Writing by Garett Simcox
Photography by Bishoy Ghobrial and Garett Simcox
Time for some more holiday fun! We stopped by The Queen Mary in Long Beach to check out Chill! This Holiday celebration takes place every year on the grounds of The Queen Mary. If you are familiar with their popular haunt “Dark Harbor,” then you know this location very well. The gruesome skeletons and terrifying monsters have been replaced by spirited carolers and colorful christmas lights. It’s nice to see the place so cheery after our last encounter with the haunted ship. Even from afar, The Queen Mary looks quite inviting with its sparkling smoke stacks.
They really did the place up nice for Chill. Christmas lights adorned every building and walkway, along with your standard candy canes and wreaths.
After entering the event, you are greeted by a gigantic Christmas tree that is right out of Miracle On 34th Street. Gingerbread shops and food vendors adorned the walkways.
I will always be amazed by the beauty of The Queen Mary. It makes for the most spectacular backdrop around. Paired with the christmas lights and the flurry of seasonal decorations, it is truly something out of a winter wonderland. You can’t find scenery like this anywhere else in the world, and that alone makes these events so special.
After perusing the vendors and food, we hi-tailed it into the dome. This is where they had their Alice and Winterland lighted garden display. Along with a merry go round and a really fun inner tube slide, this dome is where a majority of the attractions were located.
It seems they have done away with their ice sculpture roots. Prior years featured frozen ice sculptures in a maze like configuration telling whatever story they had chosen that year. A parka was graciously given to you to on loan to keep you warm through the below 0 temperature. Take a look at some of the pictures from 2015:
Alice in Winterland was pretty spectacular. It was a really fun change from last years Scrooge. The new ‘light garden’ design was very unique. The thin fabric stretched over metal forms looked really cool when lit from inside. It is a shame that the traditional ice sculpture design has been scrapped, but overall we really enjoyed this new interactive experience. On top of that, you won’t freeze your fingertips off anymore!
The maze told the story pretty well, although it seemed a bit disconnected at some points. It was basically one giant photo op with all of your favorite characters from Alice in Wonderland. Most of the scenes had an interactive element as well. Guests with an ‘Elf Pass’ received a complementary pair of bunny ears with a small chip located on the top. When you passed by an interactive display, the system would read the chip and magical things would happen all around. Most notable interactions were the Cheshire Cat appearing out of thin air, and a few wintry paintings jumping to life.
Aside from the dome, you can find a few more attractions outside. The creepy Michael Jackson swings from Dark Harbor still remain, although they seem to take on more of a nostalgic charm during the holiday event. These are indeed from Neverland Ranch.
One of the cutest attractions had to be the giant, manually operated rocking horse. I’ve only ever seen this macro version of a classic rocking horse here at Chill! According to their website, it’s the largest rocking horse in the world!
Overall it’s a pretty fun event. We decided to skip the Ice skating rink because we are lazy and out of shape. We did everything else in about an hour. If you really wanted to do absolutely everything here, you could probably circle the event in 3 hours or so. We always have a really good time at The Queen Mary events. They are so unique and really hit the spot when you’re looking to satisfy the holiday itch.
Here is my gripe with the events at The Queen Mary. It costs a LOT of money to enjoy the entire event. We were invited here to check out Chill on a Media pass, which makes it easy to enjoy since everything is free. Planning on buying a ticket? That’s $35 an adult and $25 per child (age 11 and under). Family 5 packs start at $139 and go to $150 on Saturdays. You can also buy a front of the line pass for $15 a pop, which we never had to use since the lines were empty. Want to go ice skating? That’s another $15 for a 45 minute session. Hungry? Almost all of the meals are$ 12 and over. Hot Chocolate is $5. Bottles of water are $3. General Admission gets you Alice in Winterland, Ice Tubing, A ticket to the 4D theater, and access to the event and the ship for the day. Most of what remains is an upcharge from the parking ($18), to the swings ($5), to meeting Santa Claus ($15).
The price point is really disappointing since the event is so much fun. The Queen Mary puts on a pretty elaborate attraction in such a spectacular and unique event space. What I wish they would do is fashion this event in the style of a European Christmas market. It should be free to enter, but each attraction would cost a ticket price. Hell, even if they stung me for the $18 parking, I’d still show up to the event 2 or 3 times during December. As a Long Beach local, It is so nice to have such a fantastic event right here in the city. Unfortunately, most locals don’t want to spend upwards of $50 just to park and walk into the holiday celebration, just so that they can spend even MORE money at said event. It’s even harder to justify the cost when you can easily see everything Chill offers in a few hours.
If you don’t care about the money, then definitely check out Chill at The Queen Mary. It’s fun, it’s special, and it’s in an amazing location that is worth seeing. If you are on a budget, I’d say buy those Christmas gifts before buying tickets to Chill.
We would like to thank the people at The Queen Mary for inviting us out to check out Chill! We really did enjoy ourselves at the event. Check out their website at www.QueenMary.com/events/chill and see the ship for yourself. Its pretty spectacular.
The Summer of My Life
By: The Skateboard Philosopher
I’ve been to Canada’s Wonderland, my home park, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada so many times I lost count years ago. I spent my thirteenth birthday in Florida and was fortunate enough to experience Disney World, Epcot and Busch Garden’s them park in Tampa. I have always loved theme parks, roller coasters and losing myself in the experience. I would often day dream about taking a road trip to all the legendary parks, my own endless summer. Finally nearly 30 years later I was able to live this dream. Although it wasn’t the half year trip from my teenaged fantasy, I did get to take four trips during the Spring and Summer of 2016.
First trip was early April. My wife Chris and I set our sights on Doswell, Virginia. The home of Kings Dominion. I am a complete rollercoaster junkie so this park was a perfect fit. It has the near perfect mix of speed, uniqueness and pure fun coasters. From Avalanche – their bobsled ride to Volcano – a hanging launch coaster that blasts out of an amazing manmade volcano it was epic! There was ice and snow covering everything when we left Ontario, but by the time we hit this latitude it was full-blown Spring time with blossoming flowers. The park has great atmosphere, awesome rides and cool themes. We only had one day but luckily this time of year the weather is great and the crowds were minimal.
The next stop on this trip was the pride of the Carolinas, Carowinds. As you walk up to the main entrance you see a line down the center of the park. North Carolina sits to the East and South Carolina to The West. Their attraction ride is Fury 325. This is a 325 foot tall metal monster. Not only is it one of the biggest, fastest coasters in North America, it’s also the only coaster to cross a state line.
The second time I was able to sneak away from work for a while was in June. I used it to zip across the border to Michigan’s Adventure. My wife and I had just fulfilled our dreams by purchasing a camper van and this was our maiden voyage. We stayed at Muskegon State park nearby and had two great days at the park. This is by far the smallest park in the Cedar Fair chain and unfortunately it was apparent that it doesn’t get a lot of love. The rides are a little old, but the park is clean and their selection of water attractions was amazing. Even though it was a little chilly to be splashing around, we still spent an afternoon on waterslides. The parks saving grace is Shivering Timbers, the 5th longest rollercoaster in the world and ranks among the best woodies on the planet. Shivering Timbers is probably the attraction that enticed us to visiting this park in the first place. There is more airtime than an NBA slam dunk tournament and it’s by far the best wooden coaster I have ever ridden.
