REVIEW: Trying the New Halloween Horror Nights Taste of Terror Dining Event — Is It Worth the Price?

Katie Francis

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REVIEW: Trying the New Halloween Horror Nights Taste of Terror Dining Event — Is It Worth the Price?

If you’re a Halloween Horror Nights fan and a foodie, Universal Orlando’s new Taste of Terror event might be perfect for you. New this year, the Taste of Terror event is designed to give fans a “first bite of fright” with an early preview of some of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights food and beverage offerings. We attended the first-ever Taste of Terror event, so grab your scream squad and brave our full review of the event below.

Taste of Terror runs on select nights from August 10 – 26, prior to Halloween Horror Nights kicking off on September 1. The price for Taste of Terror was recently reduced to $135.99 per person, and a no-alcohol ticket was added as an option for $89. Theme park admission for the same day is also required and not included.

Taste of Terror Dining includes:

  • Enjoy an exclusive – before event start – all you care to enjoy preview of select food & beverage items that will be featured at Halloween Horror Nights this year! (Tasting size portions)
  • All Non-Alcoholic beverages included
  • Alcohol beverages included via a hosted bar. Must be 21+ with valid photo ID to drink.
  • Souvenir Halloween Horror Nights light-up cup (21+ Only)
  • Halloween Horror Nights Coca-Cola Freestyle® cup* (Separate fee applies to activate)
  • One (1) digital download** of a photo taken at the Taste of Terror

Check-In

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Check in begins around 6 p.m. in the New York section of Universal Studios Florida, near Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. There are barricades set up, and a Team Member will be standing by to check your tickets. The Team Member will also have the menu available, so you can start planning what you’re going to try first.

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Once you check in and get your wristband, you can leave the area or hang out in the courtyard and wait for the doors to open. There was a cooler full of complimentary bottled water, so we grabbed a drink and took in the interesting views from the courtyard area behind Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit. The entrance to the soundstage has a “Taste of Terror” marquee and pumpkins by the doors, so this makes a nice photo op before entering the event. The doors opened around 6:30 p.m., welcoming us into the fully decked out soundstage.

Inside Soundstage 33

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As soon as you enter the soundstage, you’ll be surrounded by beautifully themed food “booths” and seating areas. You can tell there was a great amount of care put into setting up this event.

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The area is huge, and everything is spread out nicely, so there’s plenty of room to hang out and enjoy everything the event has to offer. Each section has its own theme, from “Stranger Things” to “The Last of Us.”

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(Do those booths look familiar?)

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Each different food booth is set up so you can help yourself to the food and ask a Team Member to pour you a drink. The decorations and details around each stand are absolutely amazing. It really sets up the spooky vibes perfectly.

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The Taste of Terror event doesn’t offer everything you’ll be able to find at Halloween Horror Nights, but these are some of the dishes you can expect to see on menus. These are sample sized portions, which is a nice option at this kind of all-you-care-to-enjoy type of dining event. Having these dishes available buffet-style makes it quick and convenient to grab your food and go. This sure beats waiting in long lines for booths at HHN.

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There are six different food areas around the room and one large dessert table towards the back. In the center of the soundstage, you’ll find the Stellar Bar, which offers the returning Ghoul Juice and Electric Death cocktails, as well as a selection of beer, wine, and soft drinks. Coffee and tea can be found at a table near the desserts.

Themed Booths and Food

“Stranger Things” Surfer Boy Pizza

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Retro restaurant booths are set up in front of Surfer Boy Pizza. The little touches are what really pull this whole event together. The Team Member serving at this booth is wearing a yellow Surfer Boy shirt.

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The napkin dispensers and parmesan cheese and red pepper shakers on the tables really give you the feeling of being at Surfer Boy Pizza.

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This is sure to be a more enjoyable “Stranger Things” experience than waiting in line for the booth during Halloween Horror Nights, as it will probably be very popular.

Surfer Boy Hawaiian French Bread Pizza

French bread style pizza with crispy spam, pineapple chutney, jalapeño, scallions, and mozzarella

Surfer Boy Vegan French Bread Pizza

French bread style pizza with vegan sausage crumble, pineapple chutney, jalapeño, and vegan mozzarella

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This booth offered a regular and vegan option for the French bread pizza.

