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Arsik_22

Orlando Trip Questions

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Hello everyone! First off, if I posted this question in the wrong area please feel free to move it/delete it so I can post it in the appropriate section. I've been going to HHN Hollywood for 8 years, and this year I'm finally making a trip over to check out Orlando's event! I'm beyond excited, and I'd really appreciate suggestions and advice for a couple things since I know many of you have been attending the event for years and know the area very well.

We most likely are leaving LA Tues. morning on Sept. 16, to wander Orlando and just relax that night. Then plan to do a daytime visit to Universal on Wed. and then Islands of Adventure Thursday. To end the trip with a bang, we'll be doing HHN on Friday.

  • I'll definitely be paying for the Express pass for Horror nights, will the 6:30-12:00 be enough time to do all the mazes & see at least 1 or 2 shows? Is opening night usually extremely busy, or does it get busier as the weeks pass? And even with the Front of the Line, I'd like to get through a few mazes without using the pass so then we can go back and use it later on to get 2 walkthroughs. Any advice on which maze venues to go to first?

  • Park hours are from 9:00am - 7:00pm, do you guys think it will be very busy during those days? If we start right when the park opens, we most likely can finish all of the main attractions right? I just want to make sure since my girlfriend has never been to Orlando, so I want her to have the best trip possible.

  • Food: Any recommend places to eat in both parks & any restaurants outside of the park in the area?

  • Hotel: I know this isn't a good question for the locals, but for any of you who travel to Orlando every year, are there any hotels you would recommend that are close to Universal? My girlfriend and I would prefer to spend less than $80 a night if possible ($60 a night would be even better), since we won't be spending much time there.

I apologize for so many questions! I know no matter what this is going to be a fun trip, but I figured it's better to get some tips from the pros. :P Any advice is much appreciated , thanks so much ! :D

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Warning: Novel, incoming...

A lot of your questions really depend on what specific date you're wanting to go. For example, my husband and I went to HHN last year for our honeymoon. We bought the Rush Of Fear passes (which I HIGHLY recommend if you're going to be in town during those first 3 weeks). We got to Orlando on Wednesday and did the regular park things during the day followed by HHN on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. This was ideal because having all 3 nights covered on the Rush Of Fear, we didn't have to worry about rushing and were able to experience everything without any stress or any worry of missing anything. We only did 2 to 3 houses per night but that still gave us plenty of time to see all the shows, ride a few rides, enjoy dinner at Finnegan's (where we got engaged exactly one year earlier) and experience all of the sights of the evening. The reassurance of knowing we had 3 nights to cover the park, we weren't so stressed about having to wait a little extra time for one house, because we knew we would get to everything regardless of the wait times. The earlier in the season, the slower the crowds tend to be, but I'm not 100% sure on if opening night still fits that pattern.

The day time is a little harder to give a 100% answer because a lot of it depends on what day of the week. That being said, when we went, Thursday was the slowest day and we probably could have done most everything that would interest us (in both parks) that day, but again, it was our honeymoon so we were relaxing and taking our time. We easily accomplished everything we wanted to in the 3 days we had though. Actually, we did our favorites all 3 days with very little wait for anything. I'm pretty sure the longest waits we had were for soda refills. From what I've always seen, the Halloween time is not a busy time of year other than for the Halloween Horror Nights events.

Hotels, everyone has different preferences. I personally am not a picky person. I've stayed in some really nice hotels ($150+ a night with all the extras) and some really awful hotels ($25 a night with no sheets on the bed). I want a hotel for a bed and a shower. I don't need extra ammenities. I don't need breakfast. I don't need a spa in the hotel. I don't need a mini-bar. I just want a clean bed and a place to shower after the parks. You have beds with no bugs and a shower that works? I'm sold. You have a coffee maker in the room? I'm beyond happy. Given that, Hubby and I have stayed at the EconoLodge on International twice now. Once for Halloween Horror Nights and once during Spring Break. Both times they met our expectations and then some. The staff were all very nice, the rooms were clean and they had everything I needed. They were more than happy to give us a fair share of coffee packets without giving us any flack for asking. They are only a 5 minute drive from the park, close to a ton of restaurants on International Drive, and are around $40 a night. Hard to beat, IMO.

Hope that helped.

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When I go to Horror Nights, I wait in the park after everyone leaves. If you have the hhn add on to your normal ticket, you just wait in the park. There are two holding areas to wait in, one by Finnegans and one by ET. I wait in the one by ET, and I'm able to get the parade building house, both tents, Disaster queue, and at least one sound stage house done before the lines get above thirty minutes.

Following this plan, I've been able to get every house done in a night.