In mid July I squeaked out a few days of camping, well camper vanning to be honest onsite at Six Flags Darien Lake. I feel like theme park junkies like to bash on Six Flags a little, but this was one of the best experiences I’ve had at any park. It was during a serious heat wave in New York state so their massive waterpark was the destination multiple times a day. It’s not the biggest park, but it has some unique rides like their hypercoaster Ride of Steel, a blast tower and the Orange County Choppers themed Moto Coaster. The latter being a unique Zamperla motorbike coaster where you actually ride miniature sport bikes. The lines were short and the campground was well kept. Their nightly laser pyrotechnics show was mind blowing! The other plus is that the campers entrance has no attention paid to it by staff. A variety of coolers full of food and drink were rolled right on into the park every morning as parents would stake their claim of quality, shaded spots at the water park. Fathers would huddle in circles as their children ran amok all day long in this chlorinated paradise.
In between all these trips I was of course still faithful to my home park in Toronto, Ontario – Canada’s Wonderland. The love I have for this place could fill ten blog posts, but I wanted to make mention as it filled in all the gaps between road trips and kept my coaster count climbing. As most coaster enthusiasts know we need to top up the adrenaline rush frequently.
My wife and I had a cycling trip set as our last vacation in August but being the incredible wife she is, the suggestion was made to trade riding bikes for riding coasters. After 3 decades of longing I finally fulfilled my 13 year old dream of going to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Again, we jumped in our beloved camper van and hit the road. This time joined by fellow coaster junkie, my brother-in-law Mat. We found a KOA Kampground just around the corner to call home base. In reality this was just a place to park for the night, cook a meal and shower. We were at the front gates of Cedar Point by 8:55am each morning and stayed until every coaster was parked for the night. This place was everything I imagined it would be and it certainly lived up to its title of “Roller Coaster Capital Of The World”! There is too much to get into here and to demonstrate that point even further we spent 3 entire days at the park and hadn’t even made it to every corner. I’ll highlight some of my favourite rides though and give my impressions of the park.
As you drive in you see the skyline of twisted steel tracks along the horizon. The variety of coasters is absolutely mind boggling. It’s a perfect blend of styles, sizes, manufacturers, materials and design. There is truly something for everyone. We screamed on Intamin’s Maverick with it’s 95 degree initial drop and high fived competing passengers on Arrow Dynamics steel hybrid racing coaster Gemini. We held our hands high on the drop of the world’s first giga coaster -Millennium Force, braved Top Thrill Dragster’s G-forces and dangled over the precipice on the brand new dive coaster Valravn. We rode the 100 foot tall giant swing Skyhawk more times than I can count. It’s one of my favourite rides of all time and also one of those rides where every time you pass by the minimal line up draws you in for a quick swing. The park is dazzling at dusk where we enjoyed the combined view of a breath taking sunset and flashing midway lights from their drop tower. By the time we dragged our exhausted bodies from the park on the last night, heads spinning from loops, banked turns and giant drops, we all agreed – annual trip!
My 13 year old self would be beaming with pride and most likely teary eyed to know that I was finally able to make that youthful dream a reality. That all these years later I still haven’t fully grown up. That I’m still able to laugh like a kid, see the world through the lens of youth and lose myself if only for little bursts of time.
The Skateboard Philosopher
KNOTT’S SCARY FARM 2016 NEW MAZE REVIEW!
The fog has filled the streets of Calico and the ghouls and goblins have rolled out of their graves to torture the living. Know that when you walk down Ghost Town, there will be someone or something waiting for you in the darkness. It’s Halloween time and there is no better place to get in the spirit than Knott’s Berry Farms Annual Scary Farm Event. Every year, the demented minds behind the event bring together horrific plots and ideas that are meant to scare the poop out of people. This year, Knott’s Scary Farm is boasting 9 Mazes, 4 Skeleton Key Rooms, 4 Scare Zones and 2 Shows. No wonder this is the Grand-Daddy of all Haunts! Not only is the event bursting at the seems, but Knott’s has always had the creative edge and this year is nothing less. With each year, Knott’s has started to take steps forward towards innovation and creativity with regards to their Scary Farm experiences. The major stand out this year is the brand NEW Shadow Lands: Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword.
A fulfilling life ensures a soul safe passage into eternity, but what happens to the souls of soldiers slain in battle? Enter the hair-raising Shadow Lands maze and fight off demon samurais whose souls are cursed to rot within the depths of purgatory. Guests will embark on a quest through a sacred shrine, an ancient Japanese temple and into the midst of the shadow lands.
As you approach the attraction, its clear we are in for something extremely different. For the past few years, Black Magic had occupied the spot in which Shadow Lands calls home. It’s facade was an incredible map projection in which it made the building look as though it was on fire, exploded, bled, and even time warp into a worm hole! Shadow Lands does none of this, but I am glad they didn’t. The real surprises lie within and the simplistic exterior is a true facade hiding the horrors.
I was truly impressed and astonished with this new maze. Designed by Jon Cooke, the mind behind Paranormal Inc, Shadow Lands builds upon the thematic strengths learned from Paranormal but creates new and fun maze design to bring exciting experiences for those looking for a scare. A signature for Jon, the maze starts with a pre-show to set up the backstory to this maze. Unlike tactics such as video monitors (Forevermore), this is an extremely effective way to get guests into the mood as well as inform them for what is coming for them. Walking through this maze reminds you that in the recent years Knott’s has really been putting more money into their mazes. It looks great and truly makes you feel as though you are immersed into this experience.
Monsters ranging from bird like demons to Geisha’s attack from many different directions. One thing done well in this maze is the different types of scares that are utilized as well as direction. Up, down and all around you can find something that will frighten you. Another signature moment in Jon’s mazes are what I call “show moments”. Now this may not be an accurate term for what I am talking about, but its what I come to call it. In Paranormal Inc, this moment is when one of the crew members is pulled into the ceiling and a demon drops down in his place. For Shadowlands, there is an incredible room with a Samurai slicing warriors heads off while gliding back and forth between rocks.
It really is a sight to be seen. Unfortunately this ends the maze, but it truly leaves you wanting so much more and ends on a bang. The maze felt long, the environments varied, the monsters were horrifying, the lighting and sound design were phenomenal and it was extremely unique. Many of the different reasons why I come to Scary Farm in the first place.
After finishing one Jon Cooke attraction, we head to another! Re-designed this year and coming back for its 3rd year is Infected…BLACK OPS: INFECTED!
Armed with cutting edge laser guns, brave guests will face off against hordes of zombies in the groundbreaking all-new Special Ops: Infected interactive maze. Small units of guests will battle the zombie apocalypse through blood soaked city streets and an underground sewer system crawling with nearly one hundred ravenous zombies. The high tech innovative experience thrusts guests into the middle of a live-action video game complete with live actors, real time scoring system, kill streak rewards system and interactive targets, including a juggernaut boss zombie. The new attraction is one of the largest mazes ever created in Knott’s Scary Farm history so form your squad and put your zombie apocalypse survival skills to the test in this action packed, one-of-a-kind experience.
Groups must work together to fend off zombies and complete terrifying missions before time runs out. If zombies drag their bodies too close, the un-infected’s guns temporarily deactivate, compromising the safety of the entire team. Soldiers with the deadliest aim will be celebrated with a tally of the number of zombies killed on display board for other survivors to see each night in base camp.
BACK for its 3rd year, Black Opes: Infected comes back to life! Not saying it was dead before, but it had a rough sophomore slump. In the past two years, Infected was operated with a timed ticket system. In theory, this works perfect and would help manage crowds. But it may have only caused more issues than it solved. In its 3rd year, Knott’s has removed the ticketing system and opted for a regular stand by line. Although this may mean long waits, I’ll happily take this over possibly getting trampled in an attempt to obtain a rare timed ticket for Infected. Originally, this attractions took over the sprawling land of Camp Snoopy, but has now been moved back stage. For the better in my opinion.
