As part of a multi-year
In hopes of keeping up with the twin beasts of
Magic Mountain's revamp of Fright Fest began in 2011 with the addition of Aftermath, a massive outdoor maze that significantly raised the bar for quality.
A complete renovation of the perennial Willoughby's Haunted Mansion in 2012 saw the addition of elaborate visual effects and improved props and sets to a haunted maze that had grown tired and predictable over the years.
Last year's "new" marquee maze proved a massive disappointment, with Toyz of Terror amounting to little more than a fresh coat of paint on a woeful 11-year-old clown maze.
New for Fright Fest 2014:
Red's Revenge - Turning the classic fairy tale on its head, a risen from the dead Red Robin Hood hunts the Big Bad Wolf and anybody else who wanders into the forest (that would be you and me). Scenes set in a village, a cottage and a throne room show an immersive level of detail and quality - including theatrical sets, thematic props and special effects - not typically associated with Fright Fest. (Located behind the Full Throttle sports bar)
Vault 666 - Step inside an abandoned secret government research facility that once conducted genetic experiments crossing humans with animals. Hybrid creatures roam the corridors of the bunker that includes a blood-letting room and an electrocution chamber. (Located behind Full Throttle Plaza)
Willoughby's Garden of Darkness - Envisioned as a tandem attraction to the revitalized Willoughby's Mansion, the garden maze at the top of the amusement park will feature man-eating plants that come to life and creatures that emerge from the undergrowth. (Replaces the former Black Widow maze)
Returning Fright Fest mazes ranked from best to worst:
Willoughby's Resurrected (2012) -- The completely refurbished attraction combining detailed set dressing, imaginative practical effects, inventive video projections and high-energy monsters into a fantastic maze was head and shoulders above virtually everything else at the past two Fright Fests.
The Aftermath (2011) -- The post-apocalyptic maze of overturned vehicles, hovering helicopters and fireball explosions in the former Batman stunt-show arena typically features the biggest cast of any Fright Fest maze.
Total Darkness (2013) -- This pitch-black maze delivers on the promise of a simple yet intriguing premise. Holding on to a length of rope, small groups are sent into the blacked-out maze inside the Magic Moments Theater behind a leader with a tiny, dim flashlight. You never know where the in-your-face scares are coming from next.
Toyz of Terror (2013) -- This underwhelming replacement for the woeful Jokester's Hideout that occupied this space for more than a decade follows the same layout and recycles many of the same gags from years past — only with toys instead of clowns. This year's 3-D version promises a new look and layout to the maze.
Chupacabra (2011) -- After some misfires in years past, Chupacabra seems to have found the right mix of characters with a host of terrified Mexican villagers direct from central casting running scared from a werewolf-like beast. Last year, a splash of spooky lighting and an over-abundance of fog did little to hide the inattention to detail in this unimpressive paint-and-plywood maze.
Six scare zones return to Fright Fest for 2014: City Under Siege, Exile Hill, Nightmares, Zombie Crossing, Wastelands and Demon's Door. A new scare zone, Ravenstitch, will feature a steampunk meets the Wild West theme.
Fright Fest 2014 at Six Flags Magic Mountain runs on select Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from Sept. 27 through Nov. 1.