Events

A Beginner’s Guide to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights Lore

September 19, 2022
HHN Lore Jack The Clown

Universal Orlando Resort is home to wizards, dinosaurs, and superheroes. It’s well-known that this is where members of so many different fandoms converge to celebrate what they love all year round. But it’s only once the summer humidity subsides and that first whiff of fog spreads throughout Universal Studios Florida that perhaps the most impassioned and devoted of all the fans come out to play.

Over the years, Halloween Horror Nights (or HHN for short) has garnered a much-deserved following and all that goes along with it: theories, dedicated message boards, cosplaying, fan art… And like most properties, there are two ways to engage with the event: you can have a great time attending and taking it all for face value, or you can dig into the details and really commit to the immersion.

As a recently reformed scaredy cat, I’m a relative newcomer to the frights and delights this event has to offer. But if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I love to dive headfirst into an exciting new world, so I’m choosing to commit. Just several steps into my first HHN haunted house, I came to realize the immense detail involved in every aspect of the experience, from set design to storytelling.

What you’ll read below is a result of my personal dive into HHN lore; everything I’ve uncovered about its mythology, including a comprehensive list of icons and answers to questions like “What’s the deal with Carey, Ohio?’” Enjoy! (If you dare.)

A Brief History of Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Studios Florida debuted its first Halloween event called Fright Nights in 1991. However, the studio’s legacy in the horror space dates back decades earlier to the golden age of cinema when Universal Pictures thrilled audiences with iconic Monster movies like Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, and many others. Given this indelible film history, it’s no surprise that Universal Monsters continue to be a crucial and celebrated component of Halloween Horror Nights year after year.

In 1992, the experience was officially renamed Halloween Horror Nights and became an annual event. What began as a three-night haunting has since evolved to span many select nights between September and October. Although the event has primarily taken place inside Universal Studios Florida, there was a brief period from 2002-2005 where Universal Islands of Adventure got in on the fun.

Every year comes with a new overall theme and a cast of characters that inhabit the transformed park. The main attractions are always the various haunted houses that take you through either an original story or one from your favorite films and television shows. But outside lies atmospheric scare zones, live shows, and culinary treats, so there is never a dull moment and always a million details to parse.

Lora Sauls, Senior Manager of Creative Development and Show Direction at Universal Orlando, has been integral in crafting many of Halloween Horror Nights greatest narratives. “Over the years, we have seen HHN become a tradition for so many people — not only for those in the US, but abroad as well. And I’ve watched it become a rite of passage for teenagers, too.” She adds that she loves seeing guests on the opening night of each year’s event: “In 2021, at the opening moment of HHN, so many of us were in tears due to being back and seeing so many fans that wanted to be back with us.” After being unable to put on the full event in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 brought HHN30 and a rush of emotions for all who live to celebrate the scares. HHN31 promises to continue the tradition.

For advice and information on all this beloved event has to offer, be sure to check out the Complete Guide to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort. This is required reading for anyone heading out for their first HHN.

Speaking the Language

As in all communities, becoming an insider with HHN fans is reliant upon learning a whole new glossary of terms. So, I’m here to set you straight…

Houses

Each event contains a handful of haunted houses filled with intricately designed sets and scareactors ready to make you jump out of your skin. They are often referred to as just “houses” for short.

Icons

Through the years, there have been many events with a central figurehead who unleashes mayhem on brave guests. This character is known as the “icon” and most often originates with Universal Orlando, where an intriguingly twisted personality and backstory are drawn up for the character.

Scare Zones

How do you get from one house to another? Often you have to walk through a “scare zone,” or a themed outdoor area, also filled with scareactors.

IP

“Intellectual property” is a term used for content that is based on existing movies, shows, or franchises. So, if you’re interested in a certain house or scare zone that derives from having watched the latest blockbuster, that’s IP.

Original Content

If a house or scare zone is wholly unique to Universal Orlando Resort, based on a story solely created by our Entertainment team for the event and not inspired by things you’ve seen on screen, that’s called “original content.”

