Fright Fest: Always a Good Time
One of my favorite Halloween events of the year is Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest. Once considered the Southern California underdog, the team at Magic Mountain has really upped their game and is delivering a creative, scary and overall fun event. While not much has changed this year, both of my visits opening weekend were enjoyable (minus a few park-wide operational hiccups, which are out of the Fright Fest staff’s control). This year, there are seven walk-through mazes, six scare zones, a “Suicide Squad” experience and two live shows. For some reason, the scare zones seemed a bit smaller, or featured a few less scare actors. Maybe it was just timing, or just my imagination. Anyhow… the scare zones are creative and feature a variety of props and decorations that remain up all day, which is a blessing for us Halloween nerds that insist on taking photos of, and/or with every prop in the park.
My favorite scare zone is "Nightmares: A Twisted Fantasy," which is located on the hill between Viper and Katy’s Kettle. You will glow under the black lights and be tormented by the monsters that lurk along the path. I love this area and find myself hanging out there to watch the scares. The décor also fits perfectly and adds to the atmosphere.
Also of note, is a well-executed scare zone is "Demon’s Door," which is located in the park’s entry plaza just inside the front gate. This zone also uses black lights to create atmosphere, but the talent here in on point and guests tend to linger within the excitement. What I love about Fright Fest (and Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor), is that the street talent is allowed to interact with, and take photos with the guests. In the age of social media, posing for a photo is almost now more important than delivering an actual scare. But, the actors here manage to do both. They scare, but will also pose for a selfie, which delivers high guest satisfaction on both fronts. One cannot mention the monsters without acknowledging Scott Ramp and the Scream Team’s work on costumes and make-up. This is another department where Fright Fest truly excels and comes head to head with the big guys like Universal and Knott’s.
A new addition is the “Suicide Squad” experience in DC Universe. This is a scare zone on steroids. Characters from the movie roam the streets amidst an impressive laser, light and music show. Photo ops are set-up so you take a photo with The Joker, Harley Quinn and others. If you are a fan of the comic, or saw the movie, you are going to love this. In terms of mazes, the only change this year was with "Aftermath." The old location has been demolished to make way for the new Justice League dark ride slated to open next year. The maze has been relocated to a bigger space. This maze is impressive by all theme park standards. Using set pieces from the old action show, and large-scale props, it is easily the biggest in Southern California and features dozens of actors. There is even a mini zone in the middle, in which you can choose a path. "Red’s Revenge," located in the area across from Full Throttle is one of my favorite mazes. One small problem: the pre-show is incredibly hard to hear. This is an issue I wish they would have fixed from previous years. I have been through the maze a dozen times and still have no idea what is being said in the video. But, despite this, the theme, storyline and interior design make up for it. Live performances go on throughout the night on the Full Throttle stage, and a hypnotist entertains audiences in the Golden Bear Theatre. Select rides are operated without lighting for a more intense Fright Fest experience. Notably missing this year is the stage show in Territory Twisted, which I actually preferred over Jabbaowckeez (Halloween Horror Nights) and Elvira (Knott’s Scary Farm) last year. What makes Fright Fest different from its theme park competitors, is that the gates of the park do not close at 7 pm when the festivities begin. Daytime ticket guests, or those with season passes can enjoy the scare zones, shows and Suicide Squad Experience as part of their general admission. A separate wristband is sold to enter the mazes. For $15 dollars (online/or with season pass… $20 at the park), or $30 for front of the line, guests can visit each maze as many times as they wish throughout the night. This is an amazing deal. If you do not want to go through the mazes, simply visit with a ticket, or season pass to enjoy the atmosphere. Keep in mind Fright Fest is not Universal Studios. It is also not Knott’s Scary Farm. Some of the talent could benefit from a little less ear screaming and things could be a bit more polished. But, the staff does an amazing job at giving it their all. For the money, it cannot be beat. If you are a Halloween fan and go in for a night of fun, you will not be disappointed. "Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising" and "Red’s Revenge" are STRONG mazes, the make-up is amazing and the Suicide Squad experience is fun. Each local park delivers a slightly different experience, and Fright Fest fits into the mix perfectly. Mazes Ranked: #1 – Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising 9/10 #2 – Red’s Revenge 9/10 #3 – Vault 666 8/10 #4 – Willoughby’s Resserected 8/10 #5 – Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness 7/10 (hopefully replaced next year) #6 – Toyz of Terror 3D 7/10 (hopefully replaced next year) #7 – Chupacabra 6/10 (hopefully replaced next year) Overall Score: 8/10 Details: Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest www.sixflags.com/magicmountain Select Nights through October 30