Edited by coleman2122
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The last few times we've traveled down to HHN we stayed at the Doubletree at the entrance to Universal Orlando. The hotel is around $100 (only slightly over your budget) a night and is walking distance to the park (assuming you are in relatively decent health). I prefer to have the room close by so that we don't have to drink and drive or have to pay for a cab. Obviously if you don't drink, there are a ton of hotels all over that area for less money.

Another benefit of staying at that hotel is that there is a Golden Corral more or less sharing the parking lot with it. We don't have them around where I live, so we always hit that decently priced buffet at least once or twice while we are there. If you like steak and are willing to spend some cash, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Vito's Chophouse or Charley's Steakhouse are all very good and aren't too far away (all under 10 minute drives) from that general area. Generally at the end of every night that we do HHN, we end up buying a couple of the big turkey drumsticks they sell at stands they have set up all over the park. They also sell twisted taters (see here http://d2eu5panhhlmd4.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/HHN_Snacks_TwistedTaters.jpg ) which come in different flavors and are very tasty.

As far as the park during the daytime, it hasn't been that busy around that time of the year when we've gone. The exception for us was when they first opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. That area was fairly packed compared to the rest of the park.

Make sure you definitely get the express tickets. We always do, and there have been plenty of times when we don't get to see every house each night. The 1st Friday isn't as busy as the middle of October though. We always enter the park later too. Personally, I prefer to wait until it gets dark before I begin entering the houses. Unless you have plans for Thursday evening already, you should just buy the Rush of Fear pass w/express and go 2 nights. That way, you'll definitely have time to do all the houses and get to see the shows as well. I assure you, you won't regret it.

Edited by ThNdIzNiR
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As far as hotels go, my wife and I stayed here:

Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Orlando International Drive

7975 Canada Avenue, Orlando, Florida, 32819
and really enjoyed it. They have a free shuttle that runs between the hotel and Universal too which came in handy for saving on parking costs.
If you are not getting a park ticket that gives you a third day free, then be sure to be waiting at the front gates of the park early for HHN (my wife and I arrived at 5pm on the one night we did not have park entry last year and we got 5 houses and Transformers done before 8:30pm). If you are already in the parks, you should be golden.
Since you plan on having the fastpass, let me just tell you that your best bet is to not use it until lines get north of 30-45 minutes. Also, B&T fills up quickly so if you care about getting good seats, arrive early. Also, from about twilight on, the lines will get long. It's the nature of the beast so be prepared (I would save B&T for later, but that is your call).
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Guest kiwisoup

I see a big push for Express passes both from Universal and from those who attend regularly, but honestly I've only had them once because I was forced into it. Every year I do every house (some twice), every show, and a few rides, and some food in to boot...all without Express Pass and usually on nights they close earlier at 12am. If you're going the first weekend it's open, I think it's a complete waste in my opinion to get an Express Pass. The only time I'd ever get one is if I went on a Saturday after the first few weekends.

-Go Sun-Thu, if not then at least Friday, but avoid Saturdays if possible

-The earlier in the season, the less busy it will be.

-If you don't stay in the park for early admission near Finnegans or Kidzone, then you better line up an hour early to get in, because they actually open the gates at 6pm rather than the advertised 6:30pm

-At the gates, stand in the lines on the very ends where less people are. Or watch to see if they open the temporary center turnstiles and make a quick move toward it.

-The houses to the right are blocked off until 6:30, but you can do most of the studio houses until 6:30 then head to the Parade and Tent houses and just do everything from there counter-clockwise.

-The first Bill and Ted show lets out at 8pm i think? So don't stop for anything until then and try to be past the houses closest to Bill & Ted by then because the wait times will shoot up.

-Subscribe to HHN Wait Time text alerts or check the wait time page to keep tabs on the wait times for everything so you can better make decisions in the moment if needed.

-Ride wait times are never really high at all, so save them for when the houses are too long if a wait at peak time. It would also be a good time to eat, grab a drink, bathroom breaks, etc.

-Once it starts getting toward the end of the night, a lot of houses drop drastically and by this time I'm usually going in several houses a second time.

-If the park is about to close any minute, jump in any house line no matter how long it is because you are guaranteed to get through it as long as you are IN LINE before the park closes.

The one time I went with an Express pass I let my friend dictate what we did and I just went along with it and we didn't get to see everything and we spent about twice as much time waiting even WITH the express pass just because there was no planning or strategy. You still wait about half of the normal wait time...so if it's 120 minutes...you wait 60 minutes!

Edited by kiwisoup

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Even on the worst of nights, express saves much more than half the wait time.

Kiwisoup... How many houses do you get done in the 1st hour and a half?

According to you, you actually go through 10-11 houses see both shows, eat and enjoy the scarezones, and ride some rides in 5 and a half hours all without express?

Are we attending the same event?

