Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights
Your guide to the creepiest, cleverest, and scariest mazes at Halloween Horror Nights
The screams have returned to Universal Studios Hollywood. The park’s annual transformation from family-friendly theme park to enormous house of horrors includes a fresh crop of seven new mazes this year, and the classic Terror Tram has gotten a facelift for the second consecutive year. 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 creepiest mazes

Winner – Saw: The Games of Jigsaw

This maze has enough scares to secure its place at a Halloween event, but it's less interested in traditional jump scares than in taking visitors on a tour of impressively disturbing set pieces from the Saw series of films. Members can get an up-close look at such iconic contraptions as the reverse bear trap, water cube, knife chair, and more, all rendered to movie-level standards. If that's not unsettling enough, Jigsaw insists on speaking to his guests throughout the maze, and his voice will stick with you after it's over.

Runner-up – The Walking Dead Attraction

In years past, Halloween Horror Nights traditionally included a maze inspired by AMC’s The Walking Dead. The park turned it into a year-round permanent indoor attraction in 2016, allowing for depth and effects that members won’t see anywhere else. There are, of course, myriad references to the show that fans will appreciate. What’s really impressive is how the spacious interior gives the maze room to come creepily to life with a burning cabin, frighteningly realistic walkers, gunfire—even the snacks in a tipped-over vending machine.

Third place – American Horror Story: Roanoke

Following up on last year's American Horror Story maze debut, this year's maze is inspired by the 2016 AHS season, Roanoke. Visitors are transported to the backwoods of North Carolina, near where the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke disappeared in the 1500s (which really happened). Things only get creepier from there: Fans of the show won't be surprised to discover they're being pursued through by a frighteningly lifelike half-man, half-pig creature. When he's not squealing at them, members will be unsettled by vengeful colonists' spirits, which bring a menacingly Puritan vibe to the maze.
The most innovative mazes

Winner – The Shining

All this maze had to do was hit the plot points of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror classic, The Shining. Thankfully, it has the confidence to experiment with its rich source material along the way, starting almost immediately with a clever expansion of the "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" motif that doubles as camouflage for hidden scares. The conclusion is another pleasant surprise, as the chills go beyond the snowy hedge maze decor: The end sequence is actually heavily air-conditioned to make it feel as cold as it looks.

Runner-up – Ash vs. Evil Dead

How many big-name Halloween mazes have ever started in a mobile home? Thanks to Ash vs. Evil Dead, the answer is now, "At least one." Ash's trailer sets the tone for the maze, featuring such amusing items as a swimsuit calendar, his pet lizard Eli, and a zombified grandmother. As the name suggests, Ash isn't the only star: The evil dead abound, and they have enough character to counterbalance Ash's chainsaw-wielding heroism. Innovative touches include subtle scares, like demons tapping on windows instead of jumping through them; and an impressive animatronic display near the end.

Third place – The Horrors of Blumhouse

Blumhouse Productions isn't a household name, but many of the movies the studio has made are, including The Purge and Sinister. Those two films join a third Blumhouse film to be released October 13, Happy Death Day, to create this interesting mashup. Unusually, the maze begins outdoors with a Purge section, the most innovative part of which is the surreal imagery created with strobes and other lights. The middle Happy Death Day sequence features a rave (which somehow works on every level), and a Sinister-themed last third finishes the maze with a healthy dose of classic haunting.
The scariest mazes

Winner – Insidious: Beyond the Further

As with previous winners of the "scariest maze" category, Insidious: Beyond the Further makes ample use of jump scares (monsters popping out from windows, monsters popping out from corners, etc.). What lifts it to the top of this year's scary crop is the detail put into the maze's demons: They're still terrifying even after they're done lunging at you with gnashing teeth and piercing stares. Appropriately, the maze ends with a rogue's gallery of arch-demons from the series. Don't remember them all? That's OK, they remember you.

Runner-up – Titans of Terror

This year's Titans of Terror maze merges last year's separate Freddy vs. Jason and Texas Chainsaw Massacre mazes for a dense trifecta of scares. It begins in the dream world where Freddy Krueger stalks his victims (for now, that's you) and the fedora-wearing slasher doesn't disappoint, swinging out from every angle. You're then delivered to Camp Crystal Lake, which sports an incredibly lifelike forest soil smell, as well as the familiar machete-wielding Jason Voorhees. If those scares have left members hungry, the last segment is sure to please: Leatherface and family are busy butchering their latest crop of barbecue. Just don't look too closely at where it's coming from.

Third place – Titans of Terror Tram Hosted by Chucky

If you haven't gotten enough of Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface at the Titans of Terror maze, they've also taken over this year's Terror Tram. The extra outdoor space lets the threesome really show off their artistic range in the medium of murder. Jason, for example, demonstrates his skills with folding mattresses and vice presses, while Leatherface breaks out his famous dance moves. Members can also discover a town where everyone is Freddy Krueger—including the firefighters. To top it off, possessed killer doll Chucky is your host for the tram ride.