The night at FRIGHT FEST began with a hoard of monsters, ghouls, and zombies swarming into the park. As the fog rolled in, the creatures surged into the crowds ready to ignite the night. All scare zones and shows are included with your regular park ticket, so it’s a perfect way to introduce tweens and scaredy cats to a night of terror. For the braver guests, there are three returning mazes and three new mazes to test your courage.
AFTERMATH 2: CHAOS RISING is visually stunning. I loved the original AFTERMATH and I’m still a fan of this incarnation, though I preferred the first location. This massive outdoor maze suffers a bit from the ambient lighting where it now sits, especially in the line. In the previous darker section of the park, the maze felt more immersive. Even so, stepping into the maze and seeing the zombies approach is thrilling and intense. The towering sets and exhilarating fire effects are dangerously dramatic against the roar of the nearby coasters.
CONDEMNED: FOREVER DAMNED (new) is another winner. Enter a ramshackle home and meet the disgusting inhabitants. This clever maze took a chance on the “two exit” strategy that few theme parks are daring enough to try because it does slow down the lines a little bit. With two different ways out of a room, the monster in the room picks a route for you. There is usually the easy way which requires just a walkthrough or the hard way which may require the guest to do something more difficult to exit the room. In several of the rooms, I had to exit the hard way by climbing through a bunk bed and even squeezing inside a wall to shimmy sideways out of the room. It was exciting and really different than anything I have seen FRIGHT FEST do before. This creative gamble definitely paid off.
WILLOUGHBY’S RESURRECTED is back at the top of the hill. This high tech Haunted House has a lot of visual tricks inside. Screens illuminate the halls with images of the Willoughby family trapped as evil spirits haunting the home. The rooms haven’t changed much from year to year, so this one could use an update. The actors inside scare using screams as a weapon, so I walked through with my hands over my ears. A little more variety in the acting and some new spooky decor could bring this maze back from the dead.
SEWER OF SOULS (new) has taken over the space on Exile Hill where Willoughby’s Garden used to be. It is the best use of the space that I’ve seen and was my favorite maze of the night. It’s hard to describe the insanity unleashed on guests in this one. First, I was taken to a VIP photo op in a dirty bathroom. The rest of my group was so disgusted by this that no one wanted to touch any of the photo props. Everything was covered with fake poop. It’s a sewer, after all. Then we were given 3D glasses and led into the maze. Wild neon graffiti covered the walls, and funhouse optical illusions made the rooms disorienting. There were scares hiding around every corner, amplified by the obnoxious lights and tilted floors. At one point, I entered a room and something started whipping at my ankles. I hopped through the room giggling. It was inventive and thoroughly entertaining.
HELL FEST (new) is a themed maze for the new movie HELL FEST, but I would never have known that. It’s a simple overlay on top of the previous VAULT 666. I couldn’t find any evidence of the new storyline in the maze. In a town where the competition specializes in turning movie properties into haunts, this maze fails where it should have succeeded. In the movie HELL FEST, a masked serial killer hides in an amusement park and starts killing the guests. This should have been easy to accomplish, but the VAULT 666 sets remain largely untouched and there wasn’t enough new set decoration to pull this one off.
RED’S REVENGE is a creative maze, one of the first of the “new” mazes at Magic Mountain when they decided to invest in making sure their Halloween season really packed a powerful punch. RED’S combines the best of old-fashioned large-scale animatronics with modern touches like video screens. The path winds through the forest and into Grandmother’s house. Wolves dart in and out of the sets. Hiding and multiplying until we finally see RED on a high platform in the final room.
Maybe it was just bad timing, but the two new SCARE ZONES had no monsters (or witches) when I walked through WITCHES LAIR and THE SHADOWS.
Returning zones were alive and kicking… CITY UNDER SEIGE is maniacal fun, EXILE HILL shows off the Scream Team’s brilliant makeup, NIGHTMARES: A TWISTED FANTASY is a dazzling blacklight space, TERRORTORY TWISTED is a steampunk spectacle, and DEMON’S DOOR is the best of the lot with stiltwalkers and grisly ghouls sneaking up on guests as they walk through the crowded front park plaza.
There are two ongoing shows included with the park ticket, even if you don’t buy a maze pass. The HIGH SIERRA HYPNOTIST has a different performer each year and the show is always funny and mysterious. On a stage in front of FULL THROTTLE, there is a dance party called VOODOO NIGHTS. It’s fun to sit and people watch here as wandering ghouls dance with guests.
FRIGHT FEST just keeps getting better every year. Each new maze builds on the lessons learned in previous years and the two brilliant additions of SEWER OF SOULS and CONDEMNED make 2018 a hauntingly genius Halloween season for SIX FLAGS.
FRIGHT FEST is open select days September 15-October 28
They are not open for this year’s mid-week Halloween, so plan your visit by clicking FRIGHT FEST to buy tickets while there is still time.