Edited by ThNdIzNiR

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I've been purposely staying away from HNN because I don't get along with one of the mods, but I will come out of hibernation to give the OP my sagely advice, as I have traveled from LAX to HHN Orlando every year since 2004. So keep in mind I've been in the same boat as you. I've gone early, mid, and late October. Best time for me is early Oct ever since Universal introduced the Rush of Fear.

So here is the complete guide to HHN Orlando (for California residents)...

If you have not been to HHN Orlando before, know that it is 2x the size of HHN Hollywood. You will do an enormous amount of walking. Even when you exit a house, you will make a LONG walk back to the common areas. You will see what I mean when you hit the Soundstage houses or the tent houses - there will come a point where you wonder why they didn't string the houses back to back to lessen the walking. The closest analogy I can think of is the HHN Hollywood house located in the JP Overflow queue. You know how that is a really long walk and ultimately gets you back to the same exact spot? Well, multiply that by 3x the distance in each direction and you get EVERY single house at HHN Orlando. I am not exaggerating.

I mention this because if you are planning to do a couple of days at Universal Orlando you may end up tiring yourself out for HHN.

Rush Of Fear is the ONLY way to go for early October. In fact, I recommend adding the Express option to it. Use it on a Thu and Fri and it more than pays for itself. The Express option acts as a free Express pass every night you go. Since you are planning opening weekend you could use it to go Friday AND Saturday and have an EP both nights. Know that the Express pass is good for ONE entry into each house. Even if EPs sell out that night, you still have a guaranteed EP from your pass.

Some people (like me) even buy an EXTRA EP. Now, everyone who lives in Orlando would call that crazy. But when you're already spending a ton on airfare and lodging, it's great to have that extra bit of magic in your pocket in case the park is slammed. It's a one time a year trip, so why not buy a bit of insurance? Because it's damn expensive, I know.

Arriving at HHN: THREE strategies here...

1) If you are JUST going to HHN on some random night, make sure you get to the front gates by 6:00PM. This means you need to enter the parking structure by 5:30. BONUS - if you arrive at the parking structure before 5pm, you get to park at a very reduced rate. Then have a nice dinner in Citywalk and still arrive at the gates by 6PM. Once at the gates, get through the security and wait at the turnstyles. They open between 6:15 and 6:30. Once the gates open and you enter HHN, go to the RIGHT - do not go straight ahead to the soundstage houses, because that's where 80% of people will go. By going right, you should be able to do the two tent houses and the Parade building house all before the crowds start hitting - which you will feel in full force about 30-45 minutes after the gates first open. Note that there will be two houses you come to first. Queue entrances are side by side. One of them (the house on the right) will exit back at the queue entrances. The other (on the left) will exit at MIB - where there will be the entrance to another house. So you can hit all three of these before the crowds and without using EP if you do them in the proper order.

2a) If you go to USO during the day and have an admission for HHN (which can be a hard ticket or Rush of Fear or Frequent Fear or Stay and Scream), then they will corral you in the streets area (near Finnegan's). All shops will be closed, so you won't have access to bathrooms or any decent food. You will be stuck there for about 30-45 min. It will be hot and not fun, but you will be in the park already. It is neat to see the park transform into HHN. as the fog starts, the lighting kicks in, and the music changes. They will scan your pass at this point and will let you into the park at the same time they open the front gates. Best strategy here is to head for the Disaster house. Some people will say to go to the Soundstage house near Central park, but I have always seen that SS house open late. After the Disaster house, run toward MIB and hit the house there, or way past MIB and hit the two houses there (one will have the exit near the queue at MIB). So, after the Disaster house, you are heading toward the same three houses as in the first strategy, but from the opposite direction. Understanding where the entrances and exits are are very important, as each exit sets you back a bit.

2b) This is my personal favorite - BUY AN UNMASKING THE HORRORS TOUR for the day you are planning to go to HHN!! Make sure you get the 1pm tour - or maybe they will have two different tours back to back like last year. The key here is that Universal does NOT require you to buy a day pass when you do the tour. Once the tour is over (and the tour is a must-see), they will NOT escort you out of the park. They will simply say "I'm assuming you have a day ticket, so have a great rest of the day in the park". Don't be "that guy" who says "Why, no, I don't have a ticket. Can you please walk me to the front gates?" At this point, you will have about 60-90 minutes until the park closes, so enjoy a FREE hour of rides that will be closed during HHN (i.e. Gringott's, Twister, Disaster, Terminator). You will then be corralled near Finnegan's and execute strategy 2a. Obviously, you'll still need your HHN admission at this point. Note that if you do the early morning tour, they WILL escort you to the exit after the tour (unless you are also doing the 1:00 tour). Again - this is by far the best strategy because you get to do the UTH tour and don't have to buy a daytime entrance. If you want to do this, you need to lock in a tour as soon as they offer it. They fill up fast. Last year they did two day tours (morning and afternoon). Each went through 3 different houses. Hope that they do this again. Best HHN tour guide is David, BTW.

