For residents of the “wizarding world” in the Harry Potter novels, a Death Eater is pretty much the last person they’d want to see — that is, besides the dark lord Voldemort himself, the leader of the evil faction trying to gain power over all of the magical world.
But at Universal Studios Hollywood this year, Death Eaters are part of Halloween Horror Nights. The terrifying annual event turns the theme park (and its counterparts in Orlando, Japan and Singapore) into an after-hours hellscape with haunted houses and scare zones full of chainsaw-wielding monsters trying their best to give you nightmares. It’s so popular and highly anticipated that HHN regularly wins awards for having the best Halloween theme park event in the country.
Universal Studios opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade in 2010 in Orlando (and another part, Diagon Alley, in 2014), and then opened the Hollywood version of Hogsmeade in 2016. The area is themed to the wizard town of Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter books, which is just outside Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where Harry and his friends attend magical boarding school. The land includes “wizard” shops, the Three Broomsticks restaurant, the Hogwarts Express train and Hogwarts Castle, which houses dark ride Harry Potter & the Forbidden Journey.
Normally, the area is a safe haven during Horror Nights, which is a level of scary that can be too intense for guests. (The event’s website has a clear warning not to bring kids under 13.) But this year, as you approach the entrance to Hogsmeade, you can tell something is different. An eerie green glow illuminates the normally cheerful buildings. Fog billows up from below. The Dark Mark, a skull insignia that Voldemort’s followers wear as a sign of fealty, is emblazoned on the tower of Hogwarts. And cloaked, malevolent figures run out of darkened corners, brandishing their wands and threatening to hurl unforgivable curses in your direction.
“The Death Eaters are so creepy, especially with the green fog,” theme park vlogger Peter Sciretta said. “I wish this would happen every night here.” He and Kitra Remick are popular theme park vloggers Ordinary Adventures, who make YouTube videos of Halloween Horror Nights and other theme park events. (Their full walkthrough of the Harry Potter scare zone and the other HHN offerings is available here.)
“This is what I wanted [for so] many years,” in Wizarding World, Remick added.
At Universal Orlando, Halloween Horror Nights takes place in its Universal Studios park, but the Dark Arts at Hogwarts — complete with Death Eaters and a nighttime projection show on the castle — happen at Islands of Adventure.
While the Death Eaters are creepy, the area is still one of the less frightening elements of the Halloween event: there are no severed limbs strewn about, or scythe-wielding demons chasing you, as there are in other scare zones and inside the haunted houses. But for Harry Potter fans, it’s an exciting new addition that brings to life a different, decidedly more villainous, element of the books.