Fright Fest 2012 at Six Flags Magic Mountain

Fright Fest 2012 at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Six Flags / October 9, 2012)

Lecter's Slaughterhouse - The deranged butcher maze, one of my least favorite from last season, was greatly improved this year with the addition of more monsters and room dividers that helped break up the scares. The manic monsters even continued their scares beyond the exit. The highlight: A ghoul hiding amid the ceiling-suspended body bags who scared me three times.

Unfortunately, the cookie-cutter Slaughterhouse maze found at almost every Six Flags Fright Fest event nationwide is made up of little more than white walls splattered with red paint. That won't work any more when compared to the Willoughby's and Aftermath mazes.

Blackout (new in 2012) - High expectations spoiled this one for me. I should have known this maze couldn't possibly compare to the renowned Blackout attractions in Los Angeles and New York City that send visitors in alone armed only with a flashlight.

Sadly, the Blackout maze at Magic Mountain just didn't work. In fact, it was a boring and pointless waste of time.

The premise was simple enough: Small groups of up to eight people holding onto a length of rope walk through a pitch black maze with the leader wielding a tiny flashlight. Aside from the occasional screams heard elsewhere in the maze, our long and winding walk in the dark was interrupted by only five whispering and muttering monsters.

The cynic in me might say Blackout was a way for Magic Mountain to cut costs on maze decoration and monster staffing. But I'm going to take the opposite approach and focus instead on the unrealized promise of this basic but potentially terrifying maze.

First I would ditch the rope and send visitors in one or two at a time, each with their own small flashlight. Then I'd bring up the lights ever so slightly so you can just make out the shadows of the monsters. And finally I'd make the maze have multiple potential paths and challenge visitors to find their way out.

Cursed (new in 2011) - Nothing can save this pathetic gypsies and werewolves maze covered in camouflage netting. Magic Mountain needs to get rid of these ride queue mazes if the park hopes to continue improving the quality level of Fright Fest.

Black Widow (new in 2012) - You know a maze is bad when the best part is the entry spiel explaining the back story. Something about a woman seeking vengeance against her no-good husband by murdering any man she meets.

This unmemorable dud consisted of little more than spiderwebs and low-wattage scares. I can think of any number of ways a spurned woman might dispatch with a good-for-nothing guy (claw hammer, power saw, golf club), but apparently Magic Mountain couldn't think of any.

What's even worse is Magic Mountain simply swapped out last year's vampire theme with a spider-lady motif without bothering to change much else in this maze.

I could actually see that strategy working if Magic Mountain wanted to turn the otherwise unused building at the top of the park into a Gothic manor twin of Willoughby's haunted mansion - with rotating mazes featuring historic period themes.

Jokester's Hideout 3D - Another candidate for the Willoughby's makeover treatment, this tired and tattered 11-year-old clowns run amok maze never changes even though it certainly needs to.

I'd love to see Magic Mountain turn this otherwise unused building into a lunatic asylum or prison of the quality of Willoughby's that could house a new madhouse maze each season.


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