The holidays are starting to take over Universal Orlando Resort and the rest of the world. It’s a little sad. However, the spirit of Halloween can live on as long as we don’t let it die. One part of Halloween that is hard to let go of is Halloween Horror Nights. The 30th Anniversary of the event was delayed a year, but it was completely worth the wait. The minds behind HHN, the performers, and all Team Members involved made 2021 a truly special year. That being said, it’s also very easy to pick favorites, so that’s what I’m doing today! Here’s my final house ranking list for Halloween Horror Nights 30.
10) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
It was pretty easy to put this house at the bottom of the list. It was packed with scares from Leatherface and the family, but I don’t love the movies, so it never clicked with me. The set design was disgusting, but beautiful in many places, but that wasn’t enough to elevate it. Also, chainsaw scares don’t quite have an impact on me anymore after years of attending the event and that was a lot of the house. The last room with multiple sightings of Leatherface made for a fun ending, but I’ll be happy if The Texas Chainsaw Massacre takes an extended break from the event.
9) Revenge of the Tooth Fairy
Revenge of the Tooth Fairy was part of the Halloween event at Universal Studios Florida in 2020 along with Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. Between those two houses last year, I thought Revenge of the Tooth Fairy was the superior choice. The first room of the house had an amazing storybook look to it, and even though it was sinister, there was a charming Victorian aesthetic to the house. Last year I couldn’t imagine any of the other original houses looking much better, but was completely surprised when most of them were. It ended up having an impact on my ranking, but it was still a wonderful house and was worthy of sticking around for two years.
8) Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth
This house was really high on my hype list for the event. I didn’t know a lot about the lore of Legendary Truth going into the event, but the concept of the house was intriguing. Plus, I have a fascination with noir, so this had all of the right ingredients to be a hit for me. While I loved the entire design of the house and the massive amount of details, the timing never really clicked. I don’t need to necessarily be scared going through a house, but I still want to see the performers and the story play out. Ultimately, there were more misses than hits with this one.
7) Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives
Universal Monsters was one of the best houses in 2019, so the sequel house had a lot to live up to. As a Frankenstein fanatic, I was extremely excited for this house in 2020 and again in 2021. The house felt like I was transported into a Universal Monsters movie and that is a huge compliment. My only main issue was the house felt really short compared to other houses. The scareactors were always consistent and I hope this isn’t the last of the Universal Monsters houses moving forward.
6) Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House
This is another house that was high on my hype list but ultimately didn’t reach the levels I wanted. The Haunting of Hill House remains one of my favorite shows of all time, but the house didn’t tell the story the way I was hoping. The house showcased all of the classic ghosts and characters in the show and highlighted some of the iconic moments, but it played out more like a best-of-house than a literal translation of the story. Also, the last couple of scenes in the house felt really jumbled with characters, but not cohesive. Still, it’s hard to not be terrified at times in a haunted house.
5) Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience
This house is very similar to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre for me in terms of aesthetics. I’m pretty neutral on puppets. I’m not necessarily terrified of them and I’m also not enamored with them – I’m not talking about The Muppets here. The house was absolutely beautiful and the scares were very consistent, but I never walked away from it wanting to go back in immediately like the rest of the houses in the top four. I do have to take a moment to give credit to the different types of performers in this house. From literal puppets to humans controlling other humans as puppets, there was diversity in the scares.
Let me preface this by saying this house wasn’t scary at all. There were a few audio jump moments if you had perfect timing, but for the most part, this house was devoid of scares. This isn’t necessary at Halloween Horror Nights and makes the event accessible for those who want to check out what it’s like without losing their minds. The way this house delivered was taking the best moments from Beetlejuice and telling the story of the movie. The house wasn’t the most consistent, but a great run-through could easily land it as the best house of the night. However, if your timing was off and you missed Beetlejuice at several points and you’re not interested in walking through designed rooms with no actual scares then this could end up being the worst. For me, I had more successful visits to this house than I had disappointing.
3) Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland
I really went on a journey with this house throughout the event. This house was relatively high on my hype list, but at the start of the event, it was towards the bottom of my list. I kept going back to see if I could have a better experience in the house and it still wasn’t clicking. The different original stories taking place in Carey, Ohio weren’t jumping out to me automatically. I had a lot of bad timing with scares. However, halfway through the event, I started having much better walkthroughs of the house. It culminated on my final night of the event when I had a walkthrough with no one in front of me or behind me and it clicked. I was legitimately scared at several points even though I knew where all of the scares were at. This was probably the weakest design of the original houses for me, but the performers really found their groove and made it spectacular.
2) HHN Icons: Captured
The last two houses could be flip-flopped at any point as my favorite house. They really share the top spot, but for the sake of this list, I’m putting HHN Icons: Captured at the number two. This house delivered consistently through every walkthrough and gave each of the icons their moment to shine. I started attending in 2011 for HHN 21, so I knew Lady Luck from that year. My previous experience with the rest of the HHN icons was Halloween Horror Nights 25 and 26. This house gave each of the icons a moment to showcase who they were very briefly and was the perfect refresher for anyone who doesn’t understand the characters. The house was relatively long, but it always felt short because of how enamored I was with each section. I would love to see this house revisited in a future anniversary year, but this one will always be special.
1) The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin
It’s not a surprise this house won House of the Year for Halloween Horror Nights 30. It was mind-blowing. From the pumpkin arch entrance to the Pumpkin Lord himself, this house oozed Halloween spirit. I felt like I was transported to a North Eastern rural town where Halloween has taken over in the most sinister way. I’ve done another house similar to this one, but that was like a high school paper compared to this thesis. The design of the house was the absolute best from walking through a house in disrepair to the feeling of walking right through a pumpkin. The smell of this house will be burned into my memory forever. Much like Graveyard Games from HHN 29, which explored a ghost/cemetery side of how I envision Halloween, The Wicked Growth covered the other half of my vision of a spooky Halloween, and I would love to see a house that combined both of these houses. If they could just keep The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin and HHN Icons: Captured open for a couple of extra months, I’d be a happy camper.
What’s your final house ranking for Halloween Horror Nights 30? Let us know below and if you want to start planning your vacation to Universal Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights 31, we recommend Dreams Unlimited Travel!