During Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Orlando’s yearly fright festival, guests can book a Scareactor Dining Experience to get up close with some of the event’s frightening characters. We tried out the Scareactor Dining Experience on September 30.
The experience takes place at Universal’s Classic Monster’s Café, which is a regular quick-service location during the day, but serves a buffet-style menu for this experience. The experience is $49.99 per person plus tax and takes place on every Halloween Horror Nights event night. We checked in at about 4:45 for our 5:00 reservation and a Team Member scanned our Halloween Horror Nights admission, which is required to attend the Scareactor Dining Experience. The restaurant didn’t open for the experience until 5:00, but a Team Member was handing out menu cards as well as the vouchers guests needed to redeem their 1 free digital photo download, which is included with the dining experience.
Right around 5:00 the restaurant opened for the first reservations. Since all the guests waiting had already checked in, everyone headed straight for the buffet and a line formed – I imagine there’s less of a line later in the evening as people entering the restaurant for reservations are more spread out.
The menu served for the dining experience is not the same food that’s served at the Monster’s Café during the day, and there was plenty to choose from. There was also soda, bottled drinks like juice, and water. There were quite a few servers on hand to help guide guests to a table. You could certainly go back to the buffet if you wanted, though servers checked in on us throughout the meal and were willing to bring us additional food or drinks if we wanted. There was also a bar server that came around to take any bar orders (at an additional cost).
We enjoyed the food overall – everything was well prepared and flavorful (I especially liked the salmon and cod). The desserts were rather standard but still delicious (we tried the brookie and a chocolate cake that was brought to us by a server which, in retrospect, doesn’t appear to be listed on the menu). We were definitely fueled up for the rest of our night with our meal.
We were one of the first few people to get seated, and within a few minutes the scareactors started coming around. Despite what they do during the rest of the event, they don’t actively scare guests during the dining experience. We did see them manage a few startles, mostly by standing next to an unaware guest and waiting until they were noticed. They do certainly act menacing, don’t get me wrong, but for the purpose of the dining experience they are primarily there to interact with and take pictures with guests.
There was a photographer roaming the area taking pictures of guests. Since we had the My Universal Photos package for this trip we got quite a few photos taken at the event, and guests without a package also had the free digital download voucher. As more people were seated the photographer did get quite busy. While he did a great job being as attentive as possible, he wasn’t always available when we wanted a picture (though this was still better than the majority of character meals we’ve been to – anywhere – in that a photographer was available for most of our character interactions).
The line-up consisted of a skeleton-like scarecrow from Scarecrow: The Reaping, a creepy voodoo doll dude from Dead Waters, a masked character from The Purge scare zone, an enthusiastic and creepy skull guy from the Festival of the Deadliest scare zone, Sam from the Trick ‘r Treat scare zone, and Igor.
Igor was the only talking character walking around, and he isn’t associated with any of the zones or houses of the event – as far as I could tell he seems to be exclusive for the dining experience. He’s on the hunt for a good brain that doesn’t scare easily. I’m not sure we fit the bill for him.
We were most excited for Sam (my sister has seen Trick ‘r Treat and got me in on it), and he indulged us with quite a few pictures. If you are someone who enjoys getting pictures with the scareactors, which can often be difficult in the scare zones and is not allowed in the mazes, then this is a great way to get several posed photos with them. You may want the flash on for your camera or phone, because the lighting in Monster’s Café isn’t the greatest, especially in the Dracula-themed side of the restaurant (we were in the science fiction-themed part, which had better lighting but was still sometimes dark).
Since our reservation was at 5:00, we were able to finish up and leave about the time that the houses were starting to open. This was a huge perk for us, as we got to spend time sitting indoors, eating and meeting scareactors, instead of waiting outdoors for the event to begin. If the experience were only available during the event, to us it would lose some of its value as that is time during the event that can’t be spent going through houses and scare zones. If we were to do it again, we would definitely want a 5:00 reservation again.
We really enjoyed our Scareactor Dining Experience, and it’s something that we would enjoy doing again on another visit. It’s a fun extra for fans of Halloween Horror Nights if you’re looking for something new to try.
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