Although there may be more limitations with space backstage, I believe by allowing for the close quarter zombie combat, it makes this attraction much more frantic, suspenseful, scary, chaotic and fun. Around each corner lurked zombies growling, screeching and drooling for us! As expected, we are treated by many zombies in many different environments. One particular moment, you find yourself in a department store. The windows are utilized for projections of zombie herds trying to break into the confined room. Through subway cars, cityscapes, water treatment plants, and even a Chuck E Cheese style children’s business, this attractions brings the big guns in order to give guests the most intense and fun attraction. This is a NOT TO BE MISSED attraction of the 2016 Scary Farm season!
Right across the way, in the old home of Pinocchio Unstrung sits THE RED BARN!
Take a trip to a blood-soaked barn filled with carnivorous animals seeking to prey on human flesh in the Red Barn gore maze. Legend has it the farmer who owns the barn was transformed into a heinous creature that sends his sadistic sons to ensure his legacy. None dare enter the barn, for those who enter never escape.
Now, if I am going to be completely honest. I was looking most forward to this maze for the 2016 period. Who wouldn’t love an homage to grind house movies? What isn’t to love? But, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth after having gone through it many times. My initial reaction was “Did they just have left overs from Corn Stalkers and Slaughterhouse?” . I left wanting much more than what was presented. With regards to maze design, it was interesting to look at but didn’t fully live up to its potential for optimum scares. Even with that said, there is only so long someone can look at wood pallets. After having spoken to the minds behind this attractions (Gus Krueger and Daniel Miller) I found out that there is so much more than meets the eye with regards to story. But having this prior knowledge before entering the maze still didn’t fully help me make sense of a coherent story line. Don’t get me wrong, I love the gore, the guts and disgusting mutated pigs. I just want diversity. Both of these designers have brought amazing attractions to Scary Farm in the past and I can only hope that things will be re-tooled in the future. With all of this, the talent is really what helped keep this maze afloat. They where high energy, in your face, disturbing and even comical at times. This may just not be the maze for me to be honest. I know plenty of people who loved this attraction. Ill be visiting Knott’s Scary Farm many more times and would love to continue to going through The Red Barn to see how they improve and change upon this amazing and fun concept.
Returning Mazes for 2016!
This twisted tooth fairy steals more than just baby teeth as he drags his victims out their bedroom window and into a world of deranged dentistry. Unbelievable special effects include a blackout room through which guests must feel their way out, a disorienting x-ray strobe light room, and a final encounter with the massive tooth fairy, himself. Say aahhh.
The Tooth-fairy is back to haunt you while you sleep! Still to this day, this maze continues to give me the willies and gives me chills. Throughout the maze, sounds of drilling, screaming and wings fluttering can be heard. What I love about this maze is how it truly takes you on a journey to find the Tooth-fairy and the many monsters that lurk within his lair.
A creepy combination of dentistry and the childhood tale will haunt you. One room in particular is something no other maze has done. Put you in pitch darkness with only the sounds of fluttering. Unbelievably creepy and unnerving, this furry hallway creates a sense of impending doom and puts the guests on alert. Although nothing truly happens in the hallway, thats exactly what I love about it. ITs the maze equivalent of a false scare in a film. It’s designed to put you on the edge of your seat and this hallway executes that amazingly. I personally would love to see the Tooth-fairy return for another year of terror. But I do think it needs some tweaking in order to keep it fresh and new for the upcoming year. Do you think its time for the Tooth-fairy to retire? Let us know in the comments below!
Beware the cursed swamps of New Orleans, where mindless zombies trudge through the murky bogs in search of bloody sacrifices and demons use Voodoo curses to possess innocent souls. Choose your path carefully children, for one wrong turn and you will be hexed forever.
Voodoo: Order of the Serpent has never lost its originality, but may have lost its (dark) magic. Designed by Brooke Walters, Voodoo takes you through the damp and humid swamps of the bayou as you pass by horrific vignettes of dark magic being performed. What is unique about this attraction is that you are really walking above water and across bridges. As you look over the railing you can find alligators and other monsters lurking. Of course they are not real alligators…or are they? Another thing this maze has going for it is its look. Its unique, dark, scary and beautiful all at the same time. It is truly difficult to balance all those things, but Voodoo does it right.
Beginning outside, the facade resembles the building you would find in South and quickly transports you into the dark dingy bayou where all the scares really begin. Over the years this maze has gone through changes and even at one time housed one of the scariest key rooms (in my opinion) but I do think its time for Voodoo to leave for good. It has become predictable and almost boring at times. I never find myself uneasy or nervous entering this maze like many other mazes Knott’s has to offer.
Trick or treat, which will it be? Step forward and ring the witch’s doorbell. Oh, she is home, but where? You are not quite sure. Don’t be afraid, her minions will guide you. You can come away with a treat, but is it worth it?
What can I say about Trick or Treat that has not been said already. I love this maze to DEATH! Year after year it continues to keep me entertained with its rather simplistic approach. If you look at events across the United States, it is extremely hard to find an attraction like this one. This maze brings the concept of traditional Halloween fun to Knott’s in a great way.
In an event filled with ghouls, goblins, werewolves, hillbillies, fairies and demons; its refreshing to see Halloween in its true form. You ring the doorbell of a dilapidated house where the Green Witch calls home. As you enter, you are greeted by a flight of stairs full of flickering jack-o-lanterns.
I feel as though this moment sets the pace and feeling of the rest of the maze. As you traverse the house, you run into the many children that wandered too close to the house during Halloweens past. In the past couple of years, Trick or Treat went through some revitalization. Adding new scenes and changing the ending which really brought it back to life! (pun intended) For me, this is a MUST see at the Knott’s Scary Farm event. But, be careful, because sometimes guests who enter don’t always leave.
Paranormal Inc. features high flying aerial stunts and scares as guests help investigate a haunted hospital where the patients were tortured for decades by deranged doctors and nurses. Demonic spirits of the murdered victims have been detected throughout the mysterious halls, while evil medical staff prowl for new patients to torture.
In its sophomore year, Paranormal Inc hasn’t changed much. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Why fix it if it isn’t broken? Right? If you are looking for massive upgrades to this ground breaking attraction, don’t get your hopes up. Paranormal Inc. is back again with the same scares from last year, BUT they are still extremely effective. One difference that I noticed through the maze were some of the masks. Last year, Hayden Hill was completely over run by black shadow demons.
This year, there are some variations in the demons. You may run into some white and black demons as well as red and black demons. A small and subtle change, but a change none the less. Also, as you enter the (as I like to call it) vortex into another dimension, there seems to be a nice effect added to the once static red light.
Other than that, its still the same Paranormal Inc everyone fell in love with last year. Yes that does mean the lines are still long for this attraction. I bet those people are still waiting from last year! Boy….people are dedicated to Haunt!
“A Blood Moon Rises” continues the story of The Gunslinger. The Red hand gang has disturbed a burial ground that contained a SkinWalker relic, that has transformed them into Werewolves under the Blood Moon Curse. Return to the Old West and walk in the bloody footsteps of a betrayed and left for dead gunslinger on his path to retribution. This journey back in time takes guests on a trail of terror through abandoned gold mines, a treacherous corral, a seedy saloon and a final showdown at town hall.
The Gunslinger is BACK to fight the evil Red Hand Gang as they transform into grotesque Werewolves out for blood. I loved Gunslingers Grave in its original form. One of the first mazes in Knott’s Scary Farm history to not include the supernatural, it carried itself on pure intensity and its talent.