Scareactors

Scareactor HHN

The many performers who bring to life every depraved character you encounter at the event are dubbed “scareactors.”

Boo Holes

Once you’ve been through enough houses, you’ll start to recognize little crevices and hiding spots that seem to be designed specifically to mask the scareactors who are waiting to jump out. These are called “boo holes.”

SIF

Houses often contain themed monofilament and fabrics that hang from the ceiling to make your experience truly tactile and distract you from upcoming scares. This is referred to comedically as “Stuff in Face” or “SIF.”

Referencing Past Events

Fans will often refer to past years’ events in shorthand, so if you hear people walking around talking about “HHN25” or “HHN27,” they’re remembering the specifics of their favorites.

Original Halloween Horror Nights Icons

If we’re going to talk lore, this is certainly the place to start, as icons are central to the fan experience. Almost everyone has a favorite icon and they often make continued appearances to resume their individual reigns of terror. For instance, HHN30 celebrated 30 years of the event with “HHN Icons: Captured,” an entire house filled with rooms dedicated to past icons that honestly got me interested in exploring the fictional backstories behind HHN in the first place.

Jack the Clown

Close up Jack The Clown

Also known as: Jack Schmidt, The Ringmaster

Jack, an evil circus clown, was the first original icon and probably the most enduring. He was born in Shady Brook Rest Home and Sanitarium in the late 1800s and later joined Dr. Oddfellow’s Carnival of Thrills. As a carnival performer, he often entertained guests throughout the Southern United States. But when members of his audience started to go missing, it became clear that something sinister lurked underneath his painted smile.

In a misguided attempt to gain help evading the police, Jack revealed his deeds to Dr. Oddfellow, who was also dodging jail after a freak circus accident had killed several customers. Oddfellow, rather than being sympathetic to a fellow wrongdoer, was upset that Jack had attracted attention. He had the clown murdered, but not before learning the whereabouts of his victims’ bodies, which he then incorporated into the carnival’s House of Horrors.

Years later, in the fall of 1980, a documentary crew stumbled upon the defunct House of Horrors in a Louisiana junkyard and pried open the doors to find a large wooden box stamped with the letters J-A-C-K. The crew slowly twisted a crank on the box’s side and out popped Jack’s decaying body, shocking them all. On route to a coroner’s office for investigation, the remains of Jack and his thirteen victims mysteriously disappeared in a freak accident and the documentary crew was later found murdered.

In 2000, Universal Orlando Resort purchased Jack’s box and other props from the House of Horrors. A Universal Team Member wanted to test the urban legend that had been circulating: supposedly Jack was seeking vengeance on Dr. Oddfellow and rewarding anyone who sets him free. This test proved successful, thus beginning Jack’s new dominion over Halloween Horror Nights.

Events featured: HHNX, HHNXI, HHNXIV, HHNXV, HHN16, HHNXVII, HHNXX, HHN25, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Jacked Up (show)
  • PsychoScareapy: Maximum Madness (house)
  • Jack’s Carnival of Carnage (show)
  • Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem (house)
  • The Carnage Returns (show)

The Caretaker

The Caretaker HHN

Also known as: Dr. Albert Caine

With origins as a well-respected surgeon, Dr. Albert Caine demonstrated an interest in the inner-workings of the human body that transcended saving patients. But more than living bodies, he was entranced by what happens to the physical form upon death. So naturally, he ended up becoming the caretaker of Shady Oaks Cemetery in Carey, Ohio, where he also converted his Victorian mansion into a mortuary.

When experimenting on the deceased was no longer enough to strike his fancy, Caine would prey upon homeless individuals, seemingly inviting them to his mansion for help and comfortable lodging. Their stay, however, was anything but comfortable, as Caine would proceed to carve them up in his operating room, performing amputations, dissections, and organ removals without anesthesia to test the human mind’s capacity for terror before it succumbs to death.

After a police investigation led to a mob setting his mansion on fire, it was assumed that he and his family were among the charred remains. That is, until people last reported to be in the vicinity started going missing and a hidden tunnel system was discovered beneath the mansion, begging the question: is Caine still alive?

