Over the past few weeks, we have been bringing you news from Fright Fest 2012 including our Exclusive Walk-Through of Willoughby’s Resurrected. In this update we will outline both the good and frightful of this year’s event. There are some things you want to be sure not to miss when you visit and a few tips for getting the most out of your Fright Fest experience.
Fright Fest 2012 features 8 mazes, 6 Scare Zones, 4 shows and even activities for children, since the park does not close prior to Fright Fest beginning at 7pm and is essentially a mix-in of of day and Halloween visitors. The park offers a “Fright Guide,” which is a good way to tell if some of the Fright Fest activities will be too much for children or even some adults.
Fright Fest Mazes
Fright Fest Maze passes are $13 ($10 if you have a Season Pass). You can also upgrade to the Priority Access Maze Pass for $30 ($25 if you have a Season Pass). We highly recommend getting the Priority Access Pass if you will be visiting on a Saturday Night. The first Saturday for Fright Fest was extremely busy and the event will likely get busier as we get closer to Halloween.
We will start off with our review of the Mazes and go through them in the order we recommend you visit them.
Blackout (Located in former Log Jammer Queue)
This maze, in theory, should just frighten those who have an extreme fear of the dark, as it is basically a maze that is completely black. There are no props, no scary monster make-up and no special effects to speak of. What the maze does do is succeed on every level of what it seeks to accomplish. It’s a maze that plays with your imagination. The talent in this maze varies from in-your-face scares to very subtle things like whispering in your ear “we can see you”. But the point of this maze is, you can’t see them.
You are led through the experience in groups of 8 people all holding on to a rope. The lead person has a very dim pen light and there are some very dim rope lights to mark the path through the maze. This is easily one of the most successful mazes not just at Fright Fest, but at any local haunt events. If you are not just looking for pretty sets but to be actually scared, this maze should meet your expectations.
Even though the space for this maze is going to be taken over by the queue for Full Throttle next year, we’d really like to see this maze continue and perhaps expanded in a new location.
Due to only 8 people going through the maze every 1-2 minutes, we recommend showing up to this maze early as lines get long quickly. If you do not purchase the Priority Maze Pass, we’d suggest getting in line about 6:30pm.
Our Score: 10 out of 10
Lecter’s Slaughterhouse (located in DC Universe)
Lecter’s Slaughterhouse is a returning maze that is placed in a warehouse normally reserved for stocking game prizes. The layout of this maze is basically the same as it has been in years past, although there is a new outside sheet-maze portion. The problem with the addition is that it loses its impact due to being able to see it before entering the maze.
For us, this was the one maze that didn’t really work. The talent seemed non-existant, the sets were nice but this type of maze has been done at pretty much every Halloween event in the area. This is one we’d certainly like to see retired before next year. It would certainly make a great location for Blackout.
Our Score: 2 out of 10
Cursed (Located in Tidal Wave Queue)
Cursed is interesting. It’s really not a maze at all. It’s essentially a walk-through of the Tidal Wave queue, so it’s kind of a straight line. If you’ve done this maze in the past, you know what to expect. What you might not expect is that the talent, despite the lack of space and themeing, is REALLY strong this year. We got quite a few “scares” walking through and they are to be commended for their effort.
If you find a long line at this maze, try coming back later in the evening as the lines for some of the shorter mazes go down after 10pm.
Our Score: 5 out of 10 (due to the outstanding effort of the maze talent)
Aftermath (located near Riddlers Revenge)
A returning maze from last year, Aftermath was the stand-out maze from 2011. This year it’s just as strong. This is easily the best of the “Zombie” mazes featured at the SoCal parks (Sorry Walking Dead and Virus Z). The talent in this maze has lots of room to work with and they use it to extraordinary results. Certainly one to experience multiple times.
Our Score: 10 out of 10
Black Widow (Located on Samurai Summit)
Black Widow is another new maze for 2012, replacing the former Bite II. The layout of the maze is identical to Bite II and some of the props are hold-overs from that maze. There are also some props from the former version of Willoughby’s Haunted Mansion. The props have been brought over and updated with various levels of success.
Where this maze shines, as with any good maze, is the talent. During our second trip through this attraction, the talent was fantastic, not so much on our first trip. Hopefully as Fright Fest goes on they will continue to improve.
Our Score: 6 out of 10
Willoughby’s Resurrected (Located on Samurai Summit near Ninja)
If you saw our exclusive tour of this maze last week, you know the amount of work and effort that was put into the newly updated Willoughby’s. The execution of the maze is quite effective. We did sense that the talent may have still been getting accustomed to utilizing the new technology to it’s full potential but that is to be expected as it was only the second full night of Fright Fest.