Hotels:

If you want to save on parking, I recommend staying at a hotel on Major blvd. This includes: Holiday Inn, La Quinta, Comfort Suites, Doubletree, and Hyatt Place.

Granted, these are a bit more expensive, but they are within walking distance of UNI (that walk back at 1AM when you are tired seems a LOT farther). Some have shuttles.

The walk from these places are about 2x-3x the distance you'd walk had you parked in the ET lot.

Most places along International are fine, too. Nothing wrong with a $60 hotel in Orlando - but let the ratings guide you. I often find booking Hotel + car thru Expedia results in an almost free car. Parking is free at every hotel in Orlando (that you can afford). Honestly, if you can swing Hyatt Place, it's a really nice stay. Amazing free breakfast offerings, very modern clean rooms, and one of the closest to Universal (Holiday inn is a tad closer). It's worth splurging.

Crowds:

Opening weekend the past few years has been very crowded. That's why I go the 2nd weekend. It's not uncommon for some houses to get pretty big tweaks after the first weekend. If you are armed with an Express Pass, my personal rule of thumb is to use it if the line is > 15 min. Wait times fluctuate greatly during the night. The exception will be Walking Dead, which will have a crazy wait all night long... With an EP, and getting there EARLY as i suggest, you will have no problem going through everything once and then your favorites a second time. The shows can really eat into your evening. Avoid getting to B&T and waiting for 20 min until they let people in - that just sucks away time. With the exception of 2012, Orlando B&T has blown away Hollywood's - not even a close comparison. Get seats near the exit, because when that show lets out, the house lines jump. Be ahead of that. HHN is more fun when done as a two night event. Take in the scarezones and shows at your leisure. Orlando scarezones are almost always way better than Hollywood's. And it's great to have an EP both nights if you have the Rush of Fear + Express (I'm pushing that again...). You will probably see a "cast change" happening at a house during the night. Each house has an "A" cast and a "B" cast. The cast makes or breaks and it's really great to see both casts. I'll never forget how fantastic the 2010 Havoc: Dogs of War "B" cast was and how so-so the same house was with the "A" cast.

Orlando has an entirely different strategy with Express pass than Hollywood does with FOTL passes. At both parks, they always sell out. But if Hollywood sells 500 passes, Orlando will sell 3000. Plus Orlando sells the season passes with Express added on. In Hollywood, there is NEVER a line at the Gate A entrance. In Orlando, Express means a 100 minute standby wait may be cut to 15 min. In other words, while Express is mandatory for someone flying 3000 miles, it totally sucks that they oversell them. There are times when I've seen an Express line as long as 30 minutes. That is unforgivable, but it occasionally happens. A cast change or a house evac is usually the culprit. (My) rule of thumb is that if a house has a standby of 150 min or more, don't even bother with EP. Skip the house and come back later.

If you do decide to get a Rush of Fear with Express, my advice is to choose the "pick up at Kiosk" option rather than the print at home. The reason is that you will be using this pass for multiple days and the pass acts as your Express pass as well. So that printed pass will get very tattered and may get wet. The kiosk will give you a more durable pass that you can keep in a waterproof lanyard. The kiosk option is free, and only takes a minute at the gate. Make sure you bring the credit card and confirmation number. Once you get your passes, take a photo of them. If you lose your pass (even an Express pass) don't fret - just go to Guest Services at front of park and they will print you up a new one and invalidate the lost one.

Food:

To each his own here...

Personally, I think Finnegan's is the best to eat at during HHN. The park has better options, but they are closed for HHN.

While I think it's closed during HHN, Springfield area has really good food. Honestly, my fav is the fried fish at the Frying Dutchman (but I'm easy to please). I mean, it comes with tater tots! How cool is that? You need to counter all of that healthy walking somehow...

If you stay on Major Blvd, there's a good TGI Fridays that's open late.

Ride differences:

With the exception of Mummy, every ride at Orlando that has a Hollywood counterpart is an identical experience. Transformers, Terminator, Shrek, Jurassic Park, Simpsons, Despicable Me. Mummy in Orlando is 10x better than Hollywood. Springfield is really fun to visit during the day, but it's coming soon to Hollywood

The Trip Back:

Huh? What's this now?

If you love haunts, here's something you MUST do when flying out to Orlando from LAX.

On the trip back, make a one night stop in a city where you can see a showstopper house. This is a really great way to hop back to LA and see something totally new each time. I mean, you're already at the other end of the US. Why not hit something on the way back. What's great is that you don't lose daylight hours like you do when flying to Orlando, so this is really easy to do.