Surfer Boy Tropical Dream Punch

Cruzan rum, orange, pineapple, lime, passionfruit, and grapefruit juice with vanilla bean

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The specialty drink here is non-alcoholic, so it’s a great option for all ages to enjoy. It’s the only themed drink that’s offered without alcohol at the event. Adults who paid for the full price ticket with alcohol included can ask to have rum added to the drink. This seems to be the best drink to get the biggest bang for your buck since it’s freshly made by adding rum and not premixed. Trust us, this is going to be your favorite drink!

“The Last of Us” FEDRA Ration Distribution Center

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Look for the light. The Last of Us-themed area is sure to please fans of the game and the show.

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This booth was so well done. This is also a great place to take some photos, especially with the Clicker set up off to the side.

Left Behind Ravioli

Mini cheese ravioli with marinara, truffle cream, tempura fried enoki mushrooms, and pea shoots

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You can help yourself to small plates of Left Behind Ravioli. This is a vegetarian dish that features cheese ravioli with marinara, truffle cream, and tempura fried enoki mushrooms. As we mentioned, the portions at Taste of Terror are small sample sizes, so this dish will look much different during Halloween Horror Nights. Instead of being served on a plate, you’ll be given your ravioli in a FEDRA food ration can.

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Left Behind refers both to the abandoned rations and the DLC prequel to the game, released in 2014.

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The presentation here is awesome. It’s made to look like a long-abandoned can of FEDRA rations with fungi creeping from the top that look a little too much like cordyceps for our comfort. Will you risk becoming Infected to get the sweet souvenir can?

The downside to the Taste of Terror is you don’t get one of the themed cans, but the positive side is that you already know the ravioli is delicious and (if you’re like us) will gladly purchase more during HHN. The amazing presentation of this dish will probably draw large crowds to The Last of Us food booth.

Salt Lake City Iced Coffee

Brewed coffee, JF Haden’s Espresso Liqueur, Cruzan Light Rum, Vanilla Bean, Smoked Sea Salt, and Hella Smoked Bitters

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The Last of Us area also has an alcoholic Salt Lake City Iced Coffee. Salt Lake City is where Joel and Ellie finally meet up with the Fireflies, who (no spoilers!) had control over the St. Mary’s Hospital, where they hoped to create a vaccine against the Cordyceps infection.

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In addition to all-you-care-to-enjoy food, alcohol is included with the regular ticket. This allowed us to sample different drinks to find out what we liked the most and go back for more. This coffee drink was so good, it will be one of our go-to drinks during the event. Be prepared to be buzzed and caffeinated. The perfect combination for a late night at HHN!

Yeti: Campground Kills

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Yeti: Campground Kills will be an original house this year, and you can probably guess what this booth is themed around. The camp is set up with lanterns, chairs, crushed beer cans, and an open cooler of ice.

Lost Explorer Coconut Cupcake

Vanilla cupcake with coconut filling and graham cracker dirt

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Sitting atop the cooler is a board of bloody snowballs. Sorry, Lost Explorer Coconut Cupcakes. I have a feeling those explorers aren’t just lost.

Bloody Campground Poutine

Crispy fries topped with Asian inspired gravy, char sui roasted pork, cheese curds, scallions, and crispy chilis

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The Yeti booth features a regular and vegan poutine option. These dishes were highlights for us due to the unique fries used for the base. These thick, spiral fries seemed to be better at maintaining their consistency, even with the toppings — and they kind of look like fingers.

Burnt Ends Poutine (Vegan)

Crispy fries topped with beefless burnt ends, gravy, vegan cheeses, and scallions

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The Bloody Campground Poutine has a unique twist to it that’s spicy and sweet and will keep you coming back for more. The Burnt End Pountine is a vegan option and contains a beefless burnt ends gravy and vegan cheese.

Desserts

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The desserts are at the back of the room and have the largest and most spacious display. Desserts can be found on both sides, and there are plenty to choose from.

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Imagine sitting at this table and enjoying unlimited food and beverage. Contact the spirits while enjoying desserts in this spellbinding setting. The seating in this area is captivating, with a crystal ball at the center of each table. Gather ’round.

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This was one of the most aesthetically pleasing displays. The crystals, spell books, and candles just add a little bit of extra magic and mystery to this section of the room.

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If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’re in the right spot. There’s a pumpkin dulce de leche puff, Oreo cheesecake, Hellfire Club mini cake, and trick or treat basket. These look like they could be the treats that will be available from TODAY Cafe, San Francisco Pastry Company, or Croissant Moon Bakery.

