REVIEW: Private R.I.P Tour for Halloween Horror Nights 30 at Universal Studios Florida
Halloween Horror Nights 30 is off to a wicked start at the Universal Orlando Resort. Last year the event was canceled, so we anticipated large crowds for opening night now that the event is back. To make the most of our first night, we booked a private R.I.P Tour for Halloween Horror Nights. A private R.I.P Tour is one price for up to 10 people, and everyone going on the tour must also have their own Halloween Horror Nights ticket. Valet parking is also included. On a private tour, your guide will go at your pace and take you to the rides, houses, scare zones, and shows that you wish to experience. This is much more than an Express Pass and a more personalized experience than a regular R.I.P Tour. Here’s what you can expect when taking a private R.I.P Tour at Universal Studios Florida.
Signs outside the Universal Studios Florida arches will guide you towards the R.I.P Tour check-in. Tour guides will direct you towards the V.I.P area.
After checking in for our tour, our group was lead upstairs to a quiet area with a balcony overlooking the madness below.
Each person in our party received an R.I.P. Tour lanyard with credentials for the tour. This is a really great souvenir that we get to keep to remember our spooky night. Our guide introduced himself and got us ready for the exciting night ahead of us. The first stop of the evening is Cafe la Bamba for the R.I.P. lounge area. We made our way through the Light Camera Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge scare zone on our way to Cafe la Bamba.
Cafe la Bamba is the main lounge area for the R.I.P. Tour. It’s fully decked out for Halloween Horror Nights.
Images of some of the Icons greet us as we enter Cafe la Bamba. The Director, Jack, the Storyteller, and the Caretaker each have a themed room inside the lounge area. Last year, this was open to the public as the Skeleton Bar, but it is exclusive to R.I.P. Tour guests this year.
Jack takes over the main area of the room, where you’ll find all the food.
It’s very detailed, and you’ll even notice many props and set pieces from last year’s HHN Tribute Store.
Scare actors can be seen lurking around the lounge. This allowed our group to get some great photos and selfies.
Another room in the lounge area is themed to the Caretaker with a coffin set up in the back of the room.
Projectors around the room put flickering, creepy images on the walls in the room themed to the Director. The darkness in this room is perfect for watching one of the Director’s films.
Elsa Strict, the Storyteller, gets a beautifully decorated room. The rocking chair sits in the center of the room, and other props and images can be found throughout this section.
Bottled beverages like soda and water are complimentary, but alcoholic drinks are available in the lounge for purchase. One bar is in the Director’s room, and one bar is in the Caretaker’s room.
Both specialty pre-mixed cocktails can be purchased in the lounge, and the souvenir cups are also available for purchase.
Time for some food! Before braving the chainsaws, we were given an opportunity to eat from a small buffet of hot and cold offerings.
One station offered a variety of sliders. There were some delicious beef sliders with grilled Angus beef, crispy potato sticks, queso blanco, and salsa rosa. Guests had two choices for chicken sliders. The ranch chicken sliders were topped with lettuce, Roma tomatoes, and ranch served on a sweet Hawaiian roll. The spicy chicken sliders were tossed in buffalo sauce and topped with dill pickles on a sweet roll.
A plentiful spread of fresh fruit, vegetables, and charcuterie of meats and cheeses awaited us. The meats included prosciutto di Parma, chorizo sausage, Venecia salami, and spicy soppressata. Slices of Wisconsin buttermilk bleu cheese, horseradish cheddar chive cheese, and smoked gouda cheese accompanied the meats. There were also many vegan and gluten free options, such as spiced Kalamata olives, bleu cheese stuffed olives, lemon zest hummus, and summer rolls with Thai chili sauce.
Another station on the buffet line offered even more hot options.
One of the vegan offerings is edamame-filled potstickers with ponzu sauce.
Wild mushroom flatbread is another vegan option on the hot line. This flatbread is made with vegan cheese, dressed arugula, and truffle aioli.
