This spooky season, Universal Orlando’s 32nd Halloween Horror Nights has really outdone itself when it comes to all the haunted houses guests can choose to enter this year. When the theme park invited CinemaBlend to venture into every single one of them, I faced jump scares by a range of things, including Chucky, a giant Yeti, Stranger Things’ Vecna and The Last Of Us’ clickers. Amidst all thi thoughs, the last thing I ever expected happened: I walked through a fantasy-themed Choose Your Adventure haunted house. I need to talk about it!
Out of the ten haunted houses at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights this year, one of the most original concepts (and overall memorable experiences) of them all was the Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate haunted house. Let me break down what it is and the defunct attraction it pays tribute to, because I would definitely recommend waiting in line for this one, especially if you're a big fantasy fan like me.
What Is The Choose Your Own Adventure Haunted House At Universal Orlando?
Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate is a haunted house at 2023’s Universal Studios Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, located at Soundstage 24 next to the YETI: Campground Kills house. It features a medieval theme, a massive dragon and feuding warlocks, who are Pyrock, a fire warlock, and Blizzrock, an ice warlock. Plus, if you choose wisely, you'll see Merlin himself. Both those warlocks have the main objective of claiming Merlin’s spellbook. I know, it sounds like a far cry from what a Halloween Horror Nights attraction typically is, but I think the execution of the whole thing is very unique and so fun.
What Is Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate Based On?
The Dueling Dragons house is actually a callback to a former Universal Orlando ride of the same name in the Islands of Adventure resort that existed from 1999 to 2017, though it should be noted it was renamed to Dragon Challenge as well once The Wizarding World of Harry Potter first opened in 2010. The attraction was a dueling rollercoaster named after fire and ice dragons that would actually feature near-miss encounters between the two courses. Reportedly, that feature resulted in numerous injuries from guests, which ultimately led Universal Studios to close the ride and replace it with Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which opened in 2019.
My Experience Inside The Dueling Dragons Haunted House
While I never experienced the Dueling Dragons rollercoaster attraction at Universal Studios Orlando during its heyday, I absolutely loved going through the haunted house and learning about the lore behind it from the staff and other guests. While many of the houses throughout the night have all the fun Halloween-themed things like blood and guts, Dueling Dragons took the road less traveled, and it was a standout.
For one, the ice and fire warlocks are absolutely entrancing and foreboding as they jump out at you throughout the experience, and the house makes you feel like you’ve stepped inside one of those ‘80s Choose Your Own Adventure books. Dueling Dragons establishes itself as a fantasy house, with its scare actors employing choreography that makes one feel like they are literally harnessing different kinds of magic. The final act of the house has its guest choose between two paths, ice or fire, which will have them experience one of four endings to the house. My particular route had me saving everyone and meeting Merlin, but the concept does make one want to go back through and try the other paths.
As someone who loves Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, and has even dabbled in Dungeons and Dragons along with loving horror, I’m obsessed with HHN taking this swing with a haunted house whilst also offering up some nostalgia for fans of the original ride.
Now that you’ve heard about my thoughts on Dueling Dragons, also check out my thoughts on the Stranger Things 4 haunted house, my walkthrough The Last Of Us house with the creator of the original game and our ranking of the Universal Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood, should you choose the West Coast park. Dueling Dragons: Choose Thy Fate is only haunting Universal Studios Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights through November 4.