Although Fright Fest has been competing in the same league as Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Haunt and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights ever since Six Flags Magic Mountain upped their game back in 2014, the theme park’s Halloween event has leveled off the past few years – still good but not always continuing to improve. Of course one must make allowances for the 2020 pandemic, whose cloud lingered into Halloween 2021, but we had hoped for a little more this year.
To be fair, Fright Fest 2022 features three new attractions, in addition to a dozen returning mazes and scare zones. Halloween lovers attending the park for the first time will easily bag their quota of scares. Those seeking a mix of wild rollercoaster rides and haunted house walkthroughs will be satisfied. And fans eager to revisit old attractions can enjoy nostalgic thrills. The only people with reason to complain will be those seeking something new and improved and those with general admission tickets who must suffer through an intolerable wait time for the one new maze.
With all that said, let’s take a look at Fright Fest’s new options for Halloween 2022.
Fright Fest 2022 Review: Spirits with Spirits
New at Fright Fest 2022 is Spirits with Spirits, which Six Flags Magic Mountain describes as a “haunted happy hour” taking place from 6pm to 9pm. For an additional fee, guests can enjoy a buffet and a cocktail in the West Picnic Pavilion behind the customer service center, not far from the main entrance.
Decorations are limited to a few unearthed caskets with skeletons dangling out, but there is a nice photo op with a mounted camera that swings in a circle for a panorama shot of the background. One or two costumed characters wander in and out of the secluded area, while Halloween-themed music (“Ghostbusters,” “Thriller,” etc.) pumps over loud speakers, adding a little extra atmosphere.
Guests sit outdoors at long tables, enjoying meals served cafeteria style. The variety of food is excellent, including among other things a tasty mac-and-cheese and an even tastier chocolate pudding with gummy worms and crumbled cookies.
A mobile bar features themed cocktails named after Fright Fest’s haunted attractions, such as Willoughby’s Resurrected (Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine) and Condemned Forever Damned (Blue Curacao, Vodka, Lemonade, Edible Glitter). The recipe rations are tilted heavily in favor of fruit juice rather than alcoholic spirits, so intoxication is unlikely; nevertheless, the two drinks we sampled were very good (Vault 666 Unlocked) and excellent (Sewer of Souls). The former consists of vodka, cranberry, lemon juice, and grenadine; the later is tequila, sour apple liqueur, lime juice, and Sprite. The latter officially comes with a lemon wedge garnish, but guests are free to substitute any available garnish, including such ghoulish options as a round lychee with an embedded berry, simulating an eyeball.
Normally, we are loathe to patronize sit-down events at Halloween theme parks. Who wants to relax when scares are waiting round every corner? Nevertheless, Spirits with Spirits offers an enjoyable respite from the endless frights haunting Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Fright Fest 2022 Review: New Scare Zones – Devil’s Triangle & CarnivHELL
There are two new outdoor scare zones at Fright Fest 2022, both worth checking out.
First is Devil’s Triangle, which guest encounter near the Plaza Cafe shortly beyond the main entrance of the park. Making clever use of a watery pool to suggest an ocean setting, this apparently depicts lost souls trapped in the infamous Bermuda Triangle off the coast of Florida, where many ships and planes have gone missing. There is a short walkthrough – a sort of tropical island tunnel – but the star attractions are the characters, wearing convincing costumes and excellent makeup. Besides a couple of zombie pirates, there was a huge stilt-walker, maybe the best we have ever seen, of some four-legged species we could not identify – truly magnificent!
Less spectacular but every bit as much fun is CarnivHELL, located inside Bugs Bunny World. Setting a scare zone within a children’s area is an odd but effective choice. On the night we attended, the tot-sized attractions lulled parents into letting kids roam free, leading to traumatic encounters with adult-sized monsters that will probably cause nightmares for years to come. Additionally, CarnivHELL benefits from its isolated setting, creating a little haunted world off the main thoroughfare, with no random foot traffic to distract monsters from their foolish victims.