Events featured: HHNXII, HHN13, HHNXIV, HHN16, HHNXX, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • HHNXII Opening Scaremonies (show)
  • ScreamHouse (house)
  • ScreamHouse Revisited (house)
  • The Arrival (show)

The Director

Also known as: Paulo Ravinski

A deranged filmmaker, Paulo Ravinski is infatuated by the portrayal of human suffering and doesn’t hesitate to capture it in his work, which he deems “art.” When he was first starting out, it became clear that many didn’t agree with this designation. His film, The Widow’s Eye, enraged his home country to the degree that he was forced to move to America.

In 2003, Paulo was hired by Universal Orlando Resort to direct and shoot a film at Islands of Adventure, where he thought he might finally earn the respect he deserves. He transformed each area of the park into a living movie and took over an abandoned drive-in theater where he could lure new “actors” to star in his “slasherpiece.”

Events featured: HHN13, HHN16, HHNXX, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Infestation (show)
  • All Nite Die-In (house)
  • All Nite Die-In: Take 2 (house)

The Usher

Also known as: Julian Browning

An usher at the popular Universal Palace Theater, Julian Browning developed a love of all movies, but specifically horror movies. What he didn’t love was loud and disruptive patrons, which ended up causing his downfall.

A 1940 showing of The Phantom of the Opera went wrong when an altercation with a rude member of the audience sent his flashlight soaring through the silver screen, revealing the remnants of the theater’s past life as a playhouse. Heading through the tear to retrieve it, Julian became entangled in the ropes of an old sandbag and was slowly strangled to death. The Universal Palace has been cursed ever since with many believing it to be haunted by Julian enacting revenge on other rulebreakers.

Events featured: HHNXIX, HHNXX, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • HHNXIX Main Gate (show)
  • Silver Screams (house)
  • ICONS: HHN (scare zone)

The Storyteller

Also known as: Elsa Strict

A woman with a secret or two, Elsa Strict is best known as the keeper of the myth of Terra Cruentus, a land ruled by the evil Terra Queen. Elsa was visited by a malicious winged creature as a child and inherited its darkness when she fought back. During HHNXV, she was often found roaming the streets of Universal Studios Florida, telling her twisted tales.

Legend has it, at the center of Terra Cruentus is a large, knotty Gorewood tree that first sprouted on an ancient battlefield, nurtured by a combination of rare metals in the earth and the dissolution of human remains. To this day, its roots require human blood, acquired during a nightly ritual presided upon by the Terra Queen and using a ceremonial dagger called the Terra Throne Blade.

Events featured: HHNXV, HHN16, HHNXX, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Where Evil Hides (house)
  • HHN Icons: Captured (house)

Chance

Chance HHN26

While Chance may be Jack the Clown’s right-hand woman, she would resent being called a sidekick. Bubbly and excitable, she speaks in a high-pitched voice and is prone to a pun… that is until something sets her off. Her manic manner can manifest quite quickly in a fit of intense rage. You just have to hope she’s not holding a knife while it happens.

Chance was first introduced during the stage show, “Jack’s Carnival of Carnage,” and went on to be part of the cult-like community “Jack’s Maniacs” in 2015. It was revealed at the end of that event that she and Jack had been detained by the police with the result being Jack sealed once again in his box and Chance being committed to Shadybrook Rest Home and Sanitarium. While incarcerated, she dreamt up a gothic nightmare that would become real the following year at HHN26 when she finally took the spotlight.

Events featured: HHNXVII, HHNXX, HHN26, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Jack’s Carnival of Carnage (show)
  • The Carnage Returns (show)
  • A Chance in Hell (scare zone)
  • Lunatic’s Playground 3D: You Won’t Stand a Chance (house)

Lady Luck

A shapeshifting siren, Lady Luck appears at first to be a beautiful and seductive woman, luring all manner of risk-takers to take a chance on her. However, the more one gambles, the further her face contorts and her true form is revealed. During HHN21, each house’s main character faced a choice posed by Lady Luck, with disastrous results.

