Gates of Hell
We went early in the season, at first I wasn't sure if the direction I was going was correct. In the past there were different paths to the haunt and there was no sign depicting the haunt was in that direction. The only hint was the decorated path. I revisited later mid season and from my last visit they erected a sign and more decorations at the entrance. Mind you, the actual line entrance and staff member which checks wristbands is still another thirty feet around a curve from this entrance which makes to difficult. There was only two of us and no one was waiting in line so I expected a good experience.
We started off on an outdoor path, that snaked through various covered areas and large gazebos, there was a zig zag path built within these structures to help hide the actors so they can lunge out at you and growl and snarl. The animatronics were utilized well. A few seemed broken, and a couple of others might not have been calibrated well and triggered after we passed by. The longest walk of all available haunts seemed to be missing most of it's cast. After the outdoor path we entered the building ahead. The hallway was bare and dark. We walked to the lit section the actors that were in the front half of the haunt did well with their jump scares and their costumes were not themed other than they resembled monsters.
Making our way we very rarely came across other actors. There were spots from last year and sections that looked like drop and living walls and had been populated but they were bare this time around. With sections void of actors each scene just seem to blend into a stroll in an abandoned haunted house. The last leg of our experience we were in a white frosted Plexiglas hallway. There were a few 90 degree turns, shadows of monsters or fencing would show through the walls, every once in a while banging on the other side would occur. Making it to the end there was a butcher table with body parts laying all around.. A few crazed creatures eating the human remains coming after us for their next meal.
Massacre Medical Center
Entering the center we were with another group. We went early in the season, surprisingly there was a little bit of a line but it moved pretty fast. We were merged with a group of three others which I prefer, it helps gauge the terror factor. Heading to the reception desk, the patients were loose and causing havoc, throwing papers and crawling on things. This theme stayed constant throughout the haunt visit. This haunt at least gave the most interactivity and entertainment than all others. Walking down halls and corridors gave the illusion that you were walking through a hospital. The room details and wall design were done very well. Seeing people in cells either being trapped or tortured. Others had "escaped" while you were walking around the doctors office or operating room. Finally making it out to the morgue, equipped with ambulance and a few last scares.
It was early in the season and we were able to get in line right when it opened. The queue started to grow when we found out we went the wrong direction due to staff member sending us the wrong way to the Fast Pass Lane and a large gap in the bike rack. We turned around and rejoined the line which was not too bad, only a ten minute wait.
We were given the rules by a staff member and entered the haunt. This was designed to be a homestead. We entered into the family / living room, here the evil eye was given to us by one of the costumed actors. As a back story all the actors are wearing the exact same costume and mask. This is to give you the illusion that either you are being stalked, or the same person keeps reappearing all through out your experience. This is a good model for this type of haunt.
After leaving the living room, you come around to the kitchen, utility room and hallway. Randomly the character will appear around corners and through doorways. Shimmying through the closet and straight to the outdoors. Mildly detailed with a few special effects, designed to startle and scare. It seemed to go by too fast for the concept they were going with.
Big Top Terror
When we arrived to the queue line entrance there seemed to be no staff member checking wristband it seemed to be a free for all and no separation for VIP and general admission. They actually checked all wristbands at the haunt inside the entrance right before the rules were given to the group. This clown themed haunt was bittersweet. The set design was better than most. All the walls were painted in UV and had thought put into it. Right before the red/white maze was the toy room. Here was a missed scare. I'm pretty sure they had provided one last year here. It should have been kept the red / white maze, which seemed to be the majority of the path. It was put together well but some of the two major flaws... there were no actors and at one time we almost walked backstage. The entire experience had only seven actors in it. The least of all six haunts.
Since last year it has been relocated to Southwest Territory. This maze takes you through all things creepy crawly. Path was randomly decorated. At first the lighting was so dim you couldn't see any if the details at all. Most of the time the scares were actors from blind corners yelling Ha or some sort of sharp noise. There was very little dialogue from the one actress that had lines and they were too short for the duration of your visit with her. If you suffer fear from spiders, bees, snakes and any creature of nature this haunt is themed based on those fears. The queue line was full and it was a half an hour wait to walk those four minutes inside.
