Just outside of Washington, DC near Baltimore, MD, Six Flags America is currently running its annual Fright Fest event on select days and nights from September 26 – November 1. As described below, a day pass will get you into the park both day and night, but to enjoy every aspect of the evening events (the haunted houses specifically), you’ll need to upgrade your pass.
We attended the event this past weekend for the first time, and enjoyed almost every show and each house (some multiple times). Check out our review of the event below, broken out by category.
Daytime Fun and Upgrading Your Pass
Six Flags America has a lot of daytime fun for families during Fright Fest. Kid-friendly Trick or Treating, a hay maze and hay ride, and some family friendly shows (including the magic show listed below), the evening festivities are included in the cost of admission as well, but to get into the houses, you can upgrade to an Extreme Scare Pass ($14 for pass members, $16 for everyone else, $35 including fast pass access). While some may balk at the add-on cost, the $16 is minimal, and I’d think that you can get to all the houses in one night without express. In addition, you can still enjoy plenty without the Extreme Scare Pass, including all the shows and scarezones. I will say, we had the fast pass access, which allowed us to hit multiple houses multiple times, and still leave the park around 9:30pm.
Rather than review each scarezone separately, I will say that Carn-Evil seemed the most populated of the scarezones, scareactor-wise. Ghost Town was a lot of fun with some great themeing. Necroville and Zombieville seemed a little sparsely populated with scareactors to me, with some areas more dense with scares and other large areas with none, even on a Saturday. The props were well done and effective in each area, but the large open pathways of the park seemed like they could have used a couple more scareactors to fill the voids.
The Awakening: Wow…just wow. I’m such a fan of mythology and storylines in my haunts, especially when a theme park goes the extra effort to tell a storyline. This show serves as a kind of opening ceremony to the park, where a demon is unleashed before releasing his minions out unto the park. The acting, the music, the choreography…everything in this show was great, especially the demon itself. My only disappointment is the expectation that this demon would play into a scarezone or house in the park and I didn’t see him. With only one showing a day, make sure you’re up front and center for this one.
Immortal Covenant – A Stunt Revolution: I won’t spoil a moment that made this truly special for me (though you can get a hint of it in the video below), but man…what a freakin’ awesome show. The choreography of the fight scenes is the best I’ve seen in a park show, and the flying blood is fantastic! Sure the story is a little cheesy, but the acting is actually really good and, ultimately, when you’ve got kung fu vampires and humans shooting at each other…who the hell cares? A show unlike any I’ve ever seen in a theme park before!
Stage Fright, Starring Joe Romano: A magic show with a short runtime, the Stage Fright show isn’t required viewing, but it is a quick bit of mindless fun that’s family friendly and does incorporate a bit of Halloween scare.
Dead Man’s Party: I didn’t get a chance to see Dead Man’s Party, but it sounds like a dance and music show.
Some notes: Each house we went into was pulsed – that is, small groups were let in at a time instead of the steady stream. At times we were the only two in the house. That lends itself to great interaction from the scareactors and full immersion in the environment. The same scareactor can follow you through multiple rooms, or block you from moving forward for a great uncomfortable feeling.
Speaking of that feeling, there were no visible park employees in the houses. While I understand the need of that for momentum and security in a larger event, in a smaller event, the scareactors were solid in helping us if we didn’t know which way to go (without breaking character) and it helped with the aforementioned immersion to not see regular clothed employees. However there were visible openings to the outside of the maze at times that, with minimal effort, could have easily been camouflaged to keep the immersion intact. That’s was a minor concern, though.
Here are my houses, from least favorite to favorite….
Aftermath: Located in what I think was a bumper car arena, Aftermath is a post apocalyptic, toxic wasteland kind of house and, unfortunately, my least favorite of the night. Long areas where nothing happens and, unfortunately, minimal scares make this house one I had no desire to repeat. This appears to be a repeat house and, perhaps, maybe time to retire it, as it seems a little generic at this point.
The Haunting of Hall Manor: I appreciate the effort put into this haunted trail, almost fully exterior in a wooded area behind the Gotham City area of the park. However, as I find with many haunted trails, the environment is heavily relied on to bring the scares inherently from being outside of your comfort zone, and the scenes are a little sparse in a large area. Possibly the longest house of the evening, Hall Manor unfortunately just had a little too few scares, and, sadly, not a justifiable facade for the Manor of the title. There were some decent moments – there just needed to be more of them, or the maze needed to be in a tighter space.
Twisted Fairy Tales 3D: From here on out, all the houses were great. I know that I often say that I don’t like 3D houses, only to be followed by me saying that I was impressed by the house in question…but man, I really liked this house. The special effects and use of 3D were so effective, I kept reaching out to really see if that blood was coming as far off the wall as my 3D glasses would have me believe. Not the scariest house, but a ton of fun.
Spider Outbreak: I can’t say I enjoyed Spider Outbreak, but that’s only because it scared the bejesus out of me. The use of spiders throughout the house genuinely had me feeling the creepy crawlies, and in that environment, the scareactors made me jump repeatedly. This house was very effective on me – so much so that I actually didn’t want to go through it again. Man…heebie jeebies. No thank you. (in a good way)
Voodoo Curse: Not only did I get lost in this house, I really got scared multiple times. Between quite possibly the best “fake statue” scare I’ve ever seen, good use of video screens, and a storyline presented cohesively from room to room, Voodoo Curse takes full advantage of its theme. The intial welcome from a Voodoo Priest warns you to keep your group together, not an easy feat. In addition, the rooms of house incorporate both claustrophobic hallways and large open rooms with plenty of themeing to look at.
Terror Toy Shop: I went into this house with minimal information, expecting the generic toy factory gone wrong house. What I got instead was easily my favorite house of the night – so much so, in fact, that I went through three times! Terror Toy Shop is actually a tale of a horrific Santa’s Toy Shop. An evil abominable snowman and some demented elves stalk you through the maze, featuring laughs and scares in plentiful amounts. The Christmas theme was so successfully handled, with a memorable Santa Claus at the finale. In addition, I’ve gotta say…FF Gingerbread Man easily rivals HHNBear as my favorite mascot of the season.
Given how affordable a ticket to Six Flags America is, and the minimal upgrade cost to add in the haunted mazes, Fright Fest is more than worth the cost of admission. On a very chilly Saturday night, I felt that the event was well attended (though not uncomfortably crowded), allowing for an environment where every aspect could be enjoyed without having to rush. While not every aspect of the event is a winner (there are some weaker houses, and scarezones could use with a few more actors), with some genuinely fantastic houses, and shows that rival some of the best theme park shows I’ve seen, I’d venture to say I will definitely be a repeat visitor of future years of the event.