Fright Fest 2022 Review: New Maze – Truth or Dare
There is no diplomatic way to put this. Fright Fest 2022’s one new maze is a major disappointment. Filling the space previously occupied by one of Six Flag’s all-time best walkthroughs, Truth or Dare has big shoes to fill, and it winds up feeling like baby feet walking in a giant’s footsteps.
Comparison to its predecessor may not be entirely fair – every attraction deserves to be judged on its own terms – but the contrast is too remarkable to ignore. Red’s Revenge – with its fairy tale sets, giant spider, and animatronic tree monsters – was one of Magic Mountain’s first mazes on par with the best of Knott’s Berry Farm and Universal Studios. Truth or Dare is a throwback to an earlier style consisting of black plywood walls with little or no decoration – the kind of haunt that used to show up in mall parking lots back in the day.
Some very enthusiastic actors do their best to inject a little life into the maze, but they are given little to work with, mostly shouting “Help me!” or “Get out!” Fortunately, two or three bungie-jumpers are lurking in the rafters; unexpectedly flying overhead or plunging downward, they supply a few decent thrills. Otherwise, this maze is not worth the wait in line.
Oh, yes – about that wait. Truth or Dare recreates the one unfortunate aspect of Red’s Revenge: an introductory room where groups of guests watch a video before proceeding into the labyrinth. This is the kind of thing Knott’s Scary Farm tried with their Skeleton Key Rooms before they realized it slowed down the lines too much – not just the general admission line but also the express line. The result is that a fast-pass ticket-holder could still end up waiting over a half-hour to get inside, and who knows how long the general admission guests may be stuck in line.
As if this were not bad enough, Truth or Dare suffered technical glitches on the night we attended. It started late, then broke down. Staff did not bother to inform guests unless they happened to be standing near the entrance. This added nearly an hour to the wait, by which time many people simply gave up and left. Tech problems are an unfortunate, unpredictable reality, but guests should be alerted to the possibility of an extended wait time in order to make informed decisions about whether to stay or move on to something else.
Fright Fest 2022 Review: Conclusion
Fright Fest’s new maze may fall short, but Six Flags Magic Mountain is still offers an appealing combination of rides and walkthroughs. Old favorites such as Willoughby’s Resurrected and Sewer of Souls are as entertaining as ever; also back this Halloween are Vault 666 Unlocked, Condemned – Forever Damned, and Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising. Returning scare zones are The Dead Zone (a great addition from last year), Terror Rising – Dark Developments, Terrortory Twisted, City Under Siege, Exile Hill, and Nightmares – A Twisted Fantasy (a personal favorite). As for other Halloween entertainment, the stage near the Full Throttle rollercoaster features invigorating live performances by ghoulish rock-and-rollers, alternating with dance acts time to pre-recorded music.
As for new attractions, the Devil’s Triangle and CarnivHELL scare zones are enjoyable, and Spirits with Spirits will amply satisfy your culinary and cocktail requirements for the evening. Only Truth or Dare falls short. Unfortunately, it does so in a distressing way, taking a step back toward the rudimentary walkthroughs of a decade ago. Hopefully, this is not an omen of things to come.
Hollywood Gothique's rating of Fright Fest 2022
1 – Avoid
2 – Not All Bad
3 – Recommended
4 – Highly Recommended
5 – Must See
Much as we crave something new, we have to admit that neophyte haunt-goers were screaming in delight at this year’s Fright Fest, and we think most attendees will have a good time. The new scare zones, Devil’s Triangle and CarnivHELL, are worth seeing, but they are available with regular Fright Fest admission; you do not need to shell out the extra cash for a Haunted Attractions pass. This additional expense is worthwhile only if you wish to revisit old mazes; hardcore haunt-seeker eager for new thrills will be seriously disappointed by the new Truth or Dare. On the other hand, Spirits with Spirits is definitely worth the additional charge.
Fright Fest continues at Six Flags Magic Mountain on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays through October 30, plus Halloween Night, with scary activities from dusk till closing time. The address is 26101 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia, CA 91355.
Tickets cost $99.99 for Haunted Attractions Pass and $119.99 for Express Haunted Attractions pass, with higher prices higher on peak nights. Spirits with Spirits is $59.99.
Get more information at: sixflags.com/magicmountain//fright-fest.