Here are some examples:

Atlanta - see Netherworld or Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse

Columbus OH - see Haunted Hoochie (Dead Acres)

St Louis - see The Darkness

Kansas City - see The Beast & Edge of Hell

New Orleans - see House of Shock

Baton Rouge - see The 13th Gate

Philly - a bit out of the way, but see Eastern State Penitentiary

Austin - see Scare for a Cure or House of Torment

Pontiac, MI - see Erebus or Realm of Darkness

Lancaster, PA - watch Amish people, then see Bates Motel

Beware: Netherworld and 13th Gate will forever spoil HHN for you. There is nothing else like these. They are so massive and so good; the sets are beyond HHN. Diehard HHN fans would agree with me here.

Bates Motel has a hayride that makes the one at Griffith Park look like It's a Small World.

Summary:

As you can see, I'm really pushing multiple nights at HHN for you. You can see everything in one night with an EP. "Everything" in this case means the shows, scarezones, and houses. I'm assuming you'll see the rides during the day. But seeing everything is different than taking your time and experiencing everything. The scarezones alone should be allotted at least 2 hours (these are not dinky Hollywood scarezones). Take last year, where they had mini-shows at several of the Walking Dead scarezones. Rush through and you'll realize you missed lots of stuff. Doing two nights lets you really savor the event. But do make sure that whatever you do - attend the Unmasking the Horror tour.

It may even be worth considering delaying the trip a week and going the first weekend of Oct, where you can do HHN on a Thu and Fri (with the Rush of Fear + Express, of course). If you do this, the absolute best thing would be to go to HHN Thu, then do the UTH tour Friday and HHN Friday night. This lets you see the houses in all their glory, THEN the backstage tour, THEN see them after that and appreciate them at a whole new level. Seeing them before your first night at HHN is kind of like watching a magician loading doves into his suit before the show. You can't un-see that as much as you want to.

Finally, if your plans change for some reason, know that people in Universal ticketing are very accommodating. I have had to completely change my weekend plans before and they have been nice enough to refund an unused Rush of Fear, extra Express passes, and a UTH tour due to a medical emergency that happened - on the day of my travel, no less.

<So until another day, I will disappear once again into the aether, before Freak goes HNN-Nazi up on my face for getting off topic...>

Edited by zombieman
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Guest kiwisoup

Even on the worst of nights, express saves much more than half the wait time.

Kiwisoup... How many houses do you get done in the 1st hour and a half?

According to you, you actually go through 10-11 houses see both shows, eat and enjoy the scarezones, and ride some rides in 5 and a half hours all without express?

Are we attending the same event?

In my experience and in guides I have read, it's somewhere between one third and one half. But I've def sat in an "express" line for over a half hour.

Last year got in right at 6pm, knocked out Cabin in the Woods, Resident Evil, and American Werewolf in London...made it over to the barrier which was just being removed at 6:30...knocked out The Walking Dead, La Llorona, and Afterlife with no more than a 15 minute wait for each. Got in line for Havok while the first Bill and Ted show was going and when we got out the show had ended and the line was much longer. By this time all that was left was Evil Dead and waits were getting to the 45+ minute range, so we rode Transformers, headed to the new Simpsons expansion and had dinner and a giant doughnut while waiting for the next Rocky Horror showing, then headed towards Evil Dead again but caught a ride on The Mummy first. Sat in line for Evil Dead for 30 minutes (our longest wait), then caught the last Bill and Ted Show. We did Resident Evil again the last hour it was open. We headed back to La Llorona because I had a hard time seeing anything in daylight, because we got in line at like 11:58 (another tip I forgot) we got to still wait and go through, despite the park closing. So to answer your question, yes I've done it 4 years now, and most of the houses do get done the first hour and a half or so. But the thing is I go TWICE every year and do the same thing so I've actually done it more times...enough to know that it's perfectly plausible.

I'm not saying that they SHOULD go one day and bank on seeing anything. I'm just saying that I know it's possible...and when I see people claim all over that it's "impossible" to see everything (not counting rides) without an Express Pass it just grinds my gears. it requires a lot of rushing around during daylight hours and you don't get to take in every detail of the scarezones or ride every single ride, but I've done it. I've been forced into fitting everything into one day or been stuck with a group that won't all commit to Express Passes anyways. I like to take two days to do everything multiple times and see all the effects in the houses that you can miss because of bad timing, etc...and I recommend taking at least two days. I recommend getting something like a Rush of Fear pass, going multiple nights for cheaper than general admission rather than an Express Pass. I'm just against the idea of an Express Pass because there are other cheaper ways to see everything.

The question was is it possible to see everything WITH an express pass and clearly if you can without it, you surely can with it. Just don't use it for houses or rides that don't have wait times over 15 minutes or so and you can probably actually do most houses twice if you really wanted to.