Pumpkin Dulce de Leche Puff

Pumpkin and dulce de leche filled puff topped with whipped ganache, pumpkin seeds, and gold accents

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“Stranger Things” Hellfire Mini Cake

Layered chocolate cake with mango cayenne filling topped with chocolate guitar

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Eddie Munson fans, get ready. The mini cake is topped with his guitar and features the Hellfire Club logo on the front of the jar.

Trick or Treat Bucket

Chocolate crème brulée topped with peanut butter buttercream, caramel popcorn, candy corn, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces

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Oreo Cheesecake Pop

Mini Oreo Cheesecake Pop

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The trick or treat bucket dessert was our absolute favorite, but the pumpkin dulce de leche puff was a close second. We did not like the Hellfire mini cake, but this event gave us a chance to try it without feeling like we wasted money on something we didn’t like.

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Next to the desserts, a coffee and tea station is set up. This is a thoughtful touch for the event.

Día de los Muertos

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The Día de Los Muertos booth is stunning and draws you in. The vibrant colors around the booth are beautiful. An ofrenda is in the middle, with cempasúchil garlands hanging from the tables and papel picado hanging from above.

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Chicharrónes de Harina

Deep fried flour crisps seasoned with cinnamon and sugar

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There is a table off to the side with small bags of Chicharrónes de Harina.

Fall Harvest Salad

Arugula, frisee, red oak, roasted sweet potato, roasted corn, golden apple, heirloom cherry tomatoes, candied walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, with apple pumpkin vinaigrette

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The Fall Harvest Salad from the Día de Los Muertos is exclusive to the Taste of Terror. It seems like this is just to add another option for the Taste of Terror, rather than something you will get from a food booth during the event.

Vegan Walking Taco

Fritos chips topped with vegan chorizo, shredded mozzarella, roasted corn salsa, black beans, vegan sour cream, pico de Gallo, shredded lettuce, and cilantro in a bag

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The Día de Los Muertos booth also offers a vegan Walking Taco. This was another favorite offering from the event.

Chucky

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The USA, SYFY, and Peacock table is the least themed area, but you can tell by the colors that this is a Chucky-inspired booth.

Fried ‘Til the End Chicken

Fried popcorn chicken tossed in Nashville sauce, drizzled with ranch, topped with scallions and chili threads

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Mutilated Pork Loin

Slow smoked applewood bacon wrapped pork loin, roasted root hash with fig and pear, and red wine demi-glace with silver dollar rolls

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The Fried ’til the End Chicken will be available during Halloween Horror Nights, but the mutilated pork loin is another offering that’s exclusive to Taste of Terror.

Monsters

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The Monsters-inspired booth would be perfect for a vampire to grab a bite. Thankfully, there’s no garlic this year.

Peanut Blooder Smash Burger

Smash burger with peanut sauce, raspberry jelly, cheddar cheese, shaved onions, jalapeño bacon, cherry peppers, and vampire bun

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The Peanut Blooder Smash Burger is the most intriguing of the savory items and combines peanut butter, jelly, jalapeno bacon, and cherry peppers for a taste experience. Intrigued? Taste of Terror is a great way to find out if this combination is a perfect pair or a real monstrosity.

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Tinseltown Torment

Old Forester Bourbon and Cherry Brandy with orange and cranberry juices, chocolate and cherry syrups, and orange bitters

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We were hesitant to try the Tinseltown Torment, but with this event, we could try a little bit and find out if we liked it. This turned out to be another one of our top drinks. We can’t wait to take our new souvenir blinky cup on opening night and get discounted refills on this one!

Photo Op

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With your ticket, you get one free digital download of a photo from the event. As you exit, a photographer is ready to take your photo in front of this adorable little pumpkin display. There really isn’t anything special to this photo op, and we wish there had been a Scareactor, but it’s still cute.

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As you leave, a Team Member will hand you your gift bag and stamp your wristband to indicate you’ve picked it up. For the full price ticket with alcohol, you’ll be given this year’s 2023 souvenir blinky cup and Freestyle cup. If you purchased a ticket without alcohol, you’ll be given the Freestyle cup and a plastic Halloween themed cup. The wristbands and bags are marked for which gift bag you receive. Let’s take a look at our gifts!

Blinky Cup

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Attendees who purchase the ticket that includes alcohol will receive the new 2023 Halloween Horror Nights blinky cup. This souvenir cup lights up and can be used to get discount refills on alcohol throughout this year’s HHN season. Take another look at the cup here.

