Fright Fest 2017 will get your pulse racing!
I started my night at CLUB 6-FEET UNDER, a new pop-up bar, at the far side of the park. As I sipped a sinister cocktail, a DJ spun Halloween party tunes like Monster Mash and 80s pop songs. On Saturdays in October, this area will host GHOULISH GRUB AT THE PUB from 7:30-9:30pm with a buffet of tasty treats and merry monstertainment. I sampled a preview spread of turkey legs, vegetarian lasagna, ribs, salads, banana pudding, and pie while sneaky freaks leaned over my shoulder trying to take a bite… of the turkey leg or my neck?!
As the sky began to darken, I walked over to SUICIDE SQUAD to watch THE SURGE. Every night at 7pm, the monsters flood into the park through the streets of Gotham. Stilt-walkers, creepy clowns, the Suicide Squad look-alikes, zombies, and ghouls ran out into the park to take up their places in mazes and scare zones. It’s not very dark yet at 7pm, so with the sun fading in the hills I was once again impressed by the brilliant makeup machinations of Scott Ramp and The Scream Team. I have to give him huge kudos once again for creating realistic fantasy looks that work in all kinds of lighting. These are movie quality prosthetics and effects that look great even up close and breathing down your neck.
This year, most of the mazes are returning, but some have made adjustments and improvements which make the trip out to Valencia worthwhile.
AFTERMATH 2: CHAOS RISING. I was a big fan of the original Aftermath and less so with Aftermath 2 when it changed locations and made its debut. I’m thrilled to say that everything I loved about the original is now back with the new version and even better! More monsters, more twists and turns, and more exciting props. I loved it. Bonus, because of the speed that you run through this long maze it’s a quick line. See it twice like I did!
RED’S REVENGE. This Little Red Riding Hood maze heavily relies on animatronics, so it’s hit or miss whether the timing for the giant creatures is right on to scare you. Like it’s neighbors TOYZ OF TERROR 3D (a demented neon Clown Factory) and VAULT 666 (an Animal Human Experimental Lab), even the Express Maze Pass line can get very long. I would advise guests to hit them early or later in the night to avoid a long wait.
CHUPACABRA. The scare factor on this one changes from year to year based on the lighting. Some years it’s lit with barely a flicker of candlelight and small shafts of light bursting in through the plywood panels from outside… in those cases, it’s beautifully terrifying. This year, too much lighting inside really illuminates the flaws. I love the concept with the old world mission-style facade, but when the lights are too bright, the fantasy fades away.
WILLOUGHBY’S RESURRECTED, their high-tech haunted mansion, is back again on EXILE HILL with a brand new neighbor, DEAD END. This new maze replaces WILLOUGHBY’S GARDEN. A new take on the “dark” or “blackout” maze idea with a trendy twist, the faulty flashlight. Groups of four or five are allowed into the maze with only the group leader given a flashlight. I was third in our pack of five and I couldn’t see a thing. So, either the flashlight was very dim or it didn’t work at all. I fumbled through this one by holding onto the walls. It felt more like a surivor challenge than a horror maze, since I only recall seeing one monster scene and a couple of things scribbled on a wall, illuminated by a strobe effect. Scare factor was low, but even with the bare bones feel this one has potential.
SCARE ZONES. My favorite area of the park is NIGHTMARES – A TWISTED FANTASY. It feels like a walk through of a dark ride at Disneyland. A blacklight garden with creatures and plants glowing, it looks like Alice in Wonderland on acid. EXILE HILL, TERRORTORY TWISTED, and DEMON’S DOOR all remain fun places to hang out and people watch as creatures slink out of the dark to startle and set off screams. The newest scare zone DAMNED ‘N DISGUISE is billed as a double-themed area where dancing fiends transform in front of your eyes. The change is done with blacklight as the creatures costumes go from dark to glowing bright with glowlight effects on masks and makeup. This is more of a party zone than a scare zone, but the effect was entertaining.
STAGE SHOWS. The HIGH SIERRA HYPNOTIST returns. This was not available on media night, but I’ve seen it before and it’s hilarious. Check it out. VOODOO NIGHTS is a live stage show near the front of the park. Live bands alternate with DJs spinning top 40 hits and hard rock sounds until closing.
TERROR TRACKS is back! Ride your favorites in the dark with lights off for more rides than ever. This year includes Twisted Colossus, Full Throttle, Tatsu, Viper, X2, The Riddler’s Revenge, Batman the Ride, Scream, The New Revolution, Apocalypse, and Goliath. Wow.
Six Flags Fright Fest was a freaky fun way to kick off the Halloween season. I have been a champion of this park’s event for years and even though this year brought fewer new attractions, it’s still on par with the other theme parks at a fraction of the cost. Still the only park with true day to night ticketing, you can stay all day and night with your regular park ticket and enjoy all of the scare zones at no additional charge. Only the maze pass or dining requires an additional ticket/wristband. With maze passes as low as $17, I’d say that’s a hell of a demonic deal!
Magic Mountain Fright Fest 2017 dates: September 16-October 31 (select nights)