Edited by kiwisoup

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YOU ALL ARE AWESOME! Thank you for all of the suggestions! And Zombieman, you just convinced me to buy the Rush of Fear with Express so we can do two days! I didn't even know that was an option, so thanks! I must've overlooked that ticket on the website due to the excitement. Lol This really did help so much, so thanks much appreciated. =]

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Return of the Living Zombieman!! Have always appreciated your extensive reviews/essays (especially the Orlando variety). It looks like there will be a mini-migration from the west over to Orlando this year! It was a good idea to start this thread and there is already some great feedback. Our plans are to visit Orlando the second week of October and attend HHN for one night only. Knowing how Hollywood's event plays out, I am going for the Express Pass. Just not willing to rush through several houses at the beginning of the event or having to wait 60+ minutes for an attraction. Since I plan on spending time taking in the details of the environment, it won't bother me if I miss a show or a ride or two.

Edited by AsylumSB

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Guest kiwisoup

^ you're forgetting havoc. And if your trying to do all the rides in one day would anyone recommend still doing uth

oh crap, guess that one wasn't too memorable for me ;-)

Also to the OP, the best article I've found for food in the parks is this one: http://touringplans.com/universal-orlando/dining#

Edited by kiwisoup

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Guest

I literally just had a huge post erased because my phone is lame... so i'll just bullett point things this time...

Hotels

Stay at the cheapest place possible, in my experience there is little separation from hotel to hotel, other tan on site hotels...

Food(outside park)

Panda Express Buffett

Worlds Largest McDonalds(awesome game room :))

Sizzler

Green Tomato

Food(inside park)

Simpsons Fast Food Alley

All Day Food Wristband

Tickets

We always get Season Passes because they arent much more than the other tickets and usually provide benefits you wouldnt get otherwise.

For HHN Rush of Fear is definitely your best bet. it has never let us down.

Express Passes

Daytime UO, Completely unnecessary

HHN, never had one though I cant admit to never wanting one, you (should) be able to do every house w/out one if you follow a few simple rules.

1.Dont eat during HHN, make sure you are good to make it through the night, the restaurants are always PACKED during HHN and will suck up a lot of your night.

2.If you only have one night do not partake in the shows, though both are usually very good entertaining shows, they are nothing to write home about, you wont be missing much by missing either.

3. DO NOT DO THE DISASTER QUEUE HOUSE IN DAYLIGHT. it is the only house not fully enclosed and you run the risk of ruining your experience if you only get one shot at it...

Ok, now here is the order we normally go to get every house done im one night. I will use last years house names as im not 100% sure of the location names.

1. Evil Dead

2. The Walking Dead

3. La Llorona

4. Afterlife Deaths Vengeance

after this is your first decision you either go past London to Havoc Derailed(DISASTER) or go down through Simpsons to Cabin in the Woods/Resident Evil not sure these are the locations for this year so I'll again just show you what we did last year to see everything.

5. Havok: Derailed

6. An American Werewolf in London

7. Resident Evil

8. Cabin in the Woods

This plan is not fool proof and it could completely off if some house locations move, but with SZs being back this year this route should take you through each except Sting Alley which you have to make a point to go down anyway..

This exact plan got us through all the houses last year and pretty much every year before it as well 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013... with little to no variation at all. I will also give you a list of things to avoid..

1. Like I said above Disaster in daylight can be cool for a third walkthrough to almost get a daytime tour, but avoid it for a first or second walkthrough.

2. Doing the Sprung Tent house before the Parade Building, as you approach KidZone there are two lines, Right is Parade Building and Left is Sprung Tent, the ST empties at the other ST entrance and requires you to backtrack if you want to experience PB house.

3. Dont always trust wait times, sometimes wait times will be incorrect and say 15 minutes when they are actually closer to 30-45 minutes, stick to your route.

4. Finally, kinda piggybacking on 3, make a route and stick to it, whether you take my route or another suggested route, just make sure you dont deviate from it, if you have to get a daytime map or print off the map that will be inevitably be posted on this site and draw out the route/number the houses. make sure you experience the everything you want because it is possible, shows can be time consuming but if you want to see them then just make sure you plan the stop, dont change your plans.

Express Pass is a luxury, and it can be nice to have a luxurious vacation. Keep an eye out for HNN members who can provide you with fun tag alongs and/or things you may have missed, I always make it a point to try and find Dr.Jimmy because he has interesting entertaining conversations!

Last but not least remember you are there to have fun, dont stress overthinking things, you will enjoy yourself.

sorry for double post but it wont let me edit, and I forgot to mention the All Day Food Pass excludes HHN, still a great value during regular park hours.