To me, the booming music and the quick moving and threatening talent really gave this maze its flavor and strength. As it morphed into a Werewolf style maze, I believe it still maintained its momentum. (I bet you all though I was going to say I hate it!) I still love Gunslingers Grave: A Blood Moon Rises. With all the familiar spots from the original, I believe the designers added upon what they did last year and also fixed some flaws from last year. One fun new aspect to this maze is the caves. Originally, the caves were a very simple concept which took you from point A to Z. But this year they have added a couple different cave walls which give it an extra sense of getting lost! I know when I went, my group went one way, and I went another. I ended up all alone which was amazing. I’m not sure about the future of the Gunslinger, but I hope he keeps fighting another season at the farm.
Deep in the frozen tundra, the realm of a treacherous snow queen has been usurped by her evil minion, the horrific wendigo. She may be dead, but her evil spell hasn’t been lifted: The dead cannibals have risen from their snowy graves as hungry creatures feast on the surrounding villages. During the chaos, the queen’s prized possession, the horrific wendigo, has seized control of her throne, ready to prey upon any unsuspecting visitors who enter the borders of its icy domain.
Dead of Winter: Windigo’s Revenge attempts to fix what Dead of Winter got wrong last year. I believe that it fixed some and left some untouched. A major problem with last years incarnation of this maze was lighting. It was simply too bright and allowed you too see where monsters were hiding. This year, they have fixed this problem by really turning down the lighting and allowing the stark white snow bounce the light so fill the voids. Another added touch was more blood. There was blood everywhere in this maze. The gore factor of this attraction was taken to an 11! Designer Daniel Miller took over the reigns of Dead of Winter this year, which is why there is no short supply of gore. A surprising and nice touch was the alteration of the maze path. It brought a nice and more diverse maze design to the attraction. Allowing guests to experience more environments than just simple white snow. Once particular portion of the maze, simply does not fit in my mind. Its a mirror maze….a mirror maze. It didn’t fit last year and it doesn’t this year. Id much rather see the space used to further along the story of the Windingo taking over the Queen’s palace and its violent blood soak trail its left behind! With all these additions and changes, is the maze effective? It’s hit or miss. I feel as though this is a maze that relies heavily on its talent. If the talent is off, the maze is off as well. But, its early in the season and I am 100% positive that the monsters will get into their groves make this a classic that has returned for a vengeance from its icy slumber.
Albeit some bumps, the 2016 season of Knott’s Scary Farm is truly off to a scary fun start! As always, Knott’s brings an eclectic variety of themes to fit your fear needs. It is simply an incredible event and should never be missed. There is a reason why Scary Farm has the reputation it does. Nobody can recreate the magic and warmth of such an incredible event. Make sure to check out Knotts.com for more information regards Knotts Scary Farm and how you can buy your tickets to the biggest and baddest Halloween event in Southern California (or possibly…the world?) What did you think of Knott’s Scary Farm 2016? Let us know in the comments below!
See you in the fog…..
Written by Jacinda Mitchell
For our next Halloween event, we went over to Knott’s Scary Farm on opening day to experience their all new skeleton key rooms, mazes, and scare zones. This was the first year Knott’s created individual skeleton key rooms separate from the mazes. There are 4 skeleton key rooms and each room has a different theme and a different experience for guest to encounter. Since photos were not allowed in the skeleton key rooms, we will just have to give you our spoiler free review.
Slasher, which is themed after an 80’s slasher horror film, gives guest the experience that they are in a slaughter house. Once you enter into the room there is nothing but darkness and you are left to ponder what will happen next. This was another room that had our group on edge. We were all terrified about what will happen and we continued to move throughout the room to figure out where to look and where to turn. Overall, this skeleton key room was good but I feel like they needed more actors to complete the storyline. However, the sounds and props in this maze were outstanding. Guest can also find this skeleton key room in the Hallow Scare Zone at the opposite end, which is further into Camp Snoopy.
Prey was a very interesting skeleton key room. Once you enter the maze, a select few people in your group are given faulty lanterns to use to guide your way out. Guests have no idea what they may encounter while they struggle to find their way out. Will the lantern help you escape? Or will it become useless as you try to find your way out! Beware as they unleash mutant beast that will lead you to run for your life! This maze was one of my favorites because everyone in our group was terrified to go first or be the one in the back. We spent countless times arguing over who should go first and of course we hit a few dead zones on the way out. Overall this was a solid skeleton key room, it had a bunch of actors and it continued to terrify you throughout the whole experience. You can find this skeleton key room in the Hallow Scare Zone at the beginning of Camp Snoopy.
This skeleton key room is themed after the Green Witch. Guest must use a Phantom Finder to find some paranormal activities that are wondering the Haunt Museum in Ghost Town. This was a very unique experience because it allowed guest to freely wonder the room to find stories tied to the theme. I wish the room was a little bigger and that they had more interactive props. The scare factor in this room was very minimal. However, overall it was a well thought out skeleton key room.
One of the scariest and most terrifying skeleton key rooms, which is located (I don’t remember where it is!). This room is based off an Ouija board and guests were forced to face their worst nightmares. The guest experience is very interactive and it gives guest the feeling that they are a part of the story. It was executed so well and it truly felt like a real experience calling upon some spirits. The setting of the room and the props that they used really intensified the experience all together. The actors did a fantastic job as well with portraying their characters. Overall I believe that this skeleton key room is their best one. It will definitely have you running out of the room shaking! Do you have what it takes to face your fears? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Jeremiah Heckles
After an invite from some mighty strange fellers, I decided I see what was what down in the good town of Calico. According ta these boys, some event was goin’ on called Knott’s Scary Farm. I reckoned that terrible witch was up ta no good again. These fellers seemed kind, so I decided I should take a lookin’ for myself and tell ‘em what’s what.
Well, let me tell ya. What’s what is a whole host of strange creatures the likes of which I’ve never seen. Why, my poor Calico was filled ta the brim with Samurai, frozen dead walking, werewolves, and most scary of all, that guy tryin’ ta be president… the one with the yellow hair. We was only ta get a small taste of everything too, as the fellers said I may be able ta dig up a skeleton key in my Mine for more curses ta happen upon.
As so the missus and I decided to make an adventure of it. First place we looked was a quiet stretch of nothing way on the outskirts of town. I figured we was in the wrong spot, as them boys that we came upon didn’t quite look like they was from around here. In fact, unless my eyes are still playing tricks on me, they looked ta be like the ole Japanese Samurai from them Far East legends.
Well, them boys called ta us so sweetly, luring us inta a trap that had surely been set, for above the gate was a marked a name… Shadowlands. We sprung them’s trap alright, but wasn’t quite what we was expecting. You see, when you enter that first chamber, some poor soul gits his head chopped off. That was enough for any man ta see this was bad news, and so the missus and I went runnin’ ta try and escape that mad man. Unlucky for us, we was only bein’ drawn deeper inta the place.
With my mighty pickaxe, I was lucky ta cut my way through and make my way ta the exit with my head still there. Some other folks weren’t so lucky. In fact, in one area, a whole heap of souls was being sliced and diced by that cursed Swordsman. It ain’t like nothin’ I ever seen before. Havin’ takin’ some time to breathe, I reckon that place weren’t so bad. Them fellers was doing a fine job tryin’ ta send souls ta the Shadowlands. And it was mighty purty. Like seein’ pictures of what the ole Far East was like, if they was covered in blood.
