugh off the fake gore and spooks at every corner? Many children can, but you know your own children the best.

As for getting ready for the big event, horror and Islands of Adventure already have a place in movie history. It was The Incredible Hulk roller coaster that served as the opening scare sequence in House on Haunted Hill. The segment was filmed just as the park was set to open back in 1999 and, heck, the DVD is now just $13.48 at Amazon, so it's worth picking one up just to get in the right IOA fright mode!

Since this is an all-night affair, one big tip is to consider staying at one of the park's three on-site resorts. From the Italian elegance of the Portofino Bay Hotel to the hip style of the Hard Rock Hotel to the value-fueled Polynesian experience at the new Royal Pacific Resort staying within walking distance -- or a short complimentary boat ride -- will be a major benefit when it's time to head out at 2am. Just click on any of the three links to find more about each of the three on-site resorts along with rates and availability.

While the buzz is building on what each maze will include, we will all find out for sure come October. So, share your thoughts and post your HHN reviews on our message board area. Don't worry, we won't spook you there!

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