Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights is back with more Stranger Things

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Dungeons & Dragons-loving geek-hero Eddie Munson rocks out on the roof of his trailer in all his long-haired glory, while Dustin Henderson raises a nail-spiked trash can lid to shield against an approaching swarm of demobats. Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” blasts from unseen speakers, and the eerie scarlet glow of the Upside Down bathes every surface.

Fans of the fourth season of “Stranger Things” will immediately recognize the scene inside the show’s atmospheric new haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights 2023.

It’s hard to argue with the reputation the seasonal, after-hours event at Universal Orlando has built over 32 years. The “Stranger Things” house features detailed sets and production-quality costumes, offering a stroll through the Hawkins lab and encounters with the grotesque terrifier Vecna.

And, of course, a chance to engage physically with some very popular intellectual property, which is now a huge part of the HHN experience.

By the time you’re reading this, the seasonal, after-hours event at Universal Studios Florida will be weeks into its longest-ever, 48-night run.

Among the other recognizable entertainment properties brought to life this year are Chucky, the killer doll from the “Child’s Play” horror-comedy franchise (a house featuring some impressive robotics), and The Exorcist: Believer (featuring a must-see possessed girl spewing blood to the ceiling).

A different lineup of classic Universal films was tapped this time for Universal Monsters: Unmasked. That house conjures the catacombs beneath Paris with The Phantom of the Opera, the Invisible Man, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

But the big one for 2023 is The Last of Us. The house is based on the zombie apocalypse action-adventure video game released for PlayStation a decade ago, but will be plenty familiar to those who only know the HBO limited-series adaptation.

In that house, you can even smell the fungus, which happens to be a variety of brain-hijacking cordyceps in the game’s story.

Neil Druckmann, who created the game and the TV adaptation of “The Last of Us,” took the stage during a media event at the theme park on Sept. 1 to explain how the haunted house idea started with a tweet he fired off casually, which the producers of Halloween Horror Nights took seriously.

“I got to see it yesterday,” Druckmann said of the house. “It’s freaking awesome. You’re going to be inside the game.”

There are also five more original haunted houses, featuring yetis, blues musicians who make deals with the devil and villagers determined to sacrifice non-believers, plus multiple scare zones.

Once again, there’s a whole menu of new food items, though the most intriguing this year has to be Dr. OddFellow’s Carn “Evil” Dog. That’s a hot dog on a cakelike confetti bun with bubblegum mustard, potato sticks and Kool-Aid pickles. Delicious or scary? You decide.

If you go to Halloween Horror Nights

This year Universal Studios in Orlando has 10 haunted houses, five scare zones, a live show, a terror-themed tribute store and a menu of themed foods and cocktails. It runs on select nights through Nov. 4. Tickets start at $79.99 at universalorlando.com/halloweentickets.