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As far as hotels, I stay at the Doubletree just because of the close proximity to walk to HHN, but there is a Hampton Inn, Motel 6, and the Econolodge that was mentioned above that are all close by and affordable. I always splurge on the express pass because I can do things at my leisure and be able to see everything, instead of rushing because it's hard to know if I'll be able to go more than once each year. You can definitely do a few houses though before you start using the Express Pass, especially if you stay in the park before it opens. I think mid-September will be a great time to visit the parks as well. I'm sure Diagon Alley will be a little crowded still, but it will be definitely better than summer crowd levels. As far as in-park food, The Simpsons Fast Food Alley is pretty tasty and so is Finnegan's. On I-Drive there are tons of restaurants if you plan to eat before. I think you have chosen a pretty great time to go!

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My advice for a one night HHN with express:

Have an early dinner at City Walk maybe around 4 or 430. I haven't been to any of the new restaraunts but I hear Antijitoes is the best. Get to the metal detectors by 530 and you should get in easy when the front gates open at six.

Hang a right and go down Hollywood to Kidzone. Do Roanoke, Dollhouse and Halloween one of them without express pass so you can do it again (my pick would be Roanoke) The house should just be opening and you usually can get through them quickly with less walking if you do them in that order. They're also supposed to be ones you'll want to do again later with express.

You should be in time for the first Bill & Ted show. After that go around the lagoon to San Fran for Giggles and Gore and Rocky Horror. Houses near shows get longer lines after the stadiums let out so pay attention to the show times even if you aren't going to Rocky Horror.

Come back to the entrance and start doing the studio houses with express (From Dusk Till Dawn, Dracula, AvP and Walking Dead). They should all lead into each other if you go from the entrance to New York. Use your remaining express to redo one of the earlier houses (my guess Roanoke) and then redo one in standby at the end of the night (my guess AvP).

Rides aren't that necessary especially if you're doing one night but Mummy is kind of horror and it's cool to go on Rip Ride Rockit and Kang&Kodos at night. Express for Rockit is a must! Horrible lines.

Have fun!

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Guest kiwisoup

My advice for a one night HHN with express:

Have an early dinner at City Walk maybe around 4 or 430. I haven't been to any of the new restaraunts but I hear Antijitoes is the best. Get to the metal detectors by 530 and you should get in easy when the front gates open at six.

Hang a right and go down Hollywood to Kidzone. Do Roanoke, Dollhouse and Halloween one of them without express pass so you can do it again (my pick would be Roanoke) The house should just be opening and you usually can get through them quickly with less walking if you do them in that order. They're also supposed to be ones you'll want to do again later with express.

You should be in time for the first Bill & Ted show. After that go around the lagoon to San Fran for Giggles and Gore and Rocky Horror. Houses near shows get longer lines after the stadiums let out so pay attention to the show times even if you aren't going to Rocky Horror.

Come back to the entrance and start doing the studio houses with express (From Dusk Till Dawn, Dracula, AvP and Walking Dead). They should all lead into each other if you go from the entrance to New York. Use your remaining express to redo one of the earlier houses (my guess Roanoke) and then redo one in standby at the end of the night (my guess AvP).

Rides aren't that necessary especially if you're doing one night but Mummy is kind of horror and it's cool to go on Rip Ride Rockit and Kang&Kodos at night. Express for Rockit is a must! Horrible lines.

Have fun!

There's one problem with your advice...you can't get to Kidzone until 6:30pm. They have a barricades with employees checking for a wristband or pass to get through.

They remove it promptly at 6:30, so I'd recommend doing the couple studio houses that are open and when it's almost 6:30pm head toward the barricade and try to cut ahead of the crowd waiting there.

The past two years have been like this for me which are actually the only two times I was in line for early admission. Maybe they only do that setup some nights, but you should have a back-up plan just in case you can't go straight for the parade/tent houses. I've wasted a good 5 minutes of walking time finding out I couldn't go that way.

Edited by kiwisoup

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Get to the park as early as possible. If you know someone who is attending the annual pass holder event that night, you can do three houses before the entire event opens so that gives you a head start. What I would do is get there early, do all the houses once without the express passes, then do bill and teds, then go back and do all the houses again with the express pass. That's what I do.

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Let me make one comment on the hotel part - we are lucky enough that our family has a condo in Kissimmee, so I normally don't have to worry about the hotel. However, last year, we had to be in Orlando for something, and the condo was already in use. We had to look for a hotel. We stayed at Hyatt Place which is located behind the parking garage at Universal. We walked to the park from there. It is a GREAT place to stay, and you get free breakfast. You never have to worry about it being clean and welcoming.

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I approve of the Hyatt. It's always clean and you get fee breakfast. That helps you save a ton of money and time when staying down here. Plus, with its proximity to the park you could go back and forth with ease.

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The Hotel that my wife and I have settled upon over our last few trips to HHN is the Best Western off International Drive.

It's only $70 a night, about a mile from Universal, and right next to Uno's Pizzeria & Grill (which has some delicious deep dish Chicago style pizza that really hits the spot after a day of running around theme parks. Uno's is also open super late so you can hit it up after going to HHN).