Floyd Mercer is the only known survivor of an encounter with the temptress, having witnessed her killing his friend Benny. He fled and faked insanity to get himself admitted to Shadybrook Rest Home and Sanitarium, but grew ever more sure that she would find him and ended up hanging himself in what he saw as the only true act of escape. 

Events featured: HHN21, HHN25, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Your Luck Has Run Out (scare zone)
  • HHN Icons: Captured (house)

Fear

Fear Icon HHN30

Also known as: Adaru the Demon of Fear

In 2010, it was revealed that Adaru, an incarnation of Fear itself, had been influencing all past Halloween Horror Nights chaos from inside an old lantern in the Universal Orlando Art & Design Department. After finally being released in an incident that involved members of Legendary Truth assembling a cursed puzzle, he possessed a Team Member to demand that everyone come to the event so he could feed on their frights.

Soon after, Fear began to speak through five icons of the past, ringing in a new era of darkness and making them his five heralds: Jack the Clown (Chaos), The Caretaker (Death), The Director (Sacrifice), The Storyteller (Legend), The Usher (Vengeance).

In the aftermath of the event, the lantern’s light receded and now Fear is once again trapped, but still influencing Universal Orlando to design all manner of horror for the annual event.

Events featured: HHNXX, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Fear Revealed (scare zone)
  • HHN Icons: Captured (house)

Which of these creepy creatures earns the title of Lora Sauls’ favorite? She can’t choose. “They all have unique personalities,” she claims. But she has some memories that deepen her love for a couple of them.

For HHNXII, she was part of the opening moment, a staged scene that happens outside the park at the beginning of the night, often including that year’s icon. After ripping out the heart of a “non-believer,” The Caretaker opened the gates and Lora (playing a tourist) was carried away into the event screaming in the direction of the fans who would soon follow.

She also choreographed “Jacked Up” during HHNX, Jack the Clown’s very first appearance as an icon. “These moments have a special place in my heart,” she says.

Recurring Characters

The canon of Halloween Horror Nights reaches beyond the central figures of each event, with many more original characters making continued appearances over the years. Here are some fan favorites:

Pumpkin Lord

The Pumpkin Lord Halloween Horror Nights HHN31

Grown from a twisted heap of malignant vines and pumpkin, The Pumpkin Lord gets his power by tricking and enticing people to celebrate Halloween. He draws life from those practicing the traditions of the season, getting slowly stronger and more imposing until he has you in his grasp. To accomplish this, he employs minions like Gramalkin the Summoner, who help harvest all that makes Halloween what it is. Fans really gravitated toward The Pumpkin Lord during HHN30, often joining Gramalkin in her attempts to conjure and revere the tendrilled being.

Events featured: HHN30, HHN31

Fan favorite appearances:

Boris Shuster

An old-fashion film noir gumshoe, Boris Shuster first became entangled in HHN lore during HHNXVII when he hired a freelance photographer, Charlie McPherson, to follow a man who was suspected of infidelity by his wife. Shortly after exposing this man, McPherson made an appointment with twisted psychiatrist Dr. Mary Agana and disappeared. While looking into McPherson’s absence, Shuster discovered he was murdered as a result of Mary’s extreme therapy methods. Shuster scheduled a meeting with Mary, planning to confront her and she was found dead soon after, leading to suspicions that he may have been her killer. But he was cleared of all charges and went on to found The Collective, which operates at Legendary Truth Mansion in New Jersey.

Shuster’s name and some of the locations he frequents can be seen on window dressing in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, which you can find year-round.

Events featured: HHNXVII, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

Legendary Truth: The Collective

Originally founded by Boris Shuster and now run by Dr. Calvin Thorncastle, Legendary Truth is a paranormal research group that first became associated with the event during HHNXVIII. During an experience that included both online and in-person activities, fans were able to join the team and help gather and interpret clues about the disappearance of Dr. Mary Agana.

