A few weekends ago I had the chance to travel up to Valencia, CA for Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest. Though I wasn’t overly impressed with last year’s event, I went in hoping that this year’s haunts would wow me and convince me that Fright Fest should not be missed. Though there were some bumps along the way, Fright Fest definitely proved that they are on the right track and are making the changes needed to become one of the go-to haunted attractions of the season. The following is my review of each of the haunts and scare zones in the order that I went through.
DEAD END (House)
Description: Every town has a group of teenagers that seek thrills for breakfast, lunch and dinner and can never leave well-enough alone. It made them popular among the kids at school, but it was only a matter of time before something went wrong. One afternoon they decided to break into the old, abandoned house at the top of the hill on the dead-end road on the edge of town. Rumor has it that the old man who lived there had been there for four weeks, dead as a door-nail, before he was finally discovered - and now the house was haunted. This daring group set off on a fall evening, storms lurking, to prove the rumor wrong. However, as soon as they entered the house, the severe storms surfaced and took out the only power plant in the whole county. Just like that, they were in total darkness never to be seen again.
Thoughts: Though the overall execution of DEAD END needed to be tightened up, I enjoyed what the designers were trying to accomplish. In this maze, guests are given one flashlight that’s faulty (on purpose) and are left to guide their way through the darkened maze. I’ve done haunts where we are given flashlights and it works great in groups of 2 or 3 people, but at DEAD END you are going through with a group of 8. By allowing that many people, it causes some participants to not even see any of the light resulting in a confusing mess. Also, while going through the mazes we had a tough time trying to locate where we were supposed to go. A few times we walked into areas that we weren’t supposed to be in while other times we were completely lost. I think if the designers focused more on having clear exit paths while also allowing smaller groups of people to go in, it would help in elevating this maze into one that shines above the others.
EXILE HILL (Scare Zone)
Description: The dead have risen and are looking for new souls to take on this dark and sinister hill. They are relatives of the Willoughby’s and protect their haunted estate at no cost. Keep all senses on high alert, you never know what type of characters might be hanging around at the top of the hill.
Thoughts: Located near the Sky Tower, this is one of the most interactive scare zones I visited that night and it was home to one of my favorite scare actors. Not only did I have a scare actor, who I named Fred, come speak to me in zombie voice, he also tried to help me with the park map to get to the Willoughby’s mansion. Also, hanging out by the hearse (cause of course there would be a hearse) was a girl who looked absolutely terrifying. All she would do was stare at you without moving an inch which gave an overall feeling of discomfort and terror. I don’t know who she is or what her name is, but she wins as my favorite scare actor of the evening.
WILLOUGHBY'S RESURRECTED (House)
Description: The manor on Sky Tower Lane was the largest and oldest dwelling on the block. The owners and residents, Mr. and Mrs. Willoughby, have not been seen in almost a year. And oddly the mansion never has visitors or even deliveries. Extended family members seeking profit had asked around the town in hopes of finding their family and possibly renovating the abandoned property without ever finding the owners. Groundsmen and construction sent to the house to make estimates and survey the land would never be seen again. So, are you able to find the missing Willoughby family? As you roam the house for clues, beware when the lights begin to flicker. If you see any flashes of bright lights or feel the breath of cold air on your neck, you will know the Willoughby Mansion’s evil spirits have been resurrected!
Thoughts: When I attended Six Flags last year, this maze was one of my favorites and this year, it did not disappoint. Though it’s exactly the same as the prior year (minus the photo opportunity), I still found myself being scared by the actors numerous times. We were lucky to hit this maze before there was a crowd so we got to go through it alone which really added to the experience. While going through, my boyfriend made a remark that it reminded him of The Haunted Mansion and that’s really the best way to describe this maze. For quality set design and awesome scares, I highly suggest hitting up WILLOUGHBY’S RESURRECTED early in the evening before the crowds and resulting line length become really long.
DAMNED N' DISGUISE (Scare Zone)
Description: Tonight is the night for a masquerade. The damned are celebrating Fright Fest, their favorite time of year. The party is in full swing, yet it seems there are some uninvited guests. No worries, the damned will morph as the area changes before your eyes to chase the party crashers from their celebration.
Thoughts: Located near the Metropolis area, I was able to get a sneak peek of this scare zone while waiting to go on the Justice League ride, and from what I could see, it was a pretty hopping scare zone. There were neon colors, dancing, characters on stilts and screaming guests. Though I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in this area I did get the sense that it was a lot of fun.
AFTERMATH 2: CHAOS RISING (House)
Description: In the aftermath of a recent cataclysm, the region is overpopulated and under-resourced. A Renegade Faction is currently trying to take control of the city. Rumors abound that the Renegades plan to destroy the Bio-Containment Center. If they are successful, the Renegades will release an ancient parasitic virus and contaminate the local populace and allow them to overtake the city and the already infected patients may also be set free. Will you survive Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising, the park’s largest outdoor maze ever built?