Thinkin’ we was ok, we happened onta a freezed over buildin’. Something about dead queens and some Windigo legend. I was mighty nervous ta travel ta such a cold place. But the missus got a might bit more adventurous and started off inta that buildin’. It didn’t take long ta see somethin’ odd takin’ place. All thems good towns folk was dead walking. And it felt like the Dead of Winter within. We was in and out of that buildin’ real quick, havin’ noticed we was so far from Calico. Some of the not so dead towns folk was even kind enough to give us directions back. They was saying such strange things as this place was a whole heap more interestin’ this time around. Whatever that means…
Makin’ our way back inta town, we happened upon a gatherin’ of townsfolk that was lookin’ ta hang a feller or two. I was a might bit sad ta not see that darn witch among the victims. But this still weren’t no regular hanging. They wasn’t hanging so many people as dancin’ around, givin’ each other and good lickin’. Mind you, a few of them folks did end up dead, be it bullets or knives. Even had them president candidates I been hearin’ so much about. All this did end with a mighty big hanging of sorts. But I was told ta keep my trap shut on who it is they hanged.
After that little break, we head way up ta the front of the park, ta where it seemed a whole bit of trouble was happenin’. Out of the streets, they was sliding and spooking to the beat of they own heart. But what really tickled me what was lurking in the shadow of the mighty ghost train, Ghostrider. They was more places like what we had just escaped, only holdin’ the likes of that terrible green witch, a voodoo witch doctor, some run of the mill ghosts and spirits, and the Tooth Fairy. Most strange.
We reckoned ta start at the place marked by the Voodoo, as only a few townsfolk was goin’ there, as apposed ta them other places. And havin’ gone through such a strange place, I know why them folks was letting the Bayou pass them by. It was a might out of sorts. We wasn’t too spooked by them from New Orleans. We was mighty impressed ta be wanderin’ an honest-ta-god swamp, but that was the only thing really keeping this whole place interestin’.
As we was just lookin’ around, to git ready for the big adventure the next week over, we passed by Trick ‘r Treat, Paranormal Inc, and the Tooth Fairy, figuring we would be back with a Skeleton Key in hand ta face them’s spooks.
‘Fore we decided enough was enough, we stumbled inta an area that almost felt like home. The folks looked right nice. Well, maybe not nice like friendly, but at least nice like common, seeing as they was dressed ta be from the town of Calico herself. Which ever way it were, we came up on them ta ask as ta what was going on. They didn’t answer so kindly, instead pullin’ their guns on us and sending us down boothill to a fresh dug grave. This was no regular grave, as a Gunslinger’s Grave is said ta never quite settle inta it’s hole, always shaking a bit from it’s unrighteous soul. Lookin’ round, this gunslinger musta been extra nasty, as them boys were changing right ‘fore my eyes, making themselves seem more animal than man.
We hightailed it out of that place and decided we would dig around for this Skeleton Key in the Mine ta return the next week over. We already had spent some good gold on one of them Haunt passes that let ya wander the cursed streets of Calico for the whole month of October. If you reckon you’re brave enough for this event, the fog comes down on the town every weekend (Thursday-Sunday) now through the weekend of All Hallow’s Eve, even staying open special for that last Monday, the 31st.
Go git yer tickets now. I’ll see ya in the fog.
We started off our Halloween season by attending Six Flags Magic Mountain for their opening weekend of Fright Fest! Six Flags started their Halloween Event even earlier this September and it was probably one of their best decisions ever. Fright Fest 2016 allows guest to encounter some of the “Worst Heroes Ever” in their highly anticipated Suicide Squad scare zone and walk through their longest maze ever built. Take a ride as we give you a review of all the mazes and scare zones Six Flags Magic Mountain has to offer!
Written by: Jacinda Mitchell
This year Six Flags Magic Mountain has stepped their game up and placed 7 scare zones throughout the park. Yes, SEVEN! With the park being so huge, each scare zone is located sporadically throughout the park. Which is fantastic because guest doesn’t have the feeling of going through different scare zones back to back.
One of the first scare zones that you see is Demon’s Door which is located right after the main entry gates. This area was very well detailed. They have two demon structures welcoming you as you enter the scare zone. The scare zone is well lit with red lighting which makes you feel like you are entering the gates of HELL! They also placed skeletons and skulls in the trees to represent the horror you see in hell. I would definitely like to see them put some different lighting on the skulls and skeletons so they are more visible at night. Overall this scare was great, they had a lot of scare actors roaming through
One scare zone that has been around for quite some time now is Zombie Xing, which is located in between the Golden Bear Theater and Wascal’s. This is probably one of their smallest scare zones. As soon as you approach the scare zone they have a WARNING sign to lure in guest before they are eaten alive! Once you enter the scare zone you are surrounded by zombies that are looking for their next meal. Compared to last year, one thing that they could have improved on was the amount of fog that was used. Last year it was so foggy, you couldn’t see the monsters limping through the fog. This year the fog was very minimal. So I hope as the season goes on they will turn up the fog a little bit more.
As guest continue to stroll through the park, they can head over to the largest scare zone in the park, TERRORtory Twisted, located in the Screampunk District. The entrance alone to this scare zone is phenomenal! I believe the park did an amazing job showing off their creativity by utilizing the steampunk theme to make their props. There is also lots of fog in this area which allows the monsters to give guest that perfect jump scare! For some this can be a very unsettling experience.
Right across from the Screampunk District is DC Universe which consist of the newly anticipated scare zone of the season, The Suicide Squad Experience. As guest enter the area they are presented with different themes and scenes from the movie.
Projection mapping was used on the side of the facades to create a live action effect, which included the building being on fire which resembles a scene from the movie.
Also roaming the streets was Enchantress evil minons looking for their next victim! This allowed the fans to truly feel immersed into the experience. Guest are also able to meet and have different photo opportunities with their favorite characters from the movie that consist of Joker, Harley Quinn, and Killer Croc. The makeup for the characters was outstanding! You honestly feel like you are looking at the actors from the movie.
The fifth scare zone Six Flags Magic Mountain offers is The Ruins, which is located right outside of the new largest maze at the park, Aftermath 2 (We’ll go into detail later). This scare zone prepares guests for what they will encounter as they enter the maze, Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising. With the makeup being soo awesome in the Aftermath 2 maze, I would have really liked to see some more of the “infected” characters in the scare zones. I want to say I saw about 3 or 4 actors at the time. However, they were constantly walking around the area which made it feel like there were more than just those four.
One of my favorite scare zones is Exile Hill, which is located at the top of the hill near Samurai Summit. With the scare zone being at the top of the hill, sliders were able to slide down the hill startling guest that were at the bottom. I personally loved watching this area and seeing all the sliders spark downhill and guest getting scared because it would happen so fast. If that wasn’t enough to get you to visit the area then you definitely need to head up the hill and meet Innocence. She is absolutely one of the best scare actors ever! Her slow body movements gives guest, even me, the creeps!
The last scare zone which is also one of my favorites is Nightmares: A Twisted Fantasy, which is located between the path of Viper and Tatsu. This whole scare zone consist of glowing 3D paint and terrifying fairytale characters that will haunt your dreams! The makeup in this scare zone is also fantastic! This scare zone had one of my favorite characters, the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. He looked so terrifying it was almost like a sweet innocent fairytale that went wrong. They turned this cute little rabbit into this bloody two fanged tooth rabbit. I also want to point out that all the actors in this scare zone stayed true to their character. Job welldone! Definitely a huge upgrade from last year, we were very impressed.
Now let’s talk mazes! I just want to point at that the mazes were a big step up from last year. A lot of theming and effects were considered into making each maze especially the returning ones. This year Fright Fest has seven mazes. Wow! Seven must be their lucky number this year!