Since that time, The Collective has been linked to many other happenings over the years. They were unwittingly responsible for releasing Fear from his lantern during HHNXX and they studied the Legions of Horror and their dominion over the scare zones of HHN22. The final weekends of both HHN24 and HHN25 also saw the return of special Legendary Truth: The Collective events at Universal Studios Florida that used innovative new technologies to allow Collective members to delve deeper into the history of the organization as a whole, and to find ties to the release of Jack the Clown.

Events featured: HHNXVIII, HHN23, HHN24, HHN25, HHN26, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Reflections of Fear (house)
  • Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate (house)
  • The Repository (immersive experience)
  • Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth (house)

Terra Queen

Terra Queen HHN30

Ruler of Terra Cruentus and subject of The Storyteller’s tales, the Terra Queen presides over unwilling sacrifices to the Gorewood tree helped by a group of demonic biker minions. Blood from each kill is not only used to sustain the land, but also sometimes to make “Bloodberry Wine” that is served to those loyal to her. On the final night of Halloween Horror Nights, she offers herself as sacrifice to complete the cyclical “Season of the Queen,” and it’s said that she returns every 15 years.

Events featured: HHNXV, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • The Terra Throne (show)
  • Gorewood Forest (scare zone)

Eddie

Also known as: Eddie Schmidt, Edgar Schmidt

Brother of Jack the Clown, Eddie was also born at Shady Brook Rest Home and Sanitarium, but was abandoned when Jack left to join Dr. Oddfellow. He eventually grew up in a trailer park, where he was burned and disfigured by a fire set by a group of teens trying to play a prank. He has a penchant for wielding his chainsaw and terrorizing others through his various business ventures, which include a funhouse game show and a murder-for-hire company catering to rich clientele.

Events featured: HHNXIV, HHN16, HHNXX, HHN25, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Horror Nights Nightmares (house)
  • Lights Camera Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge (scare zone)

Cindy Caine

Also known as: Sindy

Adopted daughter of The Caretaker, Cindy’s origins can be traced back to an orphanage where she landed after the death of her parents. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get along with her peers and a volatile nature got the best of her when she burned the place down, killing everyone inside except herself. The murderous Dr. Albert Caine proved to be a perfect match when she needed a new home.

Events featured: HHN13, HHN16, HHNXIX, HHNXX, HHN25, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes (house)
  • Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland (house)

Body Collectors

Also known as: The Gentlemen

Servants of the Terra Queen, The Body Collectors are tall in stature with pale gray skin, smooth bald heads, wide creepy smile, and are usually depicted in black suits. In Terra Cruentus, they were known to collect human body parts, organs, and blood. However, their reach extends beyond the realm to include collecting plagued bodies in Victorian-era London and even patients from Shadybrook Rest Home and Sanitarium.

Events featured: HHNXV, HHN16, HHNXVIII, HHNXX, HHN25

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Body Collectors (house)
  • Body Collectors: Collections of the Past (house)
  • Streets of Blood (scare zone)
  • Body Collectors: Recollections (house)

Samuel Meetz and Meaty Meetz

Meetz Meats at Halloween Horror Nights

The welcoming and friendly owner of the most popular meat factory in Carey, Ohio, Sam Meetz inherited Meetz Meats from his father, who made a desperate decision during the Great Depression. In order to save money, he began butchering town lawbreakers and vagrants instead of pigs, reasoning that his actions helped keep the town clean. The practice proved fruitful and Sam continues it to this day, feeding the town’s ravenous citizens, who are none the wiser.

While trolling for fresh meat, Sam and his employees don masks depicting the factory mascot, Meaty Meetz, a smiling, portly redhead with an unsettling presence.

Events featured: HHN19, HHN30, HHN31

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Leave it to Cleaver (house)
  • Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland (house)

The Legions of Horror

Introduced as a park-wide scare zone at HHN22, the Legions of Horror were led by the mysterious Iniquitous. These supernatural beings had remained dormant under the concrete of Universal Studios Florida until renovators accidentally unearthed them. The six Legions included Strengoits (Vampires), Cerebins (Beasts), Baccanoids (Warriors), Maschorians (Prisoners), Morphans (Traditionals), and Krezans (Zombies). They became a primary investigative focus of Legendary Truth: The collective, whose studies spanned years.

