Every trip to Halloween Horror Nights is an adventure. There’s always excitement in the air and plenty to see and do. Even though they extend the dates, it seems to remain just as busy almost every night of the event. Despite all these crowds, people still must find a way to participate and have fun. Liquid courage comes into play for many, and therefore, there are drink stands everywhere. Even though it is a significant part of the event, even getting alcohol seems like it requires an Express Pass. We went to Halloween Horror Nights last week and found an oasis from the chaos of all the crowds at Chez Alcatraz.
Just outside of the Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe scarezone by San Francisco Candy Factory is Chez Alcatraz. Chez Alcatraz is a permanent outdoor bar structure here by the water at Universal Studios during regular park hours. The theme of the area is San Francisco, and Chez Alcatraz is a nod to the famed prison off the coast. During HHN, Chez Alcatraz remains open and is a unique spot to get drinks during the event.
Chez Alcatraz serves beer and mixed drinks, just like most of the pop-up bars during HHN. Many of those bars are in more convenient spots and therefore have more of a line throughout the night. Although the pop-up bars are only available during Halloween Horror Nights, they all have the same drink options and basic layout. Chez Alcatraz is a break from that form.
Although there aren’t bar stools directly around the location, there are plenty of chairs and picnic tables nearby. When we were there, these were empty, and the area was quiet. Not many of the bars around the park have a place to sit or linger and enjoy your drink. From the seats, you can either watch the Hellbilly scarezone from a distance or view the lagoon and the chaos occurring across it. This area is even quiet enough to sit and talk or take a break from the pounding of the loud music.
Along with the seating, Chez Alcatraz also has a TV behind the bar. Since you’re in Universal and everything is themed, none of the bars have TVs like many standard bars. When we were there, a small group of people was watching the playoff baseball game live on this TV. Although I wouldn’t guarantee it will always be an option, they requested the game while they were ordering their drinks, and the bartender accommodated. There are no chairs here and not a lot of space, but it is another unique feature that sets this bar location apart.
The drinks options at Chez Alcatraz are unique. They still serve the same specialty mixed drinks offered during HHN, but Chez Alcatraz has its variety of drafts and can beers. These are different than what you can find at the stands around the rest of the park. The Alcatraz Brewing 2X IPA is one unique but obvious choice and a strong IPA at 8%. High Noon is the Hard Seltzer option around most of the park, but we spotted White Claw available at Chez Alcatraz. We also noticed Anchor Steam, Strongbow, and Sailfish offerings that we hadn’t seen anywhere else in the park. It was exciting finding a little spot that carried these other choices that we didn’t know were in the park.
Chez Alcatraz is also the location of Bruce the Great White Shark from Jaws. Although the Chez Alcatraz building is small and average, Bruce reminds you that you’re in a spectacular theme park. Hanging right next to the building, he makes it look even smaller. Since he is out of the way of the main walkway, there wasn’t anyone around. We were able to grab a couple of pictures with him after getting a drink. He is essentially the bar’s mascot and a piece of Universal Studio’s history.
Chez Alcatraz is a unique spot in the park to seek out when adventuring through HHN. The biggest reason I’ve noticed to stop by is that there often isn’t a line. Even if there is a line, the area is calmer, and the bar is well lit. The tables there serve as a place to take a sit break or enjoy a snack from San Francisco Candy Factory next door. I recommend Chez Alcatraz for those looking for something different while at HHN or those who need a break from the lines and noise.