For its twenty second season, Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure has expanded not only the number of attractions it is offering to visitors, but also the number of overall operating days. The event has expanded to seven weeks, running through October 27th. This year there are four new mazes and shows, bringing the total of Halloween themed attractions to 25. That's a lot to do in just one day!
Six Flags Great Adventure held its annual preview this past Saturday, which we were fortunate enough to be able to check out. We always aim to arrive during daylight so we can check out some of the "Thrills By Day" that are offered - those are the less scary activities for families. Above is a shot from the Trick or Treat Trail, where kids can meet their favorite Looney Tunes characters... and get candy!
New this year is the Monster Maze, a corn maze which features "some of Halloween's most famous monsters" - but the attraction is not scary at all. The path stretches along the Lakefront section of the park.
Other daytime activities that are family friendly include several entertainment options, such as the Dead & Local Music Showcase, seen above. Featuring local bands performing for the crowds, this is a great place to take a break and relax for a bit. There's actually a ton of other shows to check out like You Otter Know, featuring Asian small-clawed otters performing, the Six Flags Spooktacular Street Party, a Halloween themed sea lion show named Fish Factor, and Professor Slither's Creepy Critters which features snakes, reptiles, and other creepy crawlers.
Once six o'clock rolls around the daylight begins to fade and that's when the monsters come out - there are nearly 200 of them in the park this year! The festivities begin with The Awakening procession of ghouls, seen here led by the Ghoulmaster.
The creatures from all the park's mazes and haunted attractions are led from near the Bloody Fountain over to where the full Awakening takes place. There's a frightening mix of ghouls in the parade, from psychotic clowns to zombies who are definitely not resting peacefully. It is a great way to see all the work that goes into creating the makeup and outfits for the staff, always impressive to see what the park comes up with each year.
Once the creatures are led to the Awakening stage, located in front of the former Movietown stunt show arena, the show can begin. The Ghoulmaster brings to life the rest of his cast, including Dr. Fright, and the show continues directly into Dead Man's Party, always one of the most popular shows during Fright Fest. The zombie song and dance review has a legion of fans that start to line up hours before the first performance! If you want to get a good view, make sure to arrive early.
A new indoor maze has been added to Fright Fest for 2013, named Total Darkness, a blackout maze. Set up inside the former Right Stuff simulator building, the maze is exactly as it sounds, total darkness. Guests are instructed to hold onto a rope with notches for each person, and the leader has a teeny tiny flashlight to use for guidance. The rest is just blackness - but filled with monsters and other surprises along the way.
This year one of the park's existing mazes, The Manor, has also moved indoors. It shares the Right Stuff building with Total Darkness, and has been shortened in order to make the transition. This will however help when bad weather arrives - as now the flesh seeking zombies that are living in the Manor can scare guests even when it rains, and starting earlier in the day.
During the day the aforementioned Monster Maze is filled with friendly monsters, but that's totally not the case when evening comes. Then it becomes Straw Man Stalkers, a new outdoor scare zone for 2013. It is the same path as during the daytime, but things are much more sinister.
There's a bunch of mutant corn-bred monsters lying in wait as visitors walk the corn lined path. The builders of the maze included plenty of great hiding places for the creatures to lurk, so watch out for surprising scares in this one. We went through just as the sun was setting and it was creepy then, so in real darkness it's probably much harder to see the creatures coming.
Also returning for 2013 are the mazes known as Wasteland and the Asylum. These two have already become hits for the park in past years, and are still scaring folks nightly. Last year we missed out on passing though Voodoo Island, so we made it a point to check out this maze. It stretches out onto the land underneath the park's log flume, in a totally wooded and undeveloped area. There are tons of crazy tribal folks that have done some pretty messed up things to previous visitors - and one heck of a huge monster finale. You'll have to check it out to see what I mean!
In total there are five haunted mazes/terror trails this year, more than ever before. But the midways are also filled with ghouls in certain areas, known as scare zones. Above is one of the crazy clowns found in Circus Psycho, located along the Boardwalk. These guys are nuts and take great pride in popping up out of nowhere and totally freaking out guests. I'm still amazed at the number of people in the world who are absolutely terrified of clowns!
The Bone Butcher Terror-tory takes over the Frontier Adventures section of the park again this year, filled with Western themed creatures like the one above. Props are built along the midway that give them a place to hide, though several were more than willing to pose for photos. One other scare zone can be found at Fright Fest, The Bloody Fountain (near the park's entrance) where if you hear the sound of a dragging shovel you better run.
It is a good thing that the park has again expanded the Fright Fest offerings as the park was quite crowded on the beautiful Fall day we visited. If you get to the park early it will be easier to take in as many attractions as possible, plus all the rides are open too!
Many thanks to the park for having us out for the event, and remember to check out the park's official website for more details on hours and tickets before visiting.