Another nice bonus: the hotel's free continental breakfast is really good for an economy hotel.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g34515-d223718-Reviews-BEST_WESTERN_International_Drive_Orlando-Orlando_Florida.html

For food inside the park, I don't think anyone has mentioned Mythos at Islands of Adventure. They're ranked as one of the top theme park restaurants in the world. Prices are decent enough (for theme park prices, anyway).

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/reviews/universal's_islands_of_adventure/mythos_restaurant/

As far as being able to do everything, my wife and I go end of September about when you're planning on going so my experiences should be similar to what you should expect. One day each per USO and IOA should be more than enough to hit up all the rides (even without fast passes), and then when you attend HHN, you can focus completely on haunted houses. Using a HHN fast pass in late September will give you enough time to hit up every house at least once and catch the shows.

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Thanks again guys for all the useful tips and info! Ended up getting the FFP with front of the line so we'll be doing 3 nights of HHN which I wasn't planning on doing but I'm super glad it worked out that way! Also have the afternoon abomination Unmasking the Horror tour on the 25th at 2:00pm.

2 of my best friends that were originally gonna come and couldn't actually are going now are joining my gf and I so were staying at the Cabana! This vacation ended up getting much bigger than it originally was supposed to be. Lol went from 4 days to 7, with disneyworld, discovery cove, and seaworld being included. My god, only 20 more days!!!!

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Thanks again guys for all the useful tips and info! Ended up getting the FFP with front of the line so we'll be doing 3 nights of HHN which I wasn't planning on doing but I'm super glad it worked out that way! Also have the afternoon abomination Unmasking the Horror tour on the 25th at 2:00pm.

2 of my best friends that were originally gonna come and couldn't actually are going now are joining my gf and I so were staying at the Cabana! This vacation ended up getting much bigger than it originally was supposed to be. Lol went from 4 days to 7, with disneyworld, discovery cove, and seaworld being included. My god, only 20 more days!!!!

20 more days? As in: you're going at the end of Sep? If so, the Rush of Fear + Express would save you a bit of money over the FFP. the Rush of Fear includes the first 10 days (including Fri & Saturdays). FFP has Fridays/Saturdays excluded depending on the level you purchase. Make sure it fits your schedule. Universal will definitely let you change your ticket if you call and ask nicely.

If you can, why not do the early UTH tour in addition to the afternoon? They each go through 3 different houses, so they are completely different.

Here's a helpful money-saving hint: When you do the UTH tour, you do NOT need to buy daytime park admission. If you do the afternoon tour they will NOT escort you to the gate. 4:15 will come and they will say "You know your way out?". They fully expect you to stay in the park and enjoy it for the next 90 minutes it is open. That's probably enough time to run to Gringott's, or do one other ride. If you do the morning tour only, they will probably escort you to the gate. So if you are planning on just doing the afternoon and buying a ticket for the morning, you might want to think otherwise. Either do both tours and save a park admission or sleep in (you'll need it) and do the afternoon tour and still save admission.

Great choice of parks - your legs are going to be SORE!

Check out touringplans.com for accurate wait times and crowd conditions at all of the parks.

When going to Disney, the day of the week is VERY important. You'd be surprised. It's worth the research. Crowd patterns are totally different than in California.

The first couple of times I went to Orlando from LA, it was the commando "gotta do everything" approach. Damned near killed myself. Pace yourself, because one blister and it's all over.

Even in October, it's humid as hell over there. It may decide to pour for 30 minutes just for fun. Then nighttime comes and you expect it to get cool, right? Not even close.

Have fun but know what you're in for.

One other thing you MAY want to consider...

You are probably starting something you will find yourself doing for years to come. As such, you will probably be going to a Disney park or two every time you go. You MAY want to consider buying a Magic Your Way ticket for many more days than you are planning this year, and adding the "No Expiration" option at the park. It's a lot of money. But you get to lock in your ticket price forever. Way back in 2004 I bought several 10-day passes with park hopper, water park add-on, and no expiration. They were a whopping $375 each back then. So I locked in 10 park hoppers at $37.50 each and a bunch of free water park passes that all never expire. These same tickets cost more than 2x that now. In another 10 years they will be double again. Just a thought. You can buy these at discounted rates from undercovertourist.com. The discount is about 8% from Disney's prices. They are a reputable place and are an authorized seller. They will fedex the tickets to you.

Edited by zombieman

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There's one problem with your advice...you can't get to Kidzone until 6:30pm. They have a barricades with employees checking for a wristband or pass to get through.

They remove it promptly at 6:30, so I'd recommend doing the couple studio houses that are open and when it's almost 6:30pm head toward the barricade and try to cut ahead of the crowd waiting there.

Weird I've been doing that plan for three years and have never seen that. It's been Frequent Fear Nights only though.

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