Two major events are happening in the world of Orlando theme parks, and UCF students can get in on the fun.
Halloween Horror Nights returns for its 30th anniversary after being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year, Jack the Clown is the event's icon, and he is ready to bring the fear.
Customarily, the icon only has the ability to host the event, but that isn't the case for the 30th anniversary. Unlike past events, Jack will have free rein to roam the Universal Orlando Resort theme park in search for scares and screams, according to the official HHN website.
Like many institutions in Orlando, the UCF campus keeps a tight link to theme parks and local recreational events. Students visiting theme parks is a common pastime, while some find flexible and convenient employment opportunities at the parks. UCF's Rosen College of Hospitality Management offers a degree in Theme Park and Attraction Management.
For this year again, some of the HHN event's scare actors will be UCF students, lurking around abandoned warehouses and disheveled studio props to pop out and terrify customers.
“I went to the employee preview yesterday, and I am now even more excited,” said Gisella Hernandez, UCF alumna and Universal Orlando Resort employee. “The event is back and better than ever, so I am really curious to see how everyone likes it.”
Although the event is back at full capacity, CDC guidelines are still in effect. Universal Orlando Resort is asking guests to continue wearing masks and social distancing while indoors.
“Plexiglass will divide the scare actors, and actors are required to wear masks,” Hernandez said. “We want everyone to be safe, so these precautions are put into place for that.”
Halloween Horror Nights will run on select nights from Sept. 3 to Oct. 31. Yet, for those not into haunts and frights, UCF is connecting with Universal Orlando Resort to offer students other opportunities for fun.
UCF Student Government is holding Universal Knights, a night where students can visit Universal Orlando Resort theme parks for free. Starting in September, Student Government is giving away a ticket to one lucky student and their friend each month until the day of the event.
Although no date has been set yet, SG is starting to get students excited about it now.
“The purpose of this giveaway is to get more students to interact with each other,” said Jasmine Fletcher, director of communications for SG. “Since the giveaway is through Instagram, we want students to talk with each other.”
To enter the giveaway, students must follow the UCF SG account on Instagram, share and like its giveaway post, and comment with whom they would share the ticket with if they win. The post already has almost 4,500 likes and 2,400 comments.
"You can never be upset at a theme park," Hernandez said. "There's something about the atmosphere that just makes me so excited to be there."