Thoughts: Though I wouldn’t say this maze is necessarily scary, it has some of the best set design at Six Flags. Boasting the largest outdoor maze in the park, guests find themselves winding through an apocalyptic city complete with zombies, pyrotechnics, and soldiers who are rapidly ushering you along so that you don’t become one of the infected. My only gripe with this maze is that towards the end the story seems to fall apart and instead of following the infected/non-infected narrative, we instead get demons, which seems very out of place with the rest of the maze. However, other than that, I really enjoyed my time through this experience.
SUICIDE SQUAD: THE SIX FLAGS FRIGHT FEST EXPERIENCE (Scare Zone)
Description: Transforming the Park’s DC UNIVERSE area into DC Midway City, you will find some of the “Worst Heroes Ever” from the film Suicide Squad roaming the streets. Darkness and chaos will reign as some of DC Comics’ most famous Super-Villains will be found among the mass destruction from the film. State-of-the-art digital imagery and fiery special effects will create an inferno as buildings burst into flames and creatures attack from every angle. “It feels good to be bad” at Suicide Squad: The Six Flags Fright Fest Experience.
Thoughts: Just as it was last year, this scare zone, located at DC Universe, proved to be an entertaining stop during the evening. Though we didn’t interact with many of the villains, we did make a special stop to say hi to the Joker as well as watch the fiery special effects take place on one of the buildings. Scare actors, dressed to look like some of the creatures from the film, stalked the grounds and went after a fair share of guests innocently walking by. This is a great place to stop and rest to people watch if you need a break from all the haunts.
TERRORtory TWISTED (Scare Zone)
Description: The Screampunk District has been transformed into the biggest scare zone ever where steam-spewing mechanical beasts relentlessly hunt down their victims. Stop too long for that selfie, and you might become part of this twisted crew. This steampunk-themed nightmare makes you wonder...is it man, machine, or both?
Thoughts: Located near the Screampunk District, this scare zone was one of my favorites of the night. Though I didn’t have a lot of interaction with the scare actors, I found myself captivated with the set design and the special effects that encompassed this area. This is also a place where guests can do some quality people watching as the scare actors search for their next victim.
TOYZ OF TERROR (House)
Description: Fired from his long time job at the factory, the crazy inventor craved revenge on anyone who dared to enjoy his toys. He was going to prove that the toy factory would be a complete disaster without him and his amazing creations. During a recent tour of the toy factory, he unleashed his wrath. As the tour guide began to conclude the tour, the lights flickered briefly before crashing to the ground, crushing the tour guide and most of the visitors. The whole factory fell into darkness as a creepy laugh came over the sound system. The inventor’s voice announced that the factory’s guests were about to have the “fright of their life.” Brandishing a glow toy to scope out the area and see his revenge unfold, it was clear that all the guests were dead in a puddle of blood. Wicked windups, freakish plush, and deranged dolls had taken over the factory and their plastic spirits are full of evil and hatred towards humans.
Thoughts: I’m not the biggest fan of 3D haunted houses as I always feel like they lack in scares; however, I will admit that TOYZ OF TERROR is one of the better 3D mazes I’ve gone through. I appreciate the fact that the designers didn’t resort to a clown based maze, as I’ve noticed that most 3D houses incorporate that, and instead focused on toys that have become murderous. Though I wouldn’t say I was scared, I did enjoy seeing all the detail and creativity that went into creating this maze. Those who suffer from vertigo be aware that there is one of those rooms that spins so if you don’t want to get dizzy I suggest making sure you look down and not straight ahead.
RED'S REVENGE (House)
Description: The park now stands where a wooded forest once thrived, during a time when fairy tales were more than stories, but more like reality. And within the forest one would find a village of hardworking people who kept quietly to themselves and hidden from the outside world. The wisest elder of the village predicted the village could be plagued by an evil force and to prevent it, they should all be wary of outsiders. The villagers heeded the advice of their elder and shunned all those that would pass by their village. One dark and stormy night, Little Red Riding Hood was running through the forest trying to escape the thunderous growls of a wild beast she had stumbled upon while on her way to visit her grandmother. Crying frantically, she banged on the villager’s doors and windows. She ran from door to door begging for help, and no one came to her aid. With one last gasp, she tried to break a window. It was too late. Teeth filled her neck and at the same moment, her guts were flowing onto the ground, staining her picnic basket. By morning, the storm had washed away the blood stains, and the beast had finished off her body. Tonight is the night for Red’s Revenge!
Thoughts: I absolutely adore this maze. From the storyline to the set design to the acting, this is one of my absolute favorites at Six Flags Magic Mountain Fright Fest. There is something to be said about Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the darkness and despair that surrounds them, which is perfectly encapsulated in Red’s Revenge. Though I would have liked to have seen more of the wild beast, in the form of a wolf, I was willing to look past that in favor of the creature that was created to be the focal point of this maze. Whether it’s the ending, which shows the now all-powerful Red, or the creatures stalking guests throughout the forest, this maze is by far one of the best experiences of the nights and one that must not be missed!
