Just Published: Theme Park Insider: 2016 Year in Review
One important item that I have found that has served me well over the years is a Six Flags Season Pass. It’s usually around $70 and allows you to go to any of the Six Flags Park whenever you want, including Fright Fest which usually costs around $54 per person. DO NOT buy tickets from scalpers around the front of the park ever. My one friend tried to do that and was sent to "Six Flags Jail" for about 20 minutes for questioning. Luckily, he was able to enter the park, but he learned his lesson. As for the trip report, I will break it down based upon subject matter:
BREAKDOWN OF TIMING
Great America, like many other theme parks, has many ages to think of when creating a Halloween event. Disney, for example, usually goes a little more frightfully family fun versus Universal, which goes full-out to scare everybody. Great America, however, tries to cater to both camps of guests by having events for everybody. During the day, when the sun is out, the park is a little more family-friendly. No ghouls, monsters, or zombies, but instead the Wiggles, Mr. Six, and the Wiggles. Younger guests can sing and Dance with Mr. Six and the Wiggles and go Trick or Treating with the Looney Toons Characters. Then at about 4 pm, the monsters make their way out during a parade and everybody is fair game. This is also around the time the haunted houses are open.
Besides the Wiggles and Mr. Six Show mentioned above, Fright Fest has its very own grouping of shows. The nice thing is they finally have returning acts that are almost like an annual event. The two best, in my opinion, is Love at First Fright and Susan Rosen: Mistress of Mesmerism. Love at First Fright is a Halloween musical with two teens having to stay in a cemetery on a dare and you can guess who or what comes to visit. It’s a pretty light-hearted show and a multiple winner of the IAAPA Big E! Award which shows with the best singing and dancing found in Great America. Susan Rosen is a great hypnotist that actually allows the entire audience to attempt to be hypnotized so any unbelievers take her up on her offer. Her show is very funny, very clean, and a lot of fun to see or be a part of the audience. The Human Freak show has two gentlemen that, well, do freakish things with fire eating, nails in nose, you get the gross picture. They are really amazing, but very graphic. Probably the least exciting show is Dead Man’s Party in which has zombies sing and dance to relatively modern songs. I think there was something wrong with the microphones because it all just sounded awful and you can barely hear them sing. It was in the restaurant we were eating (Moose Burger Lodge) so we got a meal out of it! There is, of course, an ending parade which acts as the scare actor’s curtain call.
THEMED AREAS/SCARE ZONES
Great America has many Themed Areas/Scare Zones throughout the park. Almost every "land" in the park is transformed into a new scary area. This also includes the rides in which some actually change names (Like the classic Whizzer is now known as the "Swamp Thing"). The Chubusco (teacups) and the Bumper Cars were placed in the dark with fog and lighting as well. However, not every part was themed like last year. Some rides just kept their old names instead of changing over such as the Iron Wolf, which used to be called the "Predator."
Some of the scare actors in areas included killer clowns, alien/human military, pirates, werewolves, vampires and, a new addition, characters representing the Seven Deadly Sins (gluttony, greed, rage, etc). Probably the most overly themed area which also had the most scare actors was Necropolis which was almost similar to a haunted wooded area. To get to the Haunted House, Mausoleum of Terror, guests had to walk past the citizens of Necropolis including living bushes, and many zombies. In front of the other haunted house, Studio 13, were former stars now dead including a greaser, zombie bride, zombie socialite, and an undead football player that plays with a human foot. This year, they were much better than before and I actually recognized a couple of the characters from the years before including the very famous and unofficial mascot of Fright Fest, the Mayor of Necropolis. They have perfected their characters and it’s a joy to see individuals take pride in their work!
HAUNTED HOUSES/SCARE WALKS
There are four "scare attractions" at Fright Fest in which you must pay for entrance. However, Great America has a couple of great deals, especially if you go into the houses before 5 pm or buy all the tickets in advance. I also scare easily so they really didn’t have to work too hard for their paycheck.
The scariest house, in my opinion, was Studio 13 in which we are supposed to live out our movie fears. Last year, it had the guests walk into some of the scariest movie scenes including the Exorcist, the Ring, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, they did not get the rights this year so all the rooms were generic horror scenes (toxic spill, hillbilly cannibals, creepy children, etc). It has the most scare actors and some really do surprise you, but it was much better last year with the movie theme. The "Director" and his "Leading Lady" giving the rules of the house was cool though!
The other house is called Mausoleum of the Dead which is in the Necropolis section. This house has more or less stayed the same showing the dead in graveyards, executions, forest areas, and part of the dead city. I seemed to have liked this house better because they put more lights so you could see what was going on and it’s in the picnic area which gives designers more room to be overly detailed (which they are) and cause one last scare in which Jason or Leatherface chase you through a meat packing room after you think it’s all over outside!
The two walks, Path of the Demon and Cell Block A are more or less the same with Demons or Army Surgeons hiding behind walls of chain linked fence and jumping out. The cool part about these two is that there were only about four actors in each, but each of them, through back ways in the mazes, tried to scare you at least twice. I really got caught off guard at Cell Block A. Boy, did I scream!
In closing, Fright Fest was fun once again and I recommend anybody out there to try it out at your local Six Flags Park. It looks like there have been some budget cutbacks, but I probably would have never noticed it if I did not come last year. If you are in the Chicagoland area, come to Six Flags Great America. The Mayor of Necropolis is always looking for another victim... um... voter to allow him to stay in office!
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