Here the water is drained from the rapids attraction and make good use the manufactured trench as your path. You are walking through an army encampment, all the soldiers have been turned into zombies. You make your way through around large storage containers and disabled vehicles snarling zombies pop out of small areas which adds to the scare. Progressing forward to the bivouac, MRE's and makeshift tables sprawled out on the ground making a path and adding cover for more zombie attacks. As you walk into the tunnel, the fog becomes thick running zombies lunge in your direction from the dense covering. After you clear the tunnel, shelves and other random obstacles are still surround you and more around the corner. Scares happen before you exit out of the cement channel. This was an improvement from last year and I hope it can only get better. One negative note was the zombie talking with a group of people near the end. If it was a serious guest related issue or if the actor was chatting with friends this should have been done out of the visible area while inside the attraction.
The Uprising Parade: Nightly Call of the Dead
Starting at 5:45p The introduction of Nox and his undead followers. It starts off with a small show and choreographed dancing zombies. This leads to the parade that continues through half of the park with all of Nox's minions.
The Ringmasters Cabaret
Half hour show featuring music fitting for the Halloween season. Sung by the cast with either choreography from the backup dancers or during additional entertainment on stage. The makeup and consuming was really top notch. A combination of talented magicians, sword swallowers and fire eaters. I have seen members of this group before in previous years, they were finally given the proper tools and venue to perform. I could easily see this be an hour long show providing a few more variety acts and a larger library of appropriate mainstream and deep cuts of popular musical artists.
The Nightmare Rhythm Machine
A shorter version of Ringmasters Cabaret, utilizing the same cast combining dance and percussion over preordered tracks of original artists and vocals provided by the live talent. If you don't have the time to see them in the Grand Music Hall, this is the second best option. Additional mad props to the stagehand / audio for staying in character for both performances.
The Cavalcade of the Odd
Once again, the weather was horrid and we did not get to see this attraction. It always seems that the limited show times and weather fully impact this show.
Love at First Fright
This is the longest running show here at Fright Fest, every year they change up some of the dialogue, jokes, zingers and one liners with the most recent subjects of local, national, and international news related items. It's a musical about a boy and girl go to creepy cemetery, chased by monsters, boy get's captured, girl saves boy from impending doom, girl gets captured, boy saves girl from impending doom, evil overseer destroyed, monsters in servitude freed.
Dr. Susan Rosen: Mistress of Mesmerism
Dr. Rosen has had her return show here for quite a number of years. she is located in the Pictorium. Priority seating is offered for a mere few dollars. The show is populated completely by volunteer guests of the audience. If seats are still need to be filled up on stage more members of the audience can be put in a suggestive state from their own seats if they choose to do so. She does nothing to make a person under a suggestive state do anything embarrassing and morally or ethically against their beliefs and completely fills in the audience of this behavior. She tries to mix it up year after year and introducing new and creative exercises to the production, some of which are someone near you smells bad / you smell bad, tasting the worst cookie in the world, and trigger words. If you have never been to a hypnotists' show or never been hypnotized and curious, I would highly suggest seeing this.
Special versions for Love and First Fright And Dr. Susan Rosen are provided for the mature crowd, 18 years of age and over only for the "No Mercy Shows" will be available the last performance of the day.
The Witching Hour
Here is the big payoff, all actors from all Scarezones and haunts that had closed for the evening all meet at the exit area all around Carousel Plaza. This is a real people watching experience. Plus this give you the opportunity to see all the actors all at once. This happens one hour before the park's closing time.
Scare zones are free roaming actors who wander the specific section they are assigned to. Each character has a special look based on their area. They often follow and startle guests in passing.
Vampires roam this area in Carousel Plaza
The old west has zombies in there here parts, all roaming Southwest Territory
Less Lumberjacks more backwoods folk in Yukon Territory
Look out high levels of radiation can be found on the bridge separating Yankee Harbor and Yukon Territory. They might have put their radiation suits on a little too late.
Deformed ghouls that now possess the pathway that links Mardi Gras and Yankee Harbor
Lycanthropy had spread amongst Hometown Square, In short it's the viral disease that Warewolves spread. Now you learned something new....
A new zone of Metropolis Plaza where creatures from below have risen to seek new souls.
A masquerade ball with a twist, I wouldn't want them punching my dance card.
Clowns galore, by far the most actor populated zone. Avoid if you have Coulrophobia
On the Yukon Territory / County Fair Bridge A new Steampunk inspired breed of wanders have set up camp here.
Overall opinion, The shows seem to be getting better. The free scare zones are also expanding. As for the pay to enter haunts, they are getting less and less attention nor are they getting a facelift. They are building the exact same sets year after year. If there is a change from 2016 (and yes I have noticed a few changes) is only because they have been removing elements and not adding any. The only exception is Infestation and Apocalypse. They have slightly changed for the better.
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