By Michelle Sandoval
Every October Six Flags’ Magic Mountain turns off the lights, conjures up the undead and invites everyone into the haunted world of “Fright Fest.” Running through the end of the month, this Halloween attraction offers spook enthusiasts a night full of haunted mazes, devilish scare zones, scary stage shows and enough bone-chilling fun to drive even the Looney Tunes loonier!
I was invited to attend Fright Fest this past weekend and naturally jumped at the opportunity – I can never say no to a good scare. Unlike most haunted theme park attractions, Six Flags allows park goers who are already enjoying the rides during the day to pay a small additional fee for the night frights.
For others, they close and reopen the park to a whole new set of guests who have to pay the full admission again, plus a hefty additional fee. So, for one low price you can enjoy, as the motto promises, “thrills by day,” and “frights by night.”
Fright Fest offers up eight haunted mazes this year, and a handy “Fright Guide” ranks them on a scare level of 1-10 for us. I headed to the highest on the scare scale first. “The Aftermath,” a post-apocalyptic city overrun with nomad warriors was given a 10. The scenes and backdrops in this maze were impressive and very professional – it truly invoked an end-of-the-world feel. The actors did a fine job of scaring us, but the real horror was in the environment around us. It was chilling and frightening in a realistic way – no cheap scares needed here.
“Toyz of Terror” was also given a 10, and in a maze that is “not intended for children under 12,” I could appreciate the irony. We were guided through a defunct toy factory where the inventor had gone mad and added benevolent spirits to all of his creations. Dolls, wind-ups, jack-in-the-boxes, and teddy bears all run rampant in this maze, terrorizing the guests. It was a great homage to our childhood memories tainted with devilish nightmares.
“Willoughby’s Resurrected” took me on a trip through the family’s Victorian mansion that has long been inhabited by evil spirits. Now, I’ve been to dozens of haunted houses in my life, and this one has to be one of my favorites. There is literally a scare around every single corner – in front of you, beside you and behind you there is always someone waiting to scare you. You won’t even be able to finish one frightened yelp before you are hit with another. And it works every single time! I don’t think I’ve screamed and jumped so many times in a span of a couple of minutes ever before. After a while, you won’t know whether to laugh, cry or keep screaming, but the only thing that matters is how much fun you’re having. If you’re able to take in the scenery around you it is really quite beautiful, with hints of gothic Victorian charm throughout.
New to the park this year is “Total Darkness,” which is exactly what the name promises. You will be led in a small group through a pitch black maze in the back of one of the park’s theaters. You will encounter some spirits along the way, and even though you won’t be able to see them, it is the mere fact that they are out there in the dark waiting for you that makes this all the more frightening. You won’t want to miss this one.
Other mazes include “Weepy Hills INSANEtorium,” “Black Widow,” “Chupacabra” and “Cursed.” Make sure you schedule time to check them all out, as they are all deserving of your shrieks.
There are seven scare zones scattered around the park, which make the monsters almost impossible to avoid. Prepare to meet demons, zombies, barbarian humanoids, werewolves, 10-foot tall ghouls, evil gypsies and everything in between as you make your way to the attractions. Six Flags really did a great job of making sure the actors were not only professional in demeanor, but also that their make-up and costumes were realistic and exceptionally horrific. My witch hat goes off to them!
In addition to all of these delightful horrors, there are a number of regular attractions that offer up a little added scare. You can ride most of the roller coasters in the dark and even ride the famous Colossus backwards! Make sure you make time between the mazes to try a couple of these out.
Halloween is my all-time favorite time of year. I adore monsters and things that go bump in the night. I have been fascinated by all things horror since I was a little girl and was highly impressed by the work put into this event. The realism and overall respect and admiration for the horror genre is evident in everything you will see. Six Flags set out to scare their visitors and in doing so created an event that is highly worthy of our screams. And scream you will.
For information or tickets to “Fright Fest,” visit www.frightfest.sixflags.com.