Events featured: HHN22, HHN23, HHN24, HHN25, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • The Legions of Horror (park-wide scare zone)
  • Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth (house)

H.R. Bloodengutz

Also known as: Lawrence “Larry” Kurtzberg

After having retired to lead a quiet life as a taxidermist, former Broadway performer Larry Kurtzberg started missing the theatrical life. He finally contacted a talent agency, and on the other line was Lady Luck in disguise, who offered him the chance to play H.R. Bloodengutz on a horror show.

The show quickly became one of the most popular variety shows of the seventies, presenting all kinds of horror films with Bloodengutz as host. But things went downhill when Kurtzberg started succumbing to increasingly violent mood swings. The show’s content got more and more disturbing, and ratings began to drop. To avoid cancellation, Kurtzberg kidnapped and killed the producer, landing himself in prison for life.

Events featured: HHN21, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror (house)
  • Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland (house)

Dogs of War (Havoc Super Soldiers)

Highly trained killing machines, the Dogs of War were born when The Shadow Creek Enterprise was tasked with creating an elite corps of superhuman soldiers. Through scientific experimentation and genetic engineering on their volunteer test subjects, the project known as “Havoc” was successful… but success came at the cost of their volunteers’ sanity. The soldiers turned bloodthirsty and took over the laboratory in which they were created, later escaping a military convoy being used to transport their ranks.

Events featured: HHNXX, HHNXXIII, HHN25, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Havoc: Dogs of War (house)
  • Havoc: Derailed (house)
  • Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem (house)

Bone

HHN30 Bone character in scare zone

A tall, skeletal reaper, Bone is the leader of the Festival of the Deadliest and is usually known to be silently purveying the event with his massive scythe.

Events featured: HHN27, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Festival of the Deadliest (scare zone)
  • 30 Years 30 Fears (scare zone)

Treaks and Foons

Cartoon-like monsters with a permanent smile, Treaks and Foons first appeared in the Toon Lagoon area of Islands of Adventure during HHNXII accompanied by creepy circus music. They’re slightly less harmful than many of their scare zone counterparts, as they’re not known to do any actual killing. However their grotesque, exaggerated features are alarming all the same.

Events featured: HHNXII, HHN13, HHNXIV, HHNXVII, HHNXX, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Treks and Foons (scare zone)
  • Disorientorium (house)
  • Lights Camera Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge (scare zone)

The Rat Lady

Dating back to HHN’s inaugural year, The Rat Lady is a woman who was known to lie within a glass-walled coffin among dozens of crawling rats and most often seen being wheeled through the streets of the event.

Events featured: Fright Nights – HHN22, HHN25

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Dungeon of Terror: Retold (house)
  • Cirque Du Freak (scare zone)
  • ICONS: HHN (scare zone)

Lil’ Boo

Lil Boo Halloween Horror Nights HHN31

An unofficial character, Lil’ Boo became a social media sensation during HHN30 when a fan pointed out a small wide-eyed pumpkin that lived among the entryway décor for a house called “The Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin.” The official Universal Orlando Resort Twitter account replied with its name and a new celebrity was born. Throughout the fall of 2021, Lil’ Boo inspired selfies, fan art, and homemade t-shirts. This favorite may seem like a relatively new creation, but its origins date back to a scare zone from HHN27, also garnished with numerous carved pumpkins.

Events featured: HHN27, HHN30, HHN31

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Wicked Growth: Realm of the Pumpkin (house)

Significant Locations

As you may have already noticed, there are some key locations that appear time and again throughout the stories told in Halloween Horror Nights’ houses and scare zones. Every fandom needs a symbolic home, after all. Which brings me to…

Carey, Ohio

Located in Wyandot County, Carey is an actual town where Lora Sauls grew up. Taking inspiration from real life, the fictional Carey, Ohio was first crafted as a setting for The Caretaker’s bloody backstory: “In the early 2000’s my team and I were sitting around the lunch table discussing how we needed a town to put one of our characters in. I was telling them about the small town I grew up in and they liked it so much it stuck. That year TJ Mannarino, who is also part of the Entertainment team, and myself reached out to the local Carey newspaper and they teamed up with us on creating some assets for our HHN experience.”

