A Look Inside the Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store
Halloween Horror Nights celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Although the event is unable to go ahead, Universal Studios still wanted to open its Halloween Horror Nights Tribute Store to guests visiting the park. The popular store has become a staple of recent Horror Nights, with several themed rooms featuring event merchandise.
Rob Cametti and his team at Universal have been transforming the horror into an interactive shopping experience for the past five years, since they were asked to create a retail experience that housed the full assortment of HHN products in one location.
As a director of the visual merchandising team at Universal Orlando, Rob and his colleagues are behind all of the window displays, signage, decor, or props you see throughout the park, including the festive holiday trim, carnival decor of Mardi Gras and of course, Halloween Horror Nights.
The Tribute Store has been around since the 25th anniversary of HHN, where it began as a retrospective prop museum offering guests the chance to have photo ops during their shopping experience.
This highly-themed retail experience, with its intricate details of theming, set design and effects are the same you encounter in the event. The difference is that it houses merchandise and props instead of scare-actors.
“They come through this [Tribute Store] door and they’re like ‘oh my gosh!’ No exaggeration here, we’ve had people come in and get teary-eyed.” Rob Cametti
Inspiration for the store comes from pretty much everywhere, from movies and TV artwork, to music and artists, with their main goal, to put something out there that is different and unexpected. The team of course wanted to tribute to the parks Halloween past as well, and with 25 years of experience to pay tribute to, there was no shortage of ideas and themes. It also helps that the team working on the store are massive Halloween Horror Nights fans themselves!
“We’re all HHN fans and if we get excited about it, we think fans will get excited about it, too,” says Rob. “One of the cool things about how all this comes together is it’s all built by this group. Nearly everything you see is either handmade or repurposed by this team. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by one of the most creative group of individuals in the business. HHN is huge for us. We love doing it and we’ll keep it [Tribute Store] going until someone tells us to stop.”
Each year is different, which makes it an exciting store to visit during the Halloween season. This year though the team has met this challenge head-on with building the largest Tribute Store to date and incorporating new elements, like the first introduction of projection mapping inside a Universal retail store!
This year’s rooms are based on Jack’s Carnival of Carnage, Frankenstein’s Castle/Lab and Beetlejuice, who was rumoured to have a haunted house at the event this year. Perhaps including Beetlejuice predominantly in the store is Universal’s way of hinting that Beetlejuice will have a come back in 2021?!
“It’s been amazing to be able to keep the HHN spirit alive for our fans and guests. This [Tribute Store] has become more than just an extension of HHN… it IS this year’s experience,” says Brian.
Fans of Halloween Horror Nights will especially love the store, as there are so many hidden details, as well as props that were used in past haunted houses and scare zones. There are many photo opportunities here, and with the store changing every year, it makes its even more exciting to visit and capture some one-of-a-kind Universal moments.
Along with the changing scenery, the merchandise in the store also changes year on year, with limited edition items for each Halloween Horror Nights event, as well as t-shirts, collectible glasses, candy and collectible figures. Guests can even grab some mysterious but delicious treats at the tribute store, including beating heart sour gummies, red velvet blood splatter cake pops, zombie cookie dough, tribute store doughnuts, and more. Vegan options are also available.
We know that many of our UK customers are sad to be missing Halloween at Universal Studios this year, however with every year always proving to be bigger and better than the last, we’re sure that 2021 will be monumental, especially after having a year away from the scares.
Image credits: Universal Orlando Resort