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Tips for Getting Hired at Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood

Landing a job as a Universal Studios Scareactor is one of the most sought-after positions in theme park entertainment. As a scare actor, you’re the backbone of Universal Studios one-of-a-kind event, Halloween Horror Nights. You are what makes this ultimate Halloween party immersive and frighteningly fun for all guests. You embody the spooky spirit of Halloween! 

If hired, you will either work in a haunted house and portray a specific character/figure from a movie or be an atmosphere character on the streets of Universal. There are a few other roles you can acquire at Halloween Horror Nights, but this is the basic idea. Actors for Halloween Horror Nights might carry a chainsaw, impersonate someone from Ghost Busters, or be a generally scary creature. Your main mission as a scare actor? Scare people, of course! 

Sure, this event is scary, but do you know what’s even scarier? Auditioning.

I’ve worked at Disney World as a full-time Performer and been to many theme park and cruise auditions. I know that these auditions are intimidating and can feel like a cattle call. There are hundreds of others who want this role as badly as you and it’s hard to stand out.

To help ease the anxiety, I wanted to give you an idea as to what you can expect at a Universal Studios Scareactor audition. Most of the tips I’m shelling out can be applied to general Universal and Disney auditions too!

If you want to hear about my recent experience attending the 2019 Scareactor audition at Universal Orlando, watch this video. I talk about the process from beginning to end and my audition results.

Plus, how to cope with rejection as an entertainer in the theme park industry. This is very important if you want to succeed in future auditions!

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Helpful Resources for Your Audition

3 Scareactor Audition FAQs

Do they have separate auditions for each Universal theme park?

Yes, they have separate auditions for the Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando. To be considered for both, you must audition at both locations. To stay informed about auditions, visit the casting websites listed in the box above.

When do they hold auditions for Halloween Horror Nights every year?

In 2019 auditions started in June. They generally cast throughout the summer and end auditions towards the end of August. They do cast throughout the season, so if you get rejected at first they may call you later if they need more people.

My advice is to attend one of the very first auditions of the season. As they add more audition dates, they fill up the roles. You have a better chance of being considered with more roles available at the beginning of summer.

How long does it take to hear back about the audition?

The typical wait time is about two weeks, but this varies greatly. Some actors will get the casting email a few days after the audition and others will get the call way later into the season. While at the type out an audition, we were told the same night whether we were cast. Check forums like Inside Universal for discussions about the auditions. People will update whether they got into the next round, rejected, or cast.

The Process of an Animation and Movement-Based Scareactor Audition

Halloween Horror Nights pumpkin trees. Trick or Treat scare zone at Universal Studios Orlando.

There are two types of character auditions for Halloween Horror Nights, an animation audition and a type out. An animation or movement audition is typical for Universal Studios Hollywood. I suspect this is because the competition is tougher in California. The park is closer to Los Angeles, which means there are a ton of Actors desperate for work in the area. This shouldn’t scare you though. If the Casting Directors like your look, ideas, or commitment to the character, you have a chance.

This process is much more involved than a type-out audition. They change up the audition every year, but essentially they ask you to act out certain situations and motivations. They may ask you to do an exercise like “scare the chair” where you do your best to scare an inanimate object.

There’s a great example of the audition process on YouTube here. This audition is from many years ago, so it’s a bit outdated, but it does give you a good idea as to what the audition may be like.

Tips for an Animated/Movement Scareactor Audition

#1 – Your Acting Should Be Larger-Than-Life

For animation auditions at Universal and Disney, the bigger your character and movements, the better. As Actors, we’re told not to over-act, but you can disregard your training for this audition. This isn’t your typical audition where you want to be minimal and “real.”

I’m not saying tear down the curtains and pull off your clothes, but you can definitely over-animate. Try not to feel like an idiot and just go for it. They want your character and movements to be visibly apparent to guests. This means stepping out of your comfort zone and getting really into it. Get on the floor and pretend to eat someone’s brains with full commitment and put your whole body into it. And don’t be afraid to make noises! Make your presence be known!

#2 – Wear Clothes You Can Move In

Think of this audition as more a “dance” audition rather than an “acting” audition. Even though there won’t be any choreography, you want to feel comfortable enough to move a lot. Comfy yoga pants usually do the trick.

The Process of a Type Out Scareactor Audition

Stranger Things Castle Byers props and bike at Halloween Horror Nights in Universal Studios Orlando

A type cast audition is where Casting seeks out people who look like a specific character, actor, or figure. This means they look at your age, height, weight, or facial structure.

You don’t have to have much acting experience for a type out audition. If you look like the character and you think being a scare actor would be a fun experience, then go for it. They want people who look as close to these characters as possible, so if that means hiring someone who isn’t a trained actor, they might just do it.

The process is extremely simple. They put you into a group and take you into a room, line you up, and ask you a simple question. 

The question they asked us was “What’s your favorite Halloween movie?” They will change the question each time, so don’t try to rehearse this. Honestly, your answer doesn’t really matter. They want to hear your voice and make sure you can take a simple direction. More than anything, they want to look at your face and body. Asking a question makes the process a little less awkward for everyone.

Tip for a Type Out Scareactor Audition

This Audition is Completely Out of Your Control. (A.K.A. Don’t freak out!)

They are looking for people who can portray a specific famous actor or characters that were featured in movies and television. If you don’t look like Eleven from Stranger Things, that’s totally ok. That’s not something you can change and it means that you’re uniquely you! If they think you have enough similarities to Millie Bobby Brown then you lucked out and that’s cool too!

3 Tips to Dominate Your Character Performer Audition

Girl on dynamite and gag factory shipping boxes in Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland, California.

#1 – Just Be Yourself!

I know. This is easier said than done.  When we hear the phrase “just be yourself,” we immediately start freaking out and have an existential crisis. “Who am I?” “What do I want to show them?” “Do I look like an idiot?”

It’s like we float out of our bodies and start dissecting our self-worth with a wooden spoon.

All I mean is that you should have fun. It’s a silly audition where you pretend to be zombies and stuff. You should try to at least have fun while you do it.

And if you’re having fun then Casting Directors are having fun too!

#2 – Do Your Research

Be sure to have some characters and actions in mind before you go. Look up the haunted houses that were featured the previous year and watch a couple of movies they were based on. They often bring back popular houses the following year, so it’s good to study up. This is a good way to ease your nerves because you’ll feel more prepared with ideas going into it too. And also a good way to get yourself excited about the audition!

#3 – Keep Auditioning

A lot of people I met during auditions have already worked at Universal or are currently working there now. A lot of those same people went on to get cast in Halloween Horror Nights. This means that if you don’t get cast this year, go next year! 

You want the Casting Directors to recognize you and one way to do that is to audition. It doesn’t hurt to audition for other events like Mardi Gras too. Your face will become more familiar to them, the more you show up. You may have a higher chance of getting hired for Halloween if you land a role for a different event too.

The Take-Away: What You Need to Remember When Auditioning for Disney, Universal, or Anywhere Else

Every year they add more haunted houses and need different types of people to fill those roles. Maybe next year they will have a character that fits your type. So keep trying and don’t get bogged down if you get rejected. When auditioning, you’ll be rejected about 95% of the time. The more you audition, the more chances you’ll get at landing a role. 

Just remember that most of the time, the rejection is due to a circumstance completely out of your control. It has nothing to do with you as a person!

You are enough, my friend. Your personality, face, body, and voice is totally your own and that’s totally awesome. Don’t let a little thing like an audition determine your self-worth!

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