The BBQ brisket flatbread is topped with grilled red onions, white cheddar sauce, smoked gouda, mozzarella, and golden BBQ sauce.
The Latin Mac is a seashell pasta with white cheddar sauce, pulled pernil pork, cotija cheese, and charred corn.
Coffee and tea can be found near the dessert station.
Of course, there’s going to be dessert!
Grab a sweet piece of Crime Scene Cake, if you dare. This flourless chocolate cake is topped with bloody icing and is vegetarian and gluten-free.
Mint macarons pay tribute to Frankenstein’s Monster.
Would this really be a Halloween event without a pumpkin dessert? The pumpkin tart is amazing.
It was a very rainy opening night, and we sat in the lounge enjoying our drinks and food while waiting for the weather to slow down. We were anxious about spending so much time waiting for the rain to stop, but our guide assured us we would have plenty of time to get through all the houses. Thanks to the convenient front-of-the-line access a tour guide gives you, our guide even said we could sit in the lounge until 10 p.m., and we would still have enough time to get through every house twice, thanks to backstage routes and direct access to the entrance of houses. Luckily, the rain stopped quickly, and we all decided we wanted to start at the HHN Icons: Captured house towards the front of the park.
Typically, wait times for haunted houses can be very high. With an Express Pass, guests can expect the wait time to be half the time of the standby line. With an 80 minute wait, guests with an Express Pass can end up waiting up to 40 minutes in line. With an R.I.P. Tour, your guide will escort you directly to the front of the line. A Team Member at the entrance of the house will stop the queue and allow the guide and their group to enter the house.
Each haunted house has an elaborate backstory as well as hidden details and references throughout. Another benefit of having a tour guide is getting the story and history of each house before entering. When it comes to original houses, this is such an added bonus. Our guide was very passionate about these stories and really brought the experience to another level. Knowing the elaborate story from Puppet Theater: Captive Audience really brought this house to life.
RIP Tours get reserved seating for Halloween Nightmare Fuel. The show has multiple performances a night, and your tour guide will make sure you have the best spot in the theater to catch this epic new show.
Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory happens several times a night, and R.I.P. Tours get a prime spot to watch the full show.
On a Private R.I.P. Tour, you get access to 2 additional lounges in the park aside from Cafe la Bamba. There is no set itinerary as with the other R.I.P. Tour, so you can stop and take breaks at the different areas for as long as you’d like. After a few houses, we took a quick stop into the lounge area located above Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. Outside on the balcony, you’ll get some amazing views of the crowds.
A very friendly bartender was ready to serve us in the lounge, and couches and tables offered us a comfortable place to rest in the air conditioning. The bottled soda and water are complimentary here, and alcohol can be purchased. This is way better than waiting in some of the long lines at the bar tents outside.
Another lounge area is set up inside Lombard’s Seafood Grille. Order a drink and have a rest in the air conditioning, not far from the action.
We stopped back into Cafe la Bamba and grabbed a few more desserts. Unfortunately, the savory food options were done for the night, but we all grabbed a few more snacks and drinks while taking a break from the action. We managed to go through all houses once, and most houses a second time. We saw both shows, walked through all the scare zones, and stopped at all the lounges for drinks and snacks. Riding attractions was an option, but we chose to skip the rides and focus specifically on Halloween Horror Nights offerings. There was never any rush, and everything went smoothly thanks to our fantastic guide. We accomplished everything we wanted to do for the night.
A Private RIP Tour is the best way to experience Halloween Horror Nights without all the stress. Your tour guide will give you a detailed history of the houses and scare zones, front-of-the-line access to houses and rides, and they will make sure your night is unforgettable. The variety and quality of food in the lounges are excellent, and the ability to stop and grab a drink while you rest in air conditioned lounges is priceless. If you’re looking for the ultimate way to make the most of your experience at Halloween Horror Nights, you can’t beat a Private R.I.P. Tour.
For more Universal Studios news from around the world, follow Universal Parks News Today on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.