We’ll start off by talking about returning maze, Chupacabra, which is located right outside the entrance of X2. This maze has been here for quite some time now and Six Flags Magic Mountain has tried their best to make it as awesome as possible. One of the new elements that really sparked up the maze this year was how much fog they used throughout the maze. There were times when I couldn’t see anything and for me that was very unsettling because I didn’t know what was up ahead. Other than the fear of what was lurking through the heavy fog, the only other scares this maze provided was a few jump scares. Overall this maze was okay, but definitely better than last year.
2.Willoughby’s Garden Of Darkness
The next maze that has also returned is Willoughby’s Garden of Darkness, which is located at the top of the hill right before Ninja if you’re coming from Superman. This is also one of the select few mazes that have been around for a while. The whole maze relied heavily on ghillie suits to fulfill their scares throughout the maze. For me this was probably one of the weakest mazes Fright Fest had to offer. The theme of the maze is very basic and simple. When you start to walk through the maze it feels rather long because of the repetitiveness of the design and scares. However, we did get quite a few jump scares from this maze.
3. Willoughby’s Resurrected
Across the way is also Willoughby’s Resurrected, which is located by the entrance of Ninja. Assoon as you start the maze, guests are placed into this photo op that can be slightly terrifying. Inorder to see why, you must visit the maze! This Victorian themed maze, set the scene for guest to encounter demented family members and ghost filled hallways. Out of all the mazes this maze probably had the most scare actors. This was a very fun house style maze. We got a lot of great scares in this one. Don’t forget to take a look at your group photo after the maze!
4. Vault 666
As you head down to the lower part of the park, guest can find three mazes that are right across from each other. In Vault 666 guest are able to enter the lab of a special experiment. Once you enter the maze you are presented with a pre show presentation to show you the different experiments going on in the lab. As you enter, you see this mutated creature take over the lab and you are left to fight for your life! This is one of my favorite mazes, the theming is great and the scares are terrifying. Every corner there was a sound or a scare that would make you jump and keep you on your toes! You should definitely put this maze as a priority on your list, absolutely fantastic!
5. Red’s Revenge
Red’s Revenge was also a favorite! Little Red Riding Hood already scared me enough as a child, walking through the actual experience gave me the chills! The decorations were amazing! Guests are able to walk through mini sets like a cabin, village, and forest. This is also a maze that I would definitely hit up first as the lines can get rather long throughout the night.
6. Toyz Of Terror 3D
The most terrifying maze (for me) of the night was Toyz Of Terror 3D. Any toy that comes to life is scary but when you add clowns that’s a whole different story! The 3D lighting in this maze was executed very well, the masks literally pop out at you making the experience even more terrifying! The design of the maze was phenomenal as well. As you try to escape each room, there are slanted ramps that make it rather difficult and a spinning tunnel that will make you a little queasy. Don’t forget if you cannot encounter that type of experience, I found it easier and less nauseating to look at the floor instead of straight ahead.
7. Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising
Last but definitely not least is Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising, which is located on the side of Apocalypse. For Six Flags Magic Mountain, this was the largest maze they have ever built and they did an awesome job! Guest must survive deadly toxins as they walk the streets trying to reach the Bio-Containment Center for safety. The maze gives guest the opportunity to freely roam the streets of the city as they encounter explosions, cars, and a collapsed building. This maze was executed so well, it was very spacious and the actors utilized the large amount of space in the best way possible! We also got quite a few scares in there! And the masks once again were amazing!
Six Flags Magic Mountain did an outstanding job with masks and makeup this year. I am really impressed! They are really trying to up the ante by being the top theme park haunt of Southern California. This is definitely an event to check out during your haunt season! Fright Fest will be open September 24, 25, 30, and every single Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in October! Lots of opportunities to check out this fantastic event! If you are a season pass holder, you can purchase wristbands for the mazes at a discount. The wristbands are $15 for season pass holders and $20 for single day admission guest. If you prefer to skip the lines, pass holders can pay $30 for express lane and $35 for single day admission guest.
Thank you for checking out our review of Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain! Wed like to thank Six Flags for inviting us out to their media event. We had a blast! Next episode of The Park Fanatic Podcast will be all about Six Flags Fright Fest. Make sure to tune in for all of the haunt fun. Don’t forget to let us know what your favorite maze or scare zone is in the comments below!
On a bright and beautiful Saturday in August, Universal Studios Hollywood opened up to hungry crowds. The crowds were ready to consume all it had to offer. Although the pass that I currently had was blocked out, I was still able to receive entrance to the park because of a special offer to see the NEW Liaka Exibit in the park. The line was over an hour all day! Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to see it, but was able to experience all else the wonderful park had to offer.
The first thing to really stand out about the entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood is their new security check system. Since the horrible events that have been happening around the world, ALL theme parks have really stepped up their game with regards to the security of their guests. Visually, the security check is an eye sore and it takes up a rather large portion of the entrance of the park. The security members working the stop were extremely nice and cordial with all the visitor and even joking around. But also took their job seriously and thoroughly searched bags and backpacks. Although necessary, there will be traffic issues on popular days or on special events such as Halloween Horror Nights.
As you make your way past security, its business as usual. The sounds and sights of Hollywood flood your senses as you walk up the red carpet to the iconic Universal Studios Hollywood arching entrance welcomes you in. Once entering the park, the smiles and laughter of the families and friends visiting the park echoed louder than normal. The new entrance/main street to Universal has recently been reconstructed and is more beautiful than ever!
The crowds on a Saturday were rather manageable but occasionally bothersome on this bright weekend! As you can see these wait times are not horrible, but they did fluctuate through the day. As you made your way past the first Attractions wait time board, you could see so many costumed characters walking and talking with the excited guests. From Lucy and Scooby too Frankenstein’s Monster and Woody Wood Pecker. They were all out to entertain the guests of the park.
The first stop of the day was Hogsmeade (as mandated by my Wife) to enjoy a nice cold cup of Butter Beer! While walking around the highly themed land, you can easily enjoy any of the offerings, not matter how big or small! The crowds seemed to gravitate towards the popular themed land and it was apparent immediately. Butter beer lines were long, shops were crowded and even the interactive windows had attendants near them to help out the muggle trying their hand at magic. The longest wait in the area was for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which sat at 75 minutes. But eventually went up doing the duration of the day. Olivander’s Wand Shop also boasted a wait of 25 minutes. People happily waited for these experiences because they are truly one of a kind.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS 2016 Construction
As the Halloween season quickly finds itself upon us, the construction for Halloween Horror Nights 2016 in Hollywood continues to hum along at a quick pace. If you find yourself taking the World Famous Backlot Tour, then you will see some of the construction happening for the Terror Tram. This year the Terror Tram will be a completely original concept (as opposed to being based on a film or television show) and is helmed by Eli Roth!
Also on the backlot are the Freddy vs. Jason maze, Krampus and American Horror Story. Unfortunelately, this day, the tram was re-routed and we were unable to obtain photos of the other construction happening on the backlot. But, if you are familiar with the layout Universal Studios has been using for HHN on the backlot, then nothing is really new here. Another day, another IP really.
It looks like the metal shipping containers are being prepped to guide visitors through a gauntlet of monsters as they arrive on the backlot.
Other than the HHN construction, the Tram Tour was just as fun as it always has been. Cheesy jokes and wonderful Hollywood magic to mesmerize guests. Here are some photos from the journey!
