Written by Kyle Newman
On June 7, 1990, Universal Studios Orlando (USO) opened its gates. Soon after, a team of Universal employees was asked
to create a special ticket event for the Halloween season. On Halloween night 1991, USO premiered Fright Nights. The event was held for three nights October 31, November 1, and November 2. Admission price for the first event was $12.95 ($23.27 adjusted for inflation), the soul Haunted house for the year was the Dungeon of Terror and the monster of Universal’s past was set loose on the streets of the park.
The next year USO announced its second annual Halloween Horror Nights (HHN), taking on the new name. The Dungeon of Terror made its return, and the first licensed property house premiered with an adaptation of Wes Craven’s “The People Under the Stairs”. The event had five shows: The Pendragons, a magic and illusion show held on the animal actor stage, Robosauras, a giant robot dinosaur that spouted fire, Thunderdome, an evil queen and her hoard decent upon the streets of New York, the Carnival of Horror, a one night only costume contest, and the show with the longest impact on HHN, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.
On February 17, 1989, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was released. It told the story of Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted Theodor Logan, a pair of slackers trying to get their band off of the ground (and out of the garage). On the verge of flunking out of high school, Ted’s father threatens to send him to military school in Alaska, killing any and all dreams of them being rock stars. They begin to scramble to make a passable final report when they are approached by Rufus, a time traveler who gifts the boys with a time-traveling phone box. The phone booth allows them to collect information for the report throughout history. However, instead of collecting information, they collect figures of history, ending up with a group that consists of Billy the Kid, Joan of Arc, Attila the Hun, Abraham Lincoln, and more.
Two years later on July 19, 1991, the sequel Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure opened in theaters. Both
movies received mixed reviews leaning more to the negative side however they achieved a cult
following and commercial success. A third movie named Bill and Ted face the music entered
preproduction in May of 2018. At HHN 2 Bill and Ted’s excellent Halloween adventure premiered at the
wild west theater. The show began with a shootout between the Marshall and a bank robber. Suddenly
the phone booth appears and outcome Bill and Ted traveling through time trying to find the best
Halloween candy. Chaos ensues and the robber steals the phone booth. Bill and Ted try to call it back to
them but end up getting Doc Brown in the DeLorean who crashes through the barn on stage. The boys
try again and the phone booth returns to them with the bank robber who’s collected his own band of
time traveling killers including Freddy Kruger and the Terminator. Chaos continues as the villains are
defeated and the cast joins in on a song and dance number. This is the standard set up for the show for
the reaming twenty-five years.
All forms of pop culture were in the crosshairs of the show, from celebrities to politics. In 2006, the show’s antics were noticed when videos of the show surfaced on YouTube. This led to a ban on all forms of recording of the show. An official reason was never given, although speculation is that Disney and Warner Brothers were preparing legal action about copyright
infringement. Fans still attempted to record the show, and strict actions were taken against it if caught, such as
ejecting offenders form the theater if caught. With the success of HHN in Orlando, Universal decided to relaunch it in Hollywood and took Bill and Ted with them. The crowds came and the shows proceeded similar to the Orlando show, until 2013 when an
article was written claiming homophobia and racism. (Prior to posting this article the original article
posted on Vice was removed from their website and could not be posted as a source.) Universal quickly
pulled the show after the article was written, it unfortunately never returned to Universal Studios
In August of 2017, fans waited for the announcement of Halloween Horror Nights but, when the
announcement came, the Bill and Ted show with the tagline “Farewell tour”. Some hoped that It may just be the
theme of the show that year. Universal Orlando gave its official statement that the 2017 show would be
the very last year of Bill and Ted disappointing many. Less than two weeks before the show was to start
the writing team created a new ending for the show to give it the farewell that it had earned and
deserved. The final show had people lining up as early as 9 AM to get wristbands to see it. The show
lasted an extra hour and every member of the cast was given a standing ovation. With HHN 28 only a
few weeks away, it’s looking like Bill and Ted is not going to return this year.
Icons of HHN have come, gone, been lost to time and, returned such as Jack the Clown, The Usher Cindy,
shows have also come and gone Rocky Horror Picture Show (a Tribute), Robosuras and the various Icon
shows but through all of that Bill and Ted persisted. Regardless of its absence fans will always hold out
hope that a reunion tour may come, with the 3 rd movie now officially on the horizon. The fact that the
show lasted for so long is a testament to the ability to make fun not only at the world we live in but itself as
well. Bill and Ted will last on in our and after 26 years it will truly be a part of HHN culture. May one of
Bill and Ted’s greatest teachings live on in all of us, “Be excellent to each other”.
This is a fan-submitted history article. Kevin Perjurer and the Defunctland team do not take responsibility for any incorrect facts or figures, but will fix any if found.