2019 Review: Thrills on the Hills at Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest

As the sun sinks slowly in the September sky, guests gather near BATMAN the ride at Magic Mountain. Nervous giggles are heard in the crowd, as I wait for the monsters to rush out into the park. It’s time for Fright Fest 2019… Here’s my rundown of the latest thrills on the hills at Magic Mountain.

witches lair

Vault 666 Unlocked – Old name, new maze. Almost everything inside this maze has been changed for the BETTER. New props, new theming, new scares. It looks the same from the outside, but 2019 Vault 666 has had a complete creepy overhaul. The new theme includes a sinister antique shop and vault of antiquities. Tons of spooky artifacts and decor have been added, along with some exciting new animations. It was already a fun maze, but this is the best year yet.

Condemned, Forever Damned – I prefer this haunted house maze to the other classic haunt at the park, Willoughby’s Mansion. Why? I like the alternate paths you can take, like squeezing through a narrow space inside a wall and I enjoy the playful nature of the monsters inside. I went through this one twice. My favorite part was in a bedroom where a creep jumped out and said “dance with me” and I stopped for a little bit to dance and jump around the room with him. It’s fun to have that one-on-one kind of interaction which is rare at a theme park haunt. And it isn’t holding up the line, there’s plenty of room for people to walk by quickly if they want to. Or stay and get your groove on with the ghouls!

sewer photo op

Sewer of Souls – 3D glasses are given to each guest as you enter this rat infested neon vomitorium. Last year, a special disgusting photo op area in this maze was reserved for VIP guests only. This year, it’s the entrance of the maze, so anyone can stop for a second and take a pic with your head stuck in a toilet, if that floats your boat. Germophobes need not apply. Definitely an instagram moment or two inside this disgustingly bright explosion of clowns and graffiti. I especially loved some of the dizzying 3D effects on the floor.

Aftermath 2, Chaos Rising – Zombies! After moving to it’s new location a few years ago, I think this maze lost something. Maybe it’s the weird line which is set up in a ride queue and has too much bright fluorescent lighting. Maybe it’s the overhead coaster roaring by, something just doesn’t work. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think these zombies are sleepwalking their way to the retirement home. The props are still epic, but it needs an adrenaline injection to keep this one alive.

Red’s Revenge – What happened to the wolves? This maze seems to have lost a lot of the creatures that made it so fun in prior years. And Red wasn’t even at her post. Maybe it was poor timing on my part and they were on a break, but the lack of monsters really made this one a dull walkthrough. There are so many inventive places for monsters to hide in this maze, and in prior years they were used brilliantly. This year, I really felt like dear old Grandma herself could have made it through without a scratch… these old wolves just had no teeth.

Willoughby’s Resurrected – A classic haunted house, with myriad rooms to explore, this maze was improved by turning off some of the lights. It’s just a simple fact that it’s easier to get scared in the dark and the shadowy lighting in this one made the rooms look even more sinister. A few effects that I had loved previously were kind of hidden by the lighting change, like the charging dogs in the kitchen, but overall I loved the changes. Maybe a few more candlelight effects could help out the too-darkened corners and add to the suspense.

There are six Scare Zones around the park including Witches Lair, TerrorTory Twisted, City Under Seige, Exile Hill, Nightmares – A Twisted Fantasy, and Demon’s Door. You see the most monsters at the end of the night at Demon’s Door, but my favorite is Exile Hill for the sliders running past guests in the dark and hitting the floor sparks flying. This year the sliders also have a new show at City Under Seige. Check your park map for show times.

Monstertainment includes the bands playing all night at VooDoo Nights in the Full Throttle Plaza and the High Sierra Hypnotist in the Golden Bear Theater.

Fright Fest still remains the best Halloween theme park value for passholders. The park doesn’t close and re-open, so with your regular pass or daytime ticket you can stay all day and into the night. To access the mazes you just need a special wristband sold separately. Lines can get long as you approach Halloween, so I would suggest springing for the VIP maze pass which has much shorter lines.

Fright Fest runs now through November 3, 2019.

For online tickets go to FRIGHT FEST.