That doesn’t mean the talent wasn’t trying, the effort they put forth was great and while it would be easy to just rely on the technology and setting, they didn’t. Hopefully on an upcoming visit we will see the talent and maze integrate more seamlessly as this has the potential to be one of the great mazes in Southern California.
Our Score: 9 out of 10
Chupacabra (located in Baja Ridge)
Chupacabra is another returning maze that first debuted in 2011. There are a few new scenes and effects that have been added to the maze and most of the maze is creepy with lots of room for the talent to give good scares. The maze is a little on the short side and a lot of the maze is outside. We do recommend going through this maze, but only once it gets really dark outside.
Our Score: 6 out of 10
Jokester’s Hideout 3D (located near Palace arcade)
Jokester’s is also a returning maze featuring some pretty scary sideshow clowns. This maze has always been a favorite of ours due to the unique “scare rooms” and extraordinary talent. This year’s version is no exception and is as fun as ever. Why do we suggest doing this one last? Because when you exit you will be right back near Blackout to experience it again (no problem with the Priority Maze Pass).
Our Score: 7 our of 10
Fright Fest Scare Zones
The Fright Fest Scare Zones feature some tremendous talent, a couple stand-outs but can sometimes suffer from not having enough room to work.
City Under Siege, as with years past is the biggest and best of the Fright Fest scare zones. The talent in this area is fantastic, given lots of room for many different characters and of course the sliders. There did seem to be some issues with the awesome lasers they had last year as we only saw them on once.
Overall this is a strong area and it’s simply fun to stand around for awhile watching the talent do what they do best. If they address the laser issue this will be a perfect scare zone.
Our Score: 9 out of 10
Gypsy Hollow (located near Cursed)
Gypsy Hollow is one of the scare zones that suffers from not enough room. The talent that we saw was really good but the amount of land they have to work with amounts to maybe 100 yards. So it’s all over before you know it.
Our Score: 5 out of 10
The Wastelands (located near Aftermath)
The Wastelands is a terrific scare zone that complements the Aftermath maze very well. It really does seem like an extension of the maze and the talent and themeing in the scare zone are top notch.
Exile Hill (Samurai Summit)
Exile Hill has always been one of the stronger scare zones. During our visit we didn’t notice as many monsters as in previous years That said, talent here has always been strong and the presence of some of the Willoughby’s has once again expanded the impact of that maze in the area. Hopefully we will see more monsters on our next visit.
Our Score: 7 out of 10
Hillbilly Massacre (Located near Roaring Rapids and Tatsu)
Hillbilly Massacre is a scare zone that sounds great in theory but suffers in a couple of area’s, Chiefly, it is too bright in the area to get any good “scares”. With the nearby games, Tatsu line and Katy’s Kettle you can understand why the lights must be on but it doesn’t give the talent much to work with.
Our Score: 3 out of 10
Nightmares – A Twisted Fantasy (located near Revolution exit)
Nightmares is, without question, the one scare zone we feel has the most potential. It’s basically a “Black Light” scare zone and the characters here are exceptionally creepy and awesome. But just like Gypsy Hollow this scare zone suffers from being too small.
Overall, the scare zones at Fright Fest are solid, with the stand-outs being City Under Siege, Wastelands, Exile Hill and Nightmares. Our feeling is that 4 solid scare zones is plenty for the park and we’d actually like to see Gypsy Hollow and Hillbilly Massacre retired and the expansion of Wastelands and Nightmares.
Fright Fest Shows and Childrens Activities
Fright Fest features three shows and two DJ dance stages. We didn’t see any of the shows on our last visit, something we are planning on doing during our next visit, hopefully in time to bring you another report before Halloween.
Dr. Fright’s Happily Never After (entrance to DC Universe)
A dark and sexy Halloween song and dance review
Hypnotist Suzy Hamer (located in Golden Bear Theater)
Prepare yourself for a mystical, edge-of-your-seat, comical stage show
However, we were unable to find any Fright Fest related merchandise in the main store upon exiting the park. Hopefully this is something the park will address and promote as your “last chance” to get Fright Fest related merchandise.
Overall, this year’s Fright Fest is the best we’ve seen from the park. As with any event, there is room for improvement, but each year it seems Magic Mountain improves while maintaining what works from previous events. Fright Fest has the best crowd control in the mazes over other events in the area, this year is no exception. You will find no “Haunted Lines” at Fright Fest like you will with other parks. Fright Fest sends guests into the mazes in spaced out groups. This means more scares (at least for us).
The additions of Blackout and Willoughby’s and the continued success of Aftermath makes this a solid haunt event and shows a commitment by park management to bring the event closer to the standard set by Knott’s and Universal. Despite a couple of issues with small scare zones and a maze that needs replacing, Fright Fest really surprised us this year and we can’t wait to see what they have waiting for us in the future. This is one of our new favorite haunts.
Did you ever expect this from Six Flags folks?