What It's Really Like to Go Through Universal Orlando's New Socially Distanced Haunted Houses
Yes, they're still very scary!
The scare must go on.
Although Universal Orlando made the "painful" decision in July to cancel its wildly popular Halloween Horror Nights event due to COVID-19, fans can still experience two new haunted houses — ″Revenge of the Tooth Fairy″ and ″Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives″ — with pandemic precautions, of course.
The theme park typically draws thousands of visitors from around the world for its annual mix of movie set-worthy haunted houses (last year's event featured 10), roaming ″scare zones″ and nightly buildup to Halloween. This year's event is dramatically scaled down — the park is billing it as a ″seasonal experience" rather than Halloween Horror Nights — but the terror is still in effect.
(One bonus this year: Admission to the houses is included in a daytime theme park ticket, unlike the special ticket needed for Horror Nights in past years.)
To keep things safely scary, visitors move through the two houses in socially distanced groups — which heightens the horror because there are no startled strangers to take you out of the moment or give away what lies ahead.
Before entering, guests are given a squirt of hand sanitizer, a practice being done on all Universal attractions.
An additional adjustment is the addition of plastic barriers between guests and the "scareactors" who provide the biggest thrills. Scareactors — the term Universal Orlando uses for the performers who haunt the houses — have always been barred from making physical contact with guests, but the barriers add an additional layer of separation.
Another layer: All scareactors are required to wear face coverings under the often-gruesome masks that are part of their costumes. (All guests are also required to wear protective masks to visit the parks, but Halloween costume masks are barred.)
None of the new adjustments make the experience any less nightmarish. In ″Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives,″ guests watch as the iconic bride attempts to revive her true love in chilling (and bloody) fashion, and in ″Revenge of the Tooth Fairy," a grisly ritual lies beneath the sugary sweet childhood tale. (The park discourages guests under age 13 from visiting the houses.)
The two new haunted houses are open daily at Florida's Universal Studios from October 3 through November 1.