Your guide to the creepiest, cleverest, & scariest mazes at Universal Studios Hollywood 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 eight new mazes 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 mazes

Winner – Stranger Things

Visitors heading to Stranger Things, this year's marquee maze, will notice lots of novelties before entering. Unusually, the maze is located in a sound stage instead of outdoors, keeping your journey through Hawkins dark if you're visiting before the sun sets. Before you even enter the maze, music from the 1980s is playing in line to take you back in time.

 

Inside the attraction, fans of the Netflix series series will be transported to the show with impressively realized set pieces, from the Byers family living room to the Upside Down. In another innovative touch, many of the "scareactors" aren't actually enemies and play off their scares as accidents: Joyce Byers might swing an axe at you, but only because she thought you were the Demogorgon.

Castle Byers in the Stranger Things maze

Runner-up – The First Purge

The First Purge, based on the film of the same name released earlier this year, takes guests through the first experimental purge, set in Staten Island after a government coup. In 2018, the maze is markedly different from Purge mazes in years past—rather than glaring neon lights and ultra-patriotism, The First Purge gets its kicks from building an unsettling America-in-decline where the Purge seems possible. An early highlight is an abandoned warehouse full of dimly lit mannequins, some of which are alive. Fans of past mazes, never fear: There are also plenty of scareactors in grotesque masks.
Mannequins in The First Purge maze

Third place – The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter Two

It may not have happened until 2018, but Universal Studios Hollywood finally has a Horror Nights maze that gives social media a starring role. The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter 2 features two recent horror films from Blumhouse. The first, Truth or Dare, runs through a creepy old Mexican mission. The second, Unfriended, takes place in a chatroom as high-schoolers try to identify an unknown intruder with a sinister agenda. Nice touches include the familiar Skype ringtone and clever use of choppy webcam connections. At the end, there's a bonus section that explores the origins of the creepy girl seen in the opening credits of Blumhouse movies.
A bloody scene in The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter Two
The creepiest mazes

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. Like the movie, it starts as a slow burn. Static hisses from every screen in an otherwise normal suburban home. A sandwich slides slowly across the kitchen counter.

 

Then a tree comes through a window and all bets are off, but even as the action picks up, the creep factor rises with it thanks to impressive animatronic work on the house's demonic characters. Fans of the horror classic will likely be impressed by the "Beast," while newcomers should take warning: It's exactly as creepy as it sounds.

A static screen in the Poltergeist maze

Runner-up – The Walking Dead Attraction

Halloween Horror Nights once traditionally included a maze inspired by AMC’s The Walking Dead. Universal Studios turned it into a year-round indoor attraction in 2016, allowing for depth and effects that members won’t see anywhere else. With myriad references to the show, diehard fans will appreciate the immersive journey. The spacious interior allows room for the maze to come creepily to life with a burning cabin, frighteningly realistic walkers, gunfire—even the snacks in a tipped-over vending machine.
The Walking Dead

Third – Terror Tram: Hollywood Harry's Dreadtime Storiez

Is there anything creepier than a malevolent clown? This year's Terror Tram is overflowing with them, led by a familiar grinning face: Hollywood Harry. Horror Nights veterans will remember him from 2016, when he terrorized the backlot seeking revenge for being barred from Universal Studios. Now Harry is back with an army of fellow clowns and other creepy comrades. The maze is more structured than in past years, with each section themed as a bedtime story featuring different nightmarish plots. In one, living scarecrows harvest a crop of human heads. In another, cannibals turn the Bates Motel into a buffet of human flesh. 
A clown in the Terror Tram maze
The scariest mazes

Winner – Trick 'r Treat

Modern cult horror classic Trick 'r Treat comes to life in Universal's scariest maze of 2018. Like the film, it's consciously broken up into vignettes, each introduced by an ominous orange title card hinting at the horrors to come. The film's recurring antagonist, the burlap sack-masked Sam, doesn't do the scaring directly, content instead to look at his handiwork while clutching a half-eaten lollipop. 

 

And what handiwork it is: Visitors will encounter scares from every angle and all their senses, down to the maze's pumpkin and cinnamon scents. 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.

Scarecrow character Sam from Trick 'r Treat

Runner-up – Universal Monsters

How much bite can monsters from the 1930s and '40s still have? Universal Monsters reveals they've still got fangs, resurrecting Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster, and others to terrify a new generation. Incredible set work and costumes bring the monsters to life—there's nothing dated about this maze or its scares. Even the exteriors sections— the entrances to Dracula's lair and then Frankenstein's lab—scream "classic monster movie," and there's a show-stopping set piece inside the laboratory. To round it all out, Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash has composed an original music score for the maze, injecting modern flair into the ambience.
Door with "Dracul" nameplate at Universal Monsters maze

Third place – 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 maze 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. Dr. Loomis, the psychiatrist trying to keep Myers under control, can protect you at the beginning, but after that you're on your own. There aren’t many things scarier than being alone in the dark, knowing this white-masked slasher is almost certainly lurking around the next corner watching your every move.
Michael Myers in the Halloween 4 maze
Halloween Horror Nights wordmark
Ready to feel the fear in person?
AAA members can get discounts on Halloween Horror Nights tickets. Save up to $36 on select dates when you buy tickets online or at a AAA branch.