One of the major sore spots of the Studio Tour is the long forgotten Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift experience. Stage 55 has long been neglected since the construction and opening of Fast and Furious Supercharged! It really seems as though Universal doesn’t care to change it or demolish it. When in reality the once “entertaining” attraction has been left to rot into the past.
Speaking of Fast and Furious Supercharged, you would be a stink pickled if you forgot your 3D glasses! Yes, King Kong 360 3D is significantly better than Fast and Furious, it still does not take away how entertaining this experience is. Especially if you are a fan of the franchise and wants to ride along side your favorite characters
Some new and exciting construction has also started to take place on the backlot. Closer to the soundstage, a brand new, state of the art sound stage is being constructed. If they reach their goal for the construction, the first thing to use the facility will be the LIVE adaptation of the musical, Hairspray!
One of the must visit attraction of Universal Studios Hollywood, is the Waterworld Stunt Show! After being here for many many years, it has never ceased to amaze me and entertain the masses. If you sit in the front 4 rows, BE WARNED! It is not a “you may get wet” zone. Nor is it “you may get soaked” zone. It is a “if you are sitting here or within 5 feet of this seat, you will be soaked” zone. These people working the show do not mess around when wetting visitors of all kinds. It is truly entertaining seeing someone get sprayed in the face with a steady stream of water when they were least expecting it. Other than the improved water fun, the show is filled with non stop action and stunts. All which include a life size plane crash landing as well as a fire dive from the top of the set! It is all extremely entertain and comes highly recommended.
This concludes the trip report for Universal Studios Hollywood!
Writing and photography by: Jacinda Mitchell
Ohhh what a beautiful day! We came out here to Six Flags Magic Mountain to take a look at some of their Fright Fest preparations and to get a few updates around the park.
I want to start off by saying it was such a beautiful day at the park, however, it was a bit hot. If you visit the park during the last few weeks of summer, please remember to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. At every food station in the park you can ask one of the cashiers for a cup of water at no cost!
After we passed through security, I noticed the famous Fright Fest promotional display that they’ve had for quite some time now. It reminds guest that the event will take place “Fridays thru Sundays in October”, which is kind of odd because the event starts on September 17th.
As soon as you walk thru the gates, they give guest some sad news stating that X2 is closed☹. As well as Apocalypse☹. They are both closed due to maintenance. I believe they will both be back by the time Fright Fest starts since X2 will be transforming into X2: Satan’s Domain.
Since the recent release of Suicide Squad being a new experience for Fright Fest, there has been Suicide Squad pop-ups placed around the park.
The stores have also added limited edition merchandise.
Guest can experience the Suicide Squad Experience in DC Universe on September 17th during Fright Fest! They are currently installing the lights for the light show. Are you guys ready to roam the streets of the “Worst Heroes Ever”?! I know we are!
Surprisingly Superman was running 2 trains today. YAY! So the lines were about 30 min both sides. Let’s see how long this will last!
In the Goliath queue, they have ads posted for the TV show Impractical Jokers that you can catch on Thursdays on truTV. The station and one of the trains have ads posted as well.
Tatsu was rather long because they were experiencing quite a few technical difficulties today. Typical wait time reached about 90 min
Twisted Colossus was running 3 trains and the ride operators did an outstanding job with trying to duel the trains every time. They were constantly communicating how many seconds until the train needs to leave the station.
The New Revolution now has new VR headsets that are awesome! They are definitely easier to put on. There’s a simple knob that you turn that easily makes the headset bigger or smaller. With less confusion on how to put on the headsets the line moves a bit quicker. They have also improved the quality of the video for the VR Experience. The video is less grainy and glitchy.
They had an exclusive ride event powered by SLURPEE. Guest had to purchase a slurpee to receive a wristband to have exclusive ride time on select rides after park closing. Great way to promote a purchase of a slurpee with the high temps! Very tempting!
This concludes our update for Six Flags Magic Mountain. You’ll see us next time when Six Flags announces their plans for 2017 on September 1st. What do you guys think will be next for Six Flags? A dark ride? A flat ride? Give us your thoughts!
MIDSUMMER SCREAM 2106
For those of us who love Halloween, there is never enough we can do to celebrate the Holiday season. Midsummer Scream has fixed that problem by allowing all of us to celebrate Halloween for a short moment from July 30th to July 31st. Over the last weekend, the Long Beach Convention Center became the epicenter for all things Halloween. As you traversed the isles of the festival, your senses were bombarded by all things spooky and scary. Plumes of fog, hordes of monsters, and halloween treats galore! All of that and much more on our trip to Midsummer Scream 2016.
THE SHOW FLOOR
The show floor for Midsummer Scream was overflowing with vendors. I was pleasantly surprised by how many booths were operating at the event. On one end, you could experience the new VR adventure by Spectral Illusion called Ghost Town Mine Ride and shoot the living dead at the Zombie Shooting Gallery. We both had to buy a Time Box from Author and Resident Knott’s Scary Farm Rep, Jeff Tucker (@thesixthkey).On the other end of the expo hall, you had a demo stage where guests can watch experts such as Scott Ramp from Six Flags Fright Fest create monsters. As well as see Mudd The Magnificent (http://themuddshow.com) stun and amaze festival goers with his special brand of malicious magic.
The range of interests and hobbies that encompass the passion of Halloween was very impressive! If you love Halloween in any capacity, you bet that there was a booth selling something that you could Ghoul over (kneeslapper?) The Midsummer Scream was a perfect mix between old school Halloween fun and new school scares.
BLACK CAT ADOPTION
Although Midsummer Scream highlighted the creepy parts of Halloween, there is always time for the cute side. Outside the show floor in the halls of the convention center, you could have the opportunity to adopt a black cat. This is the first time that I have seen this type of booth at an event such as Midsummer Scream. It is the perfect crowd to gather around in black clothes to gush over black cats. It was a very sweet idea to help animals find a brand new home where they will definitely fit in!
THE HALL OF SHADOWS
The Hall of Shadows at Midsummer Scream was a large portion of the convention floor where guests can enter 9 different mini haunts. But in order to get to them, you had to pass through Toxicity! Created by Larry Bones of Boneyard Effects. Toxicity is an immersive experience set within the walls of a genetics lab that has suffered a toxic explosion that will leave guests screaming as they are attacked by twisted, mutated scientist from all sides! Everyone I spoke to at the event was thoroughly impressed with the detail that Boneyard Effects was able to obtain with such short notice. Keep in mind that this is the same man that works hand in hand with John Murdy and Chris Williams of Halloween Horror Nights year after year. So on top of creating hundreds, if not thousands, of prosthetics and masks for Halloween Horror Nights, he created Toxicity. I had the pleasure of speaking to Larry Bones briefly at the event. He told me that it was all passion driven. He was beyond busy with Halloween Horror Nights, but loves Halloween too much to pass an opportunity like this. After exiting Toxicity, you can enter the mini haunts which included:
– You’ve wandered into the most feared place in the Old West: The Higgins & Co Work Camp. Can you survive the rowdiest, most dangerousest, most horriblest clan of townsfolk this side of Deadwood?
Perdition Home Haunt
– The notion that in outer space, no one can hear you scream simply isn’t true. Venturing into the depths of an ill-fated spacecraft, everyone will hear you cry for mercy when you face the horrors within.
The Blackout Anthology
– Emmy-Award winning content creation studio Secret Location has partnered with the team behind BLACKOUT to create a new vision of terror. Immerse yourself in a virtual world of horror as different stories from the BLACKOUT Experience come to life. No one under 18 ALLOWED!
