Wednesday, October 7, 2015

More Scares, Terror + Fun Than Ever Before at Six Flags Great Adventure's 2015 Fright Fest

Welcome to Fright Fest!
Let's face it, these days there are an awful lot of attractions fighting for the attention of scare-seekers around Halloween, and it's getting harder and harder to compete.  That said, it only makes sense for parks to kick it up a notch and offer more scares to keep their name at the top of the heap - and that's just what Six Flags Great Adventure has done for this year's Fright Fest!

The event has slowly been expanding for many years now, but 2015 marks the largest addition to Fright Fest since I've been covering it here on NewsPlusNotes.  The event now features 22 Halloween themed attractions when you combine all the daytime and nighttime fun, considerably larger than ever before.  Specifically for the haunted evening activities, Six Flags Great Adventure has added three new haunted attractions and several new live shows.

Much more sinister at night.
There's good reason for the park to be so interested in expanding Fright Fest, as it is now one of the most important parts of the park's season, from an attendance perspective.  “Fright Fest has become the most popular time of the year at Great Adventure, and this year’s event is our largest and scariest yet,” said Park President John Fitzgerald. “Fall is also the perfect time to enjoy our award-winning thrill rides like El Toro, Kingda Ka, Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom and the new El Diablo in the crisp night air.”

While our interests run more on the dark and scary side of things, Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure has plenty to offer during the day for smaller kids and their families.  The Safari Off Road Adventure is a great treat during the fall, and kids can explore Trick-or-Treat Trail if they need a sweet treat.  New shows like Just My Rotten Luck, which features a mix of comedy, magic and juggling, and the Six Flags Spooktacular Street Party will have them entertained and dancing.  Trainer Talks is an great show at the Seafari Theater that showcases Great Adventure's Asian small-clawed otters and baby sea lion pups - both ranking high on the cute meter.

Terror - this way!
When darkness begins to fall at the park, the cuteness is ushered away and the scares begin - starting with the Awakening parade and show, where over 200 monsters are unleashed on the park by Dr. Fright.  Once complete, the ghouls spread out over the park and invade their nightly homes, meaning one of the 4 freaky scare zones or 7 haunted trails and houses.

Joining the existing scare zones of The Bloody Fountain, Circus Psycho and Bone Butcher Terror-tory is Demon District, new for 2015.  The entire Movietown area is transformed in a desolate city that's been overrun with villains.  The park has put out a bunch of props and other decorations, along with some eerie green lasers that interact with the fog, creating a fake 'ceiling' of light.  It's a great effect and works well to distract visitors from the scares that are lurking in the shadows.

Six Flags Great Adventure has long been known for their terror trails, paths that utilize the wooded sections of the park as long haunted mazes.  These are still intact with Voodoo Island and the Wasteland, the former filed with crazed voodoo practitioners and their victims, the latter with toxic mutants.  Recent years have seen additional mazes being built indoors that allow them to open before the sun sets, and protect them from weather.  Returning examples of these include both The Manor and Total Darkness which are built inside the old motion theater building.

The scary clown on the sign is a ... well sign of things to come!
One of those new-for-2015 indoor haunts is Big Top Terror 3-D, a traditional are-you-afraid-of-clowns haunted house, only presented in 3-D.  The house is filled with elaborate sets and is awash in bright neon 3-D effects that are as disorienting as they are fun.  This house is really well done, and seemed quite popular judging from its constant line.

The eerie feel of the Demon District.
Several of the park's haunts are hybrid trails/tradition mazes, meaning they're like a haunted house but take place outside with high walls along the paths but no traditional ceilings along the way.  Asylum, located behind The Chiller's old station, is set up this way and still draws a large crowd.  New this year is Blood Shed, filled with "half-human, half-pig mutants in a backwoods adventure through a gory slaughter farm."  The first room of the new maze is especially well done, filled with menacing looking slaughterhouse tools and impressive lighting.

Ouch!  That's one way to stay awake!
Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest may be filled with scary attractions, but it is also well known for its extensive live entertainment offerings as well.  While the daytime shows are family-oriented, the evening ones are a bit more bold.

Plenty of folks looked away at this part of the act!
Returning this year is Doc Swan's Sideshow of Oddities, a live show in which Doc Swan shows off his impressive feats of skill.  From hammering items into his head to hanging stuff from his eye lids, the show is both entertainment and disturbing.

Other shows include the new Hypnosteria, where Denny More gives audience members a hypnotic treat of laughs and the Circus of Thrills which has a new high-wire motorcycle act this year.  If you're going to line up early for one show though, I would suggest it be the uber popular Dead Man's Party.

The ghouls are singing and dancing for you!
Set up on a large stage on the edge of the Demon District, Dead Man's Party continues to be a high-energy showstopper of dancing, popular Halloween songs and plenty of pyro. The legions of Fright Fest fans absolutely adore this show, and each performance is always packed.  Rightfully so - it's one of the best shows I've seen in a long time outside of the destination theme parks.

Plenty of special effects in Dead Man's Party
If you're looking to check out Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest, the event will run weekends through November 1st.  You can read more about the event here.  Many thanks to the park for having us out to experience the scares, and also to Scott and Carol for additional reporting and many of the photographs in this story!