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The Oracle

The Student News Site of Olympia High School

The Oracle

The Student News Site of Olympia High School

The Oracle

Haunted Hot Takes: Halloween Horror Nights 2023 houses ranked from least to most scary


Universal Studios’ annual event, Halloween Horror Nights is back and better than ever. Aside from the five scare zones, meant to tell the twisted tale of this year’s icon Dr. Oddfellow, you can expect suspenseful shows, tons of themed foods and drinks, and of course haunted houses. 

This year there are 10 houses scattered throughout the park, but how scary are they? Our staff at The Oracle was determined to find out the answer to this question, and below are our house picks ranked from least to most scary.

Olivia Taliaferro

10. Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count

Who doesn’t want to enter the world of Child’s Play and encounter everyone’s favorite serial killer doll, Chucky? The house provided the exact amount of comic-horror tone you’d expect from the franchise, however, compared to the rest of the houses, lacked some serious scare factor.

“My least favorite house was probably Chucky. There weren’t many scare actors and the decorations weren’t that cool, ” Junior Laxmi Viswanathan said.

Overall this seemed to be the general consensus on Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count and therefore was placed at number 10 on our list. 

Olivia Taliaferro


9. Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate

Paying homage to the classic 1999 ride, Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate is a really neat house in both design and execution. If you’ve ever ridden on the dragon-themed coaster, you can probably recall the choice between one of two tracks and this house allows you to do something similar by choosing your own adventure. 

The house’s set designs, costumes, and special effects were all neat but the house is more fantasy-like than horror. If you are looking to be transported into a medieval world with a fire versus ice theme at Halloween Horror Nights, then this is for you. However, for someone looking for screams who isn’t familiar with the original attraction, I would skip this house altogether.

Olivia Taliaferro

8. Stranger Things 4

The latest season of “Stranger Things” was by far the scariest yet, and as a result, felt like it lent itself perfectly for a house at this event.  

The house itself made you feel as though you’ve been transported straight into 1986 Hawkins, Indiana. It features impressive sets from some of Season 4’s iconic scenes – including Max escaping Vecna and Eddie and Dustin fighting Demobats. Resulting in a great balance between bringing the show to life while also bringing the scares. 

That being said, the house featured a lot of action from the main characters, and knowing they’re considered “the good guys” made this house a lot less scary to me, making it number 8 on our list.

Olivia Taliaferro

7. YETI: Campground Kills

If you like “Dark Humor”, this house is for you. Some Halloween Horror Nights houses have a storyline that can be difficult to follow but Yeti: Campground Kills is not one of those houses. The premise revolves around a 1950s campground that has been overrun by yetis with a tendency towards violence. 

At every twist and turn, you’ll be confronted by one of these creatures and they’re pretty scary. However, due to the dark humor implanted within the house, such as Billy mocking a dead baby yeti, and proceeding to get thrown by Mama Yeti,  the deaths become almost too silly to take seriously. 

Olivia Taliaferro

6. The Last of Us

The Last of Us house follows the unlikely bonded pair, Joel and Ellie, as they endure the brutal realities of a post-apocalyptic world. When you step inside, you come face-to-face with some of the gnarliest zombie-like creatures you’ll ever see, known as “The Infected.” The costumes were extremely effective and the house had a wonderful use of sound. 

With that being said, the house itself feels more theatrical in some scenes than scary. Compared to other houses, this one relied a lot more on mediocre strobe lighting and jumpscares. While impressive all the less, these nitpicks make it number 6 on our list.

Olivia Taliaferro

5. Dr. Oddfellow’s Twisted Origins

Halloween Horror Nights has built its own extensive lore of original characters throughout the years and this year is no different as Universal introduces an all-new icon: Dr. Oddfellow. With a 1930s circus theme, this house lets you experience all of Dr. Oddfellow’s oddities firsthand. When you walk through, you begin to realize that Oddfellow’s so-called “acts” are a series of outrageous murders and essentially he is collecting souls to gain immortality. You are next on his list.

“For me it was Dr. Oddfellow’s Twisted Origins because there were curtains hanging from the ceiling and the clowns would come out at the perfect time to scare you,” Sophomore Michael Taccetta said, when asked which house freaked him out the most.

However, apart from the clowns, this house is actually pretty lighthearted. If you give it a go, keep an eye out for Halloween Horror Nights legend Jack the Clown as he makes quite the cameo.

Olivia Taliaferro

4. The Exorcist: Believer

Serving as a trailer for the unreleased movie, The Exorcist: Believer  house feels like something straight from a nightmare. The story is a continuation of the original 1973 Exorcist film, following two young girls who went missing and returned with a demonic entity. Inside the house you experience synchronized possessions, ancient rituals, and loud sound effects that will make you jump out of your skin. 

This probably would’ve been the scariest house of the night if not for the strange smell of the house itself. Nonetheless, it was very well done, but, experiencing the house after seeing the movie will probably make for a richer experience.

Olivia Taliaferro

3. Universal Monsters Unmasked

Another notable Halloween Horror Nights tradition is the annual Universal Monsters haunted house, and this one in particular is a real showstopper. This year’s iteration features the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde who are all facing off in Paris. The four characters cause murderous mayhem above and below the streets of Paris in iconic settings like the Paris’ opera house and the Paris Catacombs.

This attention to detail as well as the house’s chilling atmosphere really bring the house together. It also highlights a collection of monsters which I feel are often overlooked. All in all, the dark Parisian setting makes for a beautiful and terrifying house.

Olivia Taliaferro

2. Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings

Who doesn’t love a good kill cult? Set in colonial times, Bloodmoon: Dark Offerings features impressive sets that immediately transport you to the world of entranced blood moon worshippers. Between its disturbing imagery and unnerving rooms, the house’s use of sacrifices and rituals will make you want to convert to the villager’s beliefs in order to escape their wrath. 

Overall the house is uncomfortable from the get-go, and the horror only intensifies the deeper you venture inside. Therefore, it’s on our list as the second scariest house at Halloween Horror Nights and one of our most recommended for intense scares.

Olivia Taliaferro

1. The Darkest Deal

How far would you go to be successful? Most people are familiar with the trope of musicians selling their souls for fame and fortune, and The Darkest Deal is no exception. Following blues musician Pinestraw Spruce, he trades his soul to The Collector for fame, and naturally, we get caught up in the redistribution of souls as well.

In my opinion, this is a great concept that was translated to near perfection. The swampy aesthetic combined with the devil himself leaves you extremely unsettled. It’s a definite must-do and also number one on our list.

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Olivia Taliaferro
Olivia Taliaferro is a junior staff member of The Oracle. She is captain of the varsity golf team at Olympia, VP of leadership for the National Charity League, Director of Community Outreach for the Vegan Club, and an FCA Officer. In her free time, Olivia enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing golf, painting, traveling, and shopping.
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    Rebecca RussoOct 10, 2023 at 1:22 pm

    Great article, lots of great info and opinions!