A theme park gift under $10? Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
We arrived at about 5:20 and started the night with a buffet dinner as part of our park admission. We also received a free FRONT OF LINE pass to one of the haunted mazes, which would prove to be essential later on in our tour. The food was good buffet food: hot dogs, beef brisket, fried chicken, chocolate chip cookies for dessert, and soda to drink. We ate, drank our fill, and then moved out to explore. Most of the Halloween festivities for adults did not start until 7 p.m., except for one haunted maze, Lair of the Vampire, which was up and running most of the day. We headed straight for that maze as soon as we finished stuffing our faces.
Lair of the Vamp is housed in the old queuing area for the Orient Express, one of the best steel coasters I have ever ridden. We spent several minutes fondly recalling the Orient, and cursing Cedar Fair for its removal. It is always sad to have a one of a kind coaster go by the wayside. However, I digress. What is done is done! Anyway, the line was fairly short, and the maze was a lot of fun. One thing about haunted houses/mazes is that the less crowded they are, the more scared you will be. At that time, the crowds were fairly light so we were hit by every jumping cast member in the maze and ended up pretty much racing out of the Lair, laughing. It was a good start.
By the time we finished the first maze, the Haunt Parade was about to begin, so we stood along the parade route and waited. WOF does a good job with this parade, and it serves as a great intro to the evening’s festivities. All the cast members for the more mature haunted mazes and scare zones filter out from one entry area and parade to their respective haunts. The costumes are top notch, and the parade sets the tone for the night. We are not talking about a Disney style parade by any means, but for a smaller Midwest park, WOF put on an excellent display. Furthermore, this parade was a million times better than anything I saw at SFSTL a few weeks previous.
After the parade, we headed up to our first scare zone, CarnEvil. Essentially a scare zone is an entire area of the park re-themed for Halloween and filled with fog, eerie music, and cast members who sneak up behind your group and scare the living sh-- out of you. CarnEvil was a nightmarish re-theme of the midway area in WOF’s Americana section. I am not a big fan of midway games (or rides) as most of you know by now, but I liked the re-theme. Besides, freakishly scary clowns have haunted my nightmares ever since I saw the movie POLTERGEIST in the early 80’s.
From CarnEvil we headed through another scare zone, Outlaw’s Revenge. Here a limping, undead cowboy chased us with a shovel that he would scrape against the ground bringing sparks to light. It was a neat zone, though not as well themed as CarnEvil.
I should mention that by about 7:30 p.m. the park was amazingly crowded. Every haunted maze and A-list ride was packed. It was too crowded for my taste, but, it was a nice night, and the park would be open late, so we knew things would thin out later.
Anyway, we headed to the Moulin Rouge Theater to watch a performance of MEAT-CLEAVER HIGH. This thirty-minute show was a lot of fun. A revue of classic songs with slightly changed lyrics to fit the Halloween Theme. The performers were outstanding and energetic. The LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS part of the show was a real stand out.
Since the park was completely packed we decided to use our Front of Line access to blitz into Asylum Island. We marched past hundreds of miffed guests and went right into the maze with only about a one-minute wait. It was better than a Fastpass! Asylum Island was probably the scariest maze of the night; however, it was so crowded that the group traveling in front of us ruined many of the scares. One part of the maze featured a combination of strobe lighting and fog that blinded you. It was a neat effect, very disorientating and spooky. We had a good time.
After Asylum, we decided to take in a few rides. The headliner attractions (Mamba, Patriot, Timber Wolf, and Spinning Dragons) were packed, so we headed for the B-rides. After touring a few B-rides, we went through the last scare zone, Fright Zone. This re-themed section of the park was very eerie. There were several costumed cast members, lots of fog, and very few fellow park goers. It was creepy.
From the Fright Zone, we headed over to the train. The best thing about the train ride was trying to spot the progress being made on the new GCI coaster, The Prowler, which opens next year. GCI Rules!
We decided it was time for a smoothie and headed to Sheridan’s. To our utter dismay, we were told Sheridan’s had discontinued making their delicious smoothies. We were not pleased at all. We bought Chillatas at Cinnabon instead, but they we not nearly as good as the smoothies Sheridan’s used to sell. Arrgh!
Chillatas in hand, we headed to the headliners and rode Spinning Dragons, the Patriot, and the Mamba. All very fun nighttime coasters. By the time we were done riding coasters, the park had thinned out some so we hit three of the four remaining haunted mazes: Camp Gonnagitcha, Dominion of Doom, and Master McCarthy’s Doll Factory. Camp Gonnagitcha was the scariest of the bunch (imho), but the Doll Factory was very imaginative. The twisted Barbie doll room was very unsettling, and the peeing dolls section a riot.
By the time we completed these three mazes, it was about 1 a.m. and the park was closing. We unanimously declared the night to be a great success, and headed home.
Before I end this report, I want to make sure to compliment all the fine WOF cast members for their work. I did not see one costumed associate out of character the entire night. They did a great job. Additionally, I want to extend my gratitude to Brandon Stanley who is in charge of public relations for WOF. He provided me with some excellent touring info for our trip and was very helpful in every regard. Kudos to Brandon and the rest of the park’s associates!
I highly recommend WOF’s Halloween Haunt. For a small, Midwestern park, the folks at WOF put on a great show. I know I have complained about WOF’s lack of immersive theming in the past, but their Halloween Haunt is as immersive a Halloween event as I have ever experienced. If you are in the area this Halloween, stop by WOF. It will be packed I am sure, but stay late, and have a good time. You will not regret it!Tweet
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