Freestyle Cup

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All attendees will be given this year’s Coca-Cola Freestyle cup as a gift. The cup is not activated, but you can bring it back and activate it anytime. Take a closer look here.

Is It Worth the Cost?

The price for the alcohol ticket is $135.99, but discounts can be applied. At just over $100 for unlimited food and drinks, this isn’t that outrageous of a price. Orlando offers some very unique themed bars downtown, and we’ve easily spent the cost of this ticket to go out. In addition to the food and drink, you also receive a blinky cup and a Freestyle cup.

As I mentioned, food lines for Halloween Horror Nights can be extreme at times, so attending this event will allow you to try some of this year’s food, leaving you more free time during the event. While everyone else is waiting in line for Surfer Boy Pizza, you can be in line for Stranger Things 4 instead.

For a direct comparison, most dishes at Halloween Horror Nights cost $6-15 for an entree, $4-8 for a dessert, and $10-15 for a 12 oz. drink. Blinky cups will run you about $12 and Coca-Cola Freestyle cups are about $18. With the cost of the cups subtracted, it puts the rest of the offerings just over $100. It’s certainly more expensive than other all-you-can-eat dining options, even inside theme parks, but it also isn’t buffet-quality food.

There isn’t a 1:1 comparison, but we felt it was worth the cost to try so many dishes. If you wanted to try all of these offerings at full size and full price, you’d spend well over $100.

Overall

The Taste of Terror event is a brand new offering this year, so we really didn’t know what to expect. Universal did not release menus in advance, either, which had a lot of people trying to decide whether the event would be worth it. This event seems to have replaced Scareactor Dining for a foodie event, and it is honestly a huge improvement. You can read our review of last year’s Scareactor Dining here. We do wish that Scareactors were a part of this event, but maybe Universal will find a way to add them next year.

This is an awesome event for foodies. Especially foodies who are too chicken for Halloween Horror Nights! The themed food booths around Universal Studios Florida are only open during HHN event nights, which means you’ll need to attend the event to enjoy the food. With Taste of Terror, guests can simply enjoy some of the highlights of the menus in a highly themed setting.

The decor in the soundstage is to die for. Honestly, this is such a beautifully put together event; we barely even noticed the food when looking at all the details. From the themed tables in each area to the little touches added to the displays, we couldn’t believe how immersive this was. Whether you want to gather your friends around the crystal ball or kick back at a booth at Surfer Boy Pizza, Taste of Terror has you covered.

Another benefit to this Taste of Terror event is that you can try a nice variety of items without commitment. There’s nothing worse than waiting in a long line for a food booth only to find out that frosting, jalapeños, and cereal on a burger just isn’t your thing. After trying several food and drink items at Taste of Terror, we know which things we’ll want to order again. With our new souvenir blinky cup, we’re already on our way to discounted refills during the event.

The sign at the entrance to the event said “Sold Out,” but there was almost nobody at this event. A ton of Universal management showed up and filled up the room, but otherwise, it would have been really dead in there. That’s not a complaint because it allowed us to get great photos, grab food and drinks with absolutely zero waiting, and sit wherever we wanted. It was one of the most fun events we’ve been to at Universal.

We really don’t have too many negative things to say about this event. There are only a few things that we would have liked to have seen added. It would have been nice to have at least one Scareactor, and it would have been nice to have been given the can from The Last of Us. We’re not even expecting them to give endless amounts of them out with the food. If the can had been in the gift bag, that would have been a really nice touch.

This new event is offered throughout August, prior to Halloween Horror Nights starting. We wish this was done more like Scareactor Dining, though, and offered on days that Halloween Horror Nights is taking place. It would have been great to enjoy our fill of food and beverage and then head out into the event. If this was an option on select nights during Halloween Horror Nights, we would absolutely buy tickets to multiple nights. For us, it was well worth the extra money and would add a lot of value to the overall HHN experience.

Taste of Terror is an absolutely great new addition to Halloween Horror Nights, and we hope to see it return again next year. If a spooky-themed lounge sounds like your thing, but you can’t get tickets to Taste of Terror, we would encourage you to check out the Dead Coconut Club in CityWalk. There’s no cover charge, and you can enjoy all the Halloween vibes without a ticket.

Still trying to decide if Taste of Terror is right for you? Watch our video below to see what the night was like!

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Author

  • Katie Francis

    Katie is a lover of all theme parks and an avid reader. Her favorite rides are Spaceship Earth and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. You can find her daydreaming of the Florida sun, and you can reach her at katie@wdwnt.com.