Halloween Horror Nights, or HHN, at Universal Studios Orlando is the nation’s premier Halloween destination event, and it is never too early to start panicking – er, planning – for your fright-filled visit. If you’ve never been to HHN (and especially if the idea of going makes you a little nervous) it can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience to navigate. Here are some tips to make your evening a little bit less of a nightmare.

Get There Early
Sometimes, the anticipation of waiting in a long queue for one of the 10 haunted houses at this year’s event can lead to more anxiety than walking through the house itself. On busier nights of the event, wait times for some of the houses my exceed 3 hours. One of the best ways to make sure you get the shortest waits possible is to get to the event right as it opens at 6:30 p.m. If you have access to Universal Studios during regular park hours, you can check into one of 4 “holding areas” within the park to wait it out until HHN’s start time of 6:30. Once you are in, make your way to the houses toward the back of the park first to get as many in before the evening rush.

Wear Earplugs
The haunted houses at HHN are some of the best, most elaborately themed mazes you’ll ever see, and with that comes some very frightening, well-executed jump scares. One trick to make it all a little less over-stimulating to your senses is to bring and wear a pair of earplugs while you walk through the house. Most of the scares are accompanied and enhanced by an extremely loud, jarring noise, and wearing earplugs lessens the effect so you can take in more of the scenery and the experience (as opposed jumping out of your skin as you round every corner).

Don’t Forget the Rides
A good number of Universal’s actual attractions remain open during Halloween Horror Nights, and if you are not a regular visitor to Universal Studios, riding the rides is a great break from the scares of HHN while still getting to experience some thrills. Most of the attractions have wait times that are drastically reduced from what you would usually see during a normal day of operation, so take advantage of your opportunity to walk onto The Mummy or Escape From Gringotts when you’ve had a few scares too many.

Put On Your Game Face
The scares of HHN are not just restricted to the insides of the haunted houses. The event is also home to five “scare zones,” or areas of the streets and walking paths that are themed and filled with roaming “scareactors.” It’s a great way to warm up to the enclosed spaces of the houses, and also to get a look at just how good Universal’s costuming and makeup department for the event is. The scareactors on the streets definitely have to work harder to get some spooks out of the guests, with less places for them to hide, and they will usually prey on the guests that look the most frightened and react the most dramatically. If you want to take it all in without making yourself an easy target, try to walk though with confidence and look tough, and the creatures of the night will move on to more susceptible and willing victims.

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights really is the best, most elaborate and most frightfully themed Halloween event in all of the Orlando area theme parks. Whether you are a thrill-seeking Halloween fiend or lean more towards the scaredy-cat end of the spectrum, HHN is a can’t-miss event, and while Universal will do their best to make it seem otherwise, the odds of survival are pretty good.