Last year saw a significant improvement in Fright Fest's offerings with more haunted mazes, scare zones and monsters in the park.
The Valencia amusement park promises to continue the bigger-and-better trend this October with a complete makeover of an aging workhorse maze and the addition of two new mazes.
The best maze of 2011, the Aftermath, returns this season in the former Batman stunt show arena with more post-apocalyptic torment and turmoil. The dystopian world of overturned vehicles and nomadic creatures was head and shoulders above anything else at last year's Fright Fest.
Adding to that promise are assurances from Magic Mountain officials that a 100% makeover of the worn-out Willoughby's Haunted Mansion will be equal to the success of the Aftermath. We'll have to see if Willoughby's Resurrected transforms the granddaddy of Fright Fest mazes from moribund to blood curdling.
Also new for 2012: The Black Widow spider-themed maze and the Blackout lights-out maze.
Unfortunately, Black Widow replaces Bite II, the second best maze from last year's lineup. I would have preferred to see Magic Mountain drop either the Cursed werewolf maze in the Tidal Wave queue or the Lecter's Slaughterhouse deranged butcher maze in the DC Backlot. Sadly, both of those woeful entries from last season are back again this year. Both mazes need vast improvement if they hope to rise up from the bottom of the heap.
Fortunately, the Blackout maze replaces the absolute worst maze from 2011: The toxic mutant-themed Warehouse 13. The old Logjammer queue has been scrapped clean in anticipation of the new Full Throttle launch coaster, leaving only a slab of concrete for the Blackout maze and hopefully a clean slate for Fright Fest's creative department.
Speaking of wiping the slate clean and starting over, I nominate Jokester's Hideout as a candidate for the 100% makeover treatment in 2013. The clowns-run-amok maze in the former Flashback coaster location has become hopelessly tired and entirely predictable. The scares never change but the maze certainly needs to if Fright Fest hopes to continue improving.
That leaves Chupacabra, a new maze in 2011 that featured a compelling back story about the mythical Latin American creature and plenty of great scares but failed when it came to scenic design. Here's hoping Magic Mountain offers more than painted plywood corridors this year.
Pretty much everything else from last year -- scare zones, live shows and coasters in the dark -- stay the same for Fright Fest 2012 save for some new musical offerings. And then there's always my favorite (and the sole reason for Fright Fest's existence as far as I'm concerned): Colossus backward.
Fright Fest 2012 runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from Oct. 5-28 at Six Flags Magic Mountain.