The COVID-19 pandemic means no Halloween Horror Nights on either coast in 2020.

After going months without making any official announcements of houses or scare zones, Universal released a statement Friday saying the HHN events at both Universal Orlando and Universal Hollywood will not be held this year. 

“I know this news is disappointing especially because this year we would be celebrating HHN’s 30th anniversary,” Universal Orlando Resort president Bill Davis said in a message to employees. “I am disappointed too, but this is the right decision for our guests and our team members.”

Despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Florida in June and July, Universal had moved forward with actor auditions for HHN. A new facade at the typical location for the HHN Tribute Store had taken shape at Universal Studios Florida just this week. 

This all suggested to fans that HHN would not be canceled, despite questions about how physical distancing and face mask requirements would be enforced at an event built on up-close interactions. 

Behind the scenes, however, Theme Park Tribune has been told by sources within Universal that HHN designers were among those laid off by the resort soon after reopening as the company looked to cut costs amid a pandemic-induced downturn in tourism. Other Halloween events in Central Florida had already been canceled for this year, including Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. 

Universal said it will focus on operating for daytime guests in Orlando, as it has been since those parks reopened in June. Universal Studios Hollywood has been closed since mid-March along with other theme parks in California with no reopening in sight.

“I have every confidence that our teams will adapt, and direct their energies towards making Halloween Horror Nights 2021 the ultimate homecoming of horror,” Davis said.

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