Halloween Horror Nights 26 starts on September 16, but fans are already making their plans as they eagerly anticipate haunted houses based on hot properties like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Exorcist.” If you’re making your own plans, here are five tips to lessen your wait in what are sure to be long lines for the mazes once the event is in full swing:
1) Arrive early. The crowd tends to grow later, especially on weekdays when people have to get home from work or school before they get to the park. If you can beat them through the gates, you’re rewarded with short lines for the first hour or so. The best strategy is to visit the park during the day and stay in one of the interior holding areas after it closes. You’re allowed to do that if you have a Halloween Horror Nights ticket, and you get a jump on the massive front gate crowd once the event opens. Otherwise, be one of the first waiting at the gates or stay at an on-site hotel that offers special access.
2) Stay late. On nights when Halloween Horror Nights is expected to be busy, the event runs as late as 2 a.m. Plan to arrive early and stay as late as possible to cram in the maximum amount of haunted houses. Yes, that’s a long night, but you can always take a break watching the Bill and Ted show or stopped somewhere for a meal or drink. The crowd typically thins in the week hours, so you’ll get a lot done in that last precious hour or two of the late night.early morning.
3) Visit early in the season. While hardcore Halloween Horror Nights fans arrive en masse in September to cram in as many days at their favorite event as possible, the main crowds build as the season wears on. If you visit early in the season, you’ll avoid the growing crowd that peaks in mid to late October.
4) Check the local school calendars. While weekdays are generally good times to visit, Halloween Horror Nights gets packed during the local fall breaks, lovingly referred to as “Hell Weeks” by the locals. Those breaks are usually in October, giving you another good reason to visit earlier in the year. You’ll still encounter a locals with Frequent Fear passes during the week, but that’s offset by a lighter crowd in general.
5) Get an Express Pass if you absolutely must visit at a busy time. Yes, Express Passes are pricey, but they’re worth their weight in gold on the busiest nights. They allow you to access each haunted maze through a special express line. On busy nights, even the express waits can climb to half an hour or more, but that’s nothing compared to waits of two hours or more in the stand-by line. On quieter nights, the express line often has virtually no wait at all. Hint: If you buy and Express Pass and arrive early, don’t use it if the main queue isn’t long yet. People often use their Express Passes right after the park opens, when the regular wait is five minutes or less. It doesn’t lower their wait, and they waste the opportunity to redo the house later in the evening, when the crowd arrives and it makes sense to use express access.