Halloween Horror Nights 32 immersive bars are a total sensory experience

Peacock Halloween Horror Bar, photo by Cristine Struble
Peacock Halloween Horror Bar, photo by Cristine Struble /

While the jump scares in the HHN haunted houses have people screaming, the Halloween Horror Nights 32 immersive bars lure guests with the overall experience. As the cocktail shakers get into their rhythm, frights give way fun that brings people back time and again.

Walking into a Universal Orlando theme park is more than just thrill rides that get the heart pumping. Each land creates an overall experience for the guest. Stepping behind the wall in Diagon Alley reveals colorful sweet shops and a dragon who breathes life into the space. Energic colors in the Minion Land invite guests to celebrate their mischievous side. At every turn, the theme influences not just the appearance but how guests feel.

At Halloween Horror Nights, the concept is similar. While the fog might veil a character in that murky mist, no one will turn away. One scarezone sets a beat to a more sinister summer of love while another area warns people that they cannot escape their fate. Within just a few steps from each other, the tone changes and people react.

Since some people thirst for a break from the elevated heart rate or need a beverage to help their parched throat, the addition of the Peacock Halloween Horror Bar is a new addition that has people sitting a spell. As the bartenders shake the signature cocktails, many people have questions why this bar experience hasn’t happened before.

This year, the Universal Food and Beverage team has put immersive, thematic bar experiences front and center. While the Peacock Halloween Horror Bar is within the HHN confines, the Dead Coconut Club returns for City Walk guests to enjoy that spirited experience.

FoodSided asked Joshua Franck, Beverage Manager, Universal Orlando Resort about the importance of the interactive, immersive bar experience. Franck commented, “Over time we’ve seen the importance of the social and thematic aspects of bars and beverage-savvy restaurants come back with a vengeance. When guests sit down to have a drink, they want to experience their beverage, and the space it’s served in, with all their senses.”

That concept of total sensory experience is vital not only in the moment but also after that cocktail glass is empty. As any food and beverage locale appreciates, the social media and personal conversations had during and after the visit are vital not only for new guests to walk through the doors but also to encourage the guest to come back.

Franck agreed with this sentiment and said, “What’s more, they want this experience to be something they can share with their friends and reminisce about later. While we’ve certainly worked with themed bar concepts in the past, like the Dead Coconut Club during last year’s Halloween Horror Nights, I think this year we’ve really dialed in the specific combination of thematics (from the beverage side, space design side, and entertainment) and social media presence that make concepts like Revenge of the Dead Coconut Club and the Peacock Bar a fan-favorite experience when visiting Universal Orlando Resort.”

Snapping a photo with David S. Pumpkins or Frankenstein is just as important as the beverage in the glass. Just like a speakeasy has a very different tone from a sports bar, the food and beverage team appreciates that it needs to cater to an audience while fitting into the particular event. From the die hard horror fan to the person who prefers the less spooky side, finding that balance is what has made these thematic bars a popular start.

While Halloween Horror Nights is an adult event, mocktails’ popularity has to be part of the conversation. When asked about how mocktails are being incorporated into the Universal Orlando food and beverage approach, Franck commented, “In terms of mocktails – over the last two years we’ve started to lean more and more heavily into these in our everyday business; over the last year, we’ve been more aggressive about integrating these into our Special Events (HHN and Mardi Gras) business as well. I have no doubt that this category will continue to grow year over year from here on out, given trends in the wider industry.”

While the spooky season is in full swing, the holidays and Mardi Gras events will be here before people realize. Maybe that Dead Coconut Club can turn into a winter Who-ville or a Grinch-ified lounge in the future. For now, those questions might be tabled while everyone enjoys the frights and delights at the Halloween Horror Nights 32 immersive bars.

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