Six Flags Magic Mountain's Fright Fest continues to stand as an affordable Halloween offering for a younger crowd, at least compared to the prici
Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest continues to stand as an affordable Halloween offering for a younger crowd, at least compared to the pricier, gore-soaked Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. Shriek through some mazes, go on some rides, eat a giant funnel cake! What Fright Fest lacks in pizzazz and fancy IPs, it makes up for with accessibility.
Opening night, however, was a bit tumultuous. Unleashed kickoff at 7 p.m.— this is when the night’s monsters stream out of the DC Universe area and flood the park. Happy screams soon turned to groans, however, when at least half of the six mazes failed to open on time. This included Willoughby’s Resurrected, Sewer of Souls, and Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising. The latter is the park’s outdoor maze and the hardest to get to unless you love trekking up hills.
At Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising, a fake announcement instructed us to all leave the town of Ash Valley, which needed to be quarantined due to a dangerous plague. That announcement was interrupted by a real announcement instructing everyone to evacuate the maze. We watched a line of employees stream out. The two announcements flipped back and forth for several minutes until we decided to try our luck elsewhere. We never did get around to seeing Aftermath 2 (which would be the after-aftermath, I suppose).
Of the five mazes we saw, Red’s Revenge remains Six Flags’ standout. Here are our rankings:
Red’s Revenge: Red’s maintains a coherent narrative throughout, beginning with a short video that reminds guests of the classic Little Red Riding tale. However, this Red is a vindictive spirit poised to take revenge on the townsfolk who refused to escort her safely through the woods to her ailing grandmother’s house. Guests wind through large, fantastical woodland sets filled with gnarled tree monsters and a giant neon arachnid. Grandma’s house has been taken over by undead wolves, while townspeople bemoan their grisly fate. Even the wrathful Red herself makes an appearance near the end. Plus, they incorporate Wojciech Kilar’s score to Dracula (1992) for some reason, which is one of my favorite soundtracks.
Vault 666: Much like the Warrens’ room of haunted objects in The Conjuring franchise, Vault 666 is an antique shop full of cursed items. There’s a lot of fun stuff in here: curio cabinets full of artifacts, crates bound with suspicious flora, porcelain dolls (always creepy), and a gauntlet of arms flailing to grab you. Parts of the maze feel less like an antique shop and more like you wandered into the SCP archives or an ossuary, but that’s just the risk you take when you collect haunted stuff, I suppose. There may have been a bit of a bottleneck caused by an opening scene, but they seemed to have ditched that vignette by the time we went through.
Condemned: This dilapidated house seems to have claimed the lives of everyone who ever called it home. Guests will wander from room to disgusting room, crawling with vermin and wraiths. What’s especially fun here are the atypical pathways. Sometimes you have to crouch and weave through low-hanging mops. Other times you can creep through the narrow spaces between the cursed walls. In previous years, I was asked to climb over the bottom bunk of a messy bunkbed. The monsters here do a little more than scream and growl, too. One ghost presides over a roach-infested kitchen, while a child ghost begs for a playmate. Watch out for the linen closet; someone might try to lure you inside.
Willoughby’s Resurrected: This maze sets up a classic horror conceit—an abandoned mansion, once opulent, now full of evil. It does a few fun and trope-y things, like a blood-spattered room where a young ghost holds a finger over her lips, a hall of changing portraits, and a sunken cemetery. The majority of the maze, however, is super dark. If you love jump scares, this might become your favorite maze as it offers plenty of shadowy corners for the monsters to hide. I don’t really react to jump scares. I’m far more inclined to love a gorgeously detailed maze than one I can’t see at all, so this one ranked lower for me.
Sewer of Souls: Sewer of Souls is the maze that reminds you Six Flags caters to a more juvenile crowd—as in, literally younger—than some of the other parks. They hold back on the gore and, in this maze, amp up the bathroom humor. Sewer of Souls is an actual sewer that apparently sucks you down to some kind of hell. Monsters appear among giant, fly-crusted piles of feces and from between toilet seats smeared with human waste. This year’s offering was in 3D, complete with flimsy paper glasses, but the effect was lackluster for me. In fact, I enjoyed the graffiti-lined sewers more without them.
I believe, if I’m remembering correctly, that there are some really cool passageways in Sewer of Souls, but we missed them this time around. I think this was because we encountered a bottleneck where we were all crammed into one small room with two scare actors. Nearby, a teenage girl told an attendant that her friend needed to leave the maze. When we moved aside to let her pass, we were reprimanded by a different attendant who bluntly told us to exit in a particular direction. I think that attendant didn’t realize what was going on and sent us out a shorter way, resulting in us missing some of the best parts of this maze. Thus, the boorish theme combined with bottlenecks (or would it be backed up plumbing?) made it my least favorite maze.
Elsewhere, the scare zones were reasonably engaging, especially the Nightmares: A Twisted Fantasy zone, which wrapped the area in blacklit oddities.
There’s plenty to do other than the mazes, including rides and coasters; nightly entertainment like bands, DJs, and a hypnotist show; the multiple scare zones; midway games, and an assortment of food and beverage options. Those 21+ and over might start their evening in Sports Bar, which is conveniently located near three of this year’s mazes.
Fright Fest runs now through Nov. 3. Admission starts at $47.99.