Though its annual Halloween Horror Nights are sidelined due to the pandemic, Universal Orlando is still finding ways to spook park-goers this fall.
On Tuesday, the Florida resort announced plans for seasonal festivities in time for Halloween, including two new haunted houses. The unveiling of the new attractions comes two months after the company confirmed that 2020 Horror Nights would officially be canceled at both Universal Studios Hollywood in California, which remains mostly closed, and Universal Orlando.
The new Halloween attractions begin the weekend of Sept. 26, then run daily between Saturday, Oct. 3, through Sunday, Nov. 1.
Included with admission, the pair of brand-new haunted houses — not recommended for those under 13 since they may "be too intense for young children" — are Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives and Revenge of the Tooth Fairy. The latter of the two is described as an "original story that uncovers a dark ritual behind the innocent childhood tradition."
Guests can also don "family-friendly" Halloween costumes in the park, with those 12 and under able to trick-or-treat throughout the Islands of Adventure park.
Special limited-time food and drink options will also be on offer, including all-new food trucks stationed at the haunted houses that feature themed items like a “Franken Fried Chicken & Funnel Brains.”
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Visitors of all ages can also participate in a scavenger hunt called the Universal Orlando Scarecrow Stalk, in which they will search for "unique scarecrows and collect stamps at 13 retail locations throughout the park." Those who successfully complete the tasks score a prize.
Universal also noted that employees — including its "scare actors" — will continue to wear face coverings. Guests will also be required to use hand sanitizer before entering the haunted houses, and social distancing will be monitored throughout the experiences.
"Universal Orlando continues to implement its enhanced health and safety procedures and guidelines focused on 'screening, spacing and sanitization,' and those practices will be applied to all experiences taking place this fall," according to a press release. "Key measures include screening guests and team members, enforcing social distancing, requiring face coverings, limiting capacity at the parks, attractions and hotels, and increasing cleaning and disinfection procedures and more."
When announcing the cancellation of Horror Nights in July, Universal said it was "disappointed" to make the "difficult decision." During the fan-favorite seasonal event, the parks operate as normal during the day and then undergo a terrifying transformation at night. The spectacle typically takes place in September and October and features numerous elaborately themed haunted houses and "scare zones" as well as live entertainment.
“Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood have made the difficult decision to not hold Halloween Horror Nights events this year,” the company said in a statement at the time. “We know this decision will disappoint our fans and guests. We are disappointed, too. But we look forward to creating an amazing event in 2021.”
Both Universal resorts closed at the onset of the pandemic in March, alongside Walt Disney World and other attractions. Universal Orlando began a phased reopening in May, starting with its shopping and dining destination City Walk. Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios opened in June with limited capacity and new safety protocols.
Universal Studios Hollywood remains closed as California government officials have not yet introduced a reopening plan for theme parks in the state.
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