Universal Studios theme parks have been doing Halloween Horror Nights as an annual spooky tradition for a long time, but it feels like in recent years it has become an increasingly popular destination for movie and TV nerds, as each year fans look forward to seeing which their favorite films and shows get adapted to haunted houses at the event. I don’t know that it’s Universal theme parks’ “trademark” at this point, but certainly it’s one of their signature selling points.

It’s not surprising then to hear that Universal is now planning a whole “year-round horror experience,” this one called Universal Horror Unleashed. The press release announcing the new venture, which will be located at AREA15 in Las Vegas describes it as “a variety of unique, immersive, and horror-centric experiences will surround eerie eateries and bone-chilling bar areas. It will deliver on the thrills Universal’s horror fans have come to love and excite anyone looking for a new level of experiential entertainment. In addition, guests can expect a continuously updated experience with must-see seasonal events and one-of-a-kind merchandise.”

Stranger Things Universal Halloween Horror Nights
Universal / Netflix

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To me this is a very smart idea. Universal is always playing catch-up to Disney — and there’s no question Disney is really the biggest brand in the world of movie and TV theme parks. But Disneyland is also at its core a family-friendly place, and all their attractions have to fit into that box; Universal has had a lot of success with those Halloween Horror Nights in recent years specifically because it is something Disney can’t really compete with. (Their Halloween “parties” are basically events where guests can trick or treat around their theme parks, meet spookily themed characters, and watch special fireworks and live entertainment.) “Horror theme park” is something Universal can definitely own — if they pull this Horror Unleashed concept off.

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