“Boys and girls of every age,
would you like to see something strange?”
Ah, October where the weather starts to cool down (it’s a balmy 75 today in LA) and everything spooky is on trend. Halloween is my favorite time of year. October 1st kicks off a month long celebration of the strange and unusual. I have a long list of scary activities planned to celebrate the festival of Samhain. First up is Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
I took a year off from Fright Fest as the mazes tend to repeat themselves. But this year the season pass deal was too hot to pass up and Magic Mountain added a brand new maze and scare zone. Yes!
Six Flags Magic Mountain already touts some of the best thrill rides on the west coast. Check out my previous blog post about their stomach dropping rides. So add in some terrifying mazes, talented scare actors and super creepy special effects and it’s the perfect combo to get your heart racing and blood pumping. Just what I need to kick off the Halloween season.
During the day it’s a normal theme park, but as the sun sets the beasties come out to play. Technically Fright Fest starts at 7pm. They even make an announcement at five minutes till, that this is your last chance to escape before the monsters arrive. I figured the longest line would be for the newest attraction, so I headed over towards the Apocalypse ride to a huge open air maze called, “Aftermath 2 : Chaos Rising.” You line up outside these huge Jurassic Park style doors and await entry. The park staff held us up a few minutes past seven to make sure it was completely dark. Totally worth it. They opened the gates and we all rushed inside…to wait in another line. But, it wasn’t that bad. The experience allows about a dozen people in at a time so the line moved quickly. What I loved most about this maze was the pace. A breathless and disheveled officer in riot gear rushes out and tells you that there has been an outbreak and the city is evacuating, you must follow the path to the decontamination tent and stop for nothing. I’m sure the park does this to keep the maze line moving, but it also adds to the excitement. We rush in and are immediately greeted by enough fog to keep you disoriented about which way to go, as well as making sure you are unaware of what’s lurking in the mist before they pop out at you. I definitely had a few good jump scares in this maze. I always scream and then laugh. It’s just my thing. The scare actors are very dedicated and whomever does the special effects makeup is superb at their craft. The maze continues and you’re split up from your group and told to go in different directions. It’s great fun. Your’re weaving your way through this wasteland of mutants all ready to pounce. I loved it. Easily my favorite maze of the night. Great sets and a rather lengthy maze experience.
With my heart pumping, and sweat forming I rush towards the next group of mazes. Oh Mr. Willoughby. How nice to see you again. “Willoughby’s Resurrected” is a classic haunted house. I’ve done this maze before and not much changed this year but it’s still one of my favorites. This time walking in, it was just my husband and I in the house. The emptiness adds to creepiness. It’s nice to be with only your group when going through a haunted house. It gives the actors time to reset and you get the most out of the planned jump scares. But this experience is all about the set decoration. I took my time to wander from room to room taking in all the delicate details of the run down mansion. I like looking at all the creepy portraits and squeezing though the derelict hallways. When you’re distracted by the pretty macabre things, you don’t see what’s lying around each corner. I wish I could say the same thing for “The Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness.” This maze which is next door to Willoughby’s Resurrected, was a little disappointing. The idea is great. A haunted garden filled with man eating plants and statues come to life. But the actualization of that idea missed the mark. The set consisted mainly of green camouflage netting and not much else. It would have been better to be mossy and damp. More Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, less Duck Hunt.
Along with mazes, Fright Fest boasts some spectacular scare zones. Each with it’s own theme and costumed actors waiting to jump out and frighten you, or take a selfie with you. These actors are awesome. No matter what, they stay in character. While snap-chatting a pic of a huge spider in the black light world of “Nightmares, A Twisted Fantasy” one character crept up behind me and eerily whispered, “whatcha lookin at?” Freaked me out. She was a lovely monster, very friendly and willing to take a photo with me. All the while never breaking character. I asked about her skeleton hand, she told me she got hungry. But not to worry, she was very tasty.
My second favorite scare zone was “TERRORtory Twisted.” Right at the entrance of the newly revamped twisted colossus is a steam punk inspired world filled with gruesome gadgets and lots of skeletons.
Twisted Colossus is also one of the featured Terror Track rides. Meaning, you ride the coasters in complete darkness. Now this works better on some than others. X2, Apocalypse, Goliath and Twisted Colossus are off on their own with little interference from light pollution. Full Throttle is smack in the middle of the park and next to the bright lights of the Voodoo Nights Stage Show, complete with bands, djs, dancing and lasers. Other thrills in the dark include: Tatsu, Viper, The Riddler’s Revenge, Batman the ride, and Scream. So if the maze lines get long, check out a ride or two. It usually works out well. The line for Red’s Revenge and Vault 666 was up to a 35-40 minute wait. So I rode a ride, grabbed a snack and came back. Then I only had to wait about 20 minutes. Perfect!
