We were invited up to Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest last Friday night. After announcing some new mazes in August we were very excited to see the 3 new mazes (Willoughby's Garden of Darkness, Vault 666 and Red's Revenge) as well as the upgrades to Toyz of Terror.
We are pleased to announce that all of the mazes were great, and even the returning mazes seemed even better this year. We'll review all of the mazes and scare zones.
Our night started off with the Fright Feast with the Willoughby's with a great performance by Michael Turco and the Fright Feast dancers. The show was pretty similar to last years show but is great entertainment all the way around.
The food was once again great and there are some new things on the menu this year including some home-made spaghetti that was pretty awesome.
First we'll take a look at the mazes of Fright Fest and give our review of each. We'll start off with the new ones.
Willoughby's Garden of Darkness
Maze Rating: 6 out of 10
The maze is pretty much exactly what it says it is. It's a garden theme. if you've done Bite or Black Widow, the layout is pretty much the same, although it goes the opposite way. There was some great talent in the maze, although not really any of the effects that the newer Fright Fest mazes have gotten over the past few years.
With two other new mazes with lots of effects it's easy to see why this maze didn't get any real upgrades, but I'm anticipating they will come for next year. This is a really great concept and is a great compliment to Willoughby's Haunted Mansion.
Maze Rating: 8 out of 10
We got a walk-through of Vault 666 back in August so we were very excited to see the maze in action. And it really didn't disappoint. The effects are great, the pre-show was really great and the talent really did some great things in the mazes to complement it all.
Maze Rating: 10 out of 10
All we can say is wow. If this is the future of Six Flags Fright Fest mazes then the event is going to start rivaling the other events, and may eventually warrant a separate ticket like Haunt of Halloween Horror Nights. The maze was as good as anything you'll see at those two events, the talent was great and the storyline was definitely unique.
If we had one concern it's with the "pre show" as you couldn't really hear the introduction over the sound effects.
Toyz of Terror
Maze Rating: 9.5 ouf of 10
The ONLY reason this didn't get a 10 out of 10 is because it's not entirely new. But this is, HANDS DOWN, the best use of 3D effects I've ever seen in a maze. And yes, this includes the Clown mazes at Knott's Scary Farm and Halloween Horror Nights.
We were simply blown away that the park could take an existing maze, make some great changes and plus it that much from one year to the next. One thing we'd like to see come back is the final "show room" that they had a few years ago. We thought it was great.
Willoughby's Haunted Mansion
Maze Rating: 9 out of 10
Willoughby's is still one of the best mazes in the park. It got a major overhaul a few years ago and this year you can really see the great mix of talent and effects. I think they've finally got the timing down and it really shows.
Below are some pictures we took of Willoughby's before it reopened in 2012.
Maze Rating: 7 out of 10
Chupacabra is back this year, and this is easily the strongest it's been since been around. The talent was great, it seemed a lot Darker this year and it had a few new effects.
Maze Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Total Darkness is back this year, but there are a couple of changes. Mainly, there is no Pen Light this year as it had the last couple of years. With it being in Magic Moments Theater it's really not needed as you can see all the way to the ceiling of the theater (due to fire code). While we don't think this is as strong as it was the first year in the Log Jammer queue (that one was truly totally dark) it's still one of the better mazes and plays on the fear of the dark quite well.
Below, an exclusive picture inside Total Darkness. =)
Maze Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Aftermath is the last maze in the park and remains one of the better mazes in the park and in Southern California. It's unique in that it's very wide open and spread out, the only thing that really comes close to being this open is the Terror Tram at Halloween Horror Nights.
Unlike Terror Tram though this maze still makes great use of fire bombs, which adds to the uniqueness of the maze.
The Fire Bomb makes this zombie look like he's on fire. I thought it looked really cool.
One of the biggest improvements over the past few years (maybe even more than the mazes) have been the Scare Zones. Even though the park doesn't close prior to Fright Fest (meaning there are a LOT of kids in the park still) there really are no more "safe zones" in the park.
Scare Zone Rating: 9 out of 10
This scare zone was MUCH improved this year. Last year they had the fireballs but there didn't seem to be a whole lot of talent. That was fixed this year and this is a great "entry" scare zone for the event.
Scare Zone Rating: 8 out of 10
This is one of the newer scare zones which is a lot of fun. It's maybe a little small as it only stretches the walkway by Bugs Bunny World, but the talent in here is great fun and the set pieces are great.
We'd really like to see this scare zone extend all the way to where Superman goes over the walkway for next year.
One other thing we'd like to see happen is the utilization of the Whistlestop Depot into some kind of "Haunted Attraction". It could be really unique and really could actually make this ride have some ridership as it's usually closed for Fright Fest anyway. Maybe zombie conductors or something?
City Under Siege
Scare Zone Rating: 9 out of 10
While City Under Siege remains the most vibrant scare zone of Fright Fest, it did feel like something was "missing" on Friday night. It was a VERY slow night at the park so that may have had something to do with it. We'll be back at the event later in the month so we're anticipating this going up to it's normal 10 out of 10.
Scare Zone Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Ravenstitch is the new scare zone for this year and it's really great, although it's a bit small. It's basically from the end of the games to the Bumper Cars, which isn't a whole lot of room. It ends up getting overshadowed by the nearby Wastelands.
I think this could be a great scare zone but it might be better with more room, perhaps in Cyclone Bay (which currently has nothing) or the hill from Apocalypse to Roaring Rapids.
Scare Zone Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The Wastelands is the one scare zone at Fright Fest that really supports the maze in the area. It really is an extension of "The Aftermath" and really looks great and has some brilliant talent.
Demon's Door has the potential to be the same compliment to a maze to Vault 666 if it would extend all the way to that area.
Scare Zone Rating: 7 out of 10
Exile Hill stretches from Willoughby's Garden of Darkness and Willoughby's Haunted Mansion. Usually one of the stronger scare zones, it was definitely lacking this year. Kind of weird to say about a Halloween event, but it was simply "too" dark. You couldn't really tell the difference between guests and monsters. This one needs a bit more lighting to be successful.
Nightmares - A Twisted Fantasy
Scare Zone Rating: 9.5 out of 10
This is a scare zone that has had so much potential for the last couple of years, and we are very happy to say that this unique theme has finally payed off this year. The idea of a Black Light scare zone is really unique and this year the talent was incredibly awesome.
Last year they tried to extend it all the way past Viper and it just didn't work. This year it sticks to a small area that goes under Revolution and unlike Ravenstitch, the small area this scare zone is in really works to it's advantage. We simply had a blast in this area.
In addition to the Scare Zones there is entertainment and photo ops throughout the park.
The Waterslide picture spot has been replaced by Fright Fest, and the Monsters in Zombie Xing will even take a picture with you.
Voodoo Nights is back this year and while the singers, dancers and musicians are great, there's really nothing scary about singing Beyonce' songs (unless her sister shows up). We'd really like to see this get a more "Fright Fest" set list vs just the latest karaoke hits.
We'd also like to see the park get some kind of "Hanging" type show now that Bill and Ted's is gone. Maybe they should have just talked with Universal and moved the show to SFMM. We understand there was actually a script for Bill and Ted this year.
That's going to wrap it up for our look at Fright Fest 2014 at Magic Mountain. Have you attended the event this year? Do you agree with our ratings? Let us know in the comments below.
We will probably end up back at Fright Fest once more before the end of the month and will make it a point to see the Hypnotist show.