Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Frightening Fun at Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest 2009

Tis the Haunting season, and if you're a fan of these events like I am then the "late" season for amusement parks has really reached a new golden age. Halloween is big, no, huge, and most parks (as Sabrina is showing in her Daily Halloween Spins) are now celebrating it with an event of some sort.

When Six Flags Great Adventure kindly invited NPN to check out their Fright Fest event, it wasn't hard for us to oblige. Speaking of huge Halloween events, Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest is now in it's 18th season, and is billed the "largest Halloween party in the Northeast." After having visited, I can see why.

The park is really decked out for the season, after you enter you're greeted by this, well, blood red fountain surrounded by a plethora of our creepy skeletal brethren. Six Flags Great Adventure does a great job of not just decorating certain areas, but adding cobwebs and netting to almost all structures in the park.

Even by day the mood is set by the park as giant characters, like the not-so-funny Jester above, loom over the midways. What does it take for the park to set all this up? The short answer - a lot. The longer answer - some 8 tons of pumpkins, 2,000 bales of hay, 4,000 mums, 880 gallons of fog juice, 1,200 pounds of webbing, and plenty more. Those are some scary numbers. Get it! Ha.

While many parks rely on haunts only to entertain their guests, Six Flags Great Adventure has a wide selection of live entertainment offerings. Here we see Scary-Oke, where kids can get in on the action by singing their favorite tunes for the crowd. I believe the little gal above was belting out a Taylor Swift song... now that's some scary tunes! (JK Miss Swift, you rock!)

You can also see the Wheel of Fright in the photo, used after darkness falls. Guest can muster up the courage to give the wheel a spin and possibly win front line access on many rides by eating some gag-inducing options. I won't name them all, but they include night crawlers, snails, and something called the "mouthful of misery." Better you than me!

Here we see the stage for another one of the park's entertainment offerings, named Dead and Local. Guests are treated to the tunes of local bands performing fan favorites during the day, and darker hits at night.

The park doesn't stop there, and you could literally fill and entire evening going from show to show during Fright Fest. Other highlights include Hypnosteria, featuring mentalist/comic hypnotist Denny More, and Professor Zombini's Freak show located in the boardwalk area.

Daytime fun for the kiddies is plentiful during Fright Fest. Here we see the little ones all lined up trick or treating with the Looney Tunes characters. I'd be jealous of their candy stash, but the park was kind enough to give us our 'fix' when entering!

Kids can also watch Mr. Six dance in his very own Spooktacular Street Party, and there's also a special Wiggles Halloween show as well.

Some of the haunted areas of the park, which we'll cover later, make for some nice day shots. Here we see a very restless cemetery in the Lakefront area of the park.

A special attraction for Fright Fest is Superstition featuring Elvira, which replaces the film shown during the summer, Fly Me To The Moon. Motion simulator seats thrill riders as they take a twisted trip through Elvira's own demented theme park.

Fright Fest has two outdoor, pay-extra, haunted trails available for guests after nightfall. Above we see Escape From the Asylum, which takes up residence in the Chiller's former station area. From the sounds of the screaming in this Asylum I can't imagine why anyone would want to enter. Oh wait, yeah, to get the living daylights scared outta you!

The second walkthrough is located in the woods back by Congo Rapids, an exceptionally dark area of the park at night. Demented Forest allows you to venture through the dark side of a fairy tale, packed to the gills with ghosts, goblins, trolls, and IRS Tax Auditors. I made that last one up. But they're all scary!

And now we pause to say hello to the cobwebbed Skull atop the mountain that is Skull Mountain. Still one of the most surprising, and best, coasters in the park. (to me)

What's this? Fire? That means darkness is coming, and it's nearly time for The Awakening and Dead Man's Party - one of the standout highlights of Six Flags Great Adventure's Fright Fest.

6 p.m. means it's time for the park's freaks and monsters to come out of hiding. The Awakening signals that transformation, as a procession of the walking dead heads across the park and gathers on the stage in front of the park's Big Wheel.

Once the ghouls gather on stage, the literal awakening of Dr. Fright takes place and the festivities, which include great music, plenty of pyro, creepy lightning, a Thriller dance, and plenty more, can begin.

Did I mention they do a fantastic, well choreographed Thriller dance? Well, they do. The music and dancing during The Awakening is really outstanding. And to have that many ghouls at once do the dance so well? Bravissimo!

The Awakening leads directly into Dead Man's Party, creating a double whammy of haunted entertainment. Above you can check out some of the talented performers I was just speaking of.

Did I mention all the pyro they use? Guess I did, but it's worth repeating! The show is both lively and flame-tastic. Dead Man's Party is actually celebrating it's 10th anniversary this year, and featured choreography produced by Ashle Dawson, the runner of up the first season of "So You Think You Can Dance." The show has been somewhat copied and transplanted to other Six Flags parks, but none seem to be anywhere near as successful and popular as Great Adventure's.

And as expected, it ends with a bang. And then the ghouls really run wild!

By the time the show was over we turned around to find that the park had become covered in fog. And as any good park goer knows that means it's scary time! The main entrance plaza, with it's blood fountain, serves as a sort of central area for the park's hauntings. Several smaller shows take place here, along with meet'n'greets with Dead Man's Party performers, and there's plenty of ghouls running about as well.

The second scare area is Circus Psycho, located in the Boardwalk section of the park. Here we're greeted by the worst the circus has to offer, or perhaps the best depending on how you look at it.

Bottom line: there's plenty of monster hiding in the fog like the one above. What do you think happened to those super-cool teen boys when they got closer? Ha! Sometimes watching other guests get scared is just as fun as actually being the one getting scared!

Finally, the Lakefront Graveyard stretches along one side of the park, covered in fog and swarming with the undead. I have to say that I absolutely love how the park's ghouls use shovels to make both loud noises and sparks. No lovely white pavement here to protect, eh.

Now pair all the above with the park's selection of mega coasters and rides, and even more shows and entertainment time did not allow us to see, and you've got on heck of a haunted playground!

Many thanks to both Angel and Jenn of Six Flags Great Adventure for the invite and all the hospitality! Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure will make a great stop on any haunted trip this fall!