Vault 666, Red’s Revenge and Toys of Terror 3D are all grouped together. It’s best to experience them in tandem. I started with Vault 666 which had the longest line. They handed out these pink boarding passes to prevent people from cutting in. This did absolutely nothing. I saw eleven people jump the line to join their friends. Now I don’t mind one or two people cutting ahead to join their group, but eleven? Give me a break. Total dick move. But Vault 666 is one of the experiences where they send a group of about a dozen people in at once so the line moved along at a steady pace. You enter the waiting room and are told that your group is about to tour a laboratory dedicated to combining the strengths of animals and humans. Cool! You enter the tour and are immediately greeted by an shaken employee who tells you there has been a chemical spill, or out break or something to that effect. You need to run to safety. Just like in Aftermath I like quick pace. Unfortunately this maze is a lot more confined than the open air Aftermath maze. They should cut the group sizes in half. The actors didn’t have time to reset in between scares. Nothing kills a jump scare like watching someone crawl back into their place of hiding two people ahead of you. Plus the monsters were more mutants than animal/human hybrids. I was waiting for a large gorilla man-beast or a girl-cat with fangs and claws. Not my favorite maze. Thankfully my trust in Fright Fest was restored with Red’s Revenge. This maze easily had the best set design. You enter a room with a few other people and are shown a video of the story of Little Red Riding Hood. You learn that Red has come back from the dead to take her revenge and this is where your journey begins. I love the creepy fairy tale land set. I even noticed a few spooky trees that I saw on display at Midsummer Scream. At the time I called them creepy Groots.
The last maze in this corner of the park is Toys of Terror 3D. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Demonic Toys, you’ll get the idea of what this maze is all about. You’re handed a set of disposable 3D glasses before entering a maze of black light rooms. The effect is completely disorienting. They’ve painted it in such a way that the 3D effects make you feel like the floor is missing in places. It’s like a fun house on acid filled with freakish furries. I will never look at that toy monkey playing the cymbals the same way again. There is one last maze I’ve yet to mention called Chupacabra. Probably because I don’t really have much to say about this one. It is by far the shortest maze at Fright Fest. Also, I never saw a Chupacabra. I heard lots of growling but that’s about it. The actors did have some gorgeous sugar skull makeup painted on their faces. Very well drawn.
Fright Fest closes at 11pm on Sundays so there was time for only a few more scares. I headed over to the newest scare zone near the park’s DC Universe area. This one is inspired by the recent Suicide Squad movie. They had lots of opportunities to take photos with items from the film set. Apparently some of the “worst heroes ever” were roaming the streets of Mid City but I didn’t see them. If you liked the movie, you definitely have to check out this part of the park. Plus Riddler’s Revenge is still one of my favorite rides. There is something about standing up while going upside down that I just love to do, over and over again.
I am so glad that I checked out Fright Fest this year. I think taking a year off really made me appreciate the production value that Magic Mountain puts into their Halloween celebration. Here are some of my tips for getting the most out of your Fright Fest experience.
- Go on a Sunday! Maybe it was because it was only the first weekend in October. I’m sure the park will get more crowded as we approach the 31st. But traditionally Sundays are way less busy than Fridays and Saturdays. I arrived just before 7pm and was able to get into all the mazes I wanted to, plus some rides and still leave by 10:30pm. The longest line I waited in was 20 minutes. Most lines were 10 minutes or less. When I chatted with one of the staff members about the wait for Red’s Revenge he told me that on Saturday night people were waiting an hour and ten minutes for the same experience.
- Wander through all the scare zones. I honestly think some of these are better than the mazes themselves. The actors wander about and you can not escape them. Just don’t run from them, or they will chase you. Unless you’re into that kind of thing.
- See a show. I really enjoyed the band I saw at Voodoo Nights. The female singer sounded a little like Hayley from Paramore. I didn’t see the High Sierra Hypnotist but have heard good things about that performance. There were only two hypnotist shows on Sunday (8pm and 10pm) so check the schedule when you arrive an plan accordingly.
- Go on rides in the dark. It’s a totally different experience. I rode Ninja (which is not technically one of the terror tracks) and I swear, just like the girl behind me was screaming out the whole time, it goes faster at night. Just watch out for water dripping from the Jet Stream ride. I highly recommend keeping your mouth closed. Ewwwww…
As as season pass holder I’m already planning on going back during this month’s Fright Fest. I won’t purchase another maze pass but I want to wander through scare zones and go on more coasters in the dark. I usually close my eyes during X2 anyway so that will feel about the same. But the idea of riding Goliath in the pitch dark, while dropping 225 feet over the top and plummeting at 80 mph sounds like a good scare to me!
Check out all you need to know about Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest including days of operation, weekend hours and prices.