Since then, it’s been incorporated into the lives and origins of numerous characters including The Director, The Usher, Legendary Truth, Cindy Caine, and H.R. Bloodengutz. The town also pops up as one of the more frequent settings for houses and scare zones, finally earning top billing for HHN30’s “Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland.”

“At first it was just fun and I didn’t think much about it,” Lora reflects, “But as we link our fictional Carey town to so many of our products I became more humbled and proud of my link to the HHN Carey lore.”

Events featured: HHXII, HHN13, HHNXIV, HHN16, HHNXVIII, HHNXIX, HHNXX, HHN21, HHN22, HHN23, HHN25, HHN26, HHN27, HHN28, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Screamhouse (house)
  • All Nite Die-In (house)
  • Leave it to Cleaver (house)
  • H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror (house)
  • Slaughter Sinema (house)
  • Welcome to SCarey: Horror in the Heartland (house)

Carae, France

A wholly fictional international sister city, Carae is the site of some gothic horror-themed houses from years past.

Events featured: HHNXX, HHN22

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Catacombs: Black Death Rising (house)
  • Gothic (house)

Shady Oaks Cemetery & Funeral Home

Nestled in the Willamette Valley area of Carey, Shady Oaks is the name of the funeral parlor The Caretaker opened in his Victorian mansion. It served as both a business and method of bringing in bodies to experiment on.

Events featured: HHNXII, HHN13, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Screamhouse (house)
  • Screamhouse: Revisited (house)
  • HHN Icons: Captured (house)

Shadybrook Rest Home and Sanitarium

A hospital infamous for inmate riots, Shadybrook has played host to many prominent HHN characters. Not only was it the birthplace of Jack and Eddie Schmidt, but Chance did a stint here. It is also said that Dr. Mary Agana took and used patients from the hospital to help “treat” one of her own, and Floyd Mercer ended his life within its walls to escape Lady Luck.

Events featured: HHN13, HHN16, HHN25, HHN26, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • PsychoScareapy (house)
  • PsychoScareapy: Maximum Madness (house)
  • Body Collectors: Recollections (house)

Terra Cruentus

Quite literally a bloodthirsty land, Terra Cruentus is the domain of the Terra Queen, sustained by her nightly ritual sacrifices. Inside, you’ll find landmarks like the Gorewood Forest, Terra Gate, Terror Mines, Iron Bone Gorge, and Demon Cantina.

Events featured: HHNXV, HHN30

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Terra Throne (show)
  • Terror Mines (house)
  • Gorewood Forest (scare zone)

The Legendary Truth Mansion

Allegedly located in Wyandot County, this is the home base for Legendary Truth: The Collective. With offices, libraries, and vaults, there are mysteries to be discovered on every floor. Fans were able to virtually visit the mansion in an online game promoting that year’s event.

Events featured: HHNXX, HHN25

Fan favorite appearances:

  • Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate (house)
  • Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem (house)

Put Your Newfound Knowledge to Use

HHN Lore Scareactor

This is only the tip of the knife when it comes to the immense detail put into the backstories of every mischief-maker, spirit, and haunt, but you’re well on your way to becoming the expert of your friend group.

Grab a ticket to this year’s event and really complete your transformation into a full-on HHN devotee.

With that, let me be the first to officially welcome you to the fandom. See you in the fog.

WARNING: EVENT MAY BE TOO INTENSE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN AND IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 13. NO COSTUMES OR MASKS ALLOWED.

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2 Comments

  • Reply rightangledevelopers August 10, 2023 at 8:06 am

    This captivating blog from Discover Universal offers a beginner’s guide to unraveling the intriguing lore behind Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. The article provides an immersive journey into the history and stories that have shaped this iconic event.

    • Reply Digital Guest Communications August 10, 2023 at 8:33 am

      Hi there! We’re glad to hear you have previously enjoyed our immersive event and that you found our blog exciting. We hope to welcome you back soon!

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