The Return of Universal's Halloween Haunt

Well, here's good news for Halloween fans: after a few years' hiatus, Univesal Studios in Hollywood is reviving its Halloween attraction in 2006. Called "Hollywood Horror Nights," the event kicks off on Friday, October 13 and runs on weekends until Halloween night.

The official website for the event is here, but it does not have much information up yet. In fact, just to ascertain the dates of operation, I had to click through to the "buy tickets" window and see what nights they were selling tickets for: October 13-14, 20-21, 27-28, and of course Halloween night on the 31st.

Exactly what kind of show they will be putting on this year, I do not know, but the last couple times they did a special Halloween event, it was a major attraction on part with Knott's Scary Farm and the Queen Mary Shipwreck.

Advance tickets are on sale now. Non-peak nights (13-14, 20, 31) cost $34. Peak nights - which are the 21st, 27th, and 28th - are $39.

The price at the door will be $49 on all nights.

You can also buy advance front-of-the-line tickets for $79.

Despite its history of movie monsters (which includes more or less launching the horror genre with DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN back int the 1930s), Universal Studios has had a spotty history with exploiting its theme park for Halloween. Their first attempt back in the 1980s was a one-time dud, followed by years of inactivity.

In the 1990s, they got their toes back in the water by having a single, stand-alone haunted maze open at the then-new Universal City Walk. After that, the event spread out to encompass the entire studio tour, featuring numerous haunted mazes bearing the brand names of Rob Zombie and Clive Barker.

Then, for some reason (corporate bottom-line cost calculations, I hear), Universal turned off their Hollywood Haunt after the new millennium rolled around (although Universal Studios in Florida did put on one last year).

Whatever the reasons for its return, I hope this years "Halloween Horror Nights" turn out to be a grand affair. Universal's theme park is huge, with lots of room for lots of scares. It might not quite match the Knotts Halloween Haunt, but it's nice to have a majory Halloween attraction located in the Hollywood Hills, which does not require an hour's drive on a congested freeway to Orange County.

We'll keep you posted as new details become available.