Halloween Horror Nights are the most popular late-night event of the year at Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Japan, and Universal Studios Hollywood. The hard-ticketed event has gained such a cult following that Universal Studios is building a year-round, Halloween Horror Nights-style attraction in Las Vegas!
Thousands of Guest flock to Central Florida each fall to visit roughly ten haunted houses themed to anything from horror classics like Universal Monsters: Legends Collide to modern films like Jordan Peele’s Nope (2022) and The Curse of La Llorona (2019) to Theme-Park originals like Bugs: Eaten Alive.
Unfortunately, some Guests don’t feel welcome at this frightfully fun event at Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure. Over 300 fans signed a recent Change.org petition by Noah Daniels to make Halloween Horror Nights more accessible to ECVs and scooters.
Daniels described himself as a long-time HHN fan and avid horror viewer. “I had found somewhere I could be my freaky, dramatic, twisted self. And at HHN, I was celebrated for it. But right as I felt I had started finding myself in the fog, the horror started getting all too real,” he wrote.
In 2019, Daniels was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy. He gets tired quickly and needs an ECV to visit the Universal Theme Parks comfortably. Still, he loved Halloween Horror Nights. “Horror inspires me to keep going when things get tough. To keep fighting and not to let myself become a victim,” he said.
But he found himself struggling to get through Halloween Horror Nights. “While HHN may technically be ADA-compliant, anybody who has done it with a physical limitation knows that it is far from perfect. Fumbling around with a manual wheelchair in the dark, hitting walls and snagging corners every time you leave/enter a room is not ideal and it is not accessible.”
Daniels was forced to transfer out of his scooter and into a manual wheelchair to enter each Haunted House, which exhausted him. “To say in the year 2023 that the only way a person with a disability is allowed to experience them is by transfering into a foreign wheelchair is outrageous. There is no reason why these houses can’t accommodate ECVs, such as motorized scooters or electric wheelchairs.”
“Last year, at HHN 31, my night was cut short because, after transferring in and out of the provided wheelchairs to and from my scooter, I was too exhausted to keep going,” he recalled.
“With Universal’s current policy in place, it’s just not realistic for many non-ambulatory to experience all that Halloween Horror Nights has to offer in just one night,” Daniels wrote. “To expect us to spend twice as much as our able-bodied cohorts for the same experience is egregious.”
At the end of the petition, Daniels asked Universal Orlando Resort to make Halloween Horror Nights more accessible for ECV/scooter users. Dozens of fans who signed the petition left comments echoing his sentiments.
“As a disabled person who loves horror, the fact that this is how it is means I will never drop the money on this until it changes,” said Kimberly Boyd. “We shouldn’t have to pay twice to have the same experience as abled people.”
“Everyone should get to experience the thrill of HHN during the Halloween season,” Brandon Ward wrote. “Universal should prioritize making it a comfortable, enjoyable experience for guests of all kinds.”
Have you experienced difficulty attending Halloween Horror Nights with a mobility device?