This year at Fright Fest was unlike the last few, now with new mazes and the palpable ambition to elevate the event into some of the white-knuckle experiences that other similar Halloween haunt events are known for. New mazes included Sewer of Souls, Condemned – Forever Damned, and Hell Fest, based on the haunt-based horror film to be released on September 28th.

Here’s a rundown of how things went, along with our video and photo highlights:

Unleashing the Monsters

This year’s opening ceremony, the unleashing all the monsters for the event wasn’t as long as it has been in the past. Actually, it was probably less than 2 minutes, when before, they’ve been let out in shorter waves to get the crowd really worked up and interacting. We can’t be sure that this is the case for every night to come, but it was certainly a disappointment. Just after, of course, there were some great moments of clowns and creeps skulking around in the crowds and making attendees jump.

Red’s Revenge

Like last year and the year before, Red’s Revenge was just about the same as it has been, but the scares in this maze—even though seasoned Fright Fest goers will find it predictable, the scares are still reliable and it feels as if the scare actors were more refined than they have been in recent years. Something that we noticed throughout the rest of the event. Previous years, many scare actors had relied on eardrum-shattering shrieking for jump scares. For those of us who are super sensitive to high-pitches, this can worsen conditions like tinnitus. Yet, some of these instances were absent, something I was very glad to see missing and how much it improved the experience for this year.

Willoughby’s Resurrected

This maze felt even more improved from previous years. Before, it’s felt very empty both in elements and scare actors. Even if things didn’t change, it felt like they did. One of the improvements that definitely did change was the lack of a pre-show. I honestly cannot remember if this component was still working last year, but it definitely added to the pleasure of jumping right into the maze rather than feeling like you were waiting around for a jump scare tactic that has been made stale in the industry. Willoughby’s was really enjoyable and as you can see from our video, delivers exactly what it means to.

Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising

In all its iterations, Aftermath has been really successful in its design, openness, despite being slightly confusing at times. This year it ditched elements that made it more of a tedious maze (I’m talking about a meandering through chain link fences that seemed like it even confused the scare actors) and relied on the scenery to reveal story elements, good scares, and a great array of characters that scare in different ways. I really enjoyed the last impressive reveal in foggy back-lighting that makes for a super powerful, and spooky image.

Sewer of Souls

First, I feel like this particular location might actually be cursed. Upon entering the queue, we realized that it wasn’t moving at all and most of the scare actors, and guests were standing in the exit. Committed to getting to see this (and avoiding going up and down the hill again) we waited. Firemen showed up, and obviously something had gone amiss. In previous years, there has been line chaos (not knowing which line was which), poorly conceived themes, and what feels like a long history of “oh no, not this location again.”

Yet, we continued to wait, and when officials gave the all clear, we were very pleased to see a maze in this cursed place that was fresh, really fun, and a real win in concept, design, and execution. While our video doesn’t seem like it delivers scares, I thought that this fresh new idea for the park was a real success. It’s one of the mazes you have to go through several times as there is so much to see. I will say though, I’m not a fan of inflatable elements that you have to go through in such a tight squeeze (not good for cameras), and I find that squeezing my body and face through somewhere other people have squeezed their faces is a great way to spread unwanted germs. Others may not have this problem, but I definitely found it a bit icky.

Hell Fest

Essentially, this was the previous Vault 666 getting a Hell Fest skin that while it felt a touch strange without context, still delivered scares in a way had previously fallen short. I’m not sure which elements were pulled directly from the film with the exception of a few that you will recognize from the trailer, but it would be really great to see the maze again after the film comes out. Utilizing an intellectual property is the bread and butter of many other Halloween events, and of course the concept of the movie absolutely lends itself to that, but in retrospect, I think it’s great that Fright Fest has stepped into this ring when it comes to mazes. Of course we saw the utilization of Suicide Squad in 2016 for the scare zone in the DC area, which was such an obvious and wonderful fit.

I’d like to continue to see a great blend of IP and original content continue to come to this park because it draws crowds of fans who might not usually attend the event, while continuing to hit high-notes for those who visit every year no matter what.

Condemned – Forever Damned

First I’ll say this was probably one of the most solid and detailed mazes I’ve seen at Fright Fest. This location where Toyz of Terror 3D has been in the past, was sorely in need of something new even though I really enjoyed seeing it every year. This maze starts off strong, has some murky bits in the middle, but really feels well-rounded, and brings Fright Fest into a higher realm of maze creation—at least in my opinion. I could not be sure that there were “scents” being used, but the whole maze definitely had the feeling and touched all your senses, submersing you into what really felt like a neglected and condemned space. Not gonna lie, some of it was downright gross, and I wasn’t used to having that kind of experience at Six Flags.

Of course, this is in a very good way, and for good reason. What I didn’t find too thrilling about it, however, was being guided into low spaces, and tight spaces, places my back and the rest of me have trouble cramming into or under. The first dip down into a mess of mops, I was not provided the option with going around, even though there was. I kind of wish that had been explained to me early on, then I would have been prepared to take the less painful option. The second time, however, I definitely wasn’t going to fit, camera and all through a tight space that several times the maze attendant encouraged us to go through.

But, these elements aren’t designed for us. They are designed for the majority of the population that attends the event, being teens, and that’s okay. From those we did see who went through these parts, they enjoyed it, it just would have been nice to make it a little more clear that those of us with mobility issues had a different choice. Yet, I cannot let my small experience detract from what a win this is for the park’s Halloween event.

Wrapping Up

I could spend all day writing about the great scare zones, the VooDoo Nights live music show, and everything else, but I’ve already said a lot about this event, and with another spooky weekend upon us, it’s probably one of the best years of Fright Fest yet and still remains to be one of the most affordable in Southern California. Enjoy a few more videos and photos, and you can get more information, including tickets for Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain here: