The ghouls and ghosts have gathered around the Florida theme parks because Halloween has officially arrived! And, it wouldn’t be spooky season without a few parties in the mix, now would it?
And, now there are TWO major Florida theme parks that have introduced their seasonal events, complete with haunted houses. So, the question is — how do SeaWorld Orlando’s Howl-O-Scream and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights compare to one another…JUST based on their houses this year? Well, let’s find out!
SeaWorld Orlando’s Howl-O-Scream
SeaWorld has been taken over by sirens during Halloween this year, so you’ll want to beware their call when you head to Howl-O-Scream! The siren theme had an overarching impact on SeaWorld’s featured houses, as everything was related to sea life, pirates, beach towns, and the like. There were only four houses at the event this year, but they took up about half of the park!
The decently-sized stretch of houses from the back of Wild Arctic to the shark tunnel by Mako made it extra fun, since guests would have to walk through scare zones in order to get to their destinations. There were jump scares throughout the featured houses, as the scare actors were placed in a few hiding spots to pop out at times!
Even though SeaWorld definitely took the time to build their event and did really well for their first year, the haunted houses definitely could use some work. We actually found it very hard to see in the houses, so we were either tripping over things or attempting to dodge bumping into items. While SeaWorld could adapt this issue throughout their event, modifying this problem would be the biggest change that the Howl-O-Scream houses would benefit from.
While the scares were definitely there, they were a bit on the predictable side. The houses were also not nearly as intricate or elaborate as others we have been to previously. The stories, costumes, and sets weren’t quite as intricate as those over at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights
It’s a bit hard to compare SeaWorld and Universal’s events, considering the fact that Halloween Horror Nights is celebrating 30 years of fears. And, we have to say that the 10 expansive houses featured this year were bigger and better than we imagined! The entirety of Universal Studios Florida was dedicated to the event, which meant there were very few places to hide from the scares.
While there were a few houses dedicated to intellectual properties like The Haunting of Hill House and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, most of the locations this year had original stories and icons. And, when it comes to Universal, those original narratives are hard for competitors to beat from the intense settings to the amazing scare actors that fully immerse you in each house. We could go on forever about how much detail goes into every part of Halloween Horror Nights, which is why it has become so world-renowned.
Still, it wouldn’t be a night of terror without the extra blood and gore that Halloween Horror Nights incorporated for its 30th anniversary. Universal made its event so terrifying because it added a layer of realism to situations that might just normally seem like nightmares. The houses also used a lot of hidden details from past events, attractions, and more. So, you can go through them multiple times and spot something new whenever you’re NOT getting your socks scared off.
Yet, Halloween Horror Nights even had a few of its own downfalls! It could actually be too intense and scary for some people, which many guests may not consider. Universal has also referenced the fact that there can be certain health and safety concerns during the event. So, if you have issues with darkness, claustrophobia, strobe lights, fog, loud noises, or gore, you’re going to want to sit Halloween Horror Nights out this year.
So, which should Halloween even should you go to? Well, that depends on what kind of haunted house you’re looking for!
If you’re traveling with younger kids or you don’t like being scared in general, then Howl-O-Scream might be the way to go for you. There are a few jump scares here and there, but the houses and scare zones aren’t overwhelmingly scary for the most part. Plus, SeaWorld also offers the option to purchases a “No Boo Necklace,” which guests can wear as a signal for scare actors not to engage with them. Howl-O-Scream is definitely a great starter event for those who aren’t sure if they like haunted houses or don’t know how much their party members can handle when it comes to scares.
Universal’s alloween Horror Nights is definitely aged up when it comes to its crowds. Universal advises against anyone under the age of 13 visiting the event, if that says anything. Halloween Horror Nights doesn’t skimp on the terror, making each year scarier and the houses gorier. So, if you’re wanting to experience houses that are both crafted extremely well and absolutely terrifying, then Universal’s event would be the better pick.
Whatever choice you make depending on your party’s needs, get ready to have a blast this Halloween in the theme parks! And, as more Halloween happenings take place soon, we’ll be sure to give you a first look at everything you need to know before you go. Stay tuned with All Ears for the latest Disney entertainment and news coming soon!
Will you be going to any theme parks for Halloween? Let us know in the comments below!
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Disclosure: We were invited by both SeaWorld and Universal to attend media previews for their new Halloween events. This did not affect our reporting of the event — our opinions are our own