VAULT 666 (House)
Description: A lovely couple owned a hardware store in a small town just 30 minutes north of Los Angeles. They had the sweetest, smartest child, but rumor had it the little one was also able to make your skin grow cold with a single look. The family hardware store was located on a secluded street around the corner from the school, and many parents would send their kids to buy small nick-knacks on their way home. The kids around town suddenly started disappearing and residents began to suspect the family was the cause. The local police bust down the door and headed to the back storage room, where they saw the most gruesome sight. Behind the door they found lifeless bodies, some in pieces, hanging from the ceiling. In the shadows, a figure undisturbed by the intrusion was hovering over the most recent missing person, strapped to a chair! Some try their hardest to get out…. But it always was too late. Will you escape Vault 666?
Thoughts: In theory, I really wanted to enjoy this maze. However, I feel as though the storyline most certainly did not line up with the experience. Though I feel that this maze has a lot to offer, it ultimately ends up falling flat, with very little scares. I will give credit where credit is due in regards to the set design because it’s pretty impressive. I also like how the opening sets up a story (different from that in the description) to get the audience prepared for what they are about to experience. These little touches, also seen in RED’S REVENGE, help in elevating a typical haunt experience to another level. Though this was far from my favorite of the night, I still appreciate the amount of hard work that went into achieving this type of maze.
NIGHTMARES: A TWISTED FANTASY
Description: This evil nightmare has never been so edgy as your favorite bedtime stories take on a haunting and twisted glow. These creatures seem friendly at first, but don’t let their sweet glow fool you. They would like nothing more than to show you the end of their story.
Thoughts: Located near Katy’s Kettle, this was the only scare zone that I didn’t go through. However, as me and my guests made our way over to the Chupacabra maze, we did see some of the scare actors going on break who were also still in character. Whether it was the creepy Pinocchio or the man on stilts, I was impressed with what I saw, even though it was only brief.
Description: A hard working farmer was sleeping in his room when he was awakened in the middle of the night by whimpering cries from the fields. His chickens squawked, pigs snorted, and the cows expressed their most panicked moans. Worried, the farmer put on his boots and headed towards the barn to investigate the panic. When he passed the sheep pen, he stopped as the full moon lit up the sight in front of him. There lying on the ground were four dead sheep. Noticeable puncture wounds caught his eye and he then realized they had been drained of their blood. The farmer turned to run towards the house to grab his trusty shotgun, but he froze when he saw the hideous figure in front of him. It stood on two feet and its orange eyes glowed in the darkness. It leaped towards the farmer, extending its claw-like hands, hissing as it bared its sharp blood-stained fangs. As he stood there, frozen in the panic, he could feel the monster’s warm foul breath on his face, and he saw the quills sticking up on the back of its gray neck. The farmer struggled to escape as he realized he had come face to face with the legendary Chupacabra. Are you prepared for your encounter with the Chupacabra?
Thoughts: I have a lot of opinions on this maze. Last year, it was one of my least favorite and this year it once again is at the bottom of my list. I will say there is one huge improvement from the prior year and that is in regards to the amount of fog that they were pumping in. Last year, the fog made it so it was incredibly difficult to see resulting in a bit of a safety issue; however, this year, it was much more clear and it allowed guests to have a better grasp on where they were going throughout the maze. The legend of the Chupacabra is incredibly fascinating and with such a rich story to go off of, it makes me sad that the maze was done so poorly. I think showcasing a Chupacabra and not relying so heavily on noises would give this maze the push it so desperately needs while also working on adding a bit more design to the set. I will say, there is one scene that’s very reminiscent of Dia de los Muertos which I really loved, but other than that, this maze left a lot to be desired.
DEMON'S DOOR (Scare Zone)
Description: Once you enter you will feel the immense heat that is the underworld. Beware of the demonic creatures and be prepared for your mind and body to be completely taken over by the evil spirits that await you. High, low, in the dark, and in the fire, you will be welcomed by those that inhabit Demon’s Door.
Thoughts: Located at Six Flag’s Plaza, this is the first scare zone you see when you enter and the last one to experience when you leave. I really enjoy this scare zone as it’s a cacophony of all the other scare zones in one. I also really appreciate that there are giant demons hunching over guests who first walk in. Out of all the scare zones that Six Flags offers, this is the one that is probably the most entertaining and one where the guests get the majority of their scares.
Overall, my time at Six Flag’s Magic Mountain Fright Fest was enjoyable and I felt like the overall experience was much better than last year. Though I think it’s time to retire some of the mazes (Chupacabra specifically), there are a few hidden gems that are worth going through more than once. Add on the fact that the scare actors are dedicated to getting a scream out of you and the makeup and costumes are top notch, Fright Fest Magic Mountain could eventually become a premiere haunted attraction to visit. I think there still needs to be some tweaks and an overall cohesiveness throughout but I feel like the designers are headed in that direction. If you are looking for a night filled with fun, rides, and haunts, then I would definitely suggest giving Six Flag’s Magic Mountain Fright Fest a chance. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.sixflags.com/magicmountain/special-events/fright-fest-night#ref42946