I went to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood on Sunday, and it was intense to say the least. They do not mess around over there. There are seven new mazes, including a Walking Dead-themed maze and a Clown 3-D adventure that will certainly prepare you for American Horror Story: Freak Show. It will also prepare you for a lifelong fear of clowns, if you weren't terrified of them already.
You do not get one single break from the scares the whole time you are at Hollywood Horror Nights, so if you think you are safe after leaving a maze, you are dead wrong because there is most likely an evil zombie with a chainsaw ready to chase you to the next maze while your friend giggles maniacally behind you.
It. Was. Awesome. I survived.
And I also picked up a couple tips while at Halloween Horror Nights to help others during this spooky season so you can have the best time at whatever haunted maze, house, hayride, corn maze you should happen to attend soon.
And these tips also might help you not punk out in front of your friends.
1. Just go all in
Disclaimer: I love getting scared. I love just screaming my ass and/or head off when something jumps out at me. I love the racing heart and feeling breathless and laughing until I'm sure I'm about to pee a little bit over how scared I am. And that's why I have so much fun at these places. Don't go to a haunted attraction with your chest puffed up claiming "these stupid things are so fake and they won't scare me." Just let them scare you! Let out the loudest blood-curling scream when things jump out at you because it's so much fun to yell at the top of your lungs. Trust me.
2. Have a buddy in a maze
This person is someone you can hold hands with or cling to the whole time. Or if you are like my friend who I went with yesterday, this person shoves you closer to things that jump out at you. I call that person an a--hole, but then they can't be mad when you don't warn them that a zombie is following them through the maze.
3. No buddy? Tag along with a group
They send people in waves to walk through haunted houses, so if you don't have a buddy, just tag along with the end of another group. When you're entering a From Dusk Till Dawn-themed maze, you're all in it together anyway, so it doesn't matter if you're all strangers. You'll bond real quick once someone all but jumps on your back when a vampire pops out from behind a door.
4. Don't try and predict the mazes
Just don't. You can't. First of all, even if you see someone six people in front of you get scared by a werewolf jumping out from the shadows (shown above, Jesus Christ it was terrifying) and you know it's coming, you will still not be prepared. You will still scream because damn it, these HHN folk know what they are doing. Also, you might think that half-dead creature moving like a mechanical dummy is just there to look gross, but then he'll come to life and lunge at you, effectively scaring the piss out of you. That happened to me. Tricky bastard acting like a damn robot…
5. Dress appropriately
You will be running and screaming and jumping and sweating. I was drenched in sweat by the end of the night, so dress like you are headed into battle, meaning you need to dress comfortably and ready for anything. Running shoes are preferable. Stop thinking about looking cute and start thinking about looking ready to fight Aliens and/or Predators.
6. Don't you dare take selfies in the mazes
Why are you stopping to take a selfie?! There is a damn evil clown lumbering at me and if you stop to take a photo of you and your "beef" (that's what I call BFFs because it's gross), then I will shove you to the side and step over you. There's your stupid Kodak moment. Also, if the flash goes off on your phone, there is always an employee there to wave a flashlight in your face and scream at you for having your flash on and that ruins the maze for everyone. Read the rules before you go into the maze, OK?
7. Splurge for Front of Line passes
If you are going to a big park like Halloween Horror Nights, I highly recommend splurging for the Front of Line passes, or the like. Some of the wait times for the mazes at Halloween Horror Nights were as long as 80 minutes. If you want to hit everything in the park, you don't want to waste time standing around for over an hour at every maze. Pay for the pass that gets you to the very front. It's worth it if you can spare the cash. And then you have time to stop for an Oreo Churro which I didn't even know was a thing until last night. My life is forever changed.
8. Make eye contact with performers
This is what to do if you don't want to be targeted by the actors who are walking around in the scare zones just looking for people to terrorize. Just be aware, dude. If you look down at the ground or immediately try and get out of their way when they walk toward you, they are definitely more likely to hunt you down to get a rise out of you. So if you don't want that, you should just keep your head up. It's not a guaranteed, no-fail tactic, but I found that the more I cringed and looked away from the performers, the more often I got chased. I couldn't help it! And if you scream and demand your friend help you after you run into a corner, the chasers love that more. Speaking from personal experience.
9. Don't be that guy
You know the guy. The one who thinks he's too cool for all this and starts pointing out where people will be jumping from or who tries to scare other people in the maze on his own. He's also the one who calls the actors in the mazes "fake" or "stupid." He says "this isn't even scary" a lot. I hate that guy. Why are you even here? Let the people who want to be scared through, douche.
So if you just follow these guidelines, you'll be just fine. Oh, you'll still get scared to the point of almost crapping yourself, but at least you'll have a good time while the said pants-crapping happens.
Halloween Horror Nights is happening through Nov. 2 at Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando. You should go if you feel like not having a voice the next day from all the screaming.
(E! and Universal and part of the same NBCUniversal family.)