|Scare Factor: High | Atmosphere: Very Good|
Visibility/Location: It's Six Flags. They have a big sign along highway 94 and if that's not enough they have the giant gorilla hanging off the tower and the giant spiders on the American Eagle rollercoaster.
Wait Entertainment: Well the whole park is done up for Halloween with different themed areas and they have two haunted houses. Just walking into the park gets you really pumped up with the blood in the reflection pond and the smoke. They also added a show to the little stage in front of the carousel, called Dr. Fright's Dead Man's Party.
Length of Event: Every weekend in October. I believe it's open from 5-11 on Fridays and 9-11 on Saturdays and Sundays.
Actor Performance: Amazing! I have never been more impressed with the amount of talent that came from the street actors and haunted house actors in the park! They were all amazing!
Patron Flow Inside Attraction: Usually good. We went through both houses twice. You have the Mausoleum of Terror and The Curse in 3-D. A group ran into us our second time through the Mausoleum, but both times we went through The Curse we never had any problems. The line entertainers did a really great job of spacing us out and keeping us entertained. They were hilarious and scary!
Appropriate Ages: Well, it's Family by Day and Fright by Night now, and they mean it. It can possibly get a little scary for younger kids when it gets later in the day, but then the park caters to a whole new crowd. This approach really works for Six Flags, since they can give both sides of the consumer population what they want.
Props / Special FX: Always good. I always see a lot of top quality props and animatronics. I know a lot of people complained about The Curse of Sleepy Hollow in 3-D last year. To be fair, I was one of them. I was also skeptical when I heard that they were changing the name to The Curse in 3-D, assuming they would keep the same painted walls and lame scare tactics. They didn't though and added some amazing props and details to the house! It was so great!!!
Costumes / Make-up: The costumes and makeup??? OUTSTANDING! The best costuming and makeup jobs I have seen in any haunted event!
Summary: I will divide this into four sections:
1) The Scare Zones
The park had a total of seven scare zones in it this year. You had Yankee Harbor, with the decaying zombie pirates, the Illinois Trollway, with the trolls, Area 51 with their battlescarred commandos and spies from Russia, the Southwest Scare-itory with the ghost town people, Seven Sins Cemetery with their vampires and amazing stilt-walking werewolves, Mardi Gras, with their evil clowns, and last, but not least, Necropolis, the haunted city of the dead...which seems pretty much self-explainitory. The only complaint I had this year with the characters is that there wasn't enough of them. There was a significant decrease in the amount of street characters this year, and I know I wasn't the only one disappointed by this. The street characters they did have though made up for it with their intensity. They were phenomenal!
2) The Mausoleum of Terror
The only thing that disappoints me about this house is that it is too short for me. It's a good length, don't get me wrong, but I just get so into it. The scenery is fantastic and great with detail. The line entertainers were just perfect and creepy. The finale of the house??? Just wonderful! I couldn't have wished for a better ending than the one they planned up! They made a lot of improvements to it this year. I remember that the zombies in the house would just be wearing black robes. While it was kind of creepy, they decided to actually give them costumes this year. The zombie costumes really made it impressive and a lot more intense, I think. The repitition of black robes throughout the house got a little boring in the past. The spinning tunnel was great, as was the mirror maze. They added fog to the house this year as well and it made everything harder to see and amazingly disorienting and scary. It was perfect!
3) The Curse in 3-D
I've always hated 3-D haunted houses. Not hate, I guess. That's a strong word. I had just never seen one pulled off effectively to make it scary. When Great America got rid of Sadie's Dead and Breakfast, I was kind of heartbroken, especially when they replaced it with what most deemed to be the kiddie house, The Curse of Sleepy Hollow in 3-D. Last year I think was probably on of the worst, with mostly drop portraits that were clearly visible and...clowns??? In Sleepy Hollow??? Didn't make much sense to me. So I was skeptical about the house this year when I had heard that they have changed the name to The Curse in 3-D, but kept it 3-D, assuming they were just going to put the clowns back into it. Well, I was to be proven wrong about this one. While the house kept some of the aspects of the Sleepy Hollow house intact, they also intigrated them with sections of the old Dead and Breakfast house. Together with the amazing props, phenomenal actors inside, and the line entertainers outside really made the house something special this year! I have to make a comment about two of the actors that I saw while waiting in line who were entertaining us. There was this large Hispanic ghost man who looked like he was the undertaker for the town and a ghost bum. These two were hilarious together and made the whole line laugh and made people jump and scream constantly. They were great! I really have to commend them on their performance! The only part I didn't enjoy was the girl that was with them. She was somewhat lame and didn't do much...well...at all. She didn't hand out glasses or talk about the rules or anything. It kind of made me wonder why she was there. Anyway, back to the inside of the house. It started out pretty much the same way the old 3-D house started out with the really trippy walls. Then all of a sudden you found yourself in a kitchen area with skeletons playing cards and jumping from cupboards as well as the monster from the kitchen! Then there was a long corridor of doors that was really creepy. They added a scarecrow area with this really big and scary scarecrow in there that was awesome! Also they added a bedroom scene with a really cleverly disguised drop portrait and a zombie that jumps out of the bed. Then you go into the closet which has these strobing lights in it and monsters jumping out from inside! Fantastic! Even the paintings on the walls got a treatment to make them extra scary with the pigs in the one room blowing gusts of air at you! The finale of this house was fantastic! It was a pitch black maze with a strobe light that would only go off sporadically! Inside the maze were a few pictures and a skeleton faced girl running around! Even some of the walls would shock you! It was fantastic!
4) The Shows
They added a few shows this year. Some of them were...well...a mistake. They added a show at the carousel plaza called Dr. Fright's Dead Man's Party. I thought it was kind of lame, but some people seemed to be into it. Another show they added was a show that travelled via trolley through the front of the park with singing and dancing zombies called Welcome to My Nightmare. It was pretty good and entertaining. I think they should plan it out better next year though, as it had a tendency to make getting through the park a little more difficult on busy days, which is basically the only kind of day Fright Fest seems to have. The fantastic Love at First Fright was back this year with some additions of their own, including Witchie's twin sister. It was once again a phenomenal show with great singing and dancing. They also got rid of the Scooby Doo Mystery Train. I was disappointed about this and still am. They replaced it with something called The Holdup Express. Basically, you get on a train owned by a millionare and his sidekick, the horrible security guard. For some reason they put you on this train and give you a guided tour as they transport a whole ton of money that they aren't shy about telling you about. Anyway, you go along the track and then the zombie train robbers come out from behind trees and things. They are really obvious for the most part and it's a little sad. Then you get to the area before the tunnel in the north entrance to the Southwest Scare-itory. There the train stops and completely blocks traffic for about 10 minutes while the zombies attack the train. Once said train is hijacked, they travel for a little bit more until you get to the zombies hideout and then the law comes in and sets things right in possibly one of the worst choreographed fight sequences ever. There was too much going on everywhere and it was just confusing. Anyway, at least that was free.
All in all though, this really was a phenomenal year for Great America's Fright Fest. I am looking forward to bigger and better things from them in the years to come!
All in all this year was beyond wonderful!