Universal's Recent Halloween Horror Nights Announcements May Be Signaling A Big Change In The Event, And I Couldn't Be Happier

 Dr. Oddfellow at 2023 Halloween Horror Nights.
Dr. Oddfellow at 2023 Halloween Horror Nights.

Yes, it’s only May, but if you’re a serious fan of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, then there are really only two seasons: HHN and “Waiting For HHN.” We’re still over three months away from the first night of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort, but the last few days have given us our first official announcements of the houses at the event. However, in a major change to previous practice, rather than focusing on a major licensed property, the first two announcements have been original concepts.

Over the weekend at the Spooky Empire convention, the first house of 2024 was announced: Slaughter Sinema 2, a drive-in theater set in HHN’s original location of Carey, Ohio. Then this morning, we got our second announcement: Goblin’s Feast, another completely original idea.

This marks a pretty significant shift to the way that Halloween Horror Nights has been promoted in the past. Usually, the first announcements that we get are attached to major horror IPs. In 2022, we got the announcement of a Chucky house the day after HHN ended for the year. Last year, the big reveal was The Last of Us. In the past, we’ve seen houses attached to Stranger Things and Ghostbusters be pushed as the major locations of the year.

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights Is Embracing Originality Over IP

There are always original houses, and many fans would claim that, more often than not, they’re the best ones built every year. Original concepts simply give more creative freedom than being kept inside an IP box might allow. But usually these original houses aren’t promoted until closer to the event, because to the average person, they don’t mean as much as something connected to The Exorcist or The Last of Us.

But honestly, it’s wonderful to see HHN selling their original ideas. In a theme park environment where Bob Iger has strongly indicated that original theme park attractions not inspired by movies or TV are a thing of the past at Disney Parks, it’s great to see Universal embracing its original creations.

Universal’s Horror Unleased Is Expected To Open In Las Vegas Next Year

One reason that Universal may be making a point to support its original ideas is that they will probably be a significant part of Universal Horror Unleashed, the new themed entertainment experience coming to Las Vegas. While we don’t know a great deal about what will be housed there, there’s a strong chance that original concepts will be a big part of it, if only because that will be cheaper to produce than having to license popular horror franchises long-term. By pushing these new ideas now, they become more familiar to guests when they open in Vegas later.

To be sure, we will almost certainly be getting some major licensed HHN houses, both at this year’s event and at the Horror Unleashed location. But considering how strong HHN’s original concepts have been in the past, it’s nice to see them getting their time in the spotlight.