Dead Zone 805
– Fight for survival at every turn as you enter the zombie filled apocalyptic world of Dr. Red Eyes and the dreaded D.R.E. Gang; date is the easy way out here. The doctor will see you now…
– Not every home is safe. Madness lingers beyond the threshold of a decrepit old cabin, concealing evil so vie that those who manage to escape will never be the same. The Fleshyard is a bad place.
Fear Station: Midway of Fear
– Hurry, hurry! Step right up! Come peek inside and see the evil thats come to town as you brave the bizarre creatures that call this dark midway “home”.
– Follow the trail of a madman through the basin swampland, where he attempted and failed to achieve mortality, leaving a trail of wasted souls in his wake before falling city to his own worst nightmares.
Scare ventures Presents: Sea of Terror
– To date, man has explored less than 5% of Earth’s oceans. Perhaps theres a reason why. Take a terror trip into the depths where undersea creatures lie in wait as you attempt to escape your watery grave.
Gorlesque: The Haunted Burlesque
– Are you “perfect” enough to join the Weltschmerz Society? Come find out and experience a naughty taste of the frights, frills, and folic that awaits you this Halloween in Los Angeles!
What we loved most about all of these experiences was that all of them brought their A game. Even though these experiences were relatively short, none of the talent let that idea stop them from bringing the best experience possible. Just from the impression these haunts made at the event, we will be visiting them during the Haunt season! They were that good!
THE DECADE BRIGADE SLIDER SHOW
One of the main stays of the Southern California Halloween Community is The Decade Brigade. This rugged band of sliders brings the high energy talent of sliding to life for the guests of Midsummer Scream. The talented team put on three different shows a day, each progressively becoming more and more difficult. When watching this group, you can’t help but put on a smile and get pumped! If there is ever a chance to see a show put on by this group, DO NOT hesitate to watch! Make sure to check out their website and support http://decayedbrigade.bigcartel.com
OINGO BOINGO DANCE PARTY!
The end of day 1 was wrapped up with a concert by Oingo Boingo Dance Party! It truly was a Dead Man’s Party with such an iconic band playing the night away. For a nominal fee, you could also get your face painted to look like a sugar skull and truly embody the dead man party spirit. Everyone danced the night away to wonderful 80’s music and for that small moment, it felt as though everyone had time traveled to the 80’s. What a wonderful way to cap a perfect first day of an event.
All in all, Midsummer Scream turned out to be a scary success! The weekend was jam packed with Halloween excitement. If we were to pin point one specific aspect of Midsummer Scream, it would be the people. Everyone who attended this event acted as if you were extended family. In fact, we are all part of the spooky Halloween family. You could feel the camaraderie and love from everyone at the event. Its such a great feeling to have, knowing that you are surrounded by your closest friends who love the same WEIRD things you do. We would like to give a special shout out to the staff of Midsummer Scream. You all did a spectacular job. From the Creative Directors to the Volunteers, we would like to thank you for all of your hard work. This was a spectacular convention, especially considering that it was its first year. Congragulations Midsummer Scream! We will see you next year!
Writing and photography by Gabriel Montoya
Edited by Garett Simcox
Okay, I’ll admit it. I was one of those people who immediately complained about the pricing for the new Universal Studios Hollywood Annual Passports. I didn’t think it was fair for all of those fans who have been loyal over the years, but I do understand that its just business. Even through all of it, I purchased my Annual Pass because of one thing….
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter.
Like many other people, I have been waiting for the west coast to get their version of The Wizarding World. Driving on the 101 and 134 freeway, you can see the spires of Hogwarts stretch up into the sky. As the construction moved forward, us Californians looked on with awe as the crew worked at blistering pace. Soon the gates will be officially open, but for the lucky few, Universal has been running “technical rehearsals.” This blog post will be more of a description of my first time entering The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, rather than a blow by blow of everything inside.
As you enter the Hogsmeade, you are immediately transported to Harry Potter’s world. From the cobble stones you step on, to the snowy roofs of the stores, the amount of detail is stunning. As you look up past the crooked chimney stacks of Hogshead, you see the spires of Hogwarts looming in the distance.
Immediately to your right is the Hogwarts Express with its conductor outside greeting all the muggle visiting.
As you continue, you will find many of your favorite things from the films and books. There are plenty of Butterbeer carts, which are serving up mugs of this delicious beverage (Yes, it’s non-alcoholic). Many have raved about the drink in Florida. I can tell you first hand that it’s something not to be missed. The lines for Butterbeer where consistently long all day! It is a fan favorite!
Outside of Butterbeer, you can also get regular beer and muggle drinks over at the Hogshead Pub. This also shares the same building as The Three Broomsticks which is a restaurant serving up many delectable treats and food for those wanting to eat like Wizards and Witches
As you continue past many of the store fronts you end up at the front of the major attraction of Hogshead, its Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
This is probably the most stunning part of the land. Using forced perspective wonderfully, Hogwarts sits atop a hill towering over everything in the park. Its a feeling of grandeur that I’ve never once experience at a Universal park. I do not have pictures here of the line and ride because of two reasons. One, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. The line is just as much a part of the experience as the ride is. Two, pictures do it no justice. The amount of detail and work that went into this line rivals that of Disney quality. Maybe ever surpasses it. That being said, the ride itself is one of a kind. Its utilizes the Kuka arm ride system.
Image from Parkpedia
Each vehicle hold four passengers with over head restraints. As your ride vehicle traverses the track of the ride, your seats are moved around on the arm to give you the sensation of flying. It is truly an incredible experience. Nothing but smiles from those getting off of the ride, which exits into a gift shop.
Another ride that is right across the way from Forbidden Journey is Flight of the Hippogriff. This is a family style roller coaster. The cars are designed to look like wicker baskets, which is a very nice thematic touch. Other than that, the ride is very simple and very short. It reminds me of Gadget’s Go Coaster over in Toon Town at Disneyland.
As you make your way back into Hogsmeade, you can enter into a shop called Olivanders. This is the famous store in the book where Harry Potter gets his first wand. Lucky for you, they are allowing many people to come inside and buy their first wands. The experience is breathe taking and rather intense. Once again, I do not want to spoil the experience for people but, if you have seen the movies then you know exactly what happens. With that being said, this is another NOT TO BE MISSED attraction in The Wizarding World.
As much as there are things to rave about with amazing addition to Universal Studios, there are things that are problematic. Unlike the one in Florida, sight lines are a big issue here. As you enter the land, you are immersed into a different world. But that all ends as soon as you see the glowing lights coming from The Simpsons Ride, which sits right next to the new land. Also, the visibility of show buildings for Forbidden Journey or office building back stage completely take you out of the experience. Although small issues, they do take you out of the experience. It could have been as easy as adding more trees or walls. If that is the most I have to complain about with regards to the land, then I’d say its a hit.
Also, there is an issue with people of different sizes on Harry Potter And The Forbidden Journey. Outside of the ride, there are testing seats for those who are unsure if they will fit into the ride system. If the light is red, you cant ride. If its green, you are good to go. This ride system is extremely constricting, not only to those who are over weight, but to those who are tall and those who have broad shoulders. When a ride system is unable to accommodate the many different body types that exist in the world, that is a big issue. Is having a one of a kind experience worth turning away hundreds of people a day? I doubt it.
Even with the issues, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is an incredible experience and an astounding feet of engineering and imagination. Its a wonderful addition to Universal Studios Hollywood and will be nothing short of a smash hit when it opens in April.
Thank you for checking out our blog everyone! Make sure you listen to episode 203 of the podcast. Rick West from Theme Park Adventure stopped by to talk all about his book on Pirates Of The Caribbean. Click the image to listen now!