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Anthony Murphy
Writer

Review: Six Flags Great America’s Fright Fest 2014

Published: October 22, 2014 at 12:50 PM

At the beginning of the season, my friends and I went to Six Flags Great America’s Fright Fest in Gurnee, Illinois. Unfortunately, we picked one of the coldest days in October. There were actually snow flurries in the morning. The good news is that the day warmed up and kept much of the crowds away. Because of this, we were able to experience the rides, shows, and haunted houses. Great America is family friendly from open (11am) to around 4 pm. Afterwards, the scare actors come out. Usually the morning is the time for rides and trick or treating and the night is for the scares!

Abyss

The Rides

All the rides are open (except water rides) so there is something for everybody. However, what makes this event special are the “modifications” to some of the attractions for Halloween. This includes Rue Le Dodge (bumper cars) which is black lit and turned into the “House of Conjure.” The attraction that goes under the biggest change is Chubasco (teacups). It turns into “Terror Twister 2 - Turn for the Worse” which the spinning attraction turns into a demonic rave with techno music, fog, and lighting. This is always a crowd favorite. Other changes include Biohazard (the Whizzer), The Kraken (East River Crawler), and The Birds (the Condor).

The Shows

Great America provides a variety of different Halloween shows, but two that really stick out are Susan Rosen, Mistress of Mesmerism and Love at First Fright.

Susan Rosen, Mistress of Mesmerism is a hypnotist show in the Pictorium. It is a pretty straightforward hypnotist show, but she makes it so that the whole family is entertained and involved. She has been a staple at the park for many years, but I am always entertained. Most of my group had never seen this before, but they loved it! We even tried to also get hypnotized, but we “snapped out of it” before we got too far.

Love at First Fright is the annual Halloween musical which Great America has put on for over 20 years. Here you can see two teens try to escape the clutches of Dracula, the Mummy, witches, and Frankenstein while singing and dancing. The show uses popular tunes for this season such as Monster Mash and Thriller, but also uses some other pop songs such as “Holding for a Hero” and “Little Red Riding Hood”. This show also uses topical humor pretty liberally including Frozen, iPhone 6, and Obamacare. While other shows seem to get in trouble for this (cough, Bill and Ted), Love at First Fright seems to stay in teasing rather than being biting. This show has won a ton of awards and it shows. It is simply the best show I have ever seen out of Six Flags Great America. If you can catch this show, please do!

The Haunted Houses

Great America charges one flat rate to go into its six haunted houses/trails. It is $25 for the regular pass and $35 for the express pass. We learned last year that the Express Pass is worth it so we had to convince half our group to go with the express pass. As I mentioned, it was pretty empty so we really did not get the advantage until the last house which had a line over an hour. I would still highly recommend going with the Express Pass. I enjoyed the variety and each house had something that pushed the buttons of an individual of my party. For simplicity sake, the group/victims were me (Anthony), Valerie, Taleb, Lauren, Kate, and JR.

Mausoleum of Terror: Situated inside the Picnic Grove, this is a pretty standard house of the dead. There were actors as ghosts and zombies and many animatronics (mostly of animals). The highlight of this house was the spinning vortex which was something that concerned JR. Still, we made it all the way through, but I do not believe anybody got scared too much.

Medical Massacre: This is a hospital where the insane have taken over the facility. We see the check in, cafeteria, surgery, and even aqua therapy which has an actor jump out of a giant tub full of water and body parts. I am always concerned about this house because I feel that is the best themed. Great America put its time and effort into this house including authentic medical equipment and a full sized ambulance. The one letdown in this house was that it did not have the “plant” actress that joins your group and is kidnapped in the first scene and seen dissected later. I always thought it was a nice touch.

Manslaughter Manor: Here we join some ghost hunters as they explore a haunted house where there has been much death and torture. According to the story, a wife killed her husband in the house, a man stashed his serial victims, and construction workers have all died in the house. They are now all mad and want to take it out on somebody. There were many good scares, but the one that got Kate, Valerie, and me was the little girl in the closet. I will admit I yelled! This was also Lauren’s first haunted house ever! She did awesome!

Wicked Woods: Great America drained their Roarin Rapids attraction and turned the track into a walkthrough trail. In this trail, zombies have gotten loose and attacking our camping site. Surprisingly, I had the most problems in this trail. Since it was mostly in the dark with bright lights in the face, the zombies were able to sneak up and give many good scares! I am lucky that I did not break poor Valerie’s arm. I got scared more than a couple of times. I will go on the highest and fastest roller coasters, but if somebody puts on some makeup and hides behind a trashcan, they can scare me to death!

Fear: This house used to take place completely in the dark. Valerie, Taleb, and I did this last year, but Taleb and I were the only ones in the group that decided to do this. There was also a picture taken with a blast of air causing me to jump. The picture shows! This shorter house actually does not take place in the dark anymore. It is things that people “fear” such as spiders, broken mirrors, and clowns. After the picture, it was not particularly scary.

At Fright Fest

The Abyss: This house partially takes place inside and outside. The inside portion shows what has happened to everybody in the Bermuda triangle. This includes lost sea captains, downed aviators, and UFOs. The outdoor area took us through the jungle including actors dressed as trees and bushes. Probably the most challenging aspect was the giant puppet snake which scared half of the group, mostly for their fear of snakes. It was a nice technological touch, but we ran through that portion pretty quickly.

For the most part, it was a very enjoyable day. I would recommend coming with a group so that you go into the house as a group so that if you grab onto somebody, it is somebody you at least know! Great America has had a bit of a rocky Fright Fest lineup in the past due to some corporate changes. However, I think this year has been a vast improvement. Six Flags Great America’s Fright Fest is working on extended hours this year (open to 11pm or 12am) so make sure to check it out! It is open Friday nights and all of Saturday and Sunday until November 2nd.

For more information and tickets, visit http://frightfest.sixflags.com/greatamerica.

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