This week Six Flags Magic Mountain held a press conference to make a major announcement about the 2014 edition of their Fright Fest Halloween event. The thrill park has been very keen on taking a bite out of the brutally competitive Halloween Haunt market in Southern California for years now. However, 2011’s announcement of a 5-year plan to overhaul the park’s Halloween offerings has resulted in a slow but steady set of improvements to the annual event.
Billed as the largest capitol investment in Fright Fest history, Six Flags made a bold statement this week by announcing 3 all-new mazes, 1 renovated maze, 3 returning mazes, improved scare zones, and an all-new night time party/stage show.
This year the park will have 7 scare zones throughout the park. There are six returning areas, City Under Siege, Zombie Xing, Exile HIll, Wastelands, Nightmares: A Twisted Fantasy, Traveling Scare Zones, and the new Ravenstitch.
Taking the classic story of Little Red Riding hood a little further, this maze tells the story of an angry Red Riding Hood out for revenge. Wandering through the wake of Red’s grief-driven vengeance, guests will encounter a higher level of detail and theme. Set pieces include an elaborate forest set, and Red’s earthen hideout.
Designer Mark Wing took a moment to walk a few of us through his latest creation, the new Vault 666. An abandoned secret government-research facility has fallen into complete chaos as their experiments have broken free. Hybrid human/animal creatures are running loose in the corridors of this facility that includes a blood-letting room and an electrocution chamber. For the media preview event, the maze was running full theatrical lighting and effects. However, the 32-point sound system and actors were absent as we wandered the halls.
We have to admit that this tour impressed us. A substantial amount of work appears to have gone into the maze, most notably in the amount of practical effects that are triggered along the route. Ambitious too is the feature of a water-based scene. There was a real inventiveness to the layout and scares that are being built within this relatively small space. We look forward to returning and checking the maze out when it is fully operational.
Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness
Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness continues the Willoughby’s tale and will feature man-eating plants that come to life and monsters on the attack.
Toyz of Terror 3D
The Six Flags team has gone through and updated the Toyz of Terror maze with Chromadepth 3D technology which will make wall murals appear to be three dimensional. We expect the exact same layout and scares here, but we are hoping to be surprised.
The returning mazes listed below are a mixed bag from last year. The Willoughby’s Resurrected Maze was a leap forward with digital projections and updated effects and Aftermath impresses with its scale.
The latin-themed monster maze returns for another round. We hope they’ve been able to make some enhancements.
The completely refurbished maze combines detailed set dressing, imaginative practical effects, inventive video projections, and high-energy monsters. It’s a fantastic maze that, last year, was head and shoulders above virtually everything else at Fright Fest.
The post-apocalyptic maze takes advantage of the former Batman stunt-show arena and meanders past charred vehicles and hovering helicopters. Scares are scant but the wow factor is worth the journey.
Holding on to a length of rope, small groups are sent into the blacked-out maze inside the Magic Moments Theater behind a leader with a tiny, dim flashlight. Hidden within the maze are nasty creatures of the night that lurk within the blackened recesses of the theatre.
One thing that was heard time and again at the recent ScareLA convention was that, regardless of what FrightFest has been like in the past, the makeup is phenomenal. At the media preview we were treated to a look at some of the brilliant makeup that would be a part of the event.
When and Where
Fright Fest 2014 at Six Flags Magic Mountain runs on select Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from Sept. 27 through Nov. 1. It is interesting to note that SIx Flags FrightFest is NOT sold as a separate ticketed event. Instead, the park remains open to regular guests and if you’d like to experience the mazes, there is a small up-charge. A GREAT value!
Overall, we have to say we are excited to see Fright Fest this year. With a huge amount of money invested, 3 new mazes, stellar make up, and a redoubled effort to compete with the big boys, things are looking a little better for the event. We think Fright Fest could soon be within striking distance of competing with the major Halloween heavy hitters here in Southern California.