Your guide to the creepiest, cleverest, & scariest haunted houses at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights

The screams have returned to Universal Orlando Resort. The resort's annual transformation from family-friendly destination to enormous house of horrors includes a fresh crop of 10 new haunted houses for 2018's Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). With so many attractions, it can be tough to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for AAA members to pick their poison. Whether you’re looking to be creeped out, experiment outside the classic tropes, or just be scared witless, Halloween Horror Nights has something lurking in store for you.
The most innovative houses

Winner – Stranger Things

Stranger Things, this year's marquee maze, faithfully follows the storyline of the Netflix series, but it's the innovations along the way that really sell the experience. Impressively realized set pieces will be sure to please fans with touches like Jonathan Byers' radio playing The Clash, or ash falling in the Upside Down. In another innovation, many of the "scareactors" aren't enemies. Maybe one of the kids pops out unexpectedly, looking for a friend, or maybe Sheriff Hopper thinks you're getting in the way and has had enough. The costume work is also exemplary, as seen in the high-quality hazmat suits that glow blue from the inside, and of course the Demogorgon, which is fully realized with moving parts rather than just being a costume.
The Demogorgon in the Stranger Things haunted house

Runner-up – Slaughter Sinema

Fans of exploitation B-movies from the 1950s and '60s will love Slaughter Sinema. The haunted house leads its victims through a lineup of demonic bikers, female cannibals from outer space, a cult worshiping an evil baby, and many more. It's a welcome break from the more standard fare, with the scares balanced out by the hilarity of some of the settings (really, what is a "swamp yeti"?). Each section is introduced by a tongue-in-cheek movie poster, and each is short enough that it doesn't wear out its premise before moving on to the next ridiculous theme.
A creature in the Slaughter Sinema haunted house
The creepiest houses

Winner – Poltergeist

Released in 1982, Poltergeist set a new standard for paranormal thrillers, and Universal's Poltergeist maze does the same at this year's Halloween Horror Nights. Unlike the movie, it's not a slow burn—visitors begin their journey by dodging reanimated corpses in the graveyard beneath the Freeling family home. Still, the overpowering creep factor remains thanks to impressive animatronic work on the house's demonic characters. Fans of the horror classic will likely be impressed by the deeply unsettling "Beast," while newcomers should take warning: It's exactly as creepy as it sounds. The lanky-limbed clown doll from the film also features prominently, growing more malevolent with every appearance.
A scareactor in the Poltergeist haunted house

Runner-up – Trick 'r Treat

Modern cult horror classic Trick 'r Treat comes to life in Universal's haunted house adaptation, and there's not one comfortable spot in the whole thing. The film's recurring antagonist, the burlap sack-masked Sam, doesn't take kindly to people ignoring Halloween traditions, and the house is a tour of the grotesque things he and his helpers do to Halloween skeptics. The scareactors here are especially on point, whether they're the murderous principal or the jumpy, paranoid Mr. Kreeg, who knows that something terrible from his past is coming for him.
The antagonist Sam in the Trick r Treat haunted house
The scariest houses

Winner – Seeds of Extinction

2018's scariest house scares on two different levels. The first is practical: The house takes place after a meteor impact drives humans extinct and predatory plants reign supreme. In this unfamiliar environment, how do you know what's dangerous and what isn't? Some plants are just pretty decorations, while others are flesh-hungry carnivores in disguise. Without the usual cues, visitors are left totally vulnerable to their surroundings.

The other scare factor is existential. Among the overgrown remains of convenience stores, nursery schools, and even an airplane, the house makes it abundantly clear that humans aren't in charge of Earth anymore. And how much mercy can people really expect on a post-people Earth?

Runner-up – Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers

Like past mazes based on the Halloween franchise, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is laser-focused on the knife-wielding murderer. Why is this house scary? You’ll have to dodge Michael Myers in his signature jumpsuit and mask as he tries to stab you, leaping from behind doors, through windows, from every conceivable angle. In some spots, you may see him up ahead and think you've got a breather—only to discover that he can be in more than one place at a time. There aren’t many things scarier than knowing this white-masked slasher is almost certainly lurking around the next corner watching your every move.
Michael Myers in the Halloween 4 haunted house
Halloween Horror Nights wordmark
Ready to feel the fear in person?
AAA members can save on Halloween Horror Nights Flex Sunday–Thursday tickets when they buy online through AAA. Flex Sunday–Thursday tickets allow guests the flexibility to visit the event on any one Sunday-Thursday date through November 1.