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Fright Fest 2016

10/23/16 at 05:01pm in Fright Fest 2016
Post: #1
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11/23/16 at 01:19pm in Fright Fest 2016
Post: #2
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So, I know it has taken me a while, but I wanted to capture my thoughts about Fright Fest.  The bottom line is that I loved SFA's Halloween event.

Before I get into my thoughts on the individual houses, I want to explain how Fright Fest is set up, since it differs from BGW and KD (and USO and BGT, for that matter).

My annual pass got me into SFA, and people could also purchase single day park tickets.  That got me access to the scare zones, the shows, the regular and themed rides, and the shops and eateries.  The tea cups had a full overlay and were really cool.  The park was also advertising specialty food for the event.

To get into the houses, however, I had to purchase a separate wristband.  I chose to get the upgrade, which also included front of the line access.  In my personal opinion, this system of charging people separately for access to the mazes solves a lot of problems.  I saw very few children, no strollers, and no babies inside the houses.  In addition, the lines were shorter, and I didn't find myself in conga lines or trapped behind selfishly slow packs of people.  I will caveat all of that with the observation that we were there on a Sunday, although it was late in the season.

Anyway, I would love to see BGT and KD charge guests separately for access to the mazes, as I believe that dramatically improved my experience at SFA.

Regardless, on to the mazes, themselves.  I know this will surprise many of you, but some of SFA's houses were better than their more elaborate counterparts at BGW and KD.

Aftermath
As we approached this maze, we realized it was open in the front and the "walls" inside the house were essentially chain link fences and black plastic sheets.  A lot the theming seem to rely on day-glow paint.  I'll admit I wasn't expecting much.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  I was blown away by this maze.  Their use of lighting and startle scares was brilliant, and possibly the best we experienced all season.

Terror Toy Shop
After Aftermath, I wasn't sure what to expect from the event.  I will say that the queues had already proven to be chaotic and poorly managed.  Regardless, this house was fantastic, as well.  The actors were incredible and very enthusiastic, and the park made excellent use of their low-budget sets, especially through effective lighting.

Twisted Fairy Tales
I have come to the conclusion that I am the demographic for these Halloween fun houses. I will not say that his was on the level of either Asylum in Wonderland or Circus of Superstition, but it was the same kind of fun, and I enjoyed the experience. They made really great use of 3D paint, and there were a few good startles. The actors were clearly trying, and we did like the costumes. I would also note that they did a great job of managing the number of people in the house at once.

Spider Outbreak
This house was probably the worst at the event for me. Admittedly, we got stuck behind some very young kids, but the sets were weak, and the actors didn't seem to be trying very hard. The maze pretty much lacked any atmospherics and "spiders" isn't a very robust theme. Honestly, I was just bored, possibly annoyed.

Haunting at Hall Manor
This attraction is difficult to assess. The setting was amazing: it was an outdoor path in the woods, past a real house with a creepy backstory. Unfortunately, the execution fell a bit short. People got backed up in a shed that we walked through, which probably didn't improve my experience: if you are going to be in the woods at a haunt event, you want to be ALONE in the woods. I also thought that reliance on startle scares, when people are on outdoors paths is a bit shortsighted. This "house" was the perfect place for more interactive stalking and intimidation tactics. Regardless, SFA gets points for the venue.

Voodoo Curse
The theme of this house worked perfectly with the Mardi Gras section of the park. Additionally, the sets were easily the best at the event. The actors were creepy and clearly enthusiastic about their roles. Unfortunately, it just wasn't scary enough in the final analysis.

Overall, I really enjoyed SFA's Fright Fest. There were not many kids and strollers in the park, and because the houses were separately-ticketed, there were even fewer in the mazes, themselves. Additionally, there was very little stacking, and we were often "alone" inside the houses.

Clearly, SFA doesn't have a budget even approaching BGW and KD, but I think they did more with what they had than either of their regional competitors. The actors were very enthusiastic. The groupers were managing the lines well, and the sets were mostly used as effective as possible.

Also: I bought the coolest glowy thing ever: a blinking slingshot. Clearly the attorneys were not paying attention, when that decision was made.

Anyway, I know SFA gets a bad rap in general, and people avoid the Halloween event in particular, but I think it is worth a visit. In fact, my husband was on the fence about renewing out passes, and told me that Fright Fest convinced him to buy them again this year.

"Wit has some truth in it; wisecracking is simply